Running on empty

Our planet’s freshwater reserves are perilously low, and are increasingly unable to sustain plant, animal, and human life, according to the World Resources Institute.

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Degradation of freshwater systems, says a new WRI report, will leave 50 percent of the world’s human population without adequate fresh water within 25 years. Already, millions of plant and animal species have become extinct or are seriously threatened by overexploitation of water resources. According to the report, much of the degradation of the world’s freshwater systems is due to habitat destruction, dam and canal construction, introduction of non-native species, pollution, and over-population.

According to Jerry Mander of the International Forum on Gloabalization, speaking at this weekend’s Bioneers conference in California, two industries are primarily responsible for the exploitation of existing freshwater supplies: agribusiness and high-tech wafer and chip manufacture.