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Sierra Daily

Sep 29, 2010

Rivers (and People and Wildlife) at Risk

Threats 100928_water_security_fig1-thumb-600x254-92640

Pretty colors make environmental degradation seem so appealing! Researchers from the City College of New York and the University of Wisconsin at Madison looked at the impacts of pollution, dams, urban development, water extraction, and destruction of wetlands on the world’s rivers, and determined that 80 percent of the global population “is exposed to high levels of threat to water security.” Their findings are published in a report published in Nature on September 30.

On the map above, blue indicates a low threat to human security, while red indicates high threat. Admittedly, when the team plugged in data for areas that were prepared to combat drought and shortages with reservoirs and pipelines and other technologies, the threats to humans diminshed, leaving the obvious candidates--Asia and sub-Saharan Africa—most at risk from water shortages.

There’s a hitch, however: Biodiversity is threatened by water shortages everywhere humans live in large numbers, as shown on the map below. Yellow and red indicate a high risk to biodiversity.

Wildlife 100928_water_security_fig4-thumb-600x250-92662

--Reed McManus

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