For some of the world’s most pressing water questions, the answer is in nature.
Clean, plentiful water depends on healthy surrounding natural systems such as forests. Much of the world’s water is filtered through forested watersheds, which improve water quality and protect water supply. Large forests like the Amazon even help control the “rivers of the sky,” which dictate rainfall patterns hundreds of miles away.
While both the world’s forests and water supply are under threat, their intertwined relationship also means that these systems can be improved simultaneously. Current water crises are impacted by three specific challenges – climate change, forest fires and extreme weather – all of which can benefit from valuing and restoring forests. Read more
Think about your “water footprint,” the water you use day-to-day. Drinking, brushing your teeth or doing laundry are things that probably come to mind. But the truth is that people eat way more water than they drink or use for household tasks. While the average person drinks 2 to 4 liters of water a day, it requires an astonishing 2,000 to 5,000 liters of water to produce the food that the average person eats each day!
Producing food that the average person eats in a day requires 2,000 to 5,000 liters of water.
Agriculture accounts for 70 percent of Earth’s freshwater withdrawals each year. As climate change exacerbates water stress and populations grow, rivers and lakes may not be able to keep up with demand. Here are five ways companies, farmers and consumers can lessen the food system’s impact on water: Read more
Healthy forests are critical to providing clean water. Forests can positively impact the quantity, quality and filtration costs associated with a city’s water, sometimes even reducing the need for costly concrete and steel infrastructure.
Deforestation in the Amazon can affect rainfall in places as far away as Texas.
The world’s major watersheds lost 6 percent of their tree cover on average from 2000-2014. Today, about 31 percent of the world’s watershed area is covered by forests. Deforestation in these watersheds, often caused by commodity and agricultural production, can contaminate water, fuel floods and drought, and lead to higher water treatment costs. Read more
Once-unthinkable water crises are becoming commonplace.
Reservoirs in Chennai, India’s sixth-largest city, are nearly dry right now. Last year, residents of Cape Town, South Africa narrowly avoided their own “Day Zero” water shut-off. And the year before that, Rome rationed water to conserve scarce resources.
The reasons for these crises go far deeper than drought: Through new hydrological models, WRI found that water withdrawals globally have more than doubled since the 1960s due to growing demand – and they show no signs of slowing down.
New data from WRI’s Aqueduct tools reveal that 17 countries – home to one-quarter of the world’s population—face “extremely high” levels of baseline water stress, where irrigated agriculture, industries and municipalities withdraw more than 80% of their available supply on average every year. Forty-four countries, home to one-third of the world, face “high” levels of stress, where on average more than 40% of available supply is withdrawn every year. (Check your country’s water stress level in the full rankings at the end of this post.) Such a narrow gap between supply and demand leaves countries vulnerable to fluctuations like droughts or increased water withdrawals, which is why we’re seeing more and more communities facing their own “Day Zeros” and other crises. Read more
In the atmosphere of an exoplanet just 111 light-years away, astronomers have just made a highly exciting discovery: they’ve detected water.
As much as 50 percent of the atmosphere of K2-18b could be water vapour. But unlike other giant exoplanets on which atmospheric water has been detected, K2-18b is a super-Earth. It could be rocky, like Earth, Mars and Venus.
Not only could this discovery help us to understand the atmospheres of habitable zone exoplanets in general, but those of habitable zone rocky exoplanets in close orbit around red dwarf stars. Read more