All images via – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Water
We in the UK are currently bemoaning the fact that we are experiencing the wettest winter since records began, some parts of the south-west having been flooded for over a month, with no end in sight, but perhaps we should actually be counting our blessing. It is now only three weeks since new NASA satellite data – about the water reserves around the world – led researchers to some disturbing and in some respects quite frightening findings.
University of California hydrologist, James Famiglietti, revealed that in some parts of the world, things look very different. For example, right now the US state of California is experiencing a savage drought, while their groundwater reserves are at an all-time low. So bad is it that Jerry Brown, state governor, has declared an emergency, urging all residents to severely curtail water use, though taps may have to be turned off anyway, if the situation worsens.
Just a drop, please?
Not that this US state is alone in having this problem, because, all over the globe, with growing populations and increasing demand, water is increasingly short supply, a situation only exacerbated by climate change, because it appears now that wet areas of the world are getting progressively wetter, while the opposite is true for drier climes. With the alarming statistic of one in seven people, globally, lacking access to safe drinking water, the danger signals are all too clear to see.
The telling satellite images revealed the dismal truth of the biggest water losses appearing to be centred on the locations of groundwater reserves, in the major aquifers of the world, where depletion is happening at a very rapid rate indeed. One horrid example of how severe this problem is can be seen in the fact that, in the past decade, countries reliant on the Tigris and Euphrates rivers have lost 144 cu km of stored freshwater, the majority due to aquifer depletion.
It seems certain that equatorial regions, like north Africa, the middle East and south Asia are inevitably set to experience dramatic and deadly water shortages, because bad management and overuse have been endemic for years. In the Indian sub-continent, farmers are so busy that the land is the most intensely irrigated on earth, but the almost total reliance on pumped groundwater means that reserves are being depleted far faster than they can be replaced, and a major crisis looms.
If we are being realistic about this global epidemic of bad news, then we have to face the very real possibility of conflicts being sparked off by the demand for this life-preserving natural resource. As climate change accelerates, and with it the weather patterns of the world, then we could well see, within the next decade or two, the fight for human survival becoming so intense that wars get fought over access to water. There are simply too many humans on the planet, greedily sucking up what is there, and something will have to give, eventually.
A welcome Morning Sight?
Tellingly, at a 2013 Abu Dhabi international water conference, the crown Prince declared that, for them, water has become important than oil, and this will prove true all over the drier parts of the world, in the next decade. China and Brazil also face huge problems, and the Egyptians are very hostile to the building of a huge dam across the river Nile, in Ethiopia. The tensions are mounting, and there is neither an end in sight nor an easy solution to this global crisis. Enjoy your water while you may, in countries that are overly blessed by it, because your access to it may prove to be more of a curse than a blessing, as time goes by.
I have been writing for pleasure for half a century, but only started writing for money around 1994. Since then I have had a few thousand articles, stories and poems published on line and in print all round the world.
I am now 63 years old, male, from Burnley in the UK, and apart from writing, I love to read - mainly crime thrillers, conspiracy theory books and science fiction, though I also love films, gardening and chatting with my wife who is also my best friend.
I enjoy feedback from readers, and interaction with fellow writers. Anyone who gets in touch with me will get a reply. I am always happy to read and comment upon the work of others, as I think we writers are something of a definite sub-species of humanity!