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NASA: Huge Freshwater Loss In the Middle East

Unknown Lamer posted about a year and a half ago | from the should-have-used-six-sigma dept.

China 228

dstates writes with news from NASA about the state of available water in the Middle East. From the NASA article: "'GRACE data show an alarming rate of decrease in total water storage in the Tigris and Euphrates river basins, which currently have the second fastest rate of groundwater storage loss on Earth, after India,' said Jay Famiglietti, principal investigator of the study and a hydrologist and professor at UC Irvine. 'The rate was especially striking after the 2007 drought. Meanwhile, demand for freshwater continues to rise, and the region does not coordinate its water management because of different interpretations of international laws.'" dstates adds: "Water is a huge global security issue. To understand the middle east, you need to understand that the Golan Heights provides a significant amount of the water used in Israel. Focusing on conflicts and politics means that huge volumes of valuable water are being wasted in the Middle East, and this will only exacerbate future conflicts. Water is a serious issue between India and China. And then there is Africa. U.S. food exports are in effect exporting irrigation water drawn from the Ogallala aquifer. Fracking trades water for energy, and lack of water limits fracking in many parts of th world. Think about it."

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228 comments

At the rate that we're drinking water... (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42885601)

...we'll soon run out of it.

We should be conserving this precious natural resource. It's not renewable, you know!

Re:At the rate that we're drinking water... (3, Funny)

alen (225700) | about a year and a half ago | (#42885883)

i give some back to the world every few hours

Re:At the rate that we're drinking water... (4, Informative)

Githaron (2462596) | about a year and a half ago | (#42885943)

It is renewable just not at the rate that it is being used. In any case, I think it is likely we will find ways to cheaply desalinate ocean water before the threat of massive death by dehydration is imminent. After all, necessity is the mother of invention. Also, grey water systems would probably become more culturally acceptable as water prices increased. Here [kurzweilai.net] is one interesting reverse osmosis technology that is being researched using graphene.

Re:At the rate that we're drinking water... (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42886463)

This is an urban problem.

City folks give me a hard time about living in the country, but I pump my water from a hole in the ground and then I dump it back into the ground when I'm done with it. Bacteria eat up all my poo, and the cycle begins again. Call it the ultimate recycling.

Works pretty well until you cram a whole bunch of people into a little space.

Re:At the rate that we're drinking water... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42885981)

Hey humanity, guess what is more important than oil?

Re:At the rate that we're drinking water... (1)

englishknnigits (1568303) | about a year and a half ago | (#42886231)

Kickstart? [usatoday.com]

Re:At the rate that we're drinking water... (0)

MarioMax (907837) | about a year and a half ago | (#42886101)

Water that is absorbed by the ground and isn't directed into aquifers or similar structures is effectively lost. The rest is lost to the ocean or to evaporation. Granted, you could desalinate the ocean, but then the question becomes what to do with the leftover material, which is an environmental issue unto itself.

Re:At the rate that we're drinking water... (2)

ackthpt (218170) | about a year and a half ago | (#42886267)

Water that is absorbed by the ground and isn't directed into aquifers or similar structures is effectively lost. The rest is lost to the ocean or to evaporation. Granted, you could desalinate the ocean, but then the question becomes what to do with the leftover material, which is an environmental issue unto itself.

You sell it, duh!

Have you priced Sea Salt lately?

We still have operating salt ponds aorund the San Francisco Bay. Often easily identified by their giant piles of salt. Now if they trapped the water evaporated it would be a Win-Win.

Re:At the rate that we're drinking water... (1)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | about a year and a half ago | (#42886437)

Granted, you could desalinate the ocean, but then the question becomes what to do with the leftover material, which is an environmental issue unto itself.

I guess you pour it back into the sea, nicht wahr? It's not like you separate all the water from the brine, you'd get a terribly corrosive solution for your reactor vessels.

Re:At the rate that we're drinking water... (5, Interesting)

Chrontius (654879) | about a year and a half ago | (#42886719)

Foregoing moderation to point this out: They do just dump the brine back in the ocean in some places. Where that's done, you get huge zones where nothing lives, because the algae at the bottom of the food chain usually can't live in such radically different salinity than they evolved in. This results in blooms of exotic algae, which tends to produce toxins - think red tide - when exposed to agricultural runoff. Fishermen are usually just run out of town, and if there was a commercial fishery, or the place was popular with out-of-town anglers, you've just killed the jobs involved with both of those.

