Water wars

Posted on Monday, November 30th, 02009 by Kirk Citron
link Categories: Long News   chat 0 Comments

The Long News: stories that might still matter fifty, or a hundred, or ten thousand years from now.

The discovery of water on the moon is almost certainly the biggest Long News story of the year; it will make it much easier to build moon colonies, and it provides cheap fuel for travel to the rest of the solar system.

But Liz Brooking suggests we also look at water issues here on earth: three hundred million school children don’t have access to clean water today, and according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, 47% of the world’s population will be living in areas of high water stress by the year 02030.

Some recent news stories about water:

1. What water on the moon might mean:
The wet side of the moon
New aluminum-water rocket propellant promising for future space missions
Moon potential goldmine of natural resources

2. Back down to earth:
Water scarcity will create global security concerns
New report on the economics of water scarcity

3. The politics of water:
Arab experts predict Mideast water wars
China enters Central Eurasia’s water wars
UN study advises caution over dams
India faces water crisis as temperatures rise
Africa must act to tackle water crisis
Devastation on a ‘biblical’ scale

4. Some possible solutions:
Carbon nanotubes capture greenhouse gases, desalinate water
The high rise urban farms of the future

We invite you to submit Long News story suggestions here.

  • mamoru

    Will there be a pillaging of the moon?
    The answer is probably yes.

  • Water wars is a scary prospect. Even in an affluent and technologically advanced society there often isn’t adequate supply to meet current use patterns without damaging the watershed.

    The system of complex agreements and conflicting rights can make it really difficult to move forward to a better system.

    See http://www.green21.org/blog/politics/water-wars-on-the-russian-river/

  • Over time, water sanitation systems will get better and better. Running water in a typical city in Bangladesh today is cleaner than running water in an American city during the Great Depression.

  • David Cinnamon

    NO NO NO! There is NOT going to be water wars. Again and again, the experts on National Public Radio have discredited this doom & gloom scaremongering that gets trotted out every once in a while to sell news magazines. There’s plenty of water; it’s not destroyed when consumed. It’s the location and availability that makes it expensive in certain areas. Many oil-rich mideast countries like Saudi Arabia are investing in desalination plants to make seawater drinkable, but desalination takes lots of energy. Making water clean, and having a network of pipes to deliver requires energy. More likely, we’ll just keep fighting wars over energy.

    Let’s remember that personal use makes up only 1/5 of our water consumption. Some of it is industrial, while nearly 4/5 of the water is used in agriculture. In a capitalist economy with a spot price for water or water futures, farmers can find all kinds if market-based solutions to scarcity:

    * Switch to crops that need less water.
    * Invest in efficient irrigation techniques, like underground seeping pipes that deliver water straight to the roots. 50% water sprayed on crops is lost to evaporation, so the savings can be huge.
    * Irrigate crops with treated sewage instead of drinkable water so water treatment plants don’t have to work as hard and can give more clean water to the towns.
    * Enforce property rights of water sources. This prevents tragedy of the commons, and discourages us from running the wells dry. Anybody who damages the supply can be held accountable to the owner. That doesn’t happen when nobody owns the aquifer.
    * If all else fails, stop farming and use all the water supply for the people. Import food from some place else where water is not so scarce. Hopefully, the trends of globalization and economic liberalism will continue forever to make international food trade ever more viable. I think it will. Never underestimate the ability of free markets to deal with scarcity.

    Look at that story listed under 3: Some Arab “experts” say Israel is going to invade Lebanon and Egypt and take their water. Bullshit. Typical anti-Zionist hatemongering. Those are the kinds of people who want war. Yes, the Jordan River is shrinking. In spite of the scarcity and all the hatred between them, Jordan and Israel are still getting along peacefully. Bless you King Abdullah II.

    btw, that urban highrise farming in that above link isn’t going to happen either. Use that valuable city space for people, and put farms outdoors where they don’t need artificial light. Duh. There are better ways to get more food from less land.

    Got 18 minutes to spare? Why not come see some ingenious water management from India?
    http://www.ted.com/talks/anupam_mishra_the_ancient_ingenuity_of_water_harvesting.html

    We can be incredibly resourceful when we have to.


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