Sunday, January 20, 2019 | ePaper

For global water crisis

Climate may be last straw

  • Print
AFP, Paris :
Before man-made climate change kicked in-and well before "Day Zero" in Cape Town, where taps may run dry in early May-the global water crisis was upon us.
Freshwater resources were already badly stressed before heat-trapping carbon emissions from fossil fuels began to warm Earth's surface and affect rainfall.
In some countries, major rivers-diverted, dammed or over-exploited-no longer reach the sea. Aquifers millennia in the making are being sucked dry. Pollution in many forms is tainting water above ground and below.
Cape Town, though, was not especially beset by any of these problems. Indeed, in 2014 the half-dozen reservoirs that served the South African city's four million people brimmed with rainwater.
But that was before a record-breaking, three-year, once-every-three-centuries drought reduced them to a quarter capacity or less. Today, Capetonians are restricted to 50 litres a day (13.2 US gallons) -- less than runs down the drain when the average American takes a shower.
Climate scientists foretold trouble, but it arrived ahead of schedule, said Helen Zille, premier of the Western Cape province. "Climate change was to have hit us in 2025," she told a local news outlet.
"The South Africa Weather Services have told me that their models don't work any more."
Worldwide, the water crises hydra has been quietly growing for decades.
Since 2015, the World Economic Forum's annual Global Risk Report has consistently ranked "water crises" as among the global threats with the greatest potential impact-above natural disasters, mass migration and cyberattacks.
"Across the densely-populated Indo-Gangetic Plain"-home to more than 600 million people in India, Pakistan and Bangladesh-"groundwater is being pumped out at an unsustainable and terrifying rate," said Graham Cogley, a professor emeritus at Trent University in Ontario Canada.
More than half the water in the same basin is undrinkable and unusable for irrigation due to elevated salt and arsenic levels, according to a recent study. Cape Town water crisis
Water storage levels in the major dams supplying Cape Town. The city faces a water crisis due to drought.
Groundwater provides drinking water to at least half of humanity, and accounts for more than 40 percent of water used for irrigation. But underground aquifers do not fill up swiftly, as a reservoir does after a heavy rain. Their spongy rock can take centuries to fully recharge, which makes them a non-renewable resource on a human timescale. As a result, many of the world's regions have passed the threshold that Peter Gleick, president-emeritus of the Pacific Institute and author of "The World's Water," has called "peak water".
"Today people live in places where we are effectively using all the available renewable water, or, even worse, living on borrowed time by overpumping non-renewable ground water," he told AFP.
Exhausted groundwater supplies also cause land to subside, and allow-in coastal regions-saltwater to seep into the water table. Dozens of mega-cities, rich and poor, are sinking: Jakarta, Mexico City, Tokyo and dozens of cities in China, including Tianjin, Beijing and Shanghai have all dropped by a couple of metres over the last century. "Half a billion people in the world face severe scarcity all year round," said Arjen Hoekstra, a water management expert at the University of Twente in the Netherlands.
More than one in three live in India, with another 73 million in Pakistan, 27 million in Egypt, 20 million in Mexico, 20 million in Saudi Arabia and 18 million in war-torn Yemen, he calculated in a recent study.
"Global warming comes on top of all this," said Hoekstra.
For each degree of global warming, about seven percent of the world's population-half-a-billion people-will have 20 percent less freshwater, the UN's climate science panel has concluded.
By 2030, the world will face a 40-percent water deficit if climate change continues unchecked.
Glaciers in the Himalayas and Andes upon which half-a-billion people depend are rapidly retreating.

More News For this Category

Three people were killed and 15 others injured following a head-on collision between a bus and a truck on Dhaka-Chattogram highway near Gouripur bus stand area of Daudkandi on Saturday.

Three people were killed and 15 others injured following a head-on collision between a bus and a truck on Dhaka-Chattogram highway near Gouripur bus stand area of Daudkandi on Saturday.

.

Robber gang 'leader' held with arms

UNB, Faridpur :Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) arrested the suspected leader of a robber gang with firearms from Hamirodi village of Bhanga Upazila on Saturday.The elite force identified the detainee

BD "sympathetic" towards its detained workers in Kuwait

UNB, Dhaka :Bangladesh Embassy in Kuwait remains "sympathetic" towards the Bangladeshi workers picked up by Kuwaiti police on charge of vandalizing Embassy property and assaulting its three staff physically,

Sudan issues arrest warrants against 38 reporters

Al Jazeera News :Sudan's State Security Prosecution has issued arrest warrants for 38 journalists and activists on charges of "incitement" and spreading "false news", local media reported.According to broadcaster

AC(Land) beaten up by sand lifters in Rajshahi

Staff Reporter :The Assistant Commissioner (land) of Rajshahi's Bagha upazila and three others were injured in an attack allegedly carried out by some sand lifters in a char of

Verdicts against Tarique to be executed after repatriation: Anisul

BSS, Brahmanbaria :Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Anisul Huq on Saturday said verdicts pronounced by different courts against BNP acting chairman Tarique Rahman will be executed after bringing

31 Rohingyas waiting to make border crossings to BD from India

bdnews24.com :More Rohingyas are waiting to enter Bangladesh through Brahmanbaria's Kasba border from India amid fears of deportation to Myanmar."As many as 31 Rohingya women, men and children have

Huge cache of arms, explosives seized

Staff Reporter :Counter-Terrorism and Transnational Crime (CTTC) unit have seized a huge cache of firearms, ammunition and explosives during a raid in DOHS, Baridhara area of capital.Searching a residential

Dr Kamal goes to S'pore for treatment

UNB, Dhaka :Jatiya Oikyafront Convener Dr Kamal Hossain is going to Singapore on Saturday night for treatment.Dr Kamal along with his wife Hamida Hossain will leave Hazrat Shahjalal International

Experts for moral diplomacy to mount pressure on Myanmar

UNB, Dhaka :Bangladesh can explore more ways with much importance on "moral diplomacy" reaching out to everyone in global society to put pressure on Myanmar for ending the Rohingya