In a report released on Sunday, the United Nations estimates that nearly 52% of the world’s population could have to live under the effects of a water shortage by 2050.
On the blue planet, fresh water will soon be lacking for billions of people, even in regions of the world where rainfall is currently abundant. Less accessible, in less quantity and quality, water resources are degrading, warn the United Nations in a profuse report published, as every year, on the occasion of World Water Day, Sunday March 22. The World Meteorological Organization is devoting its own international day, Monday, March 23, to the theme of water and climate change.
Because time is running out: almost 4 billion people already face a severe shortage for at least a month a year. Global warming is not the only cause. World consumption is exploding: over the past hundred years, it has grown at twice the rate of population growth, it has multiplied by six and continues to grow by almost 1% per year due to economic development and new uses. And massive pollution of groundwater and rivers makes the situation worse.
Accelerated emergence of pathogens
Yet the authors of the UN-Water program consider water as the key element of most of the seventeen Sustainable Development Goals: from the fight against world hunger, poverty, gender inequality, to land degradation and the state of the ocean. Only the higher the temperatures, the higher the demand for water and the more evaporation increases, depriving the soil of its humidity. The diagnosis may seem obvious. Yet in this report published by Unesco and entitled Water and climate change, the dedicated program of the UN details the innumerable interactions, in particular on energy production, agriculture or ecosystems. But it also presents other profound repercussions, for some unsuspected by the general public, on human health in particular. This chapter alerts to the accelerated emergence of pathogens. What to call in the middle of a coronavirus pandemic.
First obvious link with the changes in climate already underway: the question of water, by its overflow or its absence, is at the heart of all so-called natural disasters. “Floods and extreme precipitation worldwide have increased by more than 50% in the last ten years, and are now occurring at a rate four times faster than in 1980, write the rapporteurs. Other extreme weather events such as storms, droughts and heat waves have increased by more than a third in the past ten years and are recorded twice as often as in 1980. “