×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Beneath Africa, Survey Finds 'Huge' Water Reserves

timothy posted about 2 years ago | from the first-the-moon-now-this dept.

Earth 292

gambit3 writes with this news, carried by the BBC: "Scientists say the notoriously dry continent of Africa is sitting on a vast reservoir of groundwater. They argue that the total volume of water in aquifers underground is 100 times the amount found on the surface. Across Africa more than 300 million people are said not to have access to safe drinking water. Freshwater rivers and lakes are subject to seasonal floods and droughts that can limit their availability for people and for agriculture. At present only 5% of arable land is irrigated."

cancel ×
This is a preview of your comment

No Comment Title Entered

Anonymous Coward 1 minute ago

No Comment Entered

292 comments

Oh no (5, Insightful)

andrew3 (2250992) | about 2 years ago | (#39760681)

More resources means people will think they can make more people. Which, of course, will be worse in the long run since underground water never lasts forever, and it will be a larger population to starve.

What Africa needs is education [arachnoid.com], not more water to be exported to other countries.

Re:Oh no (5, Insightful)

gweihir (88907) | about 2 years ago | (#39760755)

Indeed. As long as the people there do not understand what their problems are, they will not get out of their current situation. Education is the only way to achieve that. "Gifts" from the west only result in laziness, which is one primary enemy of education. Most people are only willing to learn if there is no alternative. Sad but true.

Re:Oh no (4, Insightful)

zblack_eagle (971870) | about 2 years ago | (#39760789)

"Gifts" from the west only result in laziness

Also known economic circumstances as dumping [wikipedia.org]. The local costs of production can't compete with 'free', and so local production is stymied by what is effectively first world governments subsidising domestic production.

And we get all indignant when China does things for "cheap".

Re:Oh no (2)

donscarletti (569232) | about 2 years ago | (#39760911)

Well, China is a big factor in Africa too, building roads and the like for free using Chinese labour and materials. It can be seen as dumping, but Africa still needs infrastructure.

Re:Oh no (3, Insightful)

gweihir (88907) | about 2 years ago | (#39761187)

Africa needs infrastructure built and maintained by locals. You can still find the ruins of plenty of bridges, roads, etc. built by the British, the French, etc. People only value infrastructure if they had to bleed themselves to build it.

Re:Oh no (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39761357)

Yeah, just like Detroit or Haiti or... ah! never mind!

Re:Oh no (4, Insightful)

Chrisq (894406) | about 2 years ago | (#39761481)

Africa needs infrastructure built and maintained by locals. You can still find the ruins of plenty of bridges, roads, etc. built by the British, the French, etc. People only value infrastructure if they had to bleed themselves to build it.

Not necessarily true. I value a lot of roads that were built before I was born. I think that what is important is the expectation that people's work and taxes will have to maintain it. I could extend that to say that if someone built a road out of charity to a remote region this could be good for the locals, and if the expectation was that the new trade paid for the upkeep it would increase the economy.

Re:Oh no (1)

peragrin (659227) | about 2 years ago | (#39761497)

having driven around the USA that is far truer than you realize. even if their grandparents are the ones who built it.

Re:Oh no (1, Interesting)

benjfowler (239527) | about 2 years ago | (#39761361)

I've heard of stories where Chinese road-building companies would use local labour with picks and shovels to build roads during the day (to keep the local Big Men happy), and then send in Chinese workers with heavy earthmoving equipment to do the actual work.

Not training the locals was a deliberate strategy by the Chinese to prevent skilling up the local workforce and giving them ideas that they might be able to complete.

As always with the Chinese -- it's ALL about self-interest. The Han will always come first, and everyone else are racially inferior.

Re:Oh no (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39761371)

Apparently the Chinese aren't as dumb as Westerners..... good on them!

Re:Oh no (1)

outsider007 (115534) | about 2 years ago | (#39761003)

You can't educate someone who's starving. Africa needs education but first it needs breakfast. And air conditioning.

Re:Oh no (5, Insightful)

tsa (15680) | about 2 years ago | (#39761181)

Most people in Africa have enough to eat. Africa is an enormous continent with many different landscapes and people. What Africa needs is leaders who actually care for their people, so they can exploit the land better and be educated.

Re:Oh no (1)

greentshirt (1308037) | about 2 years ago | (#39761147)

Gifts from the West? How are people so oblivious to recent history? Do yourself (and the world) a favour, go to a library and read.

Re:Oh no (-1, Flamebait)

gweihir (88907) | about 2 years ago | (#39761197)

Gifts from the West?

