A framework of past, present, and future cultural responses to water stress in three distinct regions

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Abstract Summary

Changing water supplies have been and continue to be a critical issue causing cultural shifts and forcing human migration across geo-political boundaries. In 2018, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) predicted that water stressors will increase in both frequency and amplitude due to redistribution of the global water supply. Water stress causes human suffering by reducing access to fresh water, decreasing food production, and damaging viability of land. This hardship affects developed regions, but can be devastating in least-developed and developing regions that do not have the resources or infrastructure to implement water-management plans.

Here we present three case studies of regions in different stages of development that have had well-documented responses to past water stress and are predicted to undergo dramatic water stress associated with future climate change. The examples provided outline water stress induced in three distinct manners: consciously induced drought in a least-developed region (African Rift Valley); unconsciously induced drought in a developed region (Southwest United States); and unconsciously induced flooding in a developing region (Bangladesh).

By approaching this review through an interdisciplinary lens, we aim to bring attention to the potential hardships future climate-induced water stress may have on least-developed and developing regions. The case studies conclude that these regions are at the greatest risk from water stresses and without water management plans may face increased poverty, mass migration, and civil unrest. Proposed solutions are inclusionary intergovernmental meetings to share, plan, and provide water management and renewable energy strategies, financial support, and relocation immigration policies.

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AM2 (11:00 - 12:00)