Visualizing how climate change and growing population affect our water resources
This video animation shows the results of combining climate change, with its impact on the availability of water resources, and of a growing world population, which leads to a growing demand for food
Champaign | Started on 15/07/2022 – Concluded on 21/07/2023
This video animation shows the results of combining climate change, with its impact on the availability of water resources, and of a growing world population, which leads to a growing demand for food. The background reports the level of water scarcity a country and its regions experience (red areas displaying high levels of water scarcity, yellow areas displaying low levels of water scarcity). Flows in blue represent the quantity of water embedded in the exports of agricultural and food commodities from one country to another in 2021. The wider a flow, the more water it represents. Water flows capture the total, not just the direct, amount of water. For instance, exports of livestock account for the water consumed by the animal during its lifetime in addition to the water used to grow the crops that fed the animal.
The juxtaposition of these two pieces of information reveals that some areas are specialized in water-intensive agriculture and that a large part of this agriculture is for export. Examples of such countries or regions are Spain, Italy, Pakistan, the Southwestern part of the US, Northern Africa, North East China and some areas in large livestock-exporting countries such as Australia and parts of Brazil and Argentina. It basically comes down to exporting a natural resource that is in short supply in your country. Possible solutions include, among others, growing less water-intensive crops (e.g. sorghum is less water intensive than alfalfa), changing food habits (reduce meat in our diet), restrict export of food from water scarce regions, shorter food supply chains and increase in the price of water.
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Editor’s Note: All information published as submitted by the author(s). Minor edits may have been made to increase readability and understanding.