×

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!

For Much of the World, Demand For Water Outstrips Supply

timothy posted about a year and a half ago | from the moisture-farming-has-a-future dept.

Earth 318

ananyo writes "Almost one-quarter of the world's population lives in regions where groundwater is being used up faster than it can be replenished, concludes a comprehensive global analysis of groundwater depletion (abstract). Across the world, human civilizations depend largely on tapping vast reservoirs of water that have been stored for up to thousands of years in sand, clay and rock deep underground. These massive aquifers — which in some cases stretch across multiple states and country borders — provide water for drinking and crop irrigation, as well as to support ecosystems such as forests and fisheries. Yet in most of the world's major agricultural regions, including the Central Valley in California, the Nile delta region of Egypt, and the Upper Ganges in India and Pakistan, demand exceeds these reservoirs' capacity for renewal."

cancel ×
This is a preview of your comment

No Comment Title Entered

Anonymous Coward 1 minute ago

No Comment Entered

318 comments

Where do I sign up....? (-1, Troll)

JTD121 (950855) | about a year and a half ago | (#40934023)

Seriously, this is not news, nor is it some kind of revelation of the human condition. Where do I go to get money for such inane studies?

Re:Where do I sign up....? (2)

jhoegl (638955) | about a year and a half ago | (#40934159)

I dont believe inane means what you think it means.
What does seem obvious to me is the lack of concern.
So be it... may your children be dried husks cursing us until they die.

All that will happen is migration (0)

SuperKendall (25149) | about a year and a half ago | (#40934231)

What does seem obvious to me is the lack of concern.
So be it... may your children be dried husks cursing us until they die.

You seem to equate the matter with death.

Wouldn't most people just move from the region instead of dehydrating to a desiccated husk?

I mean, I guess people besides you since you seem so dead set on being a Water Martyr. We'll erect a statue to you before we leave. Or set up a stand for you to rest in as the end nears so you can make your own gruesome statue, somehow I think that your would prefer this option...

Re:All that will happen is migration (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40934323)

You seem to equate the matter with death.

Wouldn't most people just move from the region instead of dehydrating to a desiccated husk?

Crack open a book sometime, and learn that most people can't simply "move from the region". Most of the world is, in fact, quite unlike the suburb of Scranton where you live.

Read that book you opened... (-1, Flamebait)

SuperKendall (25149) | about a year and a half ago | (#40935197)

Crack open a book sometime,

While you only cracked open the book, I have read them. In fact many.

In fact if you bother to open a history book instead of the comic books you apparently feast upon for your simplistic world view, you'd find that MANY past civilizations have migrated after conditions changed where they were - this was all pre-technology. Bays receded, rivers changed - the story of people migrating to other areas because water has moved is literally as old as recorded history.

Further, it takes a certain level of technology to make use of aquifers - the level of technology that would help to enable a migration... the poor still work off shallow wells or rivers the world over.

Most of the world is unlike the fantasy world you have constructed, people are far more practical and able than you can possible imagine.

Re:Read that book you opened... (1)

jhoegl (638955) | about a year and a half ago | (#40935397)

You may have history, but I have logic and evidence.
If people are everywhere,
They are drinking water everywhere
if everywhere cant support the people
Nowhere will.

Think about that and get back to me.

Re:Read that book you opened... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40935591)

People aren't everywhere though...

Re:All that will happen is migration (1)

cpu6502 (1960974) | about a year and a half ago | (#40934675)

>>>Wouldn't most people just move from the region instead of dehydrating to a desiccated husk?

No the State of Calfiornia will demand that the U.S. government extract funds from the other 49 states, so they can come-up with even more elaborate ways to water their millions of people. Like maybe build massive desalination plants to suck water from the Pacific. (Of course it would make more sense for Californians to simply move eastward after their arid state empties its underground aquifers, but politicians won't think of that highly-efficient solution. They would lose votes.)

Re:All that will happen is migration (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40935103)

Well, my most elaborate plan is to develop a seismic wave generator that will force the San Andreas fault to push California out into the ocean, thus making sure each and every person in California is watered for the rest of their life.

Anyone got anything more elaborate?

Re:All that will happen is migration (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40935677)

and, with no more California, the rest of the US quickly sinks to its true status of a third world shit hole.

