by Asinus Asinum Fricat
Tue Apr 29th, 2008 at 12:40:05 PM EST
New Ageism? No. Stark reality. As I was returning home late last night, I was listening to a BBC report on the radio. Damning report indeed. By 2025, two thirds of the population will experience a severe shortage of water. I can't find the audio, but believe me, we are facing a serious crisis. The amount of water in the world is limited. The human race, and the other species which share this planet, cannot expect an infinite supply. The world is incurring a vast water deficit. It is largely invisible, historically recent, and growing fast.
The main conflicts in the world during the next 25 years could be over that most precious of commodities as countries fight for access to scarce resources. We have available less than 0.08% of all the Earth's water. Yet over the next two decades our use is estimated to increase by about 40%. Something has to give.
The inconvenience of a lengthy US presidential election means that a great amount of time is being lost. Instead of preparing for this incoming disaster, we are bombarded with inanities from the right wing nuts about Obama's choice of orange juice over coffee and idiotic accusations of bitter elitism. WTF is wrong with them?
Cross-posted from Politicook.net and DKos
Diary rescue by Migeru
We use about 70% of the water we have in agriculture. But the World Water Council believes that by 2020 we shall need 17% more water than is available if we are to feed the world. Meanwhile many countries suffer accelerating desertification. Water quality is deteriorating in many areas of the developing world as population increases and salinity caused by industrial farming and over-extraction rises. Exacerbating the problem, about 95 percent of the world's cities still dump raw sewage into their waters.
It's not all grim. There are some ways to begin to tackle the problem. I read that irrigation systems which drip water directly onto plants are one, precision sprinklers another. I'm a great fan of the CSIRO Australia's prime research organisation which strives to come up with less water-intensive crops among other things. Desalination may play a part though it is energy-hungry and leaves quantities of brine for disposal. However, Reverse osmosis has gained traction and has made great strides. The idea is to use the membrane to act like an extremely fine filter to create drinkable water from salty (or otherwise contaminated) water. The salty water is put on one side of the membrane and pressure is applied to stop, and then reverse, the osmotic process. It generally takes a lot of pressure and is fairly slow, but it works. This link provides 146 Products from 76 Companies involved in reverse osmosis, worth looking at. Osmosis, by the way, is why drinking salty water (like ocean water) will kill you. When you put salty water in your stomach, osmotic pressure begins drawing water out of your body to try to dilute the salt in your stomach. Eventually, you dehydrate and die slowly. Same thing if you drink your own urine if you happen to be stuck in a desert: you can drink your own urine but it decreases your period of survival. This I know from reading Bill Bryson's excellent book on Australia.
If you thought the title of this diary a tad feverish (and it is) the following extracts will not put your mind at rest either.
Fears of food shortage as rice prices keep climbing:
Food prices are continuing to sky-rocket throughout Asia, causing many governments to intervene to try to stabilise their domestic rice prices for fear of acute shortages in the future and possible food riots
A shortage of water allows more dust in the air, causing more respiratory problems:
Besides diseases caused by shortages of clean water, Health Minister Khristos Patsalides of Cyprus noted that decreased rainfall also allows more dust to circulate in the air, causing more respiratory problems. A similar warning came from Shigeru Omi, head of the World Health Organization's Western Pacific Office, who noted that at least 150,000 more people are dying each year of malaria, dengue fever, waterborne diseases, famine, and floods, all of which can be traced to climate change.
Alarm bells sound over arid land in Greece:
At a climate conference in Thessaloniki, Greece's second-largest city, researchers from the University of Thessaloniki said that changes in farming techniques and better management of groundwater were the keys to reducing the risk of desertification in several parts of the country. Professor Nikolaos Sillaios listed temperature increases, more wildfires, and more frequent flooding as the chain of events that led to soil erosion.
As the world warms, water, either too little or too much of it, is going to be the major problem for the United States:
Reduced snow melt supplying water for the Sacramento Valley in California means that by 2020 there won't be enough water to meet the needs of the community. That will step-up the competition for water. On the East Coast, rising sea levels will make storm surge "the No. 1 vulnerability for the metropolitan East Coast,'' said study lead author Cynthia Rosenzweig of NASA. "It's a very real threat and needs to be considered for all coastal development.''
A few weeks ago I wrote another diary on water. The links provided in that diary are relevant to this piece today.