January 17, 2016

Water rises to top of world worry list

Circle of Blue - The World Economic Forum, whose membership includes heads of state, CEOs, and civic leaders, ranked water crises as the top global risk to industry and society over the next decade. Last year, water crises earned the top spot as the most damaging short-term risk. Along with water’s rise in the Paris climate talks, the rankings indicate that water, long the purview of engineers and lawyers, is now an urgent political matter. “Water has become a serious social issue.”

Amid the economic turbulence, disquieting long-term ecological events also are revealing themselves more fully and destructively. Environmental stress, worsened a by warming planet and a growing population, is leading to tension, both within and between countries, over scarce land, food, and water. The global average temperature is expected in 2016 to be 1 degree Celsius above 1850 levels. A carbon-influenced climate blanket is causing ice sheets to melt, droughts to intensify, and rising seas to flood Miami, Dhaka, and other coastal cities with greater frequency. Ethiopia is at the brink of yet another famine. South Africa, traditionally a corn exporter, will import nearly half its domestic needs this year due to the country’s worst drought in 34 years.

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