How are people so oblivious to recent history?

Do yourself (and the world) a favour, go to a library and read.

Such arrogance. Such ignorance. Such laziness. What the world in particular does not need is the likes of you.

Re:Oh no (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39761231)

Such arrogance. Such ignorance. Such laziness.

You just discredited yourself in a few words.

You give no argumentation why he is wrong.
You do not reply to anything he says.
Just personal insults...

Re:Oh no (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39761247)

Gifts from the West?

How are people so oblivious to recent history?

Do yourself (and the world) a favour, go to a library and read.

i agree. do a search on the imf, ffs!

Re:Oh no (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39760779)

There will be no hope of real education as long as Islam and Christianity have their claws in Africa.

Re:Oh no (4, Interesting)

unixisc (2429386) | about 2 years ago | (#39760787)

I looked at the map. Most of the blue areas were areas that are actually desert - the vast areas of Egypt (west of the Nile), Algeria, Niger, Chad, Namibia and so on. Aside from Egypt, most of these countries have very small populations, so population is not the problem there. In any case, nothing to worry - most of these countries are not interested in the well being of their populations, and so one is unlikely to see an overpopulation problem suddenly hit the Sahara and the Namib deserts.

Oh yes (2, Insightful)

dutchwhizzman (817898) | about 2 years ago | (#39760851)

People bread like rabbits once there is enough food and water to go around. They do anyway, but the infant mortality rate is high and migration to barren areas is very limited. Once there's food, water and safety, large groups of people migrate and breed. In just one or two generations, the country will be densely populated and there will once again be a shortage of resources.

Re:Oh yes (5, Insightful)

Barsteward (969998) | about 2 years ago | (#39760939)

I think the opposite is true. Infant mortality is high in these areas so they have more children in the hope some survive. When there is food, medicine, better sanitation etc, they breed less because there is less chance of the infants dying.

Re:Oh yes (1)

GNious (953874) | about 2 years ago | (#39761321)

It may be true that in areas with high infant-mortality (or low average life-expectancy), people have more children as a way to compensate. Other animals do the same, so why should humans be any different.

What is an issue, though, is the time it takes for humans to switch to a lower rate of child-birth, or smaller families; this tends to take a few generations, by which time you are already facing a possible over-population.

(disclaimer: I'm the 9th child in a family, from a western European country)

Re:Oh yes (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39761389)

"Other animals do the same, so why should humans be any different."

Don't be so glib about people's suffering. Those babies dying in Africa are no less deserving of prosperity than you or me.

No they don't (5, Insightful)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | about 2 years ago | (#39761029)

You see this bullshit all the time from people who never took more than BIO 100 and presume that humans work like bacteria. Turns out, they don't. The proof of that is first world nations. They all have at most low population growth, and many have neutral or negative population growth. The "human bacteria" theory says they should be the prime places for a massive booming population. There's abundance in everything and IMR is low so population should explode... But it doesn't.

Turns out when you solve the basic needs, when people have more than a subsistence living, when they don't have to worry about a bunch of their offspring dying, they stop having so many kids.

The way to control population is not to try and starve people of resources. You might notice that is the situation now and yet there's high birth rate. The way to control is to get people better lives. Sufficient food, clean water, medical care, shelter, etc and then the population growth is tamed.

This isn't a "Well we hope humans work like this," theory, it is how things HAVE worked. It is the reason there was no massive boom and crash in the US, Europe, Japan, and so on. Population growth has slowed, leveled off, or even inverted in all the places that have the most abundant resources.

The strategy of "Just let the brown people die," is not only extremely callous, it is also counter productive to getting a stable population level.

Re:No they don't (2)

andrew3 (2250992) | about 2 years ago | (#39761097)

Of course you assume that the water will actually be given to Africa. More likely it will be bottled up and sold to the rest of the world.

A win for corporatism and jobs for the world, and an overall loss for Africa.

Where's the LOL WUT picture when I need it? (1)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | about 2 years ago | (#39761279)

Seriously? You think we actually bother to ship water across oceans? Not hardly. All the bottled water you find gets bottled relatively locally. Nobody is going to pay ocean freight prices to ship water when you can get it from a municipal source at $5/750 gallons or so.

Re:No they don't (5, Insightful)

turing_m (1030530) | about 2 years ago | (#39761117)

You see this bullshit all the time from people who never took more than BIO 100 and presume that humans work like bacteria. Turns out, they don't. The proof of that is first world nations. They all have at most low population growth, and many have neutral or negative population growth. The "human bacteria" theory says they should be the prime places for a massive booming population. There's abundance in everything and IMR is low so population should explode... But it doesn't.