Re:Where do I sign up....? (3, Insightful)

ShanghaiBill (739463) | about a year and a half ago | (#40935157)

What does seem obvious to me is the lack of concern.

It is also a lack of sensible policies. Here in California, farmers receive subsidized water to grow rice and cotton, which need a lot of water. If we end the taxpayer funded subsidies, farmers will grow crops that actually make sense, and much of the problem will go away.

Re:Where do I sign up....? (1)

Lumpy (12016) | about a year and a half ago | (#40935383)

Because it is 100% impossible for people to MOVE to where there are better resources...

Damn, I wish humanity was mobile and not firmly rooted to the ground like trees....

speaking of which (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40934037)

brb, need a 30 min shower

Re:speaking of which (2)

clarkkent09 (1104833) | about a year and a half ago | (#40934237)

Domestic water use is less than 1% of total water use in the US, so cutting down on your shower time will not have any measurable impact even if everybody did it. But, if it makes you feel better, go for it.

Re:speaking of which (4, Insightful)

TubeSteak (669689) | about a year and a half ago | (#40935459)

Be careful when looking at stats for water usage.
A huuuuuge portion of "water used" is actually passed through power plants for cooling purposes and goes right back into [waterway].
Agriculture and industrial factories are by far the two biggest consumers of potable water.

And water used for domestic households is actually higher than ~1% when you add in the significant (>50%) losses in municipal plumbing.
/low flow toilets are usually a bad choice, because ancient sewer systems require minimum water volumes to move shit effectively.

Whats the problem? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40934047)

All the niggers and sand niggers cease killing each other, die of dehydration, and the world is that much more peaceful. Sounds like a win-win to me.

Pizza Prices Will Go Up Under Obamacare (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40934099)

Our best estimate is that the ObamaCare will cost 11 to 14 cents per pizza, or 15 to 20 cents per order from a corporate basis. We're not supportive of Obamacare, like most businesses in our industry. But our business model and unit economics are about as ideal as you can get for a food company to absorb ObamaCare. If ObamaCare is in fact not repealed, we will find tactics to shallow out any ObamaCare costs and core strategies to pass that cost onto consumers in order to protect our shareholders best interests.

The restaurant industry is worried about ObamaCare. The National Restaurant Association notes that the law requires companies which have more than 50 employees to provide affordable health insurance or face steep penalties. McDonald’s reports that ObamaCare will cost each of its 14,000 franchises between $10,000 and $30,000 every year, and Burger King, Quiznos, and Dunkin’ Donuts are also expecting to be hit hard.

Don’t worry about the Obamas and the rising cost of pizza; they’re making enough money that Michelle can have two.

Re:Pizza Prices Will Go Up Under Obamacare (4, Insightful)

Hatta (162192) | about a year and a half ago | (#40934213)

Our best estimate is that the ObamaCare will cost 11 to 14 cents per pizza, or 15 to 20 cents per order from a corporate basis.

1% of the purchase price goes to health care? That sounds like a bargain to me.

But our business model and unit economics are about as ideal as you can get for a food company to absorb ObamaCare.

Same with all your other competitors, so no one is at a competitive disadvantage due to PPACA.

The restaurant industry is worried about ObamaCare. The National Restaurant Association notes that the law requires companies which have more than 50 employees to provide affordable health insurance or face steep penalties.

Then they should have lobbied for single payer when they had the chance.

Re:Pizza Prices Will Go Up Under Obamacare (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40934399)

They didn't have the votes.

Why don't you move to Cuba where insurance is 100%?

Really?

Re:Pizza Prices Will Go Up Under Obamacare (0)

fustakrakich (1673220) | about a year and a half ago | (#40935079)

If that 15 cents goes towards paying for Obamacare, will that mean there will be a personal mandate to buy pizza to make both more affordable?

Re:Pizza Prices Will Go Up Under Obamacare (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40934289)

Man, I'm willing to pay an extra 14 cents on a Papa John's pizza if it means the poor bastards preparing and delivering it have health insurance now. Hell, I thought it would be an extra dollar.

It's good to see your priorities are in order, though. Fuck everyone else's needs if they make the price of a pizza go up by less than fifteen cents.

Re:Pizza Prices Will Go Up Under Obamacare (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40934533)

There's a few problems here. the extra 15 cents is to pay for Obamacare, not a single person will recieve healthcare from this money.

