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Why global water shortages pose threat of terror and war

Why global water shortages pose threat of terror and war
On 17 January, scientists downloaded fresh data from a pair of Nasa satellites and distributed the findings among the small group of researchers who track the world's water reserves. At the University of California, Irvine, hydrologist James Famiglietti looked over the data from the gravity-sensing Grace satellites with a rising sense of dread. The data, released last week, showed California on the verge of an epic drought, with its backup systems of groundwater reserves so run down that the losses could be picked up by satellites orbiting 400km above the Earth's surface. "It was definitely an 'oh my gosh moment'," Famiglietti said. "The groundwater is our strategic reserve. That same day, the state governor, Jerry Brown, declared a drought emergency and appealed to Californians to cut their water use by 20%. Already a billion people, or one in seven people on the planet, lack access to safe drinking water. "Almost all of those red hotspots correspond to major aquifers of the world. Related:  Middle East?Our Watery WorldClimate Change

Water wars loom large in Middle East's future A recent row between Egypt and Ethiopia over Nile water is one example of intensifying conflicts over water (Credit: Khaled Moussa al-Omrani/IPS) By Thomas W Lippman WASHINGTON - The Middle East’s seemingly endless conflicts are diverting attention and resources from a graver long-term threat that looms over the whole region: the growing scarcity of water. Years of war, careless water supply management, unchecked population growth, ill-advised agricultural policies, and subsidies that encourage consumption have turned a basically arid part of the world into a voracious consumer of water. Those were the gloomy if unsurprising conclusions of a three-day conference on the subject in Istanbul last week. Jordan, always short of water, has been overwhelmed by a flood of refugees from Syria. Egypt has twice as many people as it did 50 years ago, with no additional water resources. “If you give them more water, they’ll just grow more qat,” one gloomy conference participant said.

Clean Water Crisis, Water Crisis Facts, Water Crisis Resources A Clean Water Crisis The water you drink today has likely been around in one form or another since dinosaurs roamed the Earth, hundreds of millions of years ago. While the amount of freshwater on the planet has remained fairly constant over time—continually recycled through the atmosphere and back into our cups—the population has exploded. Water scarcity is an abstract concept to many and a stark reality for others. Freshwater makes up a very small fraction of all water on the planet. Due to geography, climate, engineering, regulation, and competition for resources, some regions seem relatively flush with freshwater, while others face drought and debilitating pollution. Water Is Life Wherever they are, people need water to survive. Unfortunately, humans have proved to be inefficient water users. According to the United Nations, water use has grown at more than twice the rate of population increase in the last century.

James Lovelock: 'enjoy life while you can: in 20 years global warming will hit the fan' | Environment In 1965 executives at Shell wanted to know what the world would look like in the year 2000. They consulted a range of experts, who speculated about fusion-powered hovercrafts and "all sorts of fanciful technological stuff". When the oil company asked the scientist James Lovelock, he predicted that the main problem in 2000 would be the environment. "It will be worsening then to such an extent that it will seriously affect their business," he said. "And of course," Lovelock says, with a smile 43 years later, "that's almost exactly what's happened." Lovelock has been dispensing predictions from his one-man laboratory in an old mill in Cornwall since the mid-1960s, the consistent accuracy of which have earned him a reputation as one of Britain's most respected - if maverick - independent scientists. For decades, his advocacy of nuclear power appalled fellow environmentalists - but recently increasing numbers of them have come around to his way of thinking. "Not a bit!

Middle East | Analysis: Middle East water wars After signing the 1979 peace treaty with Israel, Egyptian President Anwar Sadat said his nation will never go to war again, except to protect its water resources. King Hussein of Jordan identified water as the only reason that might lead him to war with the Jewish state. Former United Nations Secretary General Boutros Boutros-Ghali warned bluntly that the next war in the area will be over water. From Turkey to Uganda, and from Morocco to Oman, nations with some of the highest birth-rates in the world are all concerned about how to find enough water to sustain urban growth and to meet the needs of agriculture, the main cause of depleting water resources in the region. All of these countries depend on either the three great river systems which have an average renewal rate of between 18 days to three months, or on vast underground aquifers some of which could take centuries to refill. The hidden factor Middle Eastern nations have resorted to force over issues less serious than water.

