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Just How Stressed Out Is Your Drinking Water?

World  (tags: water, science, politics, protection, humans, world, society, usa, middle-east, israel, ethics, HumanRights, humanrights, 'HUMANRIGHTS!', asia, africa, china, europe )

- 2215 days ago -
The Water Stress Index ranks those nations most at risk of running out of our planet's most valued resource.


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JL A (281)
Monday April 29, 2013, 8:32 pm
Just How Stressed Out Is Your Drinking Water?
The Water Stress Index ranks those nations most at risk of running out of our planet’s most valued resource.
By Jon Bowermaster
April 29, 2013

world water crisis drought water index

A farmer carrying a hoe walks past a dried-up pond in Shilin Yi Autonomous County, China, on February 28, 2013. In the coming decades, China and its booming popupation is expected to be hit particularly hard by the global water crisis. (Photo: Stringer/Reuters)

If you're truly into scary things—and I'm not talking about the latest schlocky Hollywood horror film, but true fright, at least from a global resources perspective—scroll through data culled by high-end risk management consultants.

Take Maplecroft, for example. Their Global Risk Portfolio emphasizes political upheaval, human right "dilemmas," and ranks nations most at-risk due to the changing climate and water shortages.

And then there's the the Food and Agriculture Organization, run by the United Nation, which offers a more "for the people, by the people" approach to the world's many problems, be they famine, war, or the global water crisis.

"Water security" is the most common phrase, defined as the ability of a country to provide an adequate quantity of clean water for its people to support "a climate of peace and political stability."

Several recent reports have focused on what they call "water stress" levels.

Specifically, which countries around the globe are most at risk due to an existing lack of fresh water or one anticipated in the near future. As populations grow, increasing water use per capita and depleting reserves of groundwater, there's no doubt that blue gold is becoming one of the world's most precious commodities.

Political unrest in the driest parts of the world has only heightened the focus on who's got water, and who does not.

Not too surprisingly, a recent study by Maplecroft—its Water Stress Index—ranks 186 countries by low, medium, high or extreme risk.

Using sophisticated mapping software that measures four square-mile sections of ocean around the planet, the index calculates the ratio of domestic, industrial, and agricultural water consumption against renewable supplies of water from precipitation, rivers and ground water.

According to the Water Stress Index, the top ten nations soon to be out of water are all in the Mideast.

1) Bahrain

2) Qatar

3) Kuwait

4) Saudi Arabia

5) Libya

6) Western Sahara

7) Yemen

8) Israel

9) Djibouti

10) Jordan

But it's not just the Mideast that is at risk. Australia, South Africa, Spain, Cuba and Hong Kong are all considered to have a "high" level of water stress, which means having water demand above 40 percent of the maximum renewable resource.

India is ranked 30, China 56. The U.S. is 65. Its most at-risk region are the four corners of the Southwest: New Mexico, Arizona, Colorado and Nevada.

Of course it shouldn't require access to a satellite to predict that the driest, desert-covered spots on the face of planet Earth are at risk of running out of water. It's what's between the lines that make these studies most valuable. And also how new technology can help, specifically by improving so-called "water productivity," or using water smarter when it comes to growing food.
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Maplecroft analyst Tom Styles, for example, points out that though India, South Korea and China are headed for dry futures as human populations and demand grow, all three nations are thirstily buying up water-rich farmland in other countries.

Styles dubs them "land grabs" and reports they are taking place on a massive scale across Africa. In the Democratic Republic of Congo, for example, China has contracted to grow more than five million acres of palm oil. In war-torn Sudan, companies from South Korea and the United Arab Emirates have bought millions of acres of farmland.

More aggressively, Qatar paid to construct a deep-water port in Kenya in exchange for nearly a million acres of prime agricultural land.

The downside to these deals is that homelands and big business are often profiting at the cost of putting their own countrymen at risk by depleting national water supplies. Kenya, nor Sudan, has that much fresh water to share.

The biggest gamble in any of these assessments is a future impacted by a changing climate, which may render many of these new "investments" moot in the next few decades.

Countries that rate "low risk" for water stress today may not be so stress-free tomorrow as the planet continues to heat up.

Jeanne Young (19)
Monday April 29, 2013, 8:44 pm
While Big Business continues to seek, fight for, make HUGE profits from fossil fuels, adding to global warming - OH YEAH!

Sue H (7)
Monday April 29, 2013, 8:46 pm
Very disturbing information, especially countries buying up land in other countries. Water wars seem likely. :(
If we don't stop polluting our fresh waterways, where will we our water from. I hate to think about being dependent on another country for one of our natural resources.

Terry V (30)
Tuesday April 30, 2013, 3:46 am

Earth Cry

"There is something fundamentally wrong with treating the earth as if it were a business in liquidation."
~ Herman Daly

Ben O (131)
Tuesday April 30, 2013, 3:56 am
My drinking water is just fine!

JL A (281)
Tuesday April 30, 2013, 6:32 am
Thanks Terry for the great quote and link to the wonderful short video!
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. (0)
Tuesday April 30, 2013, 9:14 am
This is what happens when you cut down all the trees; overpopulate; create dams to control rivers through unnatural means and generally rape the hell out of your environment. They all want to be rich well go ahead and now you can reap the whirlwind.

Are you paying attention Mr. Harper and Mr. Kent? Is this what you want for Canada because this is what that Asia Pacific Trade Agreement will end up doing unless Canada insists and demands that its environmental and mining processes are kept to the highest standards.

Kit B (276)
Tuesday April 30, 2013, 9:57 am

Agreed Michael. It seems a bit short sighted to leave the US off that list, we are rapidly seeing our rivers polluted and drying, our aquifers have been turned into dumping grounds. Water wars and Food wars are not that far off in the distance.

JL A (281)
Tuesday April 30, 2013, 10:11 am
You cannot currently send a star to Kit because you have done so within the last day.

Donna E (0)
Tuesday April 30, 2013, 1:07 pm
I really wish this topic would make it to mainstream news media. I have been asking people for many years to stop wasting water when they just leave it running for a long time while doing something that doesn't require water at the moment--many have become so lazy. Sometimes they annoy me enough where I just turn it off and then I get the "look" which doesn't bother me. A former water waster finally started to get charged for her water usage so she woke up; I told her it's about time you start paying for it. Water will become our most precious commodity in the future as the weather patterns continue to change. Humans cannot exist without it.

Past Member (0)
Tuesday April 30, 2013, 1:50 pm
We get plenty of water here with all the rain but their will be problems with water and resources unless they stop immigration in to this small island water can be unpredictable

Angelika R (143)
Tuesday April 30, 2013, 1:57 pm
Michael K- that is wishful thinking. "kept to the highest standards" -LOL. that is not even the case now so don't expect anything from China!
I also agree that it is most negligent to not list the US with a high stress level in any regard of environmental matters! Not just water. Gee, are WE LUCKY here-so far.. Beyond me how African leaders can be so shortsighted, likely all for greed. They cannot be just more stupid or less informed and smart than e.g. the Arabs who are buying them out.

Lin Penrose (92)
Tuesday April 30, 2013, 1:59 pm
Thank you J.L. A key phrase is "as populations (human) grow.". The human population explosion and earth resources consumption, are now the facing realities of limited "clean" resources. Can't have unrestricted consumption from limited resources, especially when the resources are polluted beyond foreseeable the consumers. In simple words, we humans are facing population reduction, whether we like it or not (we don't). Therefore, we won't need very much clean and available earth, air and water or food. Perhaps we will adapt to the filthy leftovers.

JL A (281)
Tuesday April 30, 2013, 2:22 pm
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Birgit W (160)
Tuesday April 30, 2013, 2:51 pm

Aurea Aurea Walker (226)
Tuesday April 30, 2013, 4:21 pm
How ironic that the most oil rich countries are inversely affected by lack of water. They may have the money now, but both the oil and money will eventually run out. Those with water excess will become the new rulers H2O kings. Former lousy president georgie porgie and his family are buying up water rights in Guatemala at warp speed. Most humans can only go 3 days without water. When it becomes a scarcity worldwide, all hell will break loose.

JL A (281)
Tuesday April 30, 2013, 5:29 pm
You are welcome Lin and Birgit.
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Theodore Shayne (56)
Tuesday April 30, 2013, 5:47 pm
Welcome to the next commodity that along with food wars will be fought over.

. (0)
Tuesday April 30, 2013, 6:28 pm
Actually Angelika you are right. It might appear to be wishful thinking. Maybe I will never get my desire to have a clean world at least as clean as it can be with the human parasite on it. It is necessary to mine and harvest resources in order to manufacture goods. My desire is that in Canada perhaps there is still a chance that we can achieve this with utilizing methodology and processes that will minimize the environmental impact. It is a long shot but what would you have me do; sit back, STFU and accept the status quo? Evil triumphs when good men stand idly by and do nothing. Germany is already considering all those mining projects that were turned down in earlier years. What will you do if they approve them? Good luck.

JL A (281)
Tuesday April 30, 2013, 6:36 pm
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cynthia l (207)
Tuesday April 30, 2013, 10:25 pm
frightening Man will not wake up until the last animal is dad and all the water is poisioned and the earth cracks open
oh i forgot there's no shortages and no global warming

JL A (281)
Tuesday April 30, 2013, 10:33 pm
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Julie W (33)
Wednesday May 1, 2013, 1:43 am
Thank you for the article.

If I object to China buying up land in Australia I am seen as racist. Nothing of the sort!.

Ro H (0)
Wednesday May 1, 2013, 3:39 am

bob m (32)
Wednesday May 1, 2013, 7:22 am

My home land Canada is probably at the top of riches where fresh water is concerned.. I am appaled at how we are treating is more precious than gold..why are we such fools?

JL A (281)
Wednesday May 1, 2013, 8:31 am
You are welcome Ro
You cannot currently send a star to Julie because you have done so within the last day.

Sergio Padilla (65)
Tuesday May 7, 2013, 3:34 pm
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