I'd be a bit more circumspect about my ability to judge the long term growth rates of humans just two generations after the introduction of the contraceptive pill and Roe vs Wade. It's like the equivalent of spraying some dilute poison in the petri dish that most but not every bacterium is affected by and thinking that the long term growth rates can be predicted by the growth rates of that bacteria in a few hours.

Re:No they don't (5, Insightful)

siddesu (698447) | about 2 years ago | (#39761161)

You have it the wrong way around. The argument isn't biological in nature, it deals with economics. People are not bacteria in a petri dish. They can think about the future and plan according to the means that are available to them. Children are the only investment available to many peoples in the poorest parts in the world, since they receive little care, but tend to take care of their parents. In the West, children bear a huge opportunity cost, as they need to be taken care of, but don't contribute directly to the well-being of their parents as much as the offspring in poorer nation.

This is why there is a lot more demand for contraceptives and abortions in the West, and that is why methods for birth control were developed in the first place.

Re:No they don't (4, Informative)

tsa (15680) | about 2 years ago | (#39761191)

It doesn't help Africa that the Pope and George Bush both told the many many catholics there not to use contraception because... well, I don't know actually.

Re:No they don't (5, Informative)

ceoyoyo (59147) | about 2 years ago | (#39761387)

We had effective contraception and abortion LONG before the 60s. There is a long history of resource rich societies NOT breeding as much as would be expected from a simple resource utilization model.

Re:Oh yes (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39761075)

People bread like rabbits once there is enough food and water to go around.

Wrong. There is an over-abundance of food and water throughout the western world and other wealthly nations and population, not counting immigration, is either at replacement or declining [huffingtonpost.com]. Malthus was simply wrong. Please stop promulgating your mutual ignorance.

Re:Oh yes (0)

zephvark (1812804) | about 2 years ago | (#39761211)

People bread like rabbits once there is enough food and water to go around.

What is this, a soylent green joke? ...anyway, I believe other people have made the point that Malthusian theory turns out to be completely incorrect. There is the problem of government, as always. Many African nations have completely horrific governments that cause starvation and poverty in the midst of what should be plenty. Looking at you, Zimbabwe.

Re:Oh no (2)

Anonymousslashdot (2601035) | about 2 years ago | (#39760957)

More resources means people will think they can make more people.

Yeah ? Well, just look at them. They already can and do more people than they can possibly feed. It seems they don't need to think about it, they just do.

Re:Oh no (3, Insightful)

sqrt(2) (786011) | about 2 years ago | (#39761115)

Africa has more than enough arable land and resources to feed itself solely with food produced from the continent. Their problems are political, and socioeconomic.

I don't have an answer to fix the problem, and I don't know enough about the situation and the history to give a very insightful explanation as to how it came about but it seems that the African people cannot govern themselves effectively. This goes back even to before Europeans arrived. They were subsistence farmers and hunter/gathers organized in tribal groups or regional empires that fought with their neighboring tribes when the Europeans came and that's mostly what they are still today. The only difference is that we provided them with terrible new weapons to kill each other much more effectively, and we established an amoral economic basis by which the most ruthless among them could gain much wealth and power by exploiting their kinsmen through cooperation with resource extracting imperialists.

I don't see a way out of this nightmare for them. Africa will remain mired in all of the worst aspects of humanity for the foreseeable future. Everything anyone does to try and help just addresses the symptoms, not the systemic problems which the West seems ill-equipped even to identify, much less remedy.

Myth (1)

reversible physicist (799350) | about 2 years ago | (#39761035)

With enough energy, we could distill sea water. Therefore pure fresh water is not a finite resource that must limit the earth's population anytime soon. This is a myth. There is also not (in principle) an energy shortage -- just technical obstacles to using more of the solar and geothermal energy that are available in such staggering abundance (compared to our current energy usage).

Re:Myth (1)

jaymemaurice (2024752) | about 2 years ago | (#39761199)

what do you do with the brine?

Re:Myth (1)

12WTF$ (979066) | about 2 years ago | (#39761339)

Distill? Kidding, right?
Unless the energy fairy (aka Mr Fusion) arrives soon (not in 40 years), industrial desalination of sea water at semi reasonable cost requires reverse osmosis.
But and it's a REALLY big but, reverse osmosis of seawater does give you nice, pure as rain, water.
It gives you water with most of the salt removed EXCEPT for Boron*.

what do you do with the brine?

