Global Water Use to Outstrip Supply by 2050?

Global Water Use to Outstrip Supply by 2050

Population could outpace water by mid-century: Technological advances needed in coming decades to avoid water shortages

Population growth could cause global demand for water to outpace supply by mid-century if current levels of consumption continue. But it wouldn’t be the first time this has happened, a Duke University study finds.

Using a delayed-feedback mathematical model that analyzes historic data to help project future trends, the researchers identified a regularly recurring pattern of global water use in recent centuries. Periods of increased demand for water — often coinciding with population growth or other major demographic and social changes — were followed by periods of rapid innovation of new water technologies that helped end or ease any shortages.

Based on this recurring pattern, the model predicts a similar period of innovation could occur in coming decades.

“Researchers in other fields have previously used this model to predict earthquakes and other complex processes, including events like the boom and bust of the stock market during financial crises, but this is the first time it’s been applied to water use,” said Anthony Parolari, postdoctoral research associate in civil and environmental engineering at Duke, who led the new study.

“What the model shows us is that there will likely be a new phase of change in the global water supply system by the mid-21st century,” Parolari said.

“This could take the form of a gradual move toward new policies that encourage a sustainable rate of water use, or it could be a technological advancement that provides a new source of water for us to tap into. There’s a range of possibilities,” he said.

Data on global water use shows we are currently in a period of relatively stagnant growth, he said. Per-capita water use has been declining since 1980, largely due to improved efficiency measures and heightened public awareness of the importance of conserving Earth’s limited supply of freshwater. This has helped offset the impacts of recent population growth.

“But if population growth trends continue, per-capita water use will have to decline even more sharply for there to be enough water to meet demand,” he said. The world’s population is projected to surge to 9.6 billion by 2050, up from an estimated 7 billion today.

See also: Only 1 year of water left in California, NASA scientist suggests rationing

“For every new person who is born, how much more water can we supply? The model suggests we may reach a tipping point where efficiency measures are no longer sufficient and water scarcity either impacts population growth or pushes us to find new water supplies,” Parolari said.

Water recycling, and finding new and better ways to remove salt from seawater, are among the more likely technological advances that could help alleviate or avoid future water shortages, he said.

Parolari was inspired to conduct his study by the work of Austrian physicist and philosopher Heinz von Foerster, who in 1960 collaborated with students to publish a tongue-in-cheek study in the journal Science predicting that through feedbacks between human demographics and technological development, population growth would overcome any limitation imposed on it by finite resources and become infinite by November 13, 2026 – the 115th anniversary of von Foerster’s birthday. The prediction became known as the Doomsday Equation.

“Historically, many hypotheses about future population and resource trends have been pessimistic. Von Foerster’s hypothesis poked fun at these projections. But the serious part of his study provided an alternative and exciting view of the future: Humans are creative and resourceful, and when push comes to shove, we find new ways to either increase our supply or use what we have more efficiently,” Parolari said. “Our model supports this more optimistic outlook. The demand for water will push us to innovate as it has repeatedly done before.”

Parolari and his colleagues published their study this month in the peer-reviewed journal Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews: Water. His co-authors on the new commentary were Gabriel G. Katul, Theodore S. Coile Professor of hydrology and micrometeorology at Duke’s Nicholas School of the Environment, and Amilcare Porporato, Addy Professor of civil and environmental engineering at the Nicholas School and Duke’s Pratt School of Engineering.

Primary funding for the study came from the National Science Foundation (#EAR-1033467), the U.S. Department of Agriculture (#2011-67003-30222); and the U.S. Department of Energy (#DE-SC0006967).


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Duke University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.

Find us here

Get news from the CSGLOBE in your inbox each weekday morning

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors/source and do not necessarily reflect the position of CSGLOBE or its staff.

Paid content

Why Are There So Many Psychopaths in Positions of Power?

A 2010 study that examined a sample of 203 individuals from different companies’ management development programs revealed something interesting. It was found that about 3%...

6 Examples of Mainstream Media Manipulation

Is Everything in the Mainstream Media Fake? The world of television and modern media has become a tool of de-evolution, propaganda and social control. Since...

Hard Facts About 9-11 That Cannot Be Debunked

9-11 has been one of the biggest events in recent history that sparked a mass awakening across the world. There has been much debate...

What's New Today

Georgia House Votes To Allow Citizens To Abolish Police Departments In The State

The Georgia House backed an effort on Friday to dissolve the Glynn County Police Department and any...

Leaked CDC document contradicts Pence claim that U.S. coronavirus cases ‘have stabilized’

Even as Vice President Mike Pence wrote in a Wall Street Journal op-ed published Tuesday that coronavirus...

Five bombshells about Trump from Bolton ‘s book

Excerpts from former national security adviser John Bolton ’s book about his time in the Trump administration...

Don’t Listen to Fox. Here’s What’s Really Going On in Seattle’s Protest Zone.

It seems I live in a city undergoing a “totalitarian takeover” that will lead to “fascist outcomes”...

MOST READ

Complete List of BANKS Owned/Controlled by the Rothschild Family

What’s the significance of having a central bank within a country and why should you concern yourself, your family and colleagues? Central banks are illegally...

What Is Agenda 21? Depopulation of 95% of the World By 2030

Most people are unaware that one of the greatest threats to their freedom may be a United Nations program which plans to depopulate 95%...

China Is Turning The Rainforest Into Cheap Furniture For The U.S.

Driven by American demand for cheap furniture, China has become the greatest importer of illegal timber. The...

Why Are There So Many Psychopaths in Positions of Power?

A 2010 study that examined a sample of 203 individuals from different companies’ management development programs revealed something interesting. It was found that about 3%...

Run For Your Life: The American Police State Is Coming To Get You

“We’ve reached the point where state actors can penetrate rectums and vaginas, where judges can order forced catheterizations, and where police and medical personnel...

Google Puts CNN, Washington Post, NYT In Charge Of Fact-Checking News

Google announced Friday that it’s adding a special feature to its news service — Fact Check. Searchers will now know who checked the validity of...

Ferguson and the False Promise of “Revolution”

When faced on the battlefield with a numerically superior enemy, one must attempt to divide his enemy into smaller, more easily dispatched opponents –...

Scientists discover ‘smart’ genes

An international team of scientists has identified genes associated with human intelligence Is intelligence written in the genes? "Smart" genes associated with human intelligence have been...

50 ton-question: Who got US ammo intended for anti-ISIS Arabs?

Arab rebels in northern Syria say they have received none of the ammunition air-dropped by the US. The supplies appear to have ended up with...

Homeless People Plant a Rooftop Organic Garden, Help Feed an Entire Shelter

Atlanta, GA — Public attention recently turned to an organic garden in Atlanta that is designed to feed displaced people healthy food and establish...

The Most Eco-Friendly Car Made Entirely From Hemp

The World’s Most Eco-Friendly Car: It’s Made Entirely From Hemp You would never think that a single plant could solve most of the worlds problems,...