​The Nations That Will Be Hardest Hit by Water Shortages by 2040

Israel, Palestine, Syria, Iraq, Spain, Greece, and Chile are all headed towards dangerous levels of water stress.

Okay, so every since I saw that scene in Mad Max: Fury Road (where the dictator Joe is in control of all the water, as he has access to a pump deep underground, and everyone else is scrambling below him for drops of water), it's stuck with me. They're caked with dirt, their skin and lips are dry from barely getting any water and they are slaves to him, simply because he controls the only source of water.

So this article makes that dystopia a little bit more of a reality: The Nations That Will Be Hardest Hit By Water Shortages by 2040 | Motherboard. It talks about which countries will have an increasing demand for water alongside decreasing rainfall, creating extreme levels of water stress.

Interesting tidbits I'd like to jot down and recall:

  • Water stress is determined by a simple ratio, WRI’s Charles Iceland tells me: “Water demand to available water."
  • The Institute says the Middle East faces “exceptional water-related challenges for the foreseeable future.” Saudi Arabia, for instance, is currently planning on surviving nearly entirely on imported water by just next year.
  • Two things can make stress go up,” he says. “Demand goes up, from population growth or economic growth, or supply goes down, because of climate change. In some parts of the world climate change will lead to decreased rainfall.” He cites the American Southwest, Australia, and parts of Europe and the Middle East as examples.
  • “The more powerful driver is on the demand side,” however, he says, as more people are migrating to cities and population centers, often to escape conditions exacerbated by climate change. Then, the strain on the available water infrastructure deepens. Secondly, as populations become more prosperous, they tend to use more water, “so as we see GDP levels go up we’re going to be demanding more water per capita,” Iceland says.

(I think this is particularly relevant as we will be seeing more and more of the world's population go up in income class. For example, China has a hugely expanding middle class who are already creating huge increases in demand for meat, consumer products and, obviously, water).

  • Now, two things can happen when concentrated populations place serious enough water stress on a city or region: “You become more efficient, or you move away to a place that has more water. Hopefully, to minimize the water refugee problem, you get more efficient.”
  • Efficiency was the route taken by Melbourne, Australia, which thrived during its megadrought in the 00s, and is currently being undertaken in California. “You use drip irrigation systems,” Iceland says, and regulate farming practices. “In most countries 70-90 percent of water demand is for irrigation,” he says.
  • Otherwise, we’re going to see what he terms “water refugees”—people abandoning arid lands en masse, in hopes of finding places with more water.