Climate change is causing a water crisis?

Article by Isabel Key and Pia Key.

2 billion people live in countries that are already suffering from water shortages [3]. As the populations of these countries increase, pressure on the supply of water also increases [3]. Climate change makes the situation even worse [3]. This is for a two main reasons:

DROUGHT: climate change is making rainy places more rainy, such as northern Europe [10]. But, what is more worrying is that dry places, such as southern Africa and the Mediterranean, are getting even drier [4,9].

FLOODS: you might think that a lack of water would be your last concern during a flood, but in fact, floods can cause drinking water shortages [1]. This is because floods destroy water supply points and sanitation infrastructure (toilets, pipes, sewage tanks etc. [11]) [1]. Floods can also mean clean water sources get mixed with dirty water [1] or seawater [16], so that the water is no longer safe to drink [1].

What does this mean for people?

POOR HEALTH: lack of water affects people directly through dehydration. In addition, people may be forced to use unclean water that may spread disease [1,13]. Moreover, droughts and floods may cause crops and farm animals to die [2], resulting in people going hungry [3].

MIGRATION: drought often forces people to leave their homes and move to new places [3]. In Syria, for example, multiple years of crop failure caused by drought drove lots of people to move into cities [15]. This is thought to have fuelled the Syrian civil war [15]. As climate change progresses, in dry parts of the Earth 24-700 million people are expected to have to migrate due to lack of water by 2030 [14].

What can we do?

We need better funding and planning of clean water and sanitation [3]. Moreover, we can use nature to help provide clean water [5,12]. For example, restoring grasslands and forests can reduce erosion, improve water quality [6], and store water for when it is needed during drought [7].




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