From 23-28 August, over 3,000 people and 270 organisations from 143 countries across the world will meet in Stockholm to discuss water-related issues across the globe for the 25th annual World Water Week. The theme for this year will be “Water for development”, which will include workshops and presentations on matters such as how best to use water to sustainably provide energy, and how to provide clean fresh water to those one billion people of the world who still lack it.
However, this is simply not the case: the results of climate change on the future global water supply are somewhat difficult to assess, but there is little argument that they would ultimately be detrimental. Global warming has the effect of accelerating the hydrological cycle. In other words, it results in more evaporation, but also more rainfall. However, this rainfall is not evenly spread, with the result that much of the world, including the United States and Western Europe, would lose significant water resources. Moreover, those regions that would experience increased rainfall, such as eastern Asia, would do so largely during rainy seasons, when there is a natural surplus of water and any extra is difficult to utilise. When we combine this with an ever-rising global population, it is easy to see the potential for crisis, with some predictions suggesting up to two thirds of the 2025 global population living under water-stressed conditions.
Of course, such an outcome is not unavoidable. Now more than ever both governments and individuals across the world are realising the need for action, and the success of events such as World Water Week are testament to that. Nonetheless, should you need it, you now have one more reason to walk or cycle, rather than drive, or to try to buy food that has travelled fewer miles. Such small actions could literally save lives in the not-so-distant future.