Answer 6 of the dossier “40 KEY QUESTIONS TO UNDERSTAND THE FUTURE OF THE WORLD”, coordinated by Albert Bosch from a request of the communication group “GRUPO Z”, where an expert in each subject answers a question about the trend of a certain topic. In this specific case, this question is answered by JOAN GRIMALT:
Access to water will change in many places in the world. The problem will not be so much the availability of drinking water, which can always be obtained through technology, but the availability of water in general.
Climate change will probably expand the desert strips that will have less water availability. It is also generating a warming of the mountains, which will cause much less snow and ice in many places, and therefore, less water retention.
In any case, in the case of water, the main problem does not depend so much on future climatic variations, but on the greater human demand for this resource. Humans are increasingly occupying all the habitable spaces of nature, and we tend to use more and more resources of the ecosystems that surround us.
Within the scope of the Spanish state we have seen how the irrigation surface has been increasing, and tourist apartments, hotels, golf courses and other facilities that increase the demand for water. This trend can not be unlimited. It is necessary to change this development model in accordance with the available resources, including water.
In Mediterranean areas, climate prediction is a certain reduction in rainfall regimes and, above all, an increase in the irregularity of rainfall. And as I said, the warming of the mountains will increase this tendency due to the increase in runoff (surface water flows that are generated by precipitation or melting snow or glaciers). Forests help to maintain a level of environmental humidity that can limit these effects. It is important to defend and maintain forested areas in good conditions, especially in areas that can evolve towards drier climates.
JOAN GRIMALT: Professor of Research of the Higher Council of Scientific Research. Expert in environmental chemistry. Author of 650 scientific articles on the subject.