National Geographic World Cultures and Geography, Student Version - 481

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Scarce Water and Drought

Compare aCross regIons

Water is growing scarce for the
1.5 billion people in South Asia. Because
of increasing population and climate
change, the region has had severe
droughts recently. Elizabeth Kolbert wrote
in National Geographic magazine:

China and India's Solutions

Since higher temperatures lead to
increased evaporation, even areas that
continue to receive the same amount of
overall precipitation will become more
prone to drought. (April 2009)

Bangladesh has already experienced
severe drought. One reason is that
upstream dams in India have reduced
water flow into Bangladesh's rivers.
In addition, the country's exploding
population has taken millions of gallons
of water from aquifers . Less water means
less food, resulting in widespread hunger.
Water scarcity is also caused by
shrinking glaciers in the Himalayas,
which supply water to rivers and lakes
in Asia. The glaciers used to build
up in winter and then melt in spring,
supplying water to rivers and lakes in
Asia. According to some scientists, climate
change is causing the glaciers to melt
faster and shrink in size. These scientists
fear that the glaciers will supply less water
to rivers. People will have less water for
drinking, sanitation, and irrigation.
While some areas will have droughts,
other areas may experience more flooding.
According to Kolbert, climate change is
increasing air temperatures, and warmer
air holds more moisture. As a result, the
monsoons that hit South Asia every year
may grow more severe.

South Asians are studying how other
countries have worked to improve water
quality. In China, for example, 70 percent
of the rivers and lakes are polluted. In
National Geographic magazine, Brook
Larmer explained that the Chinese have
formed thousands of organizations urging
a reduction in water pollution. (May 2008)
India's government is also trying to
clean up rivers and lakes. In 1986, it
passed the Environmental Protection Act.
The law allows the government to stop
companies from polluting.
The people of South Asia are making
significant contributions to their society
by taking steps to clean up the region's
rivers and lakes. Citizens are calling
for companies to stop polluting and are
pushing their governments to take action.

Before You move on
Summarize What is causing water scarcity in
South Asia?
ongoIng assessment

READING LAb
LA

GeoJournal
GeoJournal

1. Interpret Data Analyze the data provided
in "Pollution by the Numbers" and the map
in Section 1.5. Which factors explain why the
Ganges is more polluted than the Brahmaputra?
2. make Inferences Based on the rate of India's
population growth, what do you think might
happen to the other figures shown?
3. Write Comparisons How are China and
India dealing with water pollution? Write a
sentence comparing their tactics.

SEC TION 1.6 481



National Geographic World Cultures and Geography, Student Version

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of National Geographic World Cultures and Geography, Student Version

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National Geographic World Cultures and Geography, Student Version - Cover1
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National Geographic World Cultures and Geography, Student Version - i
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National Geographic World Cultures and Geography, Student Version - Contents
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National Geographic World Cultures and Geography, Student Version - Cover3
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