The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) estimates that 2050 will see some 2 billion people deprived of access to drinking water, and that the numbers will increase to 3.2 billion by 2080. But also keep in mind that, by that time, the world population will have increased from 6.1 billion to 10+ billion. Such a growth rate will put strenuous demands on food and water supplies, which are even now beginning to decline.
Scientists caution that current climate change evolutions are a major threat to water circuits across the world. Wong Poh Poh, National University of Singapore professor, said on Tuesday at a regional global warming conference that floods, droughts and storms are beginning to take an ever-increasing toll on the world's water supply. Couple that with the fact that most global sweet water reserves – trapped in glaciers atop mountains – are dwindling, and you might get a piece of the picture that defines the world today.
Speaking at the Asia Pacific Regional Water Conference, Poh said that "In Asia, water distribution is uneven and large areas are under water stress. Climate change is going to exacerbate this scarcity." His arguments are backed up by the IPCC, which says that, already, some 1.1 billion people, mostly in Africa and Asia, have reduced access to clean water, or are falling ill because they consume unclean water, from unsafe sources.
Malaysian state water association chairman, Rozali Ismail, said at the conference that "As human civilization develops, the environment is increasingly affected in negative ways. Floods, drought, changing rainfall patterns and rising temperatures are signs of our misdeeds to nature." Demographic booms in China and India are currently testing the ability of the Asian continent to provide water to its more than 4 billion people.
The only solution to this crisis would be the implementation of a worldwide agreement that will regulate both emissions and water usage, but, in order for that to happen, countries such as the United States, India and China would have to sit down and sign the papers as well. They did not do this at the Kyoto Convention, out of fear that saving the planet might cause their economies some damage.
The December 2009 International Conference, scheduled to take place in Copenhagen, will dictate the way our world will be shaped in the coming decades.