Lack of fresh water could hit half the world’s population by 2050

May 29, 2013 • Climate Change & Mitigation, Water, Daily Email Recap

Lack of fresh water could hit half the world’s population by 2050

Scientists warn that united action is needed to protect life’s most vital ingredient

Severe water shortages will affect more than half the world’s future population of nine billion people by 2050 if governments fail to collaborate on international efforts to protect and conserve life’s most vital ingredient, experts have warned. One of the first indications of a future water crisis will be mass migrations of people away from areas without water.

Political tensions are likely to follow the movements of environmental refugees, Professor Janos Bogardi, of Bonn University, a senior adviser to the water system project, said. Five hundred of the world’s leading water scientists said that the current mismanagement and misuse of increasingly scarce water resources threatens to plunge most of the global population into extreme water poverty.

They said that human activity has accelerated major disturbances to supplies of fresh water, such as erosion, pollution and the draining of rivers and underground aquifers. An extra two billion people in the world by 2050 will exacerbate the global crisis, they said.

“In the short span of one or two generations, the majority of the nine billion people on Earth will be living under the handicap of severe pressure on fresh water, an absolutely essential natural resource for which there is no substitute,” the scientists said.

“This handicap will be self-inflicted and is, we believe, entirely avoidable…. Mismanagement, overuse and climate change pose long-term threats to human well-being, and evaluating and responding to those threats constitutes a major challenge to water researchers and managers alike,” they said in a joint declaration.

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