Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Water Scarcity Will Create Global Security Concerns: 'We Have Very Little Time,' Says Nobel Winner

Date:
October 6, 2009
Source:
Dick Jones Communications
Summary:
Water scarcity as a result of climate change will create far-reaching global security concerns, says Dr. Rajendra K. Pachauri, chair of the intergovernmental panel on climate change, at the 2009 Nobel Conference at Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter, Minn., on Oct. 6, 2009.

Water scarcity as a result of climate change will create far-reaching global security concerns, says Dr. Rajendra K. Pachauri, chair of the intergovernmental panel on climate change, a co-recipient of the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize.

Pachauri spoke recently at the 2009 Nobel Conference at Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter, MN.

"At one level the world's water is like the world's wealth. Globally, there is more than enough to go round. The problem is that some countries get a lot more than others," he says. "With 31 percent of global freshwater resources, Latin America has 12 times more water per person than South Asia. Some places, such as Brazil and Canada, get far more water than they can use; others, such as countries in the Middle East, get much less than they need."

And the effects of a warmer world will likely include changes in water availability.

"Up to 1.2 billion people in Asia, 250 million Africans and 81 million Latin Americans will be exposed to increased water stress by 2020," Pachauri says. Water shortages have an enormous impact of human health, including malnutrition, pathogen or chemical loading, infectious disease from water contamination, and uncontrolled water reuse.

"Due to the very large number of people that may be affected, food and water scarcity may be the most important health consequences of climate change," Pachauri says.

When communities fight over water resources, there's a great danger for a disruption of peace and security. "That water scarcity plays a role in creating the preconditions of desperation and discontent is undeniable," he says. Competition for water from the river Jordan was a major cause of the 1967 war. India has been in dispute with Pakistan over the Indus and with Bangladesh over the Ganges.

"Over 260 river basins are shared by two or more countries," he says. "As the resource is becoming scarce, tensions among different users may intensify, both at the national and international level. In the absence of strong institutions and agreements, changes within a basin can lead to trans-boundary tensions."

"We live on a small planet where communication and influences go from one corner of the Earth to another," he says. "If there's a major disruption to peace in one part of the globe, no other part is insulated from it. We need to look at what happens to the rest of the world with some degree of alarm; these influences have very dangerous implications for the rest of the world."

Societies so far have been able to adapt to changes in weather and climate – via crop diversification, irrigation, disaster risk management, and insurance – but climate change might go beyond what our traditional coping mechanisms can handle, Pachauri suggests.

Even societies with "high adaptive capacity" are vulnerable to climate change, variability and extremes, he says, citing examples of the 2003 heat wave that took the lives of many elderly in European cities and 2005's Hurricane Katrina.

"A technological society has two choices," Pachauri says. "It can wait until catastrophic failures expose systemic deficiencies, distortion and self-deceptions, or the culture can provide social checks and balances to correct for systemic distortion prior to catastrophic failures."

"Global emissions of greenhouse gases will have to decline by 2015. If we can achieve that, we may be able to avoid the worst effects of climate change," he says. "The costs of this are not high. A major mitigation would only postpone growth domestic product growth by one year at most over the medium term. That's not a high price to pay for the world."

"There is no more crucial issue to human society than the future of water on this planet," he says. "We must work diligently to see that the worst effects don't come to pass. We have very little time. Unless we act with a sense of urgency, there will certainly be conflict and a disruption of peace."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Dick Jones Communications. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Dick Jones Communications. "Water Scarcity Will Create Global Security Concerns: 'We Have Very Little Time,' Says Nobel Winner." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 6 October 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/10/091006155858.htm>.
Dick Jones Communications. (2009, October 6). Water Scarcity Will Create Global Security Concerns: 'We Have Very Little Time,' Says Nobel Winner. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 19, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/10/091006155858.htm
Dick Jones Communications. "Water Scarcity Will Create Global Security Concerns: 'We Have Very Little Time,' Says Nobel Winner." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/10/091006155858.htm (accessed April 19, 2014).

Share This



More Science & Society News

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Drought Concerns May Hurt Lake Tourism

Drought Concerns May Hurt Lake Tourism

AP (Apr. 18, 2014) Operators of recreational businesses on western reservoirs worry that ongoing drought concerns will keep boaters and other visitors from flocking to the popular summer attractions. (April 18) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Small Reactors Could Be Future of Nuclear Energy

Small Reactors Could Be Future of Nuclear Energy

AP (Apr. 17, 2014) After the Fukushima nuclear disaster, the industry fell under intense scrutiny. Now, small underground nuclear power plants are being considered as the possible future of the nuclear energy. (April 17) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Heartbleed Hack Leads To Arrest

Heartbleed Hack Leads To Arrest

Newsy (Apr. 17, 2014) A 19-year-old computer science student has been arrested in relation to a data breach of 900 social insurance numbers from Canada's revenue agency. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Scientists Create Stem Cells From Adult Skin Cells

Scientists Create Stem Cells From Adult Skin Cells

Newsy (Apr. 17, 2014) The breakthrough could mean a cure for some serious diseases and even the possibility of human cloning, but it's all still a way off. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins