The world faces a 40% shortfall in water resources in 15 years unless global leaders take immediate action, the United Nations warned in an annual report issued to coincide with World Water Day March 22.
“A combination of low underwater reserves and erratic rainfall patterns caused by climate change has brought the problem to the fore,” The Independent reports, at a time when the global population is growing and more groundwater will be needed for farming, industry, and personal consumption. The UN expects global water demand to grow 55% by 2050, even as supplies fall 40% by 2030.
“Unless the balance between demand and finite supplies is restored, the world will face an increasingly severe global water deficit,” the report states.
If the projections in the report became a reality, “the consequences would be catastrophic,” Gander writes. “Crops could fail, ecosystems could break down, industries could collapse, disease and poverty could worsen, and violent conflicts over access to water could become more frequent.”