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China Earth Security Politics Science

NASA: Huge Freshwater Loss In the Middle East 228

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the should-have-used-six-sigma dept.
dstates writes with news from NASA about the state of available water in the Middle East. From the NASA article: "'GRACE data show an alarming rate of decrease in total water storage in the Tigris and Euphrates river basins, which currently have the second fastest rate of groundwater storage loss on Earth, after India,' said Jay Famiglietti, principal investigator of the study and a hydrologist and professor at UC Irvine. 'The rate was especially striking after the 2007 drought. Meanwhile, demand for freshwater continues to rise, and the region does not coordinate its water management because of different interpretations of international laws.'" dstates adds: "Water is a huge global security issue. To understand the middle east, you need to understand that the Golan Heights provides a significant amount of the water used in Israel. Focusing on conflicts and politics means that huge volumes of valuable water are being wasted in the Middle East, and this will only exacerbate future conflicts. Water is a serious issue between India and China. And then there is Africa. U.S. food exports are in effect exporting irrigation water drawn from the Ogallala aquifer. Fracking trades water for energy, and lack of water limits fracking in many parts of th world. Think about it."
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NASA: Huge Freshwater Loss In the Middle East

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 13, 2013 @01:22PM (#42885855)

    Just like our shortage of oil has pulled the west together.

  • Re:Welp (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Smidge204 (605297) on Wednesday February 13, 2013 @01:24PM (#42885889) Journal

    Doesn't rain much in the middle of a desert and there are these things called "droughts" you have to worry about...

    If you use fresh water faster than nature can replenish it, you're going to have a shortage. The fact that fresh water reservoirs are decreasing is a sure sign that water is being used faster than it is being replenished... so you either reduce usage (start with waste), supplement supply (desalinization, massive aqueduct construction, etc), or suffer drought.
    =Smidge=

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 13, 2013 @01:37PM (#42886087)

    Very rarely is human life at stake. 99.9% of the time it is someone worried about not being able to make another buck.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 13, 2013 @02:06PM (#42886463)

    This is an urban problem.

    City folks give me a hard time about living in the country, but I pump my water from a hole in the ground and then I dump it back into the ground when I'm done with it. Bacteria eat up all my poo, and the cycle begins again. Call it the ultimate recycling.

    Works pretty well until you cram a whole bunch of people into a little space.

  • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Wednesday February 13, 2013 @02:27PM (#42886757) Journal

    You do realize that much of the world has fallen below replacement rates by the simple expedient of making people wealthy enough that they can choose whether to extrude yet another baby or not?

    China has been trying to avoid the messy demographic squeeze that occurs in the intervening period(since improvements in standard of living usually slash child mortality before they slash fertility rates, you end up with ~1 generation of unsupportable boom children); but the evidence is overwhelming that people actually don't like keeping up the uterine-clown-car act once they have an option.

  • by dj245 (732906) on Wednesday February 13, 2013 @03:10PM (#42887239) Homepage

    Water that is absorbed by the ground and isn't directed into aquifers or similar structures is effectively lost. The rest is lost to the ocean or to evaporation. Granted, you could desalinate the ocean, but then the question becomes what to do with the leftover material, which is an environmental issue unto itself.

    You sell it, duh!

    Have you priced Sea Salt lately?

    We still have operating salt ponds aorund the San Francisco Bay. Often easily identified by their giant piles of salt. Now if they trapped the water evaporated it would be a Win-Win.

    These ponds are intended to collect salt, and the water is lost. You can't use a pond for desalination on an industrial scale*. One common method is to boil the water in a partial vacuum to obtain vapor, and discard the brine. Brine's boiling temperature increases the saltier it gets, so at some point it becomes uneconomical to extract the water. Plus transporting brine is easier than bulk damp salt- you just pump it. You could then put the brine in a pond and let nature run its course, but the amount of land required would probably be prohibitive since desalination on useful scales is BIG. It is much easier and cheaper to just pump the brine back to the sea and deal with the environmentalist complaints. Maybe in the future regulations will be stricter but the places that need this water the most are the kind of places that won't care about a saltier ocean.

    Incidentally, most desalination processes use large amounts of energy, so that is why the easier water is used up first.

    *you can desalinate using a pond or other small body of water on very small scales, but this is not economical on large scales. It is done in survival situations however.

  • by tacokill (531275) on Wednesday February 13, 2013 @03:30PM (#42887469)
    Teddy was an avid hunter. Hunters are, without question, the most conservation minded people I know. I realize it's common to think of them as the big bad hunters killing animals but anyone who knows anything about hunting understands it is much much more than that. Teddy understood that well.

    Modern day tree huggers? Not so much....
  • Re:Welp (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 13, 2013 @03:35PM (#42887511)

    And if you are willing to pay $5/gallon water won't be a problem either.

    People already regularly pay more than that. Willingly, without a second thought

    No, they really do not pay more. You see, water usage is not for drinking. Water usage is for,

    1. agriculture (irrigation)
    2. irrigation of stupid lawns - that is only a problem in few parts of the world.
    3. industrial applications (eg. mining, steel production, consumer goods, etc.)
    4. personal usage, like washing yourself.
    5. distant last place is actual drinking of water.

    You can pay $1/day for drinking water. You can't pay $0.10/litre if you want to keep yourself clean. And irrigation? Give me a break. Anything more than a few pennies per kiloton of water (millions of liters) is unsustainable for agriculture.

    No water for agriculture? No food. No food? War. Which means less water. Which means more war. Simple as that.

  • by Intrepid imaginaut (1970940) on Wednesday February 13, 2013 @04:02PM (#42887855)

    This is a desert/hot dry country problem. Meanwhile in other parts of the world, flooding is becoming more regular and dangerous.

Brain damage is all in your head. -- Karl Lehenbauer

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