Follow Slashdot stories on Twitter


Forgot your password?

Water Shortages Could Affect 5 Billion People By 2050, UNESCO Warns ( 106

About 3.6 billion people are estimated to be living in areas with a potential for water scarcity for at least one month per year, and this number could rise to as many as 5.7 billion people by 2050, according to a report published by UNESCO [PDF]. From a report: The comprehensive annual study warns of conflict and civilisational threats unless actions are taken to reduce the stress on rivers, lakes, aquifers, wetlands and reservoirs. The World Water Development Report -- released in drought-hit BrasÃlia -- says positive change is possible, particularly in the key agricultural sector, but only if there is a move towards nature-based solutions that rely more on soil and trees than steel and concrete.

"For too long, the world has turned first to human-built, or 'grey', infrastructure to improve water management. In doing so, it has often brushed aside traditional and indigenous knowledge that embraces greener approaches," says Gilbert Houngbo, the chair of UN Water, in the preface of the 100-page assessment. "In the face of accelerated consumption, increasing environmental degradation and the multi-faceted impacts of climate change, we clearly need new ways of manage competing demands on our freshwater resources."

This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Water Shortages Could Affect 5 Billion People By 2050, UNESCO Warns

Comments Filter:
  • ...Everyone gets to enjoy "Raw Water".

    I look forward to the part where we all move back into caves.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      It's about the failures of urban planning, and negligence of the water cycle. Cities are basically deserts with water impermeable soils. That means floods if the water accumulation is not carefully accounted for in and around every property. Trees have been successfully used to restart the water cycle in already arid lands that have been stripped for firewood and are now suffering from desertification and drought.

      Another example can be found in agriculture and land management. Diverse fields with multiple p

  • by ickleberry ( 864871 ) <> on Wednesday March 21, 2018 @05:36PM (#56300467) Homepage
    We get more than enough water for all world falling from the sky here. Finally the shite weather proves to be good for something ;)
  • When the oceans rise due to global warming everyone will have enough water.
  • by 110010001000 ( 697113 ) on Wednesday March 21, 2018 @05:40PM (#56300491) Homepage Journal
    What indigenous knowledge is there for managing water? Typically they would just move to another water source if their main one disappeared. Is there some magic tree and soil combination that creates water? My guess is Gilbert Houngbo is one of those African "leaders" who also believes in many crazy things.
    • There are plants that have huge roots with lots of water in them, and they don't exactly advertise the fact on the surface.

      Obviously, you don't go to that trouble if there's a convenient stream or spring handy. But in times of need or if you're off searching for Jenny Agutter's minge it could save your life.

      Maybe that's what he means.

      • There is an entire movement in Africa to "return to indigenous knowledge". That is what he means. It is coded.
    • They weren't foolish enough to settle where there was insufficient water in the first place.

      Take Phoenix for example. 4.x million people, in the middle of a desert. The only way the city has any water is by bleeding the Colorado dry. In what universe does having such a large city in a *desert* make any sense at all?

  • 1) Can NOBODY out of 7 Billion human brains in the world figure out how to turn sea water into useable water without requiring huge amounts of energy or breaking the bank? 2) Can NOBODY out of 7 Billion human brains in the world figure out how to capture, neutralize or reverse-combust the CO2 that is in Earth's atmosphere? All these scientists, universities, large companies, government laboratories and other R&D capable outfits around the world, and we keep hearing about how these "huge problems" will
    • by 110010001000 ( 697113 ) on Wednesday March 21, 2018 @06:30PM (#56300775) Homepage Journal
      That is the thing Slashdotters don't understand: things don't happen by magic. There isn't some sudden "breakthrough" where you can make desalinated water without a relatively expensive process. No one is going to suddenly create something to save the planet. That only happens in movies.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      I am an engineer, but this is not my area of expertise. However, someone should try to honestly answer your questions. The problem that you are getting at is "entropy." It is much easier to burn fuel, emit CO2, and allow it to mix into the atmosphere, than it is to separate it back out and capture it.

      Entropy is a thermodynamics term that relates to the amount of "disorder." It is the scrambled egg problem. It is far easier to break the egg and scramble it (add disorder) than to unscramble it and reassemble

      • A nuclear powered aircraft carrier can supply something like 50,000 people with daily clean water. I wonder how much a dedicated nuclear power plant could provide?
    • by mikael ( 484 )

      To extract fresh water from sea-water, you have to separate the H2O molecules from whatever other crap has been dissolved. That includes virus particles and metal elements; salts, sodium, calcium, chloride, mercury, etc... First way is through porous membranes or micorpore clay filters. Then you have to force the water through these at pressure. That takes energy. You can try evaporating the water. That too requires energy to make the water reach 100C. Even if you tried to force the water into a vacuuum to

  • by WillAffleckUW ( 858324 ) on Wednesday March 21, 2018 @06:04PM (#56300619) Homepage Journal

    A lot of commenters seem to not get that, unless you have a handy solar, wind or tidal powered desalination plant lying around and the capital to build one, living on the coast won't help, as the water is not drinkable. Diseases are spread in marshlands too, so being too near the coast can impact your fresh water supply.

  • by Gravis Zero ( 934156 ) on Wednesday March 21, 2018 @06:07PM (#56300643)

    The Earth is constantly changing which means the old "nature based" ways will also become a nonviable answer. Thanks to climate change, we have vastly accelerated many changes which includes the location of available water resources. Our best bet is to work toward reversing the damage done and desalinate water using a water vapor distillation system (aka slingshot). Yes, these systems require energy but Sol provides us with more than enough energy for such systems.

    We absolutely could stretch our water supply further but thanks to a tragedy of the commons coupled with capitalism, it simply won't happen without extreme enforcement measures. We already know that our politicians are spineless, so it's better that we assume the worst case scenario and create out own supply of fresh water.

  • by campuscodi ( 4234297 ) on Wednesday March 21, 2018 @06:57PM (#56300955)
    Don't worry about it. By that time, Nestle will be selling water to your kids. Just get filthy rich and everything will be fine.
  • In the credits or annotations at the end of "The Big Short" [] (or here []), it is noted that one of the players, Michael Burry or Ben Hockett, is focusing on water futures. At the time I was thinking, here's a guy who manages to see things that only become obvious in retrospect.
  • I don't really care if you run out of water, if you are stupid enough to live in a desert and complain you have no water.
  • The Guardian got Brasília right, so the 237th 8-bit ASCII character (Latin small letter i with acute) got lost in the copy-pasting.
    How quaint. Care to elaborate?

"Never face facts; if you do, you'll never get up in the morning." -- Marlo Thomas