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Both developed and emerging economies are failing to adequately address the challenge of managing water supplies, according to Arab News. This editorial explains the issues.
October 5, 2010 2:29 by shafeer
In short, in Western countries, conserving water for people through reservoirs and dams might work for people, but not nature. The study’s research team suggests more people are likely to encounter more severe stress on their water supply in the coming decades as the climate changes and human population continues to grow. As a result, the authors urge a rethink to safeguard rivers, especially those now less affected in developing nations.
While areas of intensive agriculture and dense human settlement, such as the US and Europe, are facing particularly acute water supply risks, the study estimated that almost 80 percent of the world’s population — or about five billion people — live in areas with high levels of threat to water security, caused mainly by river mismanagement and pollution. The obvious danger is that fresh water in flowing rivers is the world’s most essential natural resource, underpinning human life and economic development as well as the existence of countless organisms ranging from microscopic life to fish, amphibians, birds and terrestrial animals of all kinds. But human activity has had an impact on the vast majority of the world’s rivers; 30 of the 47 largest rivers in the world are facing major environmental threats, such as falling water levels and pollution.
The Nature study provides a powerful indicator that Western governments and international institutions need to take water issues more seriously, while developing countries are urged to think carefully about “concrete and steel” solutions. It might, though, take decades to get politicians sufficiently engaged to fix the problem. In the meantime, the world’s population is on track to reach nine billion by 2050, and a substantial fraction of that could be imperiled.
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