Water access is going to be one of the most pressing issues of the 21st century. As climate change dries out the already dry areas and makes the wet ones wetter, we’re poised to see some radical civilizational shifts.
By Brian Merchant|MOTHERBOARD
For one, a number of densely populated areas will come under serious water stress—which analysts fear will lead to strife, thirst, and even violent conflict. With that in mind, the World Resource Institute has assembled a new report projecting which nations are most likely to be hardest hit by water stress in coming decades.
The nations most likely to be hit by severe and continuous water shortages by 2040 include Bahrain (which will be the single most water-stressed), Israel, Palestine, Spain, and Chile.
“Fourteen of the 33 likely most water stressed countries in 2040 are in the Middle East,” according to WRI’s analysis, “including nine considered extremely highly stressed with a score of 5.0 out of 5.0: Bahrain, Kuwait, Palestine, Qatar, United Arab Emirates, Israel, Saudi Arabia, Oman and Lebanon.”
WRI says that the region is probably the “least water-secure in the world” and currently relies largely on groundwater withdrawals and desalinated seawater to quench its population’s thirst. The Institute says the Middle East faces “exceptional water-related challenges for the foreseeable future.” Saudi Arabia, for instance, is currently planning on surviving nearly entirely on imported water by just next year.