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Page last updated at 10:20 GMT, Saturday, 1 September 2012 11:20 UK

The water 'crisis'

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Earlier this week, leading scientists warned the world's population may have to become vegetarian over the next 40 years because of growing water scarcity. Foods rich in animal protein require five to 10 times as much water to produce as vegetarian diets. The global population is expected to reach nine billion by the middle of the 21st century.

According to the Stockholm International Water Institute, feeding this additional two billion people will place enormous pressure on already strained land and water resources.

Jan Lundqvist, a senior scientific adviser at the institute, told the Today presenter Justin Webb that "what is more significant is that the majority of the people on the planet will be more healthy and demand more food.

"There is a distinction between the amount of food, including meat, that is produced and the amount being eaten. A large fraction of food is not being eaten."

Steven Mithen, author of Thirst: Water & Power in the Ancient World, explained: "There is a water crisis on the planet and all anciet civilisations have been concerned with managing their water supplies.

"We can use lessons from the past. Unless we plan for the future, we will be forced into patterns of life less desirable for us."


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