Water Scarcity Looms as Population, Temperature Rise

Bookmark and Share
Water scarcity is increasing in many regions as factors including population growth, climate change, and pollution restrict the amount of water available relative to demand. In 2008, 1.4 billion people lived in "closed basins"-regions where existing water cannot meet the agricultural, municipal, and environmental needs for all. This number is expected to grow to 1.8 billion by 2025.

According to the latest Vital Signs snapshot of water scarcity trends:

  • Population growth is a major driver of water scarcity at the regional and global levels. Urbanization and rising incomes-two trends prominent in rapidly developing countries such as China, India, and Brazil-also contribute to increased domestic and industrial demand for water.
  • Several major rivers, including the Indus, Rio Grande, Colorado, Murray-Darling, and Yellow, no longer reach the sea year-round as a growing share of their waters are claimed for various uses.
  • Diets heavy in livestock are water intensive because of the huge quantities of water required for livestock production. Similarly, fossil fuel production requires many times more water than renewable energy sources do.

This new water scarcity update includes the latest figures on water consumption by energy type and water dependence of selected countries.

Read the Vital Signs analysis, "Water Scarcity Looms."

Complete trends will soon be available with full endnote referencing, Excel spreadsheets, and customizable presentation-ready charts as part of our new subscription service, Vital Signs Online, slated to launch this fall.