As global water demand, the bulk of which comes from agriculture, continues to rise, the water-deprived regions of the world will continue to experience the associated social upheaval, violence and suffering that is commonly associated with water-deprivation.
Of the three billion people projected to be added to the planet over the next half century, most will be born in countries already dealing with severe water shortage. In the coming years, climate instability will drive populations around the globe from small towns and villages to larger urban centers where their water usage becomes much more intense.
Studies of world water consumption show that it is our dietary choices, even more than our population growth, that is determining the intensity of our global water usage. Today, more than fifty percent of the water consumed worldwide, including both water diverted from rivers and water pumped from underground, is used for irrigating animal fodder.
Population analysis also suggests that the growing demand for grain-fed meat from newly affluent populations around the world will place ever more pressure on the planet’s limited fresh water resources. It takes exponentially more water to grow the grain needed to feed the animals we eat than it does to grow the same amount of vegetable protein and consume it directly.
Here are a few key facts of water-related human suffering around the globe.
Currently, over 1.2 billion people worldwide are without access to safe drinking water and more than 5 million people each year now die from preventable water-related diseases.
12% of the world population lacks clean drinking water, including 319 million Sub-Saharan Africans, 554 million Asians and 50 million Latin Americans.
Each day on the planet 4,500 children die due to lack of access to clean water.
40% of the world’s population now faces water scarcity. By 2025 this is likely to increase to 66%, or two thirds of the population.