And it's not just a few pennies per pizza, it's pennies on the pizza, pennies on the cheese, on the dough, on the gas on the napkins, it will then start to skyrocket, people will lose thier josb and this will never end.

And doctors are leaving the profession like lemmings. How then do you expect all these people to get their healthcare then?

The will have to move to Cuba.

Didn't God give you people brains? What happened to them?

Re:Pizza Prices Will Go Up Under Obamacare (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40935409)

But it won't just be 14c / pizza. My guess is it's going to be a lot more in inflation of not just pizza, but everything across the board combined with an increase in taxes. If you think healthcare is expensive now wait until people don't have to pay for it. Costs are going to skyrocket, and the quality of care is going to drop through the floor. Want evidence? Look at Canada where folks die of cancer waiting to see a doctor, or have to have their leg re-broken because it started to heal before they could get in to have a cast put on.

They had the opportunity to fix this and they blew it. You want to really fix health care? Get rid of malpractice. It doesn't benefit anyone except the lawyers. We do have crappy doctors who are only in it for the money and don't know what they're doing. Implement a three stikes policy. You fsck someone up three times and you kiss your 10 year college education goodbye and go do something else less harmful to society. Cap pharmacudical recovery at 100% of investment. In other words, you develop your drug and you can double your money. After that you sell it at cost + a reasonable percentage based on performance expectations of any other company. Require plain and simple billing from doctors, and insurance companies so that a five year old can understand it. No more of these shell games that result in tripple billing for the same procedure. The one thing they got right was getting rid of exclusion due to pre-existing condition. Last thing they should do is make it the law that if you don't purchase insurance and can't pay then you don't get help. Period. Yes it's harsh, but it's fair. When this country started there were none of these entitlements that we have today, and we grew out of that into one of the greatest countries in the world. Yes I know, some people starved to death, died of disease, etc. The world is not a utopia. It's harsh. It's still harsh now, the only difference is that the government has convinced many that this can be a utopia when they can't really make it happen. Look at how social security has guaranteed that our elderly are taken care of. Why are there so many homeless elderly on the street if that's the case, and SS is a train wreck that's only funded for the next 10-15 years (and on borrowed money at that). How about medicare and medicaid? Those have been here a long time. Still we need universal health care. That right there should tell you that we're heading in the wrong direction. The post office is going broke. So is Amtrak. Without exception, if you want to spend the most money possible on a project while simultaneously receiving the least benefit turn it over to the government. Our founding fathers never envisioned a government that would care for all of society from the cradle to the grave. It's a hard enough task to maintain liberty and ensure national defense (which was the initial intent) and they can't even get that right.

Re:Pizza Prices Will Go Up Under Obamacare (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40935691)

I forgot to mention how much welfare has been the end of poverty. I'm out.

Re:Pizza Prices Will Go Up Under Obamacare (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40934319)

the law requires companies which have more than 50 employees to provide affordable health insurance or face steep penalties

Provide != Pay for. Providing insurance costs companies nothing except a couple of hours of their CEO being wined and dined by insurance reps at 5 star restaurants, which I guess will cut into the CEO's all-important golf time if the golf club doesn't have a five-star restaurant on premises, in which case it must be a two-bit company because what self-respecting CEO would golf at such a cheap course?

Re:Pizza Prices Will Go Up Under Obamacare (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40934815)

"Providing insurance costs companies nothing except a couple of hours of their CEO being wined and dined"

The stupidity of you people continues to exceed my expectations. It's amazing really. You actually thing providing healthcare is next to free for a company?

A stound ing. Public school I take it? Black-bloc? Don't you have a store window to go and break somewhere?

Re:Pizza Prices Will Go Up Under Obamacare (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40935449)

You actually thing providing healthcare is next to free for a company?

Oh noes! It costs my company $0.0000000001 to pay for the laser toner to write the line on my pay stub that lets me know that they withheld MY money from my paycheck to pay 100% of my insurance premium! Quick we better charge twice as much for everything or we might go out of business!

Like I said, I'm sure the CEO had to take a break from his very important golfing to handle whatever kickbacks he took to decide what insurance policy the company would offer to us employees. I guess the company is losing money on disability insurance just in case the CEO sprained his wrist signing the contract.

Maybe if you Republicans actually focused on the real problems with the bill instead of making up fake bullshit like this, people would take you more seriously.