How do you cope with the public health issues of BORON poisoning of people and irrigated lands from industrial RO?

*Boron (aka AntRid) is a light weight element that slips through the reverse osmosis membranes as they age and easily
exceeds the safe limit unless the costly membranes are replaced regularly. The usual method is dilute the RO water with fresh water.
Parts of Sydney water supply between the RO plant and the fresh water storage get undiluted RO water straight from the tap.

Re:Oh no (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39761045)

This isn't the least bit insightful. Just more lefty knee-jerk group-think.

The only force that stops excessive population growth without coercion, plague, warfare, famine or some other heinous calamity is material prosperity. This is why the fabulous wealth of the industrial west has caused population growth to achieve replacement, or actually decline. Material prosperity begins with abundant food, which requires water.

Education without prosperity is a fiction indulged by naive, wealthy westerners and practiced the world over by their pathologically ineffectual NGOs. Poor, cold, hungry, freighted people can not learn that which isn't experienced via Pavlovian feedback.

Re:Oh no (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39761285)

"More resources means people will think they can make more people. Which, of course, will be worse..."

By that logic it'd be best if there were no resources. If not, then what would be a realistic optimal amount of resources?

"What Africa needs is education, not more water to be exported to other countries."

Tell that to the other countries.

Re:Oh no (1)

ceoyoyo (59147) | about 2 years ago | (#39761363)

Scarce resources don't stop people from having kids. Rather the opposite is true for humans.

Africa needs education all right, but it also needs things like water, available food and security so the people who need the education are healthy enough and have time to get it.

Re:Oh no (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39761431)

More resources means people will think they can make more people. Which, of course, will be worse in the long run since underground water never lasts forever, and it will be a larger population to starve.

What Africa needs is education [arachnoid.com], not more water to be exported to other countries.

The ones most seriously in need of education are westerners who think there's any hope of educating Africans. I'd start with this. [takimag.com]

Drill Baby Drill (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39760683)

wohoo!

It is also a FINITE supply. (5, Insightful)

WolphFang (1077109) | about 2 years ago | (#39760685)

It is also a FINITE supply.... not a true fix for water shortage problem long-term...

Re:It is also a FINITE supply. (4, Insightful)

Intropy (2009018) | about 2 years ago | (#39760857)

Exactly. When you pump water out of the ground it's gone forever. It gets consumed, evaporates, and then it never rains again.

Actually underground reservoirs can be "finite" (5, Insightful)

perpenso (1613749) | about 2 years ago | (#39761041)

Exactly. When you pump water out of the ground it's gone forever.

Underground reservoirs are not necessarily refilled by the next rain. Read up on such reservoirs found in North America. They were filled over many thousands of years and significantly drained by agriculture related drilling and pumping in decades. Every year agriculture has to drill deeper and deeper to find water.

It gets consumed, evaporates, and then it never rains again.

Of course it rains, the problem is that it does not necessarily rain where the water was harvested. Harvesting deep water reservoirs does not somehow change the fact that a region is a desert or arid region with little rainfall.

Re:It is also a FINITE supply. (1)

KiloByte (825081) | about 2 years ago | (#39761065)

It rains into the oceans (mostly), and will evaporate back at the same rate it does currently. All you do is to slightly increase an already huge buffer.

Re:It is also a FINITE supply. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39761091)

It may be a huge buffer but go figure out how much current desalination technology costs and come back tell me about shipping it to iowa and texas when the underground resevoirs go dry.

Re:It is also a FINITE supply. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39761403)

Aquifer based water utilization is exploitation of non-renewable resource. Many water-based industries like agriculture and softdrinks are insensitive about it.

So how long will it last? (5, Insightful)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | about 2 years ago | (#39760687)

I don't care how much good that water might do today: I want to know how long it'll last if a billion people start sucking it up. Aquifers replenish, but only very slowly. Even the scientists behind the research are stressing that industrial-scale drilling will exaust the supply eventually.

Re:So how long will it last? (3, Informative)

mysidia (191772) | about 2 years ago | (#39760717)

Even the scientists behind the research are stressing that industrial-scale drilling will exaust the supply eventually.

Presumably it will last a long time, if they make sure to tightly regulate any tapping of industrial scale quantities, ensure that the amount of water drawn out is less than the local replenishment rate, and ensure that players are treated fairly, no one entity is allowed to hog the resource, and any entity that does tap the resource pays a quantity-dependant price for doing so, to discourage waste.

