Climate Change, Rivers and Human Need

Written by David Connell on . Posted in Learn

Today is Blog Action Day, and The Nature Conservancy is proud to be taking part and highlighting the issue of water conservation and availability around the world.

In the United States we take clean drinking water for granted, wasting a staggering amount of the water nature gives us. Yet around the world, millions walk for miles to get a clean supply of drinking water.

And this situation is set to get worse with time. Experts warn that within the next 20 years, more than half the world’s population could face water shortages.

Climate change will most assuredly make a bad situation even worse. While we all need to do what we can to help stop the causes of climate change, the fact is that climate change is already happening and we must take thoughtful action to adapt so our rivers, lakes and wetlands can continue to thrive.

The major threat to freshwater ecosystems in a warming world are human-induced changes to water flows. These changes and the heavy demands placed on rivers and lakes can alter water flow, and impact water temperature and timing. In many ways, an altered river is an unhealthy and unsustainable river.

To anticipate and plan for the consequences of climate change the Conservancy is working with governments and partners to do the following:

Design water-supply systems that can accommodate changes in river flow patterns including increased floods, droughts and rising temperatures.

Adopt comprehensive, basin-wide approaches to water management that include maintaining adequate environmental flows to preserve flexibility and build resilience.

Manage existing water infrastructure sustainably by providing appropriate environmental flow releases.

Restore floodplains and wetlands that can provide flood storage, water filtration and recharge aquifers used for drinking water supplies.

Remove unnecessary barriers that block fish and other species from migrating to cooler waters as temperatures rise.

Invest in applied research on the impacts of climate change and link adaptation strategies to this research.

By working together, we can weather a new climate that can sustain people and nature.

We can also start acting today. We ask you to sign the petition below to support the UN’s work to supply clean, save drinking water to the world’s poorest populations. On Blog Action Day, let’s Ask UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to prioritize the Millennium Development Goal to halve the number of people without access to clean water and safe sanitation by 2015.

Post by: Dave Connell, associate director of strategic communications for digital marketing, The Nature Conservancy

(Image: The Tana River snakes through the landscape of northern Kenya and the Ishaqbini Hirola Community Conservancy. By Ron Geatz/TNC)

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About Planet Change

Planet Change is a Nature Conservancy blog site designed to share stories about actions the Conservancy and others around the world are taking to fight carbon pollution and the impacts of climate change, and to help people feel the connections between climate change and their daily lives and understand actions they can take.

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