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Save Water, Save Life

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Over half of our vital freshwater sources have been shrinking since the 1990s, primarily due to climate change impacts. Take action for water!

A recent study published in the journal Science has unveiled alarming statistics about the world's lakes and reservoirs, revealing that over half of these crucial sources of freshwater have been shrinking since the early 1990s due to the impacts of climate change1. This concerning trend raises significant concerns about water availability for agriculture, hydropower, and human consumption.

The research team examined nearly 2,000 large lakes worldwide using satellite measurements, climate data, and hydrological models2. The results were troubling: 56% of the decline in natural lakes was attributed to climate warming and human consumption, with climate warming accounting for the larger share of the decline2,3. This challenges the assumption that only arid areas would become drier under climate change, as significant water loss was observed even in humid regions4.

The study highlights the significant water loss in some of the world's most important freshwater bodies, including the Caspian Sea and Lake Titicaca5. Over nearly three decades, these lakes experienced a cumulative rate of water loss amounting to approximately 22 gigatonnes per year5. This is equivalent to 17 times the volume of the largest reservoir in the United States, Lake Mead5.

The consequences of disappearing lakes are dire, with nearly 2.2 billion people living in drying lake basins directly affected6. Many regions have already faced water shortages in recent years, and unsustainable human water use has led to the desiccation of lakes such as the Aral Sea and the Dead Sea7]. Rising temperatures, intensifying water loss to the atmosphere, have impacted lakes in Afghanistan, Egypt, Mongolia, and beyond8. This trend could soon spread if left unchecked.

As lakes and reservoirs shrink, entire ecosystems are disrupted, threatening biodiversity9. Numerous species, including aquatic plants, fish, and migratory birds, rely on these water sources for their survival9 The loss of habitat and disruption of food chains can lead to the decline or extinction of these species, ultimately disrupting the delicate balance of ecosystems. Moreover, reduced water levels can lead to the concentration of pollutants and degradation of water quality, further compromising the health of aquatic ecosystems9.

Agriculture, heavily reliant on water, faces significant risks due to dwindling freshwater supplies10. As lakes and rivers dry up or experience reduced water levels, farmers struggle to irrigate their crops and maintain agricultural productivity10. Studies show that crop yields can decline, leading to food shortages, price increases, and potential social unrest10. The impact extends beyond local agricultural communities, affecting global food markets and exacerbating issues of hunger and malnutrition10.

Access to safe drinking water and sanitation facilities is crucial for human health, but dwindling freshwater supplies compromise the availability of clean drinking water11. This can lead to waterborne diseases and hygiene-related issues11. In regions with water scarcity, people may resort to using unsafe water sources or inadequate sanitation facilities, increasing the risk of diseases like cholera, dysentery, and diarrhea11. Vulnerable populations, such as children and the elderly, are particularly at risk, perpetuating a cycle of poverty and ill-health[11.

Freshwater scarcity also has significant economic consequences. Industries relying on water, such as manufacturing, energy production, and mining, face disruptions and increased costs as water availability becomes limited12. Additionally, water scarcity can impact tourism, agriculture-dependent economies, and local livelihoods dependent on water-related activities like fishing and irrigation13.

The disappearance of freshwater sources is a pressing issue that requires immediate action. By taking the freshwater pledge and committing to these measures, we can work together to protect our dwindling sources of fresh drinking water and ensure a sustainable future for all. Take the pledge today and make a difference for our planet and future generations.

More on this issue:

  1. Sarah W. Cooley, Science (18 May 2023), "Global loss of lake water storage."
  2. Fuad Alakbarov, Bella Caledonia (27 September 2022), "Caspian Sea: how the world’s biggest lake is drying up."
  3. Cara Thuringer, New Security Beat (28 September 2016), "Silently, Quickly, and Completely: The World’s Lakes in Peril."
  4. Alexandra A. Taylor, Chemical & Engineering News (10 February 2020), "Climate change will affect access to fresh water. How will we cope?."
  5. Reuters, The Guardian (18 May 2023), "More than half of the world’s lakes have shrunk in past 30 years, study finds."
  6. Nada Osseiran, Yemi Lufadeju, World Health Organization (18 June 2019), "1 in 3 people globally do not have access to safe drinking water – UNICEF, WHO."
  7. Aharon Oren, Igor Plotnikov, Sergey Sokolov, Nikolai Vasil'evich. Aladin, Lakes & Reservoirs Research & Management (September 2010), "The Aral Sea and the Dead Sea: Disparate lakes with similar histories."
  8. Sophia Jones, National Geographic (3 February 2020), "In Afghanistan, climate change complicates future prospects for peace."
  9. Baher Kamal, Inter Press Service News Agency (1 December 2022), "This Planet Is Drying Up. And these Are the Consequences."
  10. Lenntech (2023), "Use of water in food and agriculture."
  11. United Nations, "Water Facts."
  12. Majid Rashidi, K. Seyfi, International Journal Of Agriculture & Biology (January 2007), "Effect of Water Stress on Crop Yield and Yield Components of Cantaloupe."
  13. The Chicago Council on Global Affairs (21 March 2019), "Report: Competition for Water Increasing, Exacerbating Need for Greater Water, Food and Nutrition Security."
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The Pledge:

I understand the crucial role that freshwater lakes and rivers play in our lives and ecosystems. These sources of freshwater are essential for the survival of countless species and support various aspects of human life. To safeguard these precious resources from the threats posed by human-borne climate change, I pledge to take the following actions:

  1. Conserve Water: I will reduce my water consumption by adopting mindful practices such as taking shorter showers, fixing leaks promptly, and using water-efficient appliances.
  2. Practice Sustainable Landscaping: I will employ sustainable landscaping techniques, such as using native plants, mulching, and implementing efficient irrigation systems, to minimize water usage.
  3. Promote Responsible Agriculture: I will support local and sustainable agriculture that utilizes water-efficient methods, promotes soil conservation, and minimizes water pollution from agricultural activities.
  4. Minimize Plastic Pollution: I will reduce my use of single-use plastics and actively participate in recycling efforts to prevent plastic waste from contaminating our water bodies.
  5. Support Wetland Restoration: I will advocate for and contribute to the restoration and protection of wetlands, as they act as natural filters, absorb floodwaters, and provide habitat for diverse species.
  6. Advocate for Sustainable Policies: I will actively engage with policymakers, urging them to prioritize the protection of freshwater resources and promote sustainable water management practices through legislation and regulations.
  7. Educate Others: I will raise awareness among my family, friends, and community about the importance of freshwater resources, the impacts of climate change, and the need for collective action to preserve them.
  8. Participate in Waterway Cleanups: I will join or organize waterway clean-up initiatives to remove litter and pollutants from rivers, lakes, and shorelines, helping to restore their ecological balance.
  9. Support Conservation Organizations: I will contribute my time, resources, or funds to organizations working to protect and conserve freshwater resources through research, advocacy, and community engagement.
  10. Promote Climate Action: I will support efforts to mitigate climate change by advocating for clean energy, reducing my carbon footprint, and encouraging sustainable practices in all aspects of life.

By taking these actions, I commit to ensuring a healthier, safer future for all.

Pledged by,

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