Sunday, November 19, 2006

The Coming Water Crisis? ..Totally dry (sic!), nerdy post alert!!!

While some folks think terrorism for us Americans (it's all about me dammit! ;-)) is a huge issue, I tend to think the bigger elephant in the room is global climate change. Yes terrorism is an issue and we need to deal with it, but our inaction on climate change as the world's biggest kid on the block is just plain inexcusable.

Why am I writing about this, cos I got like 4 hours sleep last night (more on that in the Monday post), so I am perusing some diaries on Daily Kos and I come across this one. The graph that caught my eye was the one below. It's the water stress indicator a ratio between water availability and human population, that is water availability per capita per year, usually on a national scale. It is one of the several different indices used predict water crises (link here). But from my quick read, my take was they are all pointing to the same fact, water supplies are under stress esp in certain parts of the world. They are inextricably linked to various human activities incl climate change.

I scrolled past the post and then tried to get back to bed and was reading the Sunday NY Times, when I saw this piece on the front pages. Excerpts below..

A Troubled River Mirrors China’s Path to Modernity

DOLKA, China — At the two glacial lakes that give birth to the Yellow River, a Tibetan nomad named Tsende stands at the river’s edge and rolls up his pants. He says a dragon lives in the lakes, a god of rain. Two decades of drought convinced him the dragon is angry.

He will travel across grasses that once touched his knees but now barely reach his ankles. Hundreds of nomads, prodded by the government, have sold their herds and fled the land around the lakes. Others like Tsende have rammed a Buddhist prayer pole into a hillside and prayed to the dragon. Told that some scientists offer another explanation for the weather — climate change — Tsende is unimpressed.

“The result is the same,” he said with a shrug.

Science or superstition, the result is the same: The source of the Yellow River, itself the water source for 140 million people in a country of about 1.3 billion, is in crisis, as scientists warn that the glaciers and underground water system feeding the river are gravely threatened. For the rest of China, where the economy has evolved beyond trading rings for sheep, it is the latest burden for a river saturated with pollution and sucked dry by factories, growing cities and farming — with still more growth planned.

And you know how China is mostly powering this growth? Link here

Already, China uses more coal than the United States, the European Union and Japan combined. And it has increased coal consumption 14 percent in each of the past two years in the broadest industrialization ever. Every week to 10 days, another coal-fired power plant opens somewhere in China that is big enough to serve all the households in Dallas or San Diego.

To make matters worse, India is right behind China in stepping up its construction of coal-fired power plants — and has a population expected to outstrip China's by 2030.

And in more sobering news a few days back I saw a link on (can't find it now), that said now that gas prices were low SUV sales were picking up again. Oy!

So with an administration that does nothing about climate change, coupled with individuals who refuse to consume responsibly we truly are looking at a dark, bleak future for the next generation if this inaction continues.

In a more sensible world we (the US) would tackle climate change on a "war footing". Yes it would be expensive, but the upfront costs would be far cheaper than what would happen if this continues unchecked. We only have one earth and we share the responsibility in making it a livable place.

Have a great Sunday folks..


Sai said...

Sigh if only people were cognizant of the fact that this is rather serious!

Nancy Willing said...

I track what is going on in China.
It is utterly horrifying.

Keshi said...

thats scary!


deepsat said...

quite interesting! but what u said is very true!! i guess most of the developed nations are overlooking these aspects!!

hope the bald heads think something other than war for a change!

meno said...

"Have a nice Sunday folks" After reading that, i don't think so. But it has to be said, again and again.

Aditi said...

There was something in the papers recently about china's plans to build a dam on the brahmaputra river which would cause water shortage on the banks of the river in india and how india plans to deal with it.
Just a random thought on reading this post. It was interesting to see how water was so plenty in south america...
neways real interesting

Nancy Willing said...

Just a random thought on reading this post. It was interesting to see how water was so plenty in south america...
actually I have read that Chile depends on fresh water from the mountain's cap ice melting and the ice is disappearing due to global warming and a crisis is pending.

MoDigli said...

I wouldn't be surprised if, in the future, our wars will be based on nations getting their hands on clean water supplies instead of fighting over oil. Isn't there a movie about that or something?

It's so sad. Our nations have the technology and the intelligence to take care of these big problems. We (nations, society, the global community) just don't have the focused will.