There's no inherent reason that industrial-scale drilling has to be allowed to exhaust the supply

Re:So how long will it last? (5, Insightful)

Nursie (632944) | about 2 years ago | (#39760835)

There's no inherent reason that industrial-scale drilling has to be allowed to exhaust the supply

Pffft. Silly rabbit. The inherent reason is humans. Someone with an interest in industrial scale wasting of water will pay the right people just enough to get them out of the way, and start depleting it as fast as they can, for as much or as little profit as they can make from it.

Re:So how long will it last? (2)

Stephan Schulz (948) | about 2 years ago | (#39761079)

Presumably it will last a long time, if they make sure to tightly regulate any tapping of industrial scale quantities, ensure that the amount of water drawn out is less than the local replenishment rate, and ensure that players are treated fairly, no one entity is allowed to hog the resource, and any entity that does tap the resource pays a quantity-dependant price for doing so, to discourage waste.

There's no inherent reason that industrial-scale drilling has to be allowed to exhaust the supply

Because this works so well for aquifers in modern, developed, industrial countries where the aquifer is fully within the borders of the only country using it? See e.g. the Ogallala Aquifer [wikipedia.org].

Re:So how long will it last? (2)

Surt (22457) | about 2 years ago | (#39760719)

It actually doesn't matter much. If it lasts as little as 20 years, the consequent industrialization and improvement to the standard of living will make desalinization an affordable replacement.

Re:So how long will it last? (2)

bryan1945 (301828) | about 2 years ago | (#39760727)

""Even in the lowest storage aquifers in semi arid areas with currently very little rainfall, ground water is indicated to have a residence time in the ground of 20 to 70 years." Dr Bonsor said."
That was the only bit I saw that had any time period, and I'm not sure exactly would that means. The scientists are strongly suggesting smaller-scale bores, but we all know that none of the governments will listen. Even the US mid-west aquifier (sorry, forget its name) keeps dropping, and that area gets a ton more rain than Africa.

Re:So how long will it last? (4, Interesting)

macraig (621737) | about 2 years ago | (#39760745)

I doubt if very many of the people suffering from continual Guinea worms they ingest from contaminated surface water would share your worry. They're too busy trying to yank two-foot-long spaghetti aliens out of their arms, legs, feet, and abdomens. Having a guaranteed uncontaminated water source from a gigantic aquifer would end their daily war against the alien invasion.

Re:So how long will it last? (5, Insightful)

Grayhand (2610049) | about 2 years ago | (#39760953)

The point though is legitimate because the population has exploded with most people living not much different than they did a hundred years ago. Everyone shares this naive belief that all we need to do is feed the hungry people. Feeding them without education gives you two hungry people instead of one. Every documentary I've ever seen showing starving single mothers in Africa they ask how many kids they have and it turns out they are trying to raise 6 or 8 kids on $2 or less a day. It's impossible so most starve. The only sure cure for out of control fertility rates is education and improved lifestyles. Where are the lowest fertility rates in the world? Japan, the US and most of Europe where they have strong economies. The exception being religious groups that insist the members have as many kids as possible. Conditions weren't that different in this country a 100+ years ago except we had the resources to feed them. Send them drills and water pumps as well as condoms and tell the Pope to go fuck himself since they aren't willing to help feed the people his and the church's policies help create. If we've been exceeding the Earth's resources since the early 80s every one born since then will eventually have to find some place else to live. It's not opinion if the numbers are right it's a fact. The only real solution in the long run is that there are fewer people using the resources. If we don't fix the problem nature will do it herself. Fewer kids born or mass starvation, which is crueler?

Re:So how long will it last? (1, Insightful)

DNS-and-BIND (461968) | about 2 years ago | (#39761207)

I love it. Some good news for Africa at last, and all you can think of is "they need fewer people". First world good, Africa bad. Ever consider the implied racism in this thinking?

Re:So how long will it last? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39761501)

I love it. Some good news for Africa at last, and all you can think of is "they need fewer people". First world good, Africa bad. Ever consider the implied racism in this thinking?

The only racism here is your post. The only person saying first world vs. africa is you. The only person incapable of seeing that this is a double-edged sword... is you.

Re:So how long will it last? (3, Informative)

donscarletti (569232) | about 2 years ago | (#39760961)

Guinea worm is looking like it is on the verge of eradication thanks to a concentrated effort over the last 10 years, a 99% reduction over the last 25 years. This is through basic sanitation and proper treatment procedure with none of this no-holds-barred short term thinking you are proposing.

It just awaits the opening of certain war-torn areas to health workers, then it will be gone for good. Proposing to deplete a valuable resource in its name just makes you sound impetuous and stupid.

