Earth Will Run Out of Water, Are We Still Ignorant?
New study warns of the threat of severe global water scarcity
It is so easy to forget that resources like food and water are not limitless. The extreme weather events and increasing demand from the ever-rising populace put things in perspective for many people when water security is threatened. A recent study has warned that the earth is moving toward a desert-like scenario where water will be a rare resource if global water scarcity is exacerbated. The study also indicated that water use for various sectors and severe drought and heat waves in recent years have posed future threats to water availability.
Published in Environmental Research Letters, the study was conducted by a group of researchers from the Department of Physical Geography at Utrecht University. Titled “Sectoral water use responses to droughts and heat waves: analyses from local to global scales for 1990-2019,” the research discovered that the stronger sectoral water use responses were related to heat waves compared to impacts of droughts.
It was found that domestic and irrigation water use increases exponentially during heatwaves in Eastern Europe and the central continental United States, places where heatwaves have been hitting hard in the past decade. While the findings provide a certain understanding, there is limited knowledge and data on the subject in relation to hydroclimatic extremes.
The study authors wrote, “Water use for various sectors (e.g. irrigation, livestock, domestic, energy, and manufacturing) is increasing due to a growing global population and economic development. Additionally, increases in the frequency and severity of droughts, heatwaves, and compound drought-heatwave events, also lead to responses in sectoral water use and a reduction in water availability, intensifying global water scarcity. However, limited knowledge exists on the responses in sectoral water use during these hydroclimatic extremes.”
The lead author Gabriel Cardenas Belleza said the focus of this study was on water used by various sectors under extreme events to determine the particular response. The research revealed that extreme weather conditions substantially altered water consumption behavior over the past three decades, globally.
The findings of this study validate the urgency to collect more data on water use to better grasp the impact of extreme weather conditions and changing climate. It also presses on the matter of water conservation in these uncertain times when nature is already wreaking havoc. Urgent action is required to combat the global water scarcity crisis.