Apologies if you're actually a Democrat trolling people by pretending to be a stupid Republican.

Re:Pizza Prices Will Go Up Under Obamacare (1)

Lumpy (12016) | about a year and a half ago | (#40935523)

I agree, it should be 100% mandated and tax paid healthcare like Canada.

Funny, how canada has great doctors and they all did not "flee" like some retards think will happen.

same NRA that does not pay drivers for use of car (1)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | about a year and a half ago | (#40935177)

same NRA that does not pay the full cost of drivers useing there car to be delivering pizza much less auto insurance to cover pizza delivery.

You can get hit by a pizza driver and there insurance may not pay out as they don't cover pizza delivery or only cover it at a much higher rate.

Life's a bitch (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40934109)

and then we all die.

Microeconomics 101 (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40934127)

"Demand outstrips Supply" is simply a restatement of "The price is too low."

Re:Microeconomics 101 (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40934251)

Groundwater aquifers are rival and non-excludable goods, so pricing mechanisms will not work properly for the market.

Re:Microeconomics 101 (2)

medcalf (68293) | about a year and a half ago | (#40935531)

Uh, they're both rivalrous (if I use the water, you can't) and excludable (you can be prevented from using the water). Not sure where you picked up the words around public goods, but it might be wise to re-read it for improved understanding. In fact, this is a textbook example of how pricing mechanisms work. Consider:

Assume that the market for water from the aquifer is unregulated. If the cost of extracting water is $x/unit, then the price will be $x + p% per unit, where p% is the profit. This results in a certain level of demand.

Now, consider the case where the demand is quite high. This in turn reduces the supply of water in the aquifer, meaning that $x in turn will rise. This will have two effects. 1. More people will find alternatives to water from the aquifer. They might use less water, find alternate sources of fresh water, desalinate ocean water, move, buy bottled water or choose some other alternative. This will act to reduce demand, tending to bring the supply and demand back into equilibrium. 2. More people will be incentivized to extract water from the aquifer because the higher profits make it worth their while, thus increasing supply and tending to bring the supply and demand back into equilibrium.

Similarly, because the market is unregulated, if suppliers attempt to raise p%, it will cause both some flight from the market (reducing demand, and thus the actual monetary amounts generated as profit) and some level of increased competition (because new competitors would find it profitable to enter the market at a lower profit margin). The net effect is to eventually lower the profit margins to the smallest amount needed to stay in business, plus some premium for market entry costs (expensive equipment, skilled personnel and the like). In other words, it tends to make the cost of water as cheap as practical.

Taken together, these two effects mean that people who most need the water will get the most water, and that everyone will get the water at the cheapest possible price. The proper and useful role of government is to prevent monopolization of the resource or ancillary resources (like the ability to transport the water), to prevent cartelization, and to ensure that property rights are respected (as in, you can't undermine my house to get at the water). When the government goes beyond that, it distorts supply, demand and or price, generally leading to misallocation, reduced availability, artificially higher prices and other bad side effects. For true public goods (clean air, for instance, or national defense), these side effects are unavoidable, and the useful question is how much of the public good can the government and the wider economy afford to deliver. That doesn't apply to the example of an aquifer, though, because it's not actually a public good.

Re:Microeconomics 101 (1)

cpu6502 (1960974) | about a year and a half ago | (#40935133)

That's no surprise. Most water companies are actually government-owned, and the politicians don't want to raise the price on water to equal its true value. Just as they don't want to raise the gasoline tax in order to supply enough money to fix our crumbling bridges.

Re:Microeconomics 101 (1)

fustakrakich (1673220) | about a year and a half ago | (#40935139)

Yep, turns out that all the water, petrol, and other shortages are nothing more than a disagreement over the price. We all remember the Enron thing in California, right?

Illogical (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40934137)

That's not possible. As a matter of simple economics, demand can't outstrip supply. If supply diminishes, either demand decreases or prices go up, or both.

Technically, the only way for demand to outstrip supply is if supply couldn't meet the basic necessities for sustaining life, in which case demand would rapidly disappear.

Re:Illogical (1)

TheLink (130905) | about a year and a half ago | (#40934377)

If you take the trouble to read the summary it means demand outstrips long term supply (the rate the stuff replenishes).

