The ‘Petroleum’ of the 21st century: Water Security in the Face of Growing Population, Economies, and the Advance of Climate Change

By Benjamin Abbs
It is estimated by 2030 there will be a 40% shortfall in the global water supply. Clearly this presents a major resource supply challenge, but of equal significance is the ability of local water tensions to quickly mushroom to have national, regional, and global political  consequences.
While the quantity of fresh water in the world is not decreasing, population and economic growth is massively fuelling demand whilst global warming is increasingly affecting water distribution. In the past century, the world population has tripled, water use has increased six fold, and it is predicted that supplying a planet of 9 billion (population projection for 2050) would require at least 50% more water than we use today. Economic growth further increases the strain on water resources through pollution caused by industrial growth and improving living standards which encourage more water-demanding lifestyles and diets (the average hamburger takes 2400 litres of water to produce).

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