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Vital Climate Graphics

Freshwater stress: current population at risk

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37. One study suggests that although global water conditions may worsen by 2025 due to population pressure, climate change could have a net positive impact on global water resources.
NB! Note that other studies indicate that with present consumption patterns, 2 of every 3 persons on Earth will experience water stress by 2025.
The diagram on the left side shows the result of this particular study, indicating the water availability for the population. It should be noted that the study is based on runoff characteristics obtained for one particular climate scenario. Another macroeconomic study (not shown here) based on three climate scenarios led to similar conclusion for the Asian continent while suggesting that in Europe changed climate conditions will be associated with some decrease per capita water availability.

The diagram on the right-hand side shows a projection of the population living in increased and decreased water stress under three different CO2 emission scenarios in the 2080s.

Climate change is likely to have the greatest impact in countries with a high ratio of relative use to available supply. Regions with abundant water supplies are unlikely to be significantly affected, except for the possibility of increased flooding. Paradoxically, countries that currently have little water (e.g. those relying on desalinization) may be relatively unaffected.