(Via Ezra Klein)
The June issue of the American Prospect is devoted entirely to what they're calling The Global Freshwater Crisis, and its very distrubing.
As the ecological crisis deepens, so too does the human crisis. More children are killed by dirty water than by war, malaria, HIV/AIDS, and traffic accidents combined. The global water crisis has become a powerful symbol of the growing inequality in our world. While the wealthy enjoy boutique water at any time, millions of poor people have access only to contaminated water from local rivers and wells.
The world is facing a water crisis due to pollution, climate change, and surging population growth of unprecedented magnitude. Unless we change our ways, by the year 2025 two-thirds of the world's population will face water scarcity. The global population tripled in the 20th century, but water consumption went up sevenfold. By 2050, after we add another 3 billion to the population, humans will need an 80 percent increase in water supplies just to feed ourselves. No one knows where this water is going to come from.
Scientists call them "hot stains" -- the parts of the Earth now running out of potable water. They include northern China, large areas of Asia and Africa, the Middle East, Australia, the Midwestern United States, and sections of South America and Mexico.
The worst effects on people are, of course, in those areas of the world with large populations and insufficient resources to provide sanitation. Two-fifths of the world's people lack access to proper sanitation, which has led to massive outbreaks of waterborne diseases. Half of the world's hospital beds are occupied by people with an easily preventable waterborne disease, and the World Health Organization reports that environmental factors, including contaminated water, are implicated in 80 percent of all sickness and disease worldwide. In the last decade, the number of children killed by diarrhea exceeded the number of people killed in all armed conflicts since World War II. Every eight seconds, a child dies from drinking dirty water.
The WHO's Water Page.
The very extensive Water Page from World Watch Institute.