Re:So how long will it last? (1)

Anonymousslashdot (2601035) | about 2 years ago | (#39760975)

Well, in case they develop an advanced civilization from the abundance of healthy drinking water, they can build pipelines...

Great!! (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39760711)

When do we get to play "colonize" again?

Re:Great!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39761051)

well the original is abandonware and there was a rerelease using firaxis' civ 4 engine.

Re:Great!! (1)

PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) | about 2 years ago | (#39761077)

I'm sorry, Sir, but we are still not quite finished with the first round yet. You will just have wait for that to end, before we start the next round. House rules, Sir.

May be like oil (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39760713)

In principle it's a renewable resource, but it renews so slowly that it is non-renewable for all practical purposes. In Africa, deep wells have run dry because the water table has fallen after heavy use. Not a big surprise: Where is the replenishment supposed to come from?

Irrigation in areas with extreme sunlight is also going to create problems with mineral deposits ("salted earth").

great idea (0)

slashmydots (2189826) | about 2 years ago | (#39760725)

So not only do they continue to attempt to live in a place that doesn't support human life but now they might screw with a water supply that's millions of years old. That sounds like a good idea.

Don't do what we did (4, Insightful)

girlintraining (1395911) | about 2 years ago | (#39760757)

Although I'm sure many will say this is inhumane, I suggest that this survey quietly disappear. Many of the United States' agricultural land is in danger of turning to dust due to several factors. Part of it is the poor use of land; Overuse of pesticides, chemical fertilizer, genetically engineered crops (the crops are not the problem, the business practices of companies like Monsanto are), and the loss of top soil due to erosion are just some of the problems. We have several states that are largely desert right now (the "dust bowl" was a ecological disaster caused by irresponsible farming practices). However, the other part of it is due to lack of access to fresh water. People are living in places that have tapped out their underwater reserves; Especially those in the southeastern United States. Several municipalities are embroiled in fierce legal battled over neighboring cities (and even states!) refusal to share their water. This is a situation that will only get worse over time; Already there is talk about southern states passing legislation or taking overt and aggressive action to divert water from the Great Lakes to areas of the south that soon will be uninhabitable without water relief -- others of course argue that the areas should never have been inhabited in the first place.

If the countries of Africa tap that resource, on one hand they will experience a sudden burst of economic activity and agricultural reform; and with it a corresponding explosion in population. However, there is already too much industrialization of the planet as it is, and with global warming going unaddressed due to a lack of cooperation by sovereign powers, an untempered entry into industry by so many new countries could cause a global ecological disaster that could leave most of the tropical regions of the planet devastated and unfarmable. If an industrialized country with access to state of the art technology, extensive scientific understanding, and sufficient natural resources, cannot solve these problems... I shudder to think what could happen if an entire continent did a history repeat.

Re:Don't do what we did (-1, Flamebait)

jcr (53032) | about 2 years ago | (#39760795)

Your obvious fear of more black people in the world fills me with disgust. If the people in Africa want to drill wells and improve their lives, good for them!

-jcr

Re:Don't do what we did (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39760833)

I see what you are doing there, reverse psychology.

Re:Don't do what we did (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39760853)

rather than prevent countries in Africa accessing their own water, wouldn't it have more effect if the USA and similar over-consuming countries were to reduce their environmental footprint by using less oil?

Re:Don't do what we did (1)

rally2xs (1093023) | about 2 years ago | (#39761427)

Sure. All we have to do is kill 3/4 of our population, and we can use way less oil. Oil sustains life here, get used to it.

Re:Don't do what we did (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39760963)

The argument third world countries have when first world ones say "don't do this, we did it and it didn't turn out well" is "well you guys did it and now you're first world so why can't we?"

Frankly, the best solution would be for a nation to "conquer" Africa in the same way the West conquered the various Asian superpowers. Look at Japan. Look at Korea. Hell, even China counts to an extent. At least two of them were near-complete shitholes in the 1950s (Japan due to WWII and the whole atomic bombing thing, Korea due to the whole Korean War thing) and look where they are now.

Send in the military to force peace, funnel in money, build infrastructure, educate, then leave a few military bases in exchange for "trade concessions" (modern day tributes) in the future. Do NOT, however, force them into subservience or interfere with their ruling structure if it's been fairly reliable. Play nice and act as if they're partners or allies, not territories. It's also strongly advised that the people in said country ASK for the help. Going in without a request makes you into a warmonger, and very rarely do people appreciate the act.

