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UNDERNEWS

Undernews is the online report of the Progressive Review, edited by Sam Smith, who covered Washington during all or part of ten of America's presidencies and who has edited alternative journals since 1964. The Review, which has been on the web since 1995, is now published from Freeport, Maine. We get over 5 million article visits a year. See prorev.com for full contents of our site

February 18, 2010

CLIMATE CHANGE'S EFFECT ON WATER

POPULATION MEDIA CENTER -  Water scarcity as a result of climate change will create far-reaching global security concerns, says Dr. Rajendra K. Pachauri, chair of the intergovernmental panel on climate change, a co-recipient of the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize. hauri spoke this morning at the 2009 Nobel Conference at Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter, MN.

"At one level the world's water is like the world's wealth. Globally, there is more than enough to go round. The problem is that some countries get a lot more than others," he says. "With 31 percent of global freshwater resources, Latin America has 12 times more water per person than South Asia. Some places, such as Brazil and Canada, get far more water than they can use; others, such as countries in the Middle East, get much less than they need."

And the effects of a warmer world will likely include changes in water availability.

"Up to 1.2 billion people in Asia, 250 million Africans and 81 million Latin Americans will be exposed to increased water stress by 2020," Pachauri says. Water shortages have an enormous impact of human health, including malnutrition, pathogen or chemical loading, infectious disease from water contamination, and uncontrolled water reuse.

"Due to the very large number of people that may be affected, food and water scarcity may be the most important health consequences of climate change," Pachauri says.

"Over 260 river basins are shared by two or more countries," he says. "As the resource is becoming scarce, tensions among different users may intensify, both at the national and international level. In the absence of strong institutions and agreements, changes within a basin can lead to trans-boundary tensions."

Even societies with "high adaptive capacity" are vulnerable to climate change, variability and extremes, he says, citing examples of the 2003 heat wave that took the lives of many elderly in European cities and 2005's Hurricane Katrina.

"A technological society has two choices," Pachauri says. "It can wait until catastrophic failures expose systemic deficiencies, distortion and self-deceptions, or the culture can provide social checks and balances to correct for systemic distortion prior to catastrophic failures."



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