Drought, Heat and Mismanagement Make Getting Fresh Water an Increasingly Tough Task

As the world warms from human-caused climate change, fresh water for drinking, cooking and cleaning is becoming harder to get for many people. That’s because the warming world is leading to erratic rainfall patterns, extreme heat and periods of drought — on top of decades of bad water management and extractive policies around the world.

Humanity’s Challenge of the Century: Conserving Earth’s Freshwater Systems

On April 11, 2020, a band of fighters stormed and seized a water control station in the Libyan Sahara. Taking employees prisoner, they occupied a key nexus that helps move 1.2 million cubic meters (317 million gallons) of water per day — 480 Olympic-sized swimming pools — from freshwater aquifers beneath the desert down to the coast. The raiders flipped a switch and at a stroke, 400 kilometers (250 miles) away, in the capital Tripoli, 2 million people’s taps went dry. One of many such attacks, this battle in the intensifying global water wars has dire portent for Libya and the world. The country’s water system had once been a crown jewel of 20th century hydraulic engineering, part of a global constellation of megaprojects that allowed cities in water-starved regions to grow into the millions.

Humans Have Completely Transformed How Water Is Stored on Earth

Human fingerprints are all over the world’s freshwater. A new study published Wednesday in the journal Nature shows that while human-controlled freshwater sources make up a minimal portion of the world’s ponds, lakes, and rivers, they are responsible more than half of all changes to the Earth’s water system.

“Water Wars” – Fights Over a Precious Resource

Picture the desert landscape of a Mad Max movie populated with vigilantes devoted to acquiring not gasoline — but water. This scenario isn’t as far-fetched as you might think. “Water wars” describes conflicts between countries, states, or groups over the right to access water resources, usually freshwater. Freshwater is necessary for drinking, irrigation, and electricity generation, and conflicts occur when the demand for potable water exceeds the supply, or when allocation or control of water is disputed.

Extinction: Freshwater Fish in ‘Catastrophic’ Decline

Conservation groups said 80 species were known to have gone extinct, 16 in the last year alone. Millions of people rely on freshwater fish for food and as a source of income through angling and the pet trade. But numbers have plummeted due to pressures including pollution, unsustainable fishing, and the damming and draining of rivers and wetlands. The report said populations of migratory fish have fallen by three-quarters in the last 50 years.