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China Earth Security Politics Science

NASA: Huge Freshwater Loss In the Middle East 228

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 gpronger ( 1142181 ) on Wednesday February 13, 2013 @02:06PM (#42885639) Journal
    It would be nice to think that a regional water shortage would pull these countries together to solve a mutual problem.

    And I've recently been in the market for the London Bridge; have one for sale?
  • by ixarux ( 1652631 ) on Wednesday February 13, 2013 @02:16PM (#42885783)
    Ok. Seriously. There is a problem, but there are solutions too. Water conflicts have been around for a long time now in the Middle East since the beginning of civilization tiself.
    4500 years ago, the control of irrigation canals vital to survival was the source of conflict between the states of Umma and Lagash in the ancient Middle East. 2700 years ago, Assurbanipal, King of Assyria from 669 to 626 B.C., seized control of wells as part of his strategic warfare against Arabia. In the modern era, the Jordan River Basin has been the scene of a wide variety of water disputes. In the 1960s, Syria tried to divert the headwaters of the Jordan away from Israel, leading to air strikes against the diversion facilities. The 1967 war in the Middle East resulted in Israel winning control of all of the headwaters of the Jordan as well as the groundwater of the West Bank. In these cases, water was certainly an important factor in both pre- and post-1967 border disputes.
    But contrast this to cases in Africa, like the Okavango delta (the world's largest inland delta) which through a negotiation by Angola, Botswana and Namibia has received a fresh lease of life. I think the key is how likely countries are to negotiate rather than go to war. The current Middle East does not seem like a place where cooperation can or will replace conflict.
  • Re:Welp (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Smidge204 ( 605297 ) on Wednesday February 13, 2013 @03:01PM (#42886403) Journal

    There's not an oil well or refinery within a thousand miles from me.

    Somehow I doubt that. Where do you live?

    Not that it matters. For the US, water usage [usgs.gov] is over twenty thousand times greater than oil usage [eia.gov]. Oil, not gasoline, which accounts for only a fraction of oil usage. That ratio is probably higher for areas that use less gasoline per capita (which is nearly everywhere outside the US).

    Do you think there would be plenty of gasoline if everyone used even a hundred times more, let alone twenty thousand times more? Could you imagine the infrastructure that would be required? Do you honestly think that there are enough sources of fresh water to import from, assuming you had all the infrastructure and all the energy you needed to distribute it?

    Do you know what the term "false equivalence" means?

  • by Chrontius ( 654879 ) on Wednesday February 13, 2013 @03:25PM (#42886719)
    Foregoing moderation to point this out: They do just dump the brine back in the ocean in some places. Where that's done, you get huge zones where nothing lives, because the algae at the bottom of the food chain usually can't live in such radically different salinity than they evolved in. This results in blooms of exotic algae, which tends to produce toxins - think red tide - when exposed to agricultural runoff. Fishermen are usually just run out of town, and if there was a commercial fishery, or the place was popular with out-of-town anglers, you've just killed the jobs involved with both of those.

    Since biological processes impact coastal erosion, you may or may not also have to worry about your coastline receding, too - that depends mostly on how lucky you get, I think, but I have no data handy.
  • Re:fracking water (Score:4, Interesting)

    by IndustrialComplex ( 975015 ) on Wednesday February 13, 2013 @04:30PM (#42887477)

    Because the people would complain that the wells of some poor person 100 miles from where they live whom they never met were being contaminated with salt water now too.

  • Re:Welp (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 13, 2013 @05:07PM (#42887907)

    or grow crops that need alot less water and are native to Socal. Jojoba makes an excellent oil for use in medicine, cosmetics, and Biodiesel. Date palms for fruit, liquor, sweetener, animal feed, a coffee like stimulant, and as a cellulose crop. Citrus fruits are a no brainer, as well as some cultivars of squash, beans, and Corn.

    This is all stuff native to california, but nobody plants it, and are willing to import dates from the Middle east and use soybeans to make biodiesel.

    Come on California, your better then this

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 13, 2013 @05:09PM (#42887927)

    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.

    So you're telling me that you've laid claim to so much fresh water that you shit in it? And you think the solution is for everyone to be so wasteful so they'll stop giving you a hard time? Cities are populated because urban living is less resource-intensive and cheaper. Rural living is horridly inefficient.

    Here's what your "living in the country" means: two hundred people could live off the water resources that you currently monopolize with your awful well-water/septic leech lifestyle. Be grateful that long ago, a bunch of people decided to kill for the plot of land you live on and raise an army to shoot anyone who disagreed. Be grateful that you won the birth lottery and started your life on the butt-end of those guns.

The last thing one knows in constructing a work is what to put first. -- Blaise Pascal