Impending water crises - issues of sustainability and desertification

Edward A. McBean, Homayoun Motiee and Bahram Gharabaghi


As populations increase, water use is increasing with dramatic implications for many parts of the world. The expansion into, and creation of, desert-like conditions in areas where such conditions do not naturally occur, is approaching dramatic conditions as a result of overgrazing, overcultivation, deforestation and poor irrigation practices. The result is that one-third of the present global deserts are man-made, the result of human mis-use of the land. In 1990, only 5 countries were in water scarcity, in 1995 there were 26 countries in water scarcity, and in 2025 it is projected there will be 50 countries with a total population of 3 billion, in the situation of water scarcity.

The paper reviews the situation in three case studies, namely the region of the Aral Sea, Iran and India, including reflections on the basis of available water per capita. However, the situation in Canada is reviewed since 90% of the water available is where only 10% of the people are located. Some of the pressures for water transfer and some indications of the potential impact of global climate change are considered, as they apply to Canadian conditions.

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