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Time to prepare for climate change
Date:11/15/2010

e demand for water. The Indus River Basin is already home to more than 200 million people, and the region's high fertility rates mean its population will continue to grow rapidly. As a result, the region's per capita water availability will decline steeply. The issue is compounded by the large amount of irrigated land there. "The current vulnerabilities will likely worsen with increasing uncertainties related to water supply," the report notes.

Human health also stands to be affected by climate change in High Asia. Less available water could mean higher pollution levels and increased difficulty obtaining clean water and sanitation "for hundreds of millions in these watersheds," reads the report. Diarrhea and other diseases linked to biological and chemical contamination are likely, the report notes. Decreased water availability could also cause declining crop yields and food availability, which would worsen existing hunger issues in the region.

Other impacts discussed in the report include increased civil conflict across country borders due to unstable water supplies and declining ecosystem health that further endangers threatened animals and plants.

Many birds with a few stones

Such expected impacts make for a fairly daunting list. But the report makes several suggestions to address multiple issues at once with cross-sectoral development programs.

For example, programs that focus on agriculture, one of the largest water-use activities, could improve water efficiency and help address water scarcity. This approach could increase crop productivity to address hunger and malnutrition, and strengthen local water-user associations to improve governance capabilities.

Another threat to High Asia's glaciers, soot, can be reduced while also improving local health, the report suggests. The region's rural residents cook over traditional stoves that burn wood, agricultural waste, dung and other biomass. The stoves are inefficient and r
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Contact: Franny White
frances.white@pnl.gov
509-375-6904
DOE/Pacific Northwest National Laboratory
Source:Eurekalert  

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