Victor Flatt *
Heather Payne **
Water, always necessary, is becoming less available. The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (“OECD”) predicts water use will increase by 55% between 2000 and 2050, and that by 2050, over 40% of the world’s population “will live in river basins under severe water stress.” Climate change is making this worse. Approximately 486 million people will be exposed to water scarcity or aggravated scarcity even if the average global temperature rise is limited to 2°C. If temperatures rise further, the numbers increase. Looking at food production globally, a quarter of croplands lack adequate water, and 56% of irrigated land is under high to extremely high water stress.
* Thomas F. and Elizabeth Taft Distinguished Professor in Environmental Law, and Director, Center for Law, Environment, Adaptation, and Resources (CLEAR) at the University of North Carolina School of Law.
** Fellow, Center for Law, Environment, Adaptation, and Resources (CLEAR) at the University of North Carolina School of Law.
. Dieter Gerten et al., Asynchronous Exposure to Global Warming: Freshwater Resources and Terrestrial Ecosystems, 8 Envtl. Res. Letters 034032, at 4 (2013), available at http://iopscience.iop.org/1748-9326/8/3/034032/pdf/1748-9326_8_3_034032.pdf. Another report has found that this level of temperature rise will increase the world’s population living under absolute water scarcity by an additional 40%. Jacob Schewe et al., Multimodel Assessment of Water Scarcity Under Climate Change, Proc. Nat’l Acad. Sci. 1 (early online ed. 2013), available at http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2013/12/12/1222460110. full.pdf.
. Francis Gassert, One-Quarter of World’s Agriculture Grows in Highly Water-Stressed Areas, World Res. Inst. Blog (Oct. 31, 2013), http://www.wri.org/blog/one-quarter-world’s-agriculture-grows-highly-water-stressed-areas.