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Pattaya Daily News

23 March 2007 :: 14:03:09 pm 31031

World Water Supply In Grave Danger

We tend to think of water as being plentiful and renewable. However, the truth is that water is already scarce, especially drinking water and it stands to get far worse before this century is much more advanced.
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The World Commission for Water in the 21st Century paints a dire picture. Over the next twenty years, human usage of water will grow by about 40%, but to grow the world’s food supply, more than 17% than that which is available will be required, with around 3 billion people living in water stressed countries by 2035.

Professor Sachs of the Economist has gone on record as saying he regards the water issue as more pressing than climate change, though the two issues are intimately involved.

In 2025, water shortages will be more widespread among poorer countries with limited resources and rapid population growth such as the Middle East, Africa, and parts of Asia. By 2025, large urban and areas will require new infrastructure to provide safe water and adequate sanitation. If this problem is not tackled adequately, growing conflicts with agricultural water users, who currently consume the majority of the water used by humans, is likely to occur.

Generally speaking the more developed countries of North America, Europe and Russia will not see a serious threat to their water supply by the year 2025, because of their relative wealth, and having populations better aligned with available water resources. North Africa, the Middle East, South Africa and Northern China, however, will be confronted with extremely severe water shortages due to physical scarcity and a condition of overpopulation relative to their carrying capacity with respect to water supply.

Most of South America, Sub-Saharan Africa, Southern China and India will face water supply shortages by 2025; for these latter regions the causes of scarcity will be economic constraints on developing safe drinking water, in addition to excessive population growth.

The causes for this state of affairs are as follows.

1. The support of increasing populations and industrial and agricultural development has put an incredible strain on the world’s fresh water resources.

2. Water resources are over-used in many parts of the world, including the American Southwest, China, the Middle East and parts of the former Soviet Union.

3. War is the likely outcome of having to share scarce water supplies across nations according to Mikhail Gorbachev, now president of Green Cross International. He points specifically to the Middle East where war within the next 10 to 15 years is likely if countries fail to reach an understanding regarding sharing water.

4. The Water Commissioner of Israel, Meir Ben Meir, envisages possible conflict over water issues between Israel, the Palestinians, Jordan and Syria. The water issue could well affect the Middle East peace talks. Israel must release land and water and alter its usage patterns to prevent war according to Palestinian leaders.

5. The recent conflicts in Darfur and Ethiopia’s are rooted in water issues.

6. A recent UN Development Programme (UNDP) report estimates that by 2025, 25 African countries will suffer from water stress. Water wars are likely in areas where rivers and lakes are shared. There is also another potential hot spot in southern Africa involving Botswana, Namibia and Angola who could be involved in a water war.

7. The Murray Darling river system is currently running short of water as Australia experiences the worst drought in living history.

8. The World Commission for Water report concludes that “only rapid and imaginative institutional and technological innovation can avoid the crisis.”

Those wishing for more details may visit the following websites:

Reporter : PDN staff   Photo : Internet   Category : World News

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