waterWe’re well aware of the fact that humans have a significant impact on water supplies — from groundwater pumping to altering the course and flow of the world’s rivers, we are no small player in how much fresh water exists on the planet. However, would we ever have guessed that we were four times more significant than climate change on water supplies? A new report shows that we really need to focus far more on humans than warming temperatures if we want to avoid major water conflicts in the near future.

Researchers in Finland and the Netherlands have analyzed the mix of population growth, climate data, and water resources and have found that despite the fact that our global climate is shifting at a dizzying rate, our population boom as a species has a far greater impact on water sources.

“In this study, the effects of changes in population on water shortage are roughly four times more important than changes in water availability as a result of long-term climatic change,” the researchers state.

Environmental Research Web reports that according to the study, about 2 percent of the world’s population experienced water shortages in 1900, but it shot up to 9 percent in 1960 and skyrocketed to 35 percent in 2005. The water shortages fall in line with our population rise — but it also seems to fall in line with our heightened consumption of goods and services on a global level.

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