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13 February, 2018 12:48:28 PM / LAST MODIFIED: 13 February, 2018 04:21:11 PM

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For global water crisis, climate may be the last straw

Independent Online/AFP
For global water crisis, climate may be the last straw

Before man-made climate change kicked in -- and well before “Day Zero” in Cape Town, where taps may run dry in early May -- the global water crisis was upon us.

Freshwater resources were already badly stressed before heat-trapping carbon emissions from fossil fuels began to warm Earth’s surface and affect rainfall.

In some countries, major rivers -- diverted, dammed or over-exploited -- no longer reach the sea. Aquifers millennia in the making are being sucked dry.

Pollution in many forms is tainting water above ground and below.

Cape Town, though, was not especially beset by any of these problems. Indeed, in 2014 the half-dozen reservoirs that served the South African city's four million people brimmed with rainwater.

But that was before a record-breaking, three-year, once-every-three-centuries drought reduced them to a quarter capacity or less.


Today, Capetonians are restricted to 50 litres a day (13.2 US gallons) -- less than runs down the drain when the average American takes a shower.

Climate scientists foretold trouble, but it arrived ahead of schedule, said Helen Zille, premier of the Western Cape province.

"Climate change was to have hit us in 2025," she told a local news outlet.

"The South Africa Weather Services have told me that their models don't work any more."

Worldwide, the water crises hydra has been quietly growing for decades.

Since 2015, the World Economic Forum's annual Global Risk Report has consistently ranked "water crises" as among the global threats with the greatest potential impact -- above natural disasters, mass migration and cyberattacks.

Borrowed time

"Across the densely-populated Indo-Gangetic Plain" -- home to more than 600 million people in India, Pakistan and Bangladesh -- "groundwater is being pumped out at an unsustainable and terrifying rate," said Graham Cogley, a professor emeritus at Trent University in Ontario Canada.

NS

 

 

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Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
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Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman
Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

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