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Changing Lives in a Changing World

People all over the world will witness the environmental impacts of climate change. But in developing areas, where millions already live under environmental stress, the effects of climate change will be devastating.

That makes the Water for Life project time sensitive for people in the developing world. As climate change worsens the global water crisis, outreach to impoverished communities with Water for Life water filters will be critical in helping prevent illnesses and saving thousands of lives.

When one domino falls…

Climate change will have a “domino effect” on the world’s environment. When a domino falls on one continent, a cascade of other dominos will tumble all across the world as a result. For example, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) projects around one-sixth of the Earth’s population will feel the effects of runoff from melting glaciers in the polar regions.

In other words, the depleting ice pack in the Arctic Circle can lead to changes in precipitation in Southeast Asia. Heavier and more frequent rainfalls will flood urban areas and overwhelm existing sanitation systems. In the runoff, pollutants and sewage will flow directly into waterways that people rely on for personal use.

The World Health Organization reports that by 2030, the risk of diarrhea will be up to 10 percent higher in some countries due to climate change (2003). Diarrhea can often be fatal in impoverished areas, especially for young children.   

Thorn Tree Sossusvlei Namib Desert Namibia. Photo by Luca Galuzzi [CC BY-SA 2.5 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5)], via Wikimedia Commons

Thorn Tree Sossusvlei Namib Desert Namibia. Photo by Luca Galuzzi [CC BY-SA 2.5 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5)], via Wikimedia Commons

More dominos will fall in arid climates, as warmer temperatures make desperate conditions more dire. Rainfall has already declined since the 1980s in sub-tropical regions, including much of Africa and Southeast Asia (IPCC, 2007).

As global warming furthers this trend, people living in drought-stricken areas will see their limited water sources become more scarce. Arduous journeys to freshwater supplies will only get longer.

Global warming will also strain groundwater sources, as another domino drops. That’s because bacteria, parasites and other microscopic organisms love when it gets hot. Higher temperatures allow these harmful microbes to multiply. Plus, reduced oxygen levels—also as a result of global warming—make it harder for inland water supplies to self-purify.

The Climate Institute states, “Freshwater bodies have a limited capacity to process the pollution stemming from expanding urban, industrial and agricultural uses. Water quality degradation can be a major source of water scarcity.”

Lifting people up

Scarcity of clean, safe water is a problem many people are dealing with today. Climate change will only make this situation worse.

According to the World Bank, “1.6 billion people live in countries and regions with absolute water scarcity and the number is expected to rise to 2.8 billion people by 2025.”

Like falling dominos, climate change is hard to stop once it has begun. But all is not hopeless for people in the developing world.

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The Water for Life project is making a difference, by bringing simple, easy-to-use water filters into impoverished areas. Thousands of lives are saved, including many young children, when our mission partners deliver Water for Life filters across the developing world.

Our campaign to increase access to clean, safe drinking water with Water for Life filters will help families and individuals be prepared for the effects of climate change in their communities. Donations and volunteer efforts from our friends and partners allow us to continue our critical mission for all humankind. 

Sources:

A.J. McMichael et al., Climate Change and Human Health: Risks and Response. World Health Organization. Geneva, 2003.

Climate Institute. Water and Climate Change web page. https://www.climate.org/topics/water.html

Union of Concerned Scientists. Climate Hot Map web page. https://www.climatehotmap.org/global-warming-effects/water-supply.html

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