Also, if they're just allies, we can cut them off far more easily when they get uppity or too expensive, allowing us to focus on the homeland.

Good ole Rome. You had a hell of a system. If only you'd been able to keep the homeland strong and happy.

Re:Don't do what we did (1)

Grayhand (2610049) | about 2 years ago | (#39760981)

The Great Lakes or a finite resource. The midwest is already draining them on it's own. I've seen photos of boats sitting on mud dozens of feet from water. I grew up in Michigan and I never heard of such a thing. Climate change has reduced the water flowing into the Great Lakes and irrigation is draining them. Build a giant irrigation pipe and you get the great mud lakes. Most of the food grown in this country relies on irrigation. When I was in Los Angeles we were all told to conserve water yet 90% went to agriculture so cutting your water useage in half would have little impact since I believe another 6% was used in industry so personal use was negligible. My whole life we've been told we can feed the world but that's a myth.

Re:Don't do what we did (0)

roman_mir (125474) | about 2 years ago | (#39761033)

Yeah, those black people, why should they be able to use water that is found on their continent? Goldman Sachs should get all the rights to it, set up a few pumps and 'monetise' it the way the know how.

Re:Don't do what we did (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39761111)

You are what's wrong with the world, you selfish bastard. If the Earth is "too much industrialized" that is in no way Africa's fault, and Africa should not be expected to sacrifice its people to afford others a few more years of polluting the planet to their hearts' content. You clearly are not willing to go back to the Stone Age, so what makes you think anyone has the right to prevent a whole continent from getting out of it?

You talk of global ecological disaster and try to blame it on the countries that barely did anything to cause it. If you truly care about the environment, and aren't using it as a bad excuse, it would be far more effective to deal first with the big offenders (USA, China and Russia), who for years have polluted the planet we all share without caring for the consequences.

You also say access to water will cause a populational explosion in Africa. According to history, you couldn't be more mistaken. What will happen is a greater populational growth in the short term - thanks to reduced infant mortality - but reduced populational growth in the long term.

For thirst or greed, sooner or later someone will get to the water. I only hope some of the water will get to the thirsty and to the crops; it would be truly sad if it was all sold overseas.

Greening of Africa (5, Interesting)

symbolset (646467) | about 2 years ago | (#39760761)

Global warming is likely to lead to a de-desertification of Africa anyway, as increasing equatorial heat increases the absorption of water by the air over the Atlantic. But it's still Africa.

Re:Greening of Africa (1)

flyingfsck (986395) | about 2 years ago | (#39760809)

Why? The earth was much warmer in the past and instead of being a desert, the Sahara was a grassland. Higher temperature means more evaporation from the oceans, which means more rain...

Last time... (2)

jd (1658) | about 2 years ago | (#39760807)

...an aquifer was found in Africa it was drained dry due to wastage and abuse of resources. This isn't a miracle cure, guys. If used properly, it might reduce the stress on the land (so allowing it to recover, so increasing rainfall) but it is NOT a substitute for surface reservoirs, it is NOT a substitute for learning how to be efficient with resources, it is NOT infinite and it is NOT going to cure centuries (if not millenia) of neglect of Africa.

Not news... (3, Informative)

drmaxx (692834) | about 2 years ago | (#39760831)

It's not new that there are huge groundwater resources in Africa. The only new thing in the article is that they mapped it in more detail then ever before. And these resources are also heavily utilized today. However, using groundwater for food production is not without great danger - the keyword here is salinification.

Re:Not news... (1)

12WTF$ (979066) | about 2 years ago | (#39761477)

the keyword here is salinification.

Pedantic pedant is pedantic.
The great danger is not MAKING SALT - salinification
but adding salt to the agricultural land - salination

Not if Coke or Pepsi settles in... (1)

Kergan (780543) | about 2 years ago | (#39760891)

Just wait until either drill a few boreholes:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Criticism_of_Coca-Cola#Water_use [wikipedia.org]

Re:Not if Coke or Pepsi settles in... (1)

jaymemaurice (2024752) | about 2 years ago | (#39761301)

Man that is probably the worst written/cited wikipedia article I have ever read... It's like someone got so sick of revising the Coca-Cola article they relized they could give all these anti-coke tinfoil hatters their own article to spew whatever on and just left them to it.

See also the 1978 novel "Flyaway" and ... (1)

dbIII (701233) | about 2 years ago | (#39760913)

See also the 1978 novel "Flyaway" and the results of surveys made in the years before that which meant the author could find this out by reading some information for tourists.
What is new is the detailed map instead of finding it under just a few countries while looking for oil.

