This global water audit should not gather dust
The WMO has issued a report on water resources that can guide global climate adaptation and nudge countries with glaring crisis hotspots, like India and Pakistan, to take action
In expert estimation as well as the popular imagination, we must brace for a water crisis as the fumes we emit warm up the world. Adapting to climate change, thus, requires us to track global water resources. The release this week of a report on these by the Geneva-based World Meteorological Organization (WMO), the first audit of its kind, tells us how we are placed. Or, rather, how precariously so. The report offers an overview of river-flow volumes, apart from major floods and droughts, and also identifies ‘hotspots’ of change in freshwater storage, with our cryosphere of snow and ice in the spotlight for its vulnerability to melting in the global heat-trap created by our gas emissions. Since shrunken polar caps and rising sea levels have been familiar tropes, last year’s data might seem a bit out of place at first glance. In 2021, large parts of the planet were unusually dry, according to the report. Some of this can be pinned on La Niña, an oddity that pops up every few years to disrupt wind and rain patterns, but is largely an outcome of global warming, whose deprivations of water could get extremely severe as we go along. For countries like India, too little water could turn out to be a bigger worry than too much of it over the next few decades.
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