It does not outstrip short term supply (the rate you can pump water out).

Re:Illogical (2)

cpu6502 (1960974) | about a year and a half ago | (#40934853)

So basically we're talking about Peak Water instead of Peak Oil..... the point where we use more of the substance than is being replaced (or discovered).

Re:Illogical (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40935603)

I did read the summary, and the same analysis applies. It's non-sensical. Demand can never outstrip supply, unless there's no supply, or unless demand flatlines and becomes perfectly inelastic (i.e. you're dying of thirst and willing to promise anything and everything for a drop of water).

"Demand outstripping supply" is just a pseudo-economic phrase which implies a bunch social and political viewpoints. Those viewpoints may be valid, but they're not rooted in economics.

Wolrd Hunger (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40934155)

Sam Kinison on World Hunger

There wouldn't be world hunger if you people lived where the FOOD IS!
You live in a desert! Nothing grows out here!
You see this, this is sand, you know what its gonna be hundred years from now, IT's GONNA BE SAND!
Get your kids get your shit we'll make one trip. We'll take you to where the food is!
We have deserts in America, we just don't live in them asshole!

(can't have food without water)

Re:Wolrd Hunger (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40934427)

It's called immigration. Many of you don't seem to like it though.

Re:Wolrd Hunger (3, Funny)

SternisheFan (2529412) | about a year and a half ago | (#40934551)

Sam Kinison on World Hunger

There wouldn't be world hunger if you people lived where the FOOD IS! You live in a desert! Nothing grows out here! You see this, this is sand, you know what its gonna be hundred years from now, IT's GONNA BE SAND! Get your kids get your shit we'll make one trip. We'll take you to where the food is! We have deserts in America, we just don't live in them asshole!

(can't have food without water)

Sam Kinison was great. Sam: See this?!? This is SAND!! Nothing GROWS in THIS!! MOVE to where the FOOD IS, ASSHOLE!!! This same theory applies here.

Re:Wolrd Hunger (2)

dvice_null (981029) | about a year and a half ago | (#40935053)

> We have deserts in America, we just don't live in them asshole!

Las Vegas is in a desert. They just put some water pipes there and started living there. In Brazil they have started to grow stuff in places where the soil is poisonous and where nothing grows. They simply investigated what makes the soil so bad and modified the soil to fix it.

On the other hand, people have cut down all trees on some areas and erosion has taken all the soil and places that were full of plants are now deserts. People have had to move out from locations that had fresh water and plenty of food, because their houses are now covered by sand, due to hacking down all the trees.

So neither desert or forest is something stable. You can change the environment. It is just a lot more easy to create a desert than it is to create a forest. That is why it is good that in some countries (e.g. in Finland) it is illegal to cut down forest without planting new trees to replace them and e.g. in China they have the National Tree-planting Day.

Future Generations Will Hate Us (1)

GeneralTurgidson (2464452) | about a year and a half ago | (#40934189)

"People back then would use fresh groundwater for bathing and flushing their waste!"

Re:Future Generations Will Hate Us (1)

SternisheFan (2529412) | about a year and a half ago | (#40935017)

"People back then would use fresh groundwater for bathing and flushing their waste!"

"Really Grandpa?" "That's right, all we had to do is turn the faucet and water just gushed out! You didn't have to go to the store and pay for it then, not like today, though some people did."

adapt or die, gramps! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40935317)

Grandpa still thinks the three shells are a socialist invention.

Great Lakes Compact (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40934193)

This is one reason why the Great Lakes states have signed a compact... our massive fresh water supplies will be worth a lot...

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Lakes_Compact

Re:Great Lakes Compact (2)

Lumpy (12016) | about a year and a half ago | (#40935597)

Yup. I'm hoping for more water shortages... My acerage here in Michigan will go to the highest bidder. Hey rich man in California... want water and a lawn? 1/4 acre for only 600million. get it while it's hot!

mod 0P (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40934257)

a prCoductivity cuntwipes Jordan

When you unbalance a stable system, it falls over (5, Interesting)

Tastecicles (1153671) | about a year and a half ago | (#40934281)

Physics 101.

When you pump water out of the ground, it leaves a void. When you don't backfill, the void eventually collapses. The oil industry is aware of this problem (that and oil doesn't tend to want to just lift itself out of the ground once the initial pressure does its thing), which is why they use seawater to displace the oil: seawater is pumped in, oil flows out or is pumped out leaving the void which is then backfilled under gravity through a strategically placed hole or two.

