More than half of the world’s population is facing a severe water shortage, according to a new study that shows around 4 billion people suffer severe water scarcity for at least one month out of the year.
“Freshwater scarcity is a major risk to the global economy, affecting four billion people directly,” one of the study’s authors, Arjen Y. Hoekstra, told The New York Times.
The world’s population is currently around 7.4 billion people.
The water shortage is far worse than previously thought, Hoekstra and his colleague, Mesfin M. Mekonnen, each of the University of Twente in the Netherlands, discovered. Earlier studies estimated that between 1.7 and 3.1 billion people faced extreme water shortages.
“But since the remaining people in the world receive part of their food from the affected areas, it involves us all,” Hoekstra, a professor of water management, said.
Water rationing, crop failure, food shortages and higher food prices could be among the effects of the shortages.
World Is Drying Up
Two potential effects of water scarcity are war and terrorism. Some observers blame the Syrian Civil War and the refugee crisis on a severe water shortage in Syria.
Most of those affected by water scarcity live in China, India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, and Nigeria, Hoekstra said. The southern parts of the United States, including Texas, Arizona and much of California, also are impacted.
California is currently in the midst of a “mega-drought” that is devastating that state’s agriculture, Off The Grid News previously reported.
“That means that groundwater levels are falling, lakes are drying up, less water is flowing in rivers, and water supplies for industry and farmers are threatened,” Hoekstra said.
The study was published in the journal Science Advances.
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