“Catastrophe is Here”. Water Scarcity Threatens One-Quarter of Humanity

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Baseline water stress per region: wikimedia/Sampa

An increasing number of the world’s people are facing “extremely high” water stress, but a great deal can still be done to reverse the damage, Jodi Dean, a professor of political science at Hobart and William Smith Colleges, and Fred Magdoff, professor emeritus of plant and soil science at the University of Vermont, told Sputnik Friday.

According to a report released Tuesday by the World Resources Institute (WRI), 25% of the world’s population across 17 countries faces “extremely high” water stress, meaning they are using more than 80% of the water they have every year.

The report found that Qatar is the globe’s most water-stressed country, followed by Israel, Lebanon, Iran, Jordan, Libya, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Eritrea, the United Arab Emirates, San Marino, Bahrain, India, Pakistan, Turkmenistan, Oman and Botswana.

Twelve out of the 17 countries facing extremely high water stress are in the Middle East and North Africa, but India, which ranked as the 13th most water stressed country, is three times more populous than the other 16 countries on the list combined.

The Indian city of Chennai has been in the spotlight this year over its ongoing water crisis: in June, city officials revealed that “Day Zero” had been reached, as the four main reservoirs that provide the city with water had gone dry.

Millions of people are facing right now the effects of climate [change] and the ways that climate change exacerbates hundreds of years of really extreme and non-sustainable forms of industrial development.

Some of these water crises wouldn’t be quite so bad if there had been larger, more planned practices of sustainably developing the areas rather than just rampant, fast growth just for the sake of making some profits of building a company here or building some high rises there.”

So one of the things that’s so tragic is that there are ways that this did not have to happen if there had been sustainable practices before, and now places that have had to rush to develop are facing the worst kinds of effects from this warming climate.

The situation is getting more severe, and there could have been steps that could have been taken over a period of decades to adapt more, to try to develop what are called sponge cities, to try and develop areas that actually absorb the water … and more rationally develop these communities.

The World Future Council defines sponge cities as “a particular type of city that does not act like an impermeable system, not allowing any water to filter through the ground, but, more like a sponge, actually absorbs the rain water, which is then naturally filtered by the soil and allowed to reach into the urban aquifers.”

So, when you put the two together, that is, rampant development that gave no thought whatsoever to the potential for water shortages, and you put that together with a situation where water shortages are becoming more common for long periods of time, you have a crisis.

Although the US as a whole ranked 71st on the WRI list, several states, including New Mexico and California, were found to have high levels of water stress, with the former’s level being comparable to the UAE’s. That means that almost a quarter of the world’s population – around 1.7 billion people – are experiencing or will soon experience severe drought issues.

With water scarcity severely impacting the lives of people, increased protests and higher water prices can both be expected.

It should now be expected that as the crisis intensify, people aren’t going to be able to take it any longer, and will start to see people pushing back. This has already been seen in some of that in India, as people have been protesting the water shortages and the rationing. It wont be wrong to expect to see city and state governments respond aggressively to the upheaval that will necessarily and rightly accompany the anger as people realize that water, in a lot of places, is privatized … Water prices will continue to jack up.

Increased water stress is undeniably linked to migration, as people attempt to escape dangerous circumstances or poverty-stricken areas.

Another report released last week by the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) found that better land management could mitigate climate change, highlighting the role degraded land plays in global warming.

When land is degraded, it becomes less productive, restricting what can be grown and reducing the soil’s ability to absorb carbon. This exacerbates climate change, while climate change in turn exacerbates land degradation in many different ways,” a Thursday press release explains. SPUTNIK

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