Monday, May 23, 2016

A Warming World Means Less Water, with Economic Consequences

Villagers throw containers into a well to collect their daily supply of potable water after a tanker made its daily delivery in Shahapur, India, on May 13. India is in the midst of a drought. (Credit: Indranil Mukherjee/AFP/Getty Images) Click to Enlarge.
We often associate climate change with too much water — the melting ice caps triggering a rise in sea levels.  Now a new World Bank report says we also need to think about too little water — the potable sort.

High and Dry:  Climate Change, Water, and the Economy examines the future effects of diminishing water supplies on the world.  "Water-related climate risks cascade through food, energy, urban, and environmental systems," researchers write.  "Growing populations, rising incomes, and expanding cities will converge upon a world where the demand for water rises exponentially, while supply becomes more erratic and uncertain."

The World Bank says that in areas where water is readily available, like Central Africa and East Asia, it could become harder to find.  And in areas like the Middle East, already facing water problems, "scarcity will greatly worsen."

The authors also note the spikes in food prices a water shortage would cause, which in turn would likely lead to conflict.

These are all fairly evident consequences of global warming.  The report treads new ground, however, in evaluating the economic impacts of this water scarcity.  Researchers say water shortages could cause certain areas to lose as much as 6 percent of their gross domestic product "as a result of water-related losses in agriculture, health, income, and property."

Read more at A Warming World Means Less Water, with Economic Consequences

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