Saturday, February 13, 2016

Drying out?

Around two-thirds of the world population suffer from sever freshwater scarcity, a situation far more dangerous than previously thought, a new study published in the journal Science Advances, by two scientists from the University of Twente in Netherlands. "Water scarcity has become a global problem affecting us all," stated study co-author Arjen Hoekstra, a professor of water management at the University of Twente in the Netherlands.

Four billion people across the globe live under conditions of sever water shortage for at least one month of the year, adding that half of these people live in India and China. 500 million people live in regions where water consumption is twice as much as the amount received through precipitation during the entire year, leaving them highly vulnerable as natural underground reservoirs increasingly run down. Many countries, including Pakistan, Iran, Mexico, and Saudi Arabia, are living on borrowed time, as their natural underground reservoirs of freshwater are increasingly depleting. The research further revealed that water problem in Yemen is very acute as the impoverished country of the Arabian Peninsula could run out of water within a few years.

The United States is far from immune to the problem, with 130 million people affected by water scarcity for at least one month a year, mostly in the states of Texas, California, and Florida. And among the rivers the study notes that are fully or nearly depleted before reaching their end is the Colorado River in the West.

"The water table is dropping all over the world," Jay Famiglietti, senior water scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, said at the time. "There's not an infinite supply of water. We need to get our heads together on how we manage groundwater," Famiglietti added,"because we’re running out of it."

“Taking a shorter shower is not the answer” to the global problem, said professor Arjen Hoekstra, since just one to four percent of a person’s water footprint is in the home, while 25 percent is via meat consumption. “It takes over 15,000 liters of water to make one kilogram of beef, with almost all of that used to irrigate the crops fed to the cattle,” he explained.

The fact is this. There more than enough water to support life on this planet and several times over. There is not enough water to support the industrial scale consumption and pollution of the same. Drawing up water from the Earth so that desert areas can be greened to grow food, using and polluting fresh water as happened to the Flint River, using water for fracking and returning it to the ground as poisoned are all wastes of a precious resource. Added to this denuding lands of forests, blowing up mountains to get at coal, destruction of wetlands so as to plant crops or build homes or to get at tar sands underneath wastes yet more of that water as natural processes of retention of the same are destroyed. Then we got smokestacks emitting toxins so even the rain that falls from the sky is contaminated. Aquifers are not refilling because agriculture and industry uses the water before it can get to the aquifier. Water evaporates on falling due to lack of tree cover. Water washes away in rivers and streams because of hardened and compacted soil not allowing it to be absorbed into the ground. Water is wasted on things like Golf courses and people are moving in great numbers to areas that do not have the rainfall to support their numbers. It is poisoned by industrial practices such as fracking. It is used to flush away sewage and all manner of toxins and chemicals.

None of this a scarcity issue. It all an issue of misuse and of consumption for things not really needed. If it was truly scarce society would not treat it with such a callous disregard. It is important to recognize the difference between scarcity and misuse. There an agenda to privatize the world's stock of fresh water. Those in power use the meme of scarcity so as to advance the notion that if a financial cost be assigned to the consumer for use of water the market will help allocate that water in the most efficient manner. Capitalism itself is predicated on churning profits through scarcity. The scarcer a resource in demand the more profit to be made. We must by all means address the issues of water misuse. We must NOT use the market and privatization as a cure. While water was not distributed equally around the globe there was more than enough to support all of that life as there is today. It is not scarce. It can support life in its abundance. It is misused by industry