Preventing water crises
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Preventing water crises

Hunger and thirst: hundreds of thousands may flee due to climate change

The effects of climate change are becoming increasingly perceptible: fertile land turn into desert and water reserves run out fast. This has grave consequences, as many millions of people will be forced to leave their homes, and increasing numbers of climate refugees will migrate to Europe.

According to a study published in Environmental Research Letters, the intolerable heat will make many places around the globe, primarily deserts and very humid areas, uninhabitable by the end of the century.

The problems caused by the high temperatures resulting from climate change, such as food and water shortages, threaten the Amazon rainforest, the central and western parts of Africa, northern India,
eastern China and the southeastern region of the United States the most.

Researchers at Columbia University have published a paper in Science claiming that if the warming trend continues, the number of people fleeing the heat, famine and the lack of water and migrating to Europe could increase by 660 thousand a year by 2100.

Using data from collected between 2000 and 2014, the scientists sought correlations between the number of days with average temperature over 20 degrees Celsius and increases in the number of refugees. Their vantage point was the scenario predicted by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change in which the global average temperature increased by 4.8 °C relative to the preindustrial by the end of the century.

The researchers acknowledged that such models involve a lot of uncertainty, as the number of refugees would only increase at such a rate if warming continued at the current rate. On the other hand, the number of refugees could also drop if the hotter countries develop better ways of adapting to climate change, such as the development of drought-resistant crops or modernisation of their infrastructure.

Water shortages are already endangering very many towns in Africa, and the problem will only get worse with further global warming, forcing increasing numbers of people to flee Photo: Shutterstock
Further information: Futurism

Lost treasure: are water shortages a global or a local problem?

24 years ago, the UN designated June 17th as World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought. The importance and the relevance of the topic is marked by the fact that water shortage is one of the main themes of this year’s greatest event in diplomacy, the Budapest Water Summit 2019.

Warming can directly affect the risk of armed conflicts

A new study published in Nature, authored by 11 internationally recognised experts on climate and military conflicts has looked at the impact of the global increase in temperature on the incidence of armed conflicts.

Disappearing lakes

Large lakes that have dried up and disappeared are among the saddest and most spectacular signs of global warming. Where a lake dries out, it is not only water that disappears: it is only a matter of time before wildlife, plants, animals, and then people, cultures and living communities are also extinguished.

Freshwater acidify due to carbon dioxide emission

Many studies warn us that rising CO2 levels in the atmosphere caused by the burning of fossil fuels is making the oceans grow acidic, a major threat to marine life. Comparatively less attention has been paid to freshwater ecosystems from that perspective...

Devastating, 50 °C heat wave in India

In Northern India, temperatures reached astonishing peaks in the last few days, in excess of 50 degrees Celsius. The heat, which is making millions suffer, has also caused a number of deaths. The situation is rendered worse by water restrictions introduced as wells, lakes and rivers dried up.

A Brussels icon has become symbol of saving water

We must act responsibly to protect our waters, as increasing pollution is jeopardising our dwindling stores of freshwater. The famous Manneken Pis statue in Brussels has now gone on strike: it will no longer pee fresh water, so as to save water and to focus attention on the tremendous quantity of drinking water we waste each and every day.

Groundwater shortages: future generations at risk?

Climate change doesn’t only threaten surface waters: according to a study by Nature Climate Change, groundwater shortages could also cause major problems for future generations. In the next century, it is expected that only half the world’s groundwater reserves will still be replenished.

El Niño has not been this strong in centuries

Drought and forest fires, or on the contrary, massive storms and floods. The natural disasters caused by El Niño keep growing ever larger. The problem is already massive in Australia, Southeast Asia and America, but experts warn that the situation will get even worse in the future.

One of Chile’s most popular lakes dried up

Laguna de Aculeo was one of Chile’s most popular bathing destinations, less than a two-hour drive from the capital. In April 2019, NASA published shocking photos of the drastic change that the lake has undergone over the last five years.

Will the Rhine run dry?

A number of signs indicate that water levels of the Rhine will drop significantly in the near future, which is worrying news not only for the river’s ecosystem – it may also have a major impact on the German economy.