Water map shows billions at risk of 'water insecurity' About 80% of the world's population lives in areas where the fresh water supply is not secure, according to a new global analysis. Researchers compiled a composite index of "water threats" that includes issues such as scarcity and pollution. The most severe threat category encompasses 3.4 billion people. Writing in the journal Nature, they say that in western countries, conserving water for people through reservoirs and dams works for people, but not nature. They urge developing countries not to follow the same path. Instead, they say governments should invest in water management strategies that combine infrastructure with "natural" options such as safeguarding watersheds, wetlands and flood plains. The analysis is a global snapshot, and the research team suggests more people are likely to encounter more severe stress on their water supply in the coming decades, as the climate changes and the human population continues to grow. Changing pictures Their impact on the global picture is striking.

Sustainability is destroying the Earth | stories of creative ecology Don’t talk to me about sustainability. You want to question my lifestyle, my impact, my ecological footprint? There is a monster standing over us, with a footprint so large it can trample a whole planet underfoot, without noticing or caring. This monster is Industrial Civilization. I refuse to sustain the monster. What is it we are trying to sustain? Somewhere along the way the environmental movement – based on a desire to protect the Earth, was largely eaten by the sustainability movement – based on a desire to maintain our comfortable lifestyles. The sustainability movement says that our capacity to endure is the responsibility of individuals, who must make lifestyle choices within the existing structures of civilization. Sustainability advocates tell us that reducing our impact, causing less harm to the Earth, is a good thing to do, and we should feel good about our actions. Only one-quarter of all consumption is by individuals. Electricity Water conservation Shorter showers.

Science/Nature | Why world's taps are running dry If you want to induce mental meltdown, the statistics of the worsening global water crisis are a surefire winner. Two-fifths of the world's people already face serious shortages, and water-borne diseases fill half its hospital beds. People in rich countries use 10 times more water than those in poor ones. The present is dire: the future looks so grim it must be entirely unmanageable. Cut it how you will, the picture that emerges from today's data and tomorrow's forecasts is so complex and appalling it can leave you feeling powerless. The world cannot increase its supply of fresh water: all it can do is change the way it uses it. Its population is going to go on increasing for some time before there is any prospect it will stabilise. Lion's share And water-borne diseases already kill one child every eight seconds, as day follows day. Water is not running out: it is simply that there are steadily more of us to share it. Some regions will become drier, some wetter. And us? Running on empty

Precipitation -The Water Cycle. USGS Water Science School Precipitation is water released from clouds in the form of rain, freezing rain, sleet, snow, or hail. It is the primary connection in the water cycle that provides for the delivery of atmospheric water to the Earth. Most precipitation falls as rain. How do raindrops form? The clouds floating overhead contain water vapor and cloud droplets, which are small drops of condensed water. Care to guess how many gallons of water fall when 1 inch (2.5 cm) of rain falls on 1 acre of land? What do raindrops look like? Let me introduce myself - I am Drippy, the (un)official USGS water-science icon. As Alistair Frasier explains in his web page, Bad Rain, small raindrops, those with a radius of less than 1 millimeter (mm), are spherical, like a round ball. Precipitation rates vary geographically and over time Precipitation does not fall in the same amounts throughout the world, in a country, or even in a city. The map below shows average annual precipitation, in millimeters and inches, for the world.

Considering Extinction: Are We Falling Off the Climate Precipice? Jamail explores what climate scientists just beyond the mainstream are thinking about how climate change will affect life on this planet. What, in other words, is the worst that we could possibly face in the decades to come? The answer: a nightmare scenario.I grew up planning for my future, wondering which college I would attend, what to study, and later on, where to work, which articles to write, what my next book might be, how to pay a mortgage, and which mountaineering trip I might like to take next. Now, I wonder about the future of our planet. During a recent visit with my eight-year-old niece and 10- and 12-year-old nephews, I stopped myself from asking them what they wanted to do when they grew up, or any of the future-oriented questions I used to ask myself. I did so because the reality of their generation may be that questions like where they will work could be replaced by: Where will they get their fresh water? The route had changed dramatically enough to stun me.