Irrigation CanalBy Jacob Schewe, Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research
There are already many countries where the scarcity of water affects people’s lives. While water for drinking may be first to come to mind, as agriculture is the largest use of water worldwide water scarcity first and foremost is a threat to food supply. And as many industrial processes rely on water availability, it also hampers economic development.
In the simplest sense, water scarcity is supply falling short of demand. Demand for freshwater will increase in most regions of the world due to population growth. Between eight and ten billion people are expected to live on Earth in 2050, as opposed to six billion today. But as for supply, water resources will be affected by projected climate changes due to unabated greenhouse gas emissions, for instance through changes in the amount, pattern and timing of rainfall and evaporation.