|Mesfin M. Mekonnen and Arjen Y. Hoekstra|
Over half the world’s population suffers from ‘severe’ water scarcity, scientists say - The Washington Post
Alarming new research has found that 4 billion people around the globe — including close to 2 billion in India and China — live in conditions of extreme water scarcity at least one month during the year. Half a billion, meanwhile, experience it throughout the entire year.Two-Thirds of the World Faces Severe Water Shortages - The New York Times
The new study, by Mesfin Mekonnen and Arjen Hoekstra of the University of Twente in the Netherlands, uses a high resolution global model to examine the availability of “blue water” — both surface and underground freshwater — in comparison with the demand for it from agriculture, industry and human household needs. The model — which zoomed in on areas as small as 60 kilometers by 60 kilometers in size at the equator — also took into account climatic factors, ecological ones (how much water is needed to sustain a river ecosystem or lake) and other causes of depletion such simple evaporation.
“We find that 4 billion people live in areas that experience severe water scarcity at least part of the year, which is more than previously thought, based on those earlier studies done on an annual basis,” says Hoekstra, who published the work in Science Advances Friday. “You have to look really month by month, in order to get the scarcity.”
Four billion people face severe water scarcity, new research finds | Environment | The GuardianAbout four billion people, or two-thirds of the world’s population, face severe water shortages during at least one month every year, far more than was previously thought, according to Arjen Y. Hoekstra, a professor of water management at the University of Twente in the Netherlands.In a paper published Friday in the journal Science Advances, Dr. Hoekstra and his colleague Mesfin M. Mekonnen designed a computer model to create what they say is a more accurate picture of water scarcity around the world. Severe water scarcity can lead to crop failure and low crop yields, which could cause food price increases as well as famine and widespread starvation.An area experiences severe water scarcity when its farms, industries and households consume double the amount of water available in that area.“That means that groundwater levels are falling, lakes are drying up, less water is flowing in rivers, and water supplies for industry and farmers are threatened,” Dr. Hoekstra said in an email.
At least two-thirds of the global population, over 4 billion people, live with severe water scarcity for at least one month every year, according to a major new analysis.
The revelation shows water shortages, one of the most dangerous challenges the world faces, is far worse previously than thought.
The new research also reveals that 500m people live in places where water consumption is double the amount replenished by rain for the entire year, leaving them extremely vulnerable as underground aquifers run down.
Many of those living with fragile water resources are in India and China, but other regions highlighted are the central and western US, Australia and even the city of London.