Back to the topic: the stable system of rain=>aquifer is disrupted to greater or lesser degrees by human activity. That's obvious. The amount of rain remains constant (more or less), which means the amount of water removed from the aquifer is gone. Simple as. The global water industry has a few options to try and deal with this problem before we start seeing entire cities disappearing into sinkholes:

1. Backfilling. Something not currently done, but it begs the question as to what to backfill with?
2. Alternative sources. We have viable desalination technology (geothermal, solar stills, seat salt extraction plants(!))... we have made great strides in atmospheric water extraction to the point where a plant in the middle of a desert can turn sand into golf course. One option that I don't think has been properly explored is a wide area water grid, possibly national or international in scale. We have the technology, we have the capability, the chock under that wheel is politics.

Re:When you unbalance a stable system, it falls ov (5, Funny)

Fned (43219) | about a year and a half ago | (#40934349)

1. Backfilling. Something not currently done, but it begs the question as to what to backfill with?

Oil, obviously.

Re:When you unbalance a stable system, it falls ov (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40934731)

In some Arabic countries that's an actual option. It is said that the worst job in the planet is being a water well driller in Saudi Arabia. "Damn, it's oil again!!"

Re:When you unbalance a stable system, it falls ov (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40934789)

Ooo Ooo... made from Corn!

Re:When you unbalance a stable system, it falls ov (1)

TubeSteak (669689) | about a year and a half ago | (#40935337)

Oil made from corn? You think we're dumb enough to turn water plants, then turn them into oil, so we can backfill wells for water?
Obviously we'd use oil made from coal.

Re:When you unbalance a stable system, it falls ov (1)

dkleinsc (563838) | about a year and a half ago | (#40934589)

Alternately, the chock under the wheel is that it's much cheaper to use the groundwater. Of course, this might be disastrous in the long run, but it's easy to show that economics pays pretty much no attention at all to the long run.

Re:When you unbalance a stable system, it falls ov (1)

BenJury (977929) | about a year and a half ago | (#40935403)

I know this is /. where everyone is an expert on everything, so I'll buck the trend and ask a honest question; wouldn't desalination be the perfect use for the power supplied by sources such as wind and solar? (Solar especially I guess.) As it appears to the be perfectly suited to the variable power output that these generate?

Why is the water "gone"? (1)

JOrgePeixoto (853808) | about a year and a half ago | (#40935621)

The amount of rain remains constant (more or less), which means the amount of water removed from the aquifer is gone.

I imagine most of the water would be used for irrigation, and most of that would go down back to the aquifer.

Re:When you unbalance a stable system, it falls ov (1)

Lumpy (12016) | about a year and a half ago | (#40935647)

"Back to the topic: the stable system of rain=>aquifer is disrupted to greater or lesser degrees by human activity. That's obvious. The amount of rain remains constant (more or less), which means the amount of water removed from the aquifer is gone. "

Because all that water is shot into space when we are done with it. it's gone forever....

Please learn about water and what a watershed is. when you do watershed management and wastewater treatment your FUD does not exist.

Only in poorly designed systems wher water is taken out of a watershed is when things fail. Bad designs like the middle east, africa, california have failures.

See, GW is GOOD for you! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40934293)

So the increase in temperatures by 2C is actually good - more evaporation from the oceans means more rain over the aquifers which means more aquifer replenishment!

Easy fix (1)

Tyrannicsupremacy (1354431) | about a year and a half ago | (#40934297)

Maybe those countries should oh, I dont know, control their populations? Or is the rest of the world going to have to scramble to assemble some sort of international relief for them as they blow past their sustainable population limits without hesitation?

Re:Easy fix (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40934497)

Controlling your population is not an easy fix. It is an extremely difficult fix.
As for international relief, there shouldn't be any. It's just bad policy to give money to someone who's gonna waste it.

That said, unsustainable use of aquifers isn't really a problem, since the aquifer's only use is to be drained. If you don't use the water, it just sits there uselessly. So we use it. Big whoop. And it will run out, at which point we will have to do something else to get water, which is the exactly the same predicament we'd be in right now if we weren't draining the aquifer.

