That’s a hard thing to make a guess at. I would imagine when people start dying in large and consistent amounts because of no access to drinking water, wars will begin. However, as it stands, there are many people who die in large numbers (especially children) because of access to unsanitary drinking water, and no large water wars have broken out as a result. When the demand becomes desperate and reaches a breaking point is normally when conflicts arise over resources.
The estimated date is 2050. By then, the world population will have grown to an astounding 9 billion people, all of whom will need clean water. Some predict water will surpass oil as the #1 cause of war. Global warming will also impact water supplies, and human pollution is expected to worsen water quality.
I like this response as it had an actual estimate and a citation with academic creds. I expect that it would be possible to dig further and look at hard data such as the rate of aquifer depletion and the rate of population increase as well as a host of other relevant variables like the rate of technology increase that impacts water usage etc. Like global warming, I expect that someone has developed a mathematical models that have proponents and detractors. It seems to me that the issue should be getting a like amount of attention due to its potential impact on world affairs. Sitting on a powder keg of WMD and out of control technology as Bill Joy spoke of in his Wired article, we can’t be complacent about such large issues.
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