Washington: A new study has demonstrated that population growth could cause global demand for water to outpace supply by mid-century if current levels of consumption continue.
The study conducted by Duke University used a delayed-feedback mathematical model that analyzed historic data to help project future trends and the researchers identified a regularly recurring pattern of global water use in recent centuries.
Periods of increased demand for water often coinciding with population growth or other major demographic and social changes were followed by periods of rapid innovation of new water technologies that helped end or ease any shortages.
Anthony Parolari, postdoctoral research associate in civil and environmental engineering at Duke, said that researchers in other fields have previously used this model to predict earthquakes and other complex processes, including events like the boom and bust of the stock market during financial crises, but this is the first time it has been applied to water use.
Parolari continued that this could take the form of a gradual move toward new policies that encourage a sustainable rate of water use, or it could be a technological advancement that provides a new source of water for us to tap into.
Parolari added that but if population growth trends continue, per-capita water use will have to decline even more sharply for there to be enough water to meet demand the world's population is projected to surge to 9.6 billion by 2050, up from an estimated 7 billion today.
The study is published in the journal Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews: Water.