Re:Easy fix (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40934719)

Don't tell that to the Pope...
Condoms and birth control = EVIL and against the laws of god.
War and death due to limited water and food supplies = God's plan.

Re:Easy fix (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40935699)

I agree. Which is why much of the population of the SW USA should move to places other than arid, desert environments. For example, Las Vegas should be moved to, oh, let's say Ohio or Maine.

Oh, wait, you meant everywhere else in the world.

Yes, because.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40934313)

...most of the world is busy either developing or buying smartphones and flat screens rather than investing in food/water/health technologies. Jeez, there is a country where 600M people were w/o electricity for a week and that same country is planning to send a mission to Mars.

Use the Oceans (1)

Nethemas the Great (909900) | about a year and a half ago | (#40934351)

Most of this planet is covered by water. We simply need to learn how to use it instead of our ground water. There are plenty of reasonable nascent [mit.edu] technologies to provide that ability. There just needs to be an economic incentive to invest. Either it comes earlier through government/corporate sponsorship through policy and investment, or it comes later when ground water becomes economically unviable relative to the alternatives.

Re:Use the Oceans (1)

na1led (1030470) | about a year and a half ago | (#40935637)

My Dehumidifier can produce clean water in just a short amount of time. That is, if you live where it's humid.

Re:Use the Oceans (3, Informative)

Nethemas the Great (909900) | about a year and a half ago | (#40935743)

True, but unfortunately that version is not nearly as energy efficient as this one [sott.net]. Which of course is also the problem with traditional desalinization plants.

We're not very smart. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40934365)

Assume there is a container of liquid and bacteria with exactly enough food in the solution to feed the bacteria for 30 minutes. Assume also that the population of bacteria doubles every minute.

At what time is half of the food remaining?

Re:We're not very smart. (1)

smooth wombat (796938) | about a year and a half ago | (#40934827)

At 15 minutes.

Re:We're not very smart. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40934945)

Wrong answer. Thanks for demonstrating that humans are no smarter than bacteria.

Re:We're not very smart. (1)

Bert64 (520050) | about a year and a half ago | (#40935447)

29 minutes.

Re:We're not very smart. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40935569)

Ding Ding Ding!

Now I hope at least a few people realize why this is relevant.

Fix? (1)

anared (2599669) | about a year and a half ago | (#40934375)

Should we start exporting water?

Re:Fix? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40934721)

Yes, please export the Great Lakes to California.

Re:Fix? (1)

Lumpy (12016) | about a year and a half ago | (#40935685)

Screw that, the idiots in California can drink the ocean. Great lakes water belongs to the midwest.

Jeremy Grantham is there... (0)

MetricT (128876) | about a year and a half ago | (#40934577)

He is a long-term investor (in the Warren Buffet mold) who puts out a quarterly newsletter of investment advice. He just released his latest a few days ago, and it's highly bearish on the future because of resource demands.

http://www.gmo.com/websitecontent/GMOQ2Letter.pdf [gmo.com]

The ones who say "don't worry about the future, science will take care of it" would probably consider jumping off the Empire State Building to be ok, because they did it and they've fallen 30 floors and nothing bad has happened, therefore jumping off the ESB is perfectly safe...

Wake up call (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40934681)

I know lots of tech folks think we'll melt comets for water, but reality suggests otherwise. How many people are willing to give up the suburban dream of the house with a pool to help the species? You know, instead of *talking* about the species whenever a space story comes up, what are you DOING?

Re:Wake up call (1)

0123456 (636235) | about a year and a half ago | (#40935093)

I know lots of tech folks think we'll melt comets for water, but reality suggests otherwise. How many people are willing to give up the suburban dream of the house with a pool to help the species?

Yeah, because not filling a pool in surburban America will really help Africans grow crops.

Here's an idea: how about we grow things where there's enough water for agriculture?

Just as important (4, Interesting)

Grayhand (2610049) | about a year and a half ago | (#40934757)

We're also polluting ground water at an alarming rate. With more droughts likely ground water is critical to agriculture in the US as well as drinking water. I used to live in LA and a disturbing number of wells were contaminated some even with radioactive waste, none from power plants it was industrial pollution. I'm in Phoenix now and the city is sinking due to the aquifer collapsing as the water is drained. That's capacity that is perminately lost. For every foot of settling that's the city a foot deep in water that's lost. The city has lost 74.5 million acre-feet in the last 70 years to give an idea what Phoenix is facing.