Vast? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39760997)

100 times something really small is not vast.

Also, there is a big difference between not having safe water and not having water. Just because there may be water there doesn't solve the problem of making it safe to drink.

Gaddafi (1, Informative)

blind biker (1066130) | about 2 years ago | (#39761007)

Gaddafi has built a pipe system to use the huge aquifer under Libya. My friend told me that this was the reason why NATO went to war in Libya but not in Syria. The latter had nothing to offer (a la oil etc.) but the former has a huge treasure, and you can't have someone who doesn't play ball with the rich guys in charge.

Do I share my friend's opinion? Every day more and more.

Re:Gaddafi (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39761149)

It's a bullshit explanation. NATO didn't go to war against Libya, the Libyan people went to war against Qaddafi, and NATO lent support. Also, precisely what does NATO have to gain by preventing the Libyans from having more water?

Re:Gaddafi (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39761353)

NATO used military force against Lybia, if that isn't an act of war I don't know what would be. NATO supported the fundamentalists in Lybia but didn't give a shit about Syria. There's a reason for that. Research which of the two was more subservient and you'll understand.

Handing out resources (1)

hantms (2527172) | about 2 years ago | (#39761009)

US and Middle East got oil, Europe got gas. God screws over Africa yet again with some muddy water. It's just not fair.

Re:Handing out resources (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39761235)

US and Middle East got oil, Europe got gas. God screws over Africa yet again with some muddy water. It's just not fair.

I am pretty sure Nigeria and Libya are in Africa..../s

Lost in corruption (2, Insightful)

acidradio (659704) | about 2 years ago | (#39761061)

All of this water is great! But with all of the corrupt governments throughout Africa who will ever get to benefit from it?

I've always felt that Africa is the richest continent. It's chock-full of minerals, oil, diamonds, arable land (some land better than other land but with the right techniques just about anything is possible)... The climate is warm to hot throughout much of the continent facilitating growing. Its people? If you go to the right places hard-working, skilled and eager to work. But its corruption is widespread. Without targeting that (much easier said than done) this water will either stay in the ground or will go to benefit some dictator or other "politician".

Re:Lost in corruption (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39761459)

Unfortunately it also has niggers. Which pretty much negates any other advantages it might have.

100 times the amount on the surface!!! (2)

WSOGMM (1460481) | about 2 years ago | (#39761265)

That's like!... that's like!... *mumbles doing some math* carry the four... subtract the depth times the... divide out all extra... mmhm ... surface area... ah, yes... average out the known surface water... okay... times roughly 100... *writes some more* Yes! ... That's like zero liters of water!

*shoulders drop in disappointment*

Guess who's going to have to help them... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39761317)

... why, it'll be old 'racist' whitey, of course...

Because the blacks are too STUPID to do it for themselves.

And as another poster said - we don't NEED more bloody Africans, thank you very much.

What have Africans ever given the world?

"Corruption" is widespread in African governments, because THEY'RE AFRICANS. That's what Africans DO. Or are you blind?

Dune (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39761323)

Anyone else thing of Dune after reading the article?

sa iu hòa (-1, Flamebait)

suamaylanh84 (2609601) | about 2 years ago | (#39761423)

Ti mt công ty dch v k thut ti vit nam luôn uoc mi ngi mn m ây là bài vit hay nht mà tôi tng c nu bn cm nhn nó mt cách chân thành thì mc nh hng ca bài vit là rt hay Vi nhng iu mi m nht mt ngh dch v cc tt ó là an toàn nht sau 15 nm vì mt cng ng fuov xã hi ánh giá hiu qu thì gi ây sua dieu hoa [chuyendieuhoa.vn] c coi nh mt uy tín duy nht vi mi m bo cho toàn vit nam c coi là chuyên nghip, s ánh giá ca khách hàng ã chng minh rng sua dieu hoa [chuyendieuhoa.vn] tho lun tt v vn này bn s hiu dõ th nào là mt dch v bách khoa trên toàn lãnh th vit nam sa iu hòa [chuyendieuhoa.vn] ni bn có th gi sa bt k mi th v in lnh vi nhiu bo hành dài hn cho s trc chn ràng n vi chúng tôi mi hot ng máy iu hòa s là tt nht

hopeless (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39761537)

if it turns out to be worth anything, they will start a never ending war over it and the only gaining anything would be producers of ak-47s and landmines .....

Load More Comments
Slashdot Account

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Don't worry, we never post anything without your permission.

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>
Sign up for Slashdot Newsletters
Create a Slashdot Account

Loading...