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Water shortage ‘potentially catastrophic’ by 2050: Nestle worries

An upcoming water shortage concerns the world’s largest food company more than the financial crisis we experienced eight years ago, according to a 2009 telegram (cable) published on Wikileaks.

Photo/Ahzaryamed via Wikimedia Commons

The text of cable from Switzerland Bern states: Nestle estimates the upper limit on sustainable global fresh water withdrawals to be 12,500 cubic kilometers per year, with 2008 use running at about 6000 cubic kilometers. However, rising population, growing meat consumption, and new biofuel demands are predicted to absorb the surplus entirely by 2050. On present trends, Nestle thinks one-third of the world’s population will be affected by fresh water scarcity by 2025, with the situation only becoming more dire thereafter and potentially catastrophic by 2050.

It goes on to say problems will be severest in the Middle East, northern India, northern China, and the western United States. The company thinks averting a global crisis will require four strategies: (1) creation of a virtual market for water; (2) elimination of subsidies and compulsory preferences for biofuels; (3) universal adoption of more productive, water-efficient genetically modified plants; (4) and the liberalization of global agricultural trade.