Study: World population facing water stress could ‘double’ by 2050 as climate warms

Carbon Brief discusses how the world’s population facing water stress could ‘double’ by 2050 as climate warms.

The number of people exposed to water stress could double by 2050 if efforts are not made to keep global warming below 2C above pre-industrial levels and future population growth is high, a study finds.

This means an additional 380 million people could face water stress by mid-century, when compared to the number in 2010.

The new study, published in Earth’s Future, examines how climate change could shape water stress across international borders. “Water stress” is a measurement of the ratio between water use and availability, the authors say. It is specifically a measure of “demand-driven” water scarcity, they explain in their research paper:

“The focus here is on water stress – calculated as a water use-to-availability ratio – because…it captures well a simple intuition about how water use and availability relate: when water is abundant, water use generally has less impact than when water is in short supply.”

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