When water supplies run dry, we can’t just flush toilets
Water supply shortages have led to the death of at least 20,000 people in the Americas, with a third of the deaths occurring in North America.
Here are the reasons why the world is facing water crises.
Global warming: It’s getting hotter in the northern hemisphere.
And while it’s not yet certain if global warming will lead to the loss of many species, it’s a certainty that we’ll see more people dying from disease and more deaths from drought in the coming decades.
In the United States alone, there have been nearly 300,000 human deaths from COVID-19 in the past 10 years.
As global temperatures rise, so will the risk of disease outbreaks.
Climate change: Global warming is driving the planet to the edge of a new, unpredictable climate cycle.
If humans don’t change the way they’re doing things now, the planet could go into a new ice age in a few hundred years.
Climate disruption: It could mean a whole host of impacts.
For example, if we have an extreme winter in Europe, we could see widespread flooding, the collapse of agricultural production, and even a major economic downturn.
Climate scientists warn that a warmer world is not the only risk.
“In the long term, we see climate disruption with increased risks of extreme weather events,” said Robert D. Naiman, director of the Center for the Study of Global Change at Rutgers University.
Rising seas: Global sea levels have been rising for decades, but they’ve accelerated recently due to human activities like deforestation and industrial pollution.
That’s causing more damage to coastal cities, especially New York City, which has experienced about 40 inches of sea level rise since 1880.
Climate extremes: These are the kinds of conditions that make it so important to prepare for any future water shortages.
For instance, a sudden drought can trigger the release of chemicals like chlorine into the water supply and make it difficult to flush toilets.
And a warming world could make flooding even more extreme.
Rising COVID infections: The virus has shown that it can survive in warmer temperatures.
But if a new outbreak comes along, it can cause more infections and lead to death and even hospitalizations.
Increased wildfires: A warming world means more intense and often destructive wildfires, which can cause billions of dollars in damage to the economy.
Rising sea levels: Climate change has made sea levels rise, which means more storm surges, floods and hurricanes.
And the hotter the climate gets, the more likely storms will form in that region.
Rising heat waves: A warmer world means a more intense heat wave.
And when there’s a big heat wave, the damage can be catastrophic, as the US has experienced recently.
Rising water supplies: Rising water levels are a problem because they lead to shortages of fresh water.
As climate change continues to change, people in areas that need fresh water are more likely to be forced to turn to underground aquifers, which are more prone to flooding.