26 Sep 2011:
Major Rivers Have Enough Water
to Sustain Growing Populations, Study Says
A new study says the world’s major river systems contain more than enough water to meet global food production needs
in the 21st century. Following a five-year study of 10 river basins — including the Nile,
Ganges, Andes, Yellow, and Niger — scientists with the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) found that the greatest water challenge facing the planet is not scarcity but the inefficient and inequitable distribution of water. “Huge volumes of rainwater are lost or never used,” said Alain Vidal, director of CGIAR’s Challenge Program on Water and Food. In regions of sub-Saharan Africa, he said, even “modest” improvements in rainwater harvesting could yield two to three times more food production. Elsewhere, regions in Asia and Latin America exist where food production could be increased by at least 10 percent, according to the report, which is published in the journal Water International
. According to a recent UN report, global food output will have to increase 70 percent by 2050
to feed a growing world population.
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Photographer Peter Essick documents the swift changes wrought by global warming in Antarctica, Greenland, and other far-flung places. View the gallery.
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The Warriors of Qiugang
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Top Image: aerial view of Iceland
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In a Yale Environment 360
video, photographer Pete McBride documents how increasing water demands have transformed the Colorado River, the lifeblood of the arid Southwest. Watch the video.