According to a new study in the Science Advances journal, ” two-thirds of the global population (4.0 billion people) live under conditions of severe water scarcity at least 1 month of the year. Nearly half of those people live in India and China. Half a billion people in the world face severe water scarcity all year round.”
In an age of climate change, should access to clean water be considered a human right?
And if so, how do we begin to consider water rights as a climate justice issue?
As the Guardian noted recently, agriculture and growing food demands account for the biggest water demand. ““Taking a shorter shower is not the answer” to the global problem, said Hoekstra, because just 1-4% of a person’s water footprint is in the home, while 25% is via meat consumption. It takes over 15,000 litres of water to make 1kg of beef, with almost all of that used to irrigate the crops fed to the cattle.”
The Guardian provided a global overview:
“These water problems are set to worsen, according to the researchers, as population growth and increasing water use – particularly through eating meat – continues to rise.
In January, water crises were rated as one of three greatest risks of harm to people and economies in the next decade by the World Economic Forum, alongside climate change and mass migration. In places, such as Syria, the three risks come together: a recent study found that climate change made the severe 2007-2010 drought much more likely and the drought led to mass migration of farming families into cities.
“If you look at environmental problems, [water scarcity] is certainly the top problem,” said Prof Arjen Hoekstra, at the University of Twente in the Netherlands and who led the new research. “One place where it is very, very acute is in Yemen.”
Yemen could run out of water within a few years, but many other places are living on borrowed time as aquifers are continuously depleted, including Pakistan, Iran, Mexico, and Saudi Arabia.”
Check out this excerpt from the documentary series, Years of Living Dangerously, on the drought in Texas, and a community’s struggle with climate change dynamics: