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The State of Global Water Ecosystems: Can You Believe This?!

Water, water, everywhere. But what shape is it in? Here are some sobering figures provided by the United Nations:

The State of Global Water Ecosystems   ©The Earth & I
  • One-fifth of the world’s river basins are experiencing rapid changes in surface area. This indicates an increase in flooding, new reservoirs, and the drying up of water bodies. (UN-Water 2021)

  • 21 million people, including 5 million children, live within 5 km of lakes with cloudy water that may indicate water pollution. (UN-Water 2021)

  • More than 80% of wetlands are estimated to have been lost from before the Industrial Revolution. Only 10 to 12 million square km are estimated to remain. The area covered by coastal mangroves has declined by 4.2% since 1996. (UN-Water 2021)

  • Water pollution increased since the 1990s in most Latin American, African and Asian rivers, with severe pathogen pollution affecting about one-third of their stretches.

  • Ecosystems, particularly wetlands, are in decline in terms of the services they provide. Between $4.3 and $20.2 trillion worth of ecosystem services were lost annually between 1997 and 2011 due to land use change.

  • Globally, the number of lakes with harmful algal blooms will increase by at least 20% until 2050. (UN DESA, 2012)

  • Soil erosion carries off 25 to 40 billion tons of agricultural topsoil every year, reducing crop yields and the soil’s ability to hold and regulate water, carbon and nutrients. (FAO/ITPS, 2015a)

  • Naturally occurring arsenic pollution in groundwater affects nearly 140 million people in 70 countries across the globe. (WHO, 2018)


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