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Julia Tier
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Water Scarcity Looms as Population, Temperature Rise

WASHINGTON - Water scarcity is increasing in many regions as factors including
population growth, climate change, and pollution restrict the amount of
water available relative to demand. In 2008, 1.4 billion people lived
in "closed basins"-regions where existing water cannot meet the
agricultural, municipal, and environmental needs for all. This number
is expected to grow to 1.8 billion by 2025.

According to the latest Vital Signs snapshot of water scarcity trends:

  • Population growth is a major driver of water scarcity at the
    regional and global levels. Urbanization and rising incomes-two trends
    prominent in rapidly developing countries such as China, India, and
    Brazil-also contribute to increased domestic and industrial demand for
  • Several major rivers, including the Indus, Rio Grande,
    Colorado, Murray-Darling, and Yellow, no longer reach the sea
    year-round as a growing share of their waters are claimed for various
  • Diets heavy in livestock are water intensive because of
    the huge quantities of water required for livestock production.
    Similarly, fossil fuel production requires many times more water than
    renewable energy sources do.

This new water scarcity update includes the latest figures on water
consumption by energy type and water dependence of selected countries.

Read the Vital Signs analysis, "Water Scarcity Looms."

Complete trends will soon be available with full endnote referencing,
Excel spreadsheets, and customizable presentation-ready charts as part
of our new subscription service, Vital Signs Online, slated to launch this fall.


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The Worldwatch Institute is an independent research organization recognized by opinion leaders around the world for its accessible, fact-based analysis of critical global issues. Its mission is to generate and promote insights and ideas that empower decision makers to build an ecologically sustainable society that meets human needs.

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