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Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Sound the Alarm: 66% of the world will have severely limited access to water in just 7 years


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South Africa is in its death throws as the worst drought in the country’s recorded history is plaguing the Rainbow Nation. For the past few years, climate scientists have been issuing dire warnings: Day Zero is approaching, and fast.

The city is edging closer to a day – known locally as “Day Zero” – when supplies are so low authorities will have to cut off water to three quarters of the population.
Far from being a hypothetical scenario, Day Zero has a set date. It is currently expected on 9 July.
The perfect storm of conditions that led to this drought, specifically three consecutive years of extremely low rainfall, would generally be expected no more than once in a millennium.
Day Zero is the nickname given to the date when the city of Cape Town, South Africa is expected to be the first in the world to run out of water. And what’s even worse, the United Nations has made a statement claiming that this will happen to 2/3rds of the globe by the year 2025 — just 7 years from now.

According to the UN, climate change, population growth and consumption will likely result in two-thirds of the entire global population facing a lack of sufficient water resources by 2025.
In 2014, the UN issued a terrifying summary of the then-planet’s water scarcity: 20% of the global population was already experiencing potable fluid shortages

Water scarcity already affects every continent. Around 1.2 billion people, or almost one-fifth of the world's population, live in areas of physical scarcity, and 500 million people are approaching this situation. Another 1.6 billion people, or almost one quarter of the world's population, face economic water shortage (where countries lack the necessary infrastructure to take water from rivers and aquifers).
Water scarcity is among the main problems to be faced by many societies and the World in the XXIst century. Water use has been growing at more than twice the rate of population increase in the last century, and, although there is no global water scarcity as such, an increasing number of regions are chronically short of water.
Water scarcity is both a natural and a human-made phenomenon. There is enough freshwater on the planet for seven billion people but it is distributed unevenly and too much of it is wasted, polluted and unsustainably managed.

 (2014)
In just a few years since that article was written, the projection has increased to 66% of the global population within 7 years. And our water has become even more unsustainable and polluted: a microscopic plastic-filled garbage patch the size of Mexico was discovered recently in the Pacific ocean,

A new discovery of a massive amount of plastic floating in the South Pacific is yet another piece of bad news in the fight against ocean plastic pollution. This patch was recently discovered by Captain Charles Moore, founder of the Algalita Research Foundation, a non-profit group dedicated to solving the issue of marine plastic pollution.
Moore, who was the first one to discover the famed North Pacific garbage patch in 1997, estimates this zone of plastic pollution could be upwards of a million square miles in size. (Read: A Whopping 91% of Plastic Isn’t Recycled.)
coral bleaching is occurring at such a rapid pace that most scientists think it’s impossible to reverse—resulting in extremely toxic water,

The Great Barrier Reef will suffer “irreversible” damage by 2030 unless radical action is taken to lower carbon emissions, a stark new report has warned.
Unless temperatures are kept below the internationally agreed limit of 2C warming on pre-industrial levels, the reef will cease to be a coral-dominated ecosystem, the report warns.
Coral bleaching, which occurs when water becomes too warm and coral’s energy source is decimated, is now a “serious threat” to the reef, having not been documented in the region prior to 1979.
The increase in carbon dioxide pumped into the atmosphere, 90% of which is absorbed by the oceans, has already caused a 30% rise in the hydrogen ions that cause ocean acidification. This process hinders the ability of corals to produce the skeletal building blocks of reefs.
and plastics littering our oceans are bringing up the risk of infectious disease for the reefs, and for the animals who swim in them. 

Over four years, the team analyzed more than 124,000 corals, spanning 159 reefs in four countries: Myanmar, Thailand, Indonesia, and Australia. They found that under normal circumstances, just 4 percent of corals are afflicted by some kind of disease. But infections strike down 89 percent of corals that come into contact with plastic.
“I didn’t think we would be the ones to write this study,” says Lamb, because other scientists have already done so much research on plastic pollution. They’ve estimated that 5 trillion tiny pieces of plastic float in the seas. They’ve shown that some gets swallowed by seabirds because it smells like food. They’ve documented plastic waste on the shores of the world’s remotest islands.
But to Lamb’s surprise, no one had really estimated the extent of plastic junk on coral reefs, or studied how that junk relates to disease. Indeed, when people think about the many ills befalling reefs—rising temperatures, acidifying waters, overfishing, nutrient pollution, ravenous starfish—plastic rarely gets a mention.
Worse still, plastic-induced ailments disproportionately affect the corals that provide important habitats for fish—the ones that create intricate branches and layers. That same architectural complexity becomes easily filled and entwined with plastic, so these corals are eight times more likely to be diseased than simpler ones with rounded shapes.
Our cause for concern should be great. It’s easy to talk about the problem, but it’s time we start protesting the problem.

We are comfortable protesting for everything else that affects our lives: guns, tax cuts, women’s rights, nuclear proliferation, and politicians we hate. Now we need to have a unified front that protests for the health of our environment, before we don’t have a recognizable, safe environment left.

We are on an apocalyptic precipice, and the prognosis is not a good one.

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