Can we solve global water scarcity? | Grist
Texas’ rivers and aquifers are among the most heavily depleted in the world. (Photo by Jeff Reid.)
You’re probably doing your part to conserve water, especially if you live in a drought-stricken area. But water is in short supply across the globe because of people’s increasing demands for it — a huge problem for cities, agriculture, and industry that will only get worse with climate change.
Getting an accurate handle on what’s causing the problem has been missing — until now. A new study in the journal PLoS ONE, coauthored by Nature Conservancy scientist Brian Richter, provides fresh insight into the factors behind water shortages in the world’s most important river basins.
The study provides the most comprehensive picture of the global water problem to date, looking at monthly rather than annual changes and digging into the actual causes of water depletion — agricultural, industrial, and domestic — in our ecosystems. While the findings aren’t rosy — more than 2 billion people are affected by water shortages each year — coauthor Richter says there are still reasons to be hopeful … read on to the end of this Q&A with him to find out what they are.