Persistent Droughts Plaguing Much of the World
Long dry spells have been a problem in various parts of the world including China, Africa, Russia, Australia, the southern and western United States, and Western Europe. Many are hoping that this is just a cyclical nuisance and not evidence of a permanent change in climate patterns. England in particular is used to being a damp and rainy island, but has been surprised now with three straight winters of drought-level precipitation. The first to notice and be affected by the changing levels of rainfall are the farmers. However, now public officials are beginning to worry about the long-term stability of their water supplies and the effects that lower rainfall will have on the environment as a whole.
The European Union is taking a lead role in making water resources an important issue in the international community. Occurring next week in Marseille, France, is the World Water Forum, a meeting to discuss the status of water supplies around the world and steps that must be done to protect them. At the June UN Conference on Sustainable Development in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, EU officials intend to make water conservation a major agenda item. Furthermore, the European Commission has named 2012 as the Year of Water, planning an in depth review of the continent's water legislation and policies.
France, Spain, Portugal, and large sections of England have all been affected by recent droughts. As major agricultural areas, many are concerned with food output. The level of food supply would also then affect food prices.
In Europe, the issue is mostly a lack of rainfall. However, around the world, officials agree that the biggest source of water shortages is how the water is used. First of all, populations are exploding in the regions that already strained with water supplies. This includes the Middle East, Africa, and South Asia.
In many areas, water is wasted with overwatering crops and gardens, taking long showers, or just general abuse. Just as importantly, water quality is reduced, especially in developing nations, due to pollution.
EU officials urge significant steps be taken immediately to protect what is left of the world's water supplies, in order to avoid future social and ecological disasters. European nations are doing what they have to do to be prepared, but cannot do it for the rest of the world.
Future events that are being held include the following:
March 12-17: World Water Forum in Marseille
March 22: World Water Day
May 15-16: Water Innovation Europe Conference in Brussels, Belgium
June 20-22: UN Conference on Sustainable Development in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
August 26-31: World Water Week, organized by the Stockholm International Water Institute
For more information: http://www.worldwaterforum6.org/en/
Drought image via Shutterstock