Recycling water is inexpensive ... (1)

swframe (646356) | about a year and a half ago | (#40934877)

There are very cheap ways to recycle water that we don't use enough now but we must in the future. Desalinization is still too expensive but the costs are coming down. Solar/wind powered desalinization could work in poor areas for drinking water but probably not fast enough for farming. Ice mining is also an option we should consider since it is going to melt anyway.

Put a price on it (3, Insightful)

TheSync (5291) | about a year and a half ago | (#40934981)

If water has a market price on it, people will use it efficiently.

Unfortunately, most fresh water supplies are owned by governments that price is far below what a private owner would.

Face Palm (0)

Nihn (1863500) | about a year and a half ago | (#40934989)

We live on a planet covered %70 in water. Salt is not difficult to take out of water, boy scouts can do it. I didn't go to Harvard but I know how to run a fucking pipe line of fresh water to where ever it needs to go. Seriously, this is fucking unnecessary to even complain about lack of water on this planet. Water water everywhere and if you put just a miniscule amount of effort you can drink to your hearts content.

The Water Cycle (5, Insightful)

Sputnik77 (2697769) | about a year and a half ago | (#40935109)

The issue, of course, is not "water"; it's freshwater. We have a lot of water on this planet. Generally it can exist in 5 states: seawater, clouds, freshwater (or what I like to call "drinkable land water"), aquifer water (underground water), and snow/ice.

Around the world aquifers are being depleted. This is a problem because this is one of the most low-energy (and technologically well understood) ways to harvest drinkable land water. And humans are not the only living creatures that use aquifer water! If there is not aquifer water for plants then the plants are completely dependent on rainwater or flowing drinkable land water (rivers, creeks, etc., which are all on their way to becoming seawater again ASAP). This is a precarious state to be in, because on a macro scale, once plants start to be incapable of doing their job (providing ground shade, ecosystems for biomass, improving and retaining soil structure, etc.) a landscape can be on the road to desertification. What does this mean? That means that it's going to stop raining. This has happened, many times, because of human modification of the landscape and has led to the total collapse of multiple powerful civilizations (Jared Diamond's book "Collapse" talks about things like this).

So what are we supposed to do? Say you are an ecological steward (or policy maker) for a couple hundred acres of land that are on their way to desertification or that are already in a stable, but arid, water cycle. It is easy to think of water in terms of accounting and cash-flow, what is the big picture that will make the landscape profitable and growing in "financial" reserves?

The big picture is very simple: we are trying to make seawater into permanent land water. The more net land water the Earth has, the more stable and abundant the existence of terrestrial life on this planet, in general, will be.

(Just remember we're practicing for Mars!)

How do you do this? The input of "free" water we have (meaning no energy cost for the conversion from seawater to potential land water) is rain. We need to make sure that as much rain as possible stays as underground water... or the *sixth* form of water that I haven't mentioned yet: biomass! There is a lot of water in biomass. And it is a relatively closed loop (meaning that once some water becomes biomass it will stay in the biomass cycle for a long time). Insects, plants and *especially* soil biology are some of the greatest resources we have for storing water on land instead of losing it to the ocean.

And then of course, we are all technologists, so I think it is also worthwhile suggesting that we should be using renewable energy resources to desalinate saltwater and just pump it back (I don't know if these techniques have even been invented yet) into our aquifers and ecologies.

Wait a minute (1)

Dunbal (464142) | about a year and a half ago | (#40935465)

How dare these people hoard this water and remove it from the ecosystem. I'd also like to know where all these vast reservoirs of water are hidden, so we can raid them, and return our water to us. Oh wait - perhaps it's a case of... ahh yes, the USABLE, water, the potable water, the water that can be drunk by people and animals and crops, yeah that's in short supply. And it costs lots of money to turn all that urine - be it human or animal, or all that fertilizer and insecticide contaminated farm run-off - back into potable water.

So this is an economic problem, not a physical one. Well you know at some point you have to stop building stadiums and funding armies and buying fancy jet fighters, and actually spend money where it's needed. Otherwise you have to start sterilizing or shooting people. It's that simple. And if you do nothing, the problem will fix itself. Earth will always have water, and the water will be much cleaner when there are no humans left.

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...