Since biological processes impact coastal erosion, you may or may not also have to worry about your coastline receding, too - that depends mostly on how lucky you get, I think, but I have no data handy.

Re:At the rate that we're drinking water... (1)

arth1 (260657) | about a year and a half ago | (#42886603)

Granted, you could desalinate the ocean, but then the question becomes what to do with the leftover material, which is an environmental issue unto itself.

That depends on the technique used for desalination. There are methods where the only byproduct is sea salt. The problem is that they are not as economical as those where you start by pumping in chemicals and process the water in tanks that pollute the brine with corrosion.

Welp (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42885635)

Time to get on with large-scale de-salinization efforts.

Re:Welp (1)

fustakrakich (1673220) | about a year and a half ago | (#42885707)

Nature already does that. We only have to collect and harvest it. There is no technical reason to suffer any kind of water shortage.

Re:Welp (1)

AK Marc (707885) | about a year and a half ago | (#42885851)

The technical issue of distribution (and to a lesser degree storage) is the issue for many of the water problems.

Re:Welp (4, Informative)

ShanghaiBill (739463) | about a year and a half ago | (#42886017)

The technical issue of distribution (and to a lesser degree storage) is the issue for many of the water problems.

This is not really a technical issue. It is more of an economic policy issue. Here in California, farmers receive subsidies, and subsidized water, to grow water intensive crops like rice and cotton. If you remove the subsidies, farmers will switch to crops and irrigation practices that actually make sense, and the "water shortage" will disappear. The problem in the Middle East is similar. For instance, Saudi Arabia pays huge subsidies to domestic wheat farmers, when for a fraction of the cost they could just import wheat.

Re:Welp (1)

fustakrakich (1673220) | about a year and a half ago | (#42886181)

...for a fraction of the cost they could just import wheat.

But then, they would have to send out vast navies and armies to secure the supply. Now the costs start adding up.

Re:Welp (4, Insightful)

Smidge204 (605297) | about a year and a half ago | (#42885889)

Doesn't rain much in the middle of a desert and there are these things called "droughts" you have to worry about...

If you use fresh water faster than nature can replenish it, you're going to have a shortage. The fact that fresh water reservoirs are decreasing is a sure sign that water is being used faster than it is being replenished... so you either reduce usage (start with waste), supplement supply (desalinization, massive aqueduct construction, etc), or suffer drought.
=Smidge=

Re:Welp (1)

fustakrakich (1673220) | about a year and a half ago | (#42886135)

There's not an oil well or refinery within a thousand miles from me. Yet, I still seen to have an adequate supply of gasoline.

Re:Welp (1)

nedlohs (1335013) | about a year and a half ago | (#42886297)

And if you are willing to pay $5/gallon water won't be a problem either.

Re:Welp (2, Interesting)

Smidge204 (605297) | about a year and a half ago | (#42886403)

There's not an oil well or refinery within a thousand miles from me.

Somehow I doubt that. Where do you live?

Not that it matters. For the US, water usage [usgs.gov] is over twenty thousand times greater than oil usage [eia.gov] . Oil, not gasoline, which accounts for only a fraction of oil usage. That ratio is probably higher for areas that use less gasoline per capita (which is nearly everywhere outside the US).

Do you think there would be plenty of gasoline if everyone used even a hundred times more, let alone twenty thousand times more? Could you imagine the infrastructure that would be required? Do you honestly think that there are enough sources of fresh water to import from, assuming you had all the infrastructure and all the energy you needed to distribute it?

Do you know what the term "false equivalence" means?
=Smidge=

Re:Welp (1)

ackthpt (218170) | about a year and a half ago | (#42886399)

Nature already does that. We only have to collect and harvest it. There is no technical reason to suffer any kind of water shortage.

Problem is, you divert a little here and a little there from the streams and rivers and you wind up with the Aral Sea.

Some places do get plenty of rain and could harvest from some collector system, say, around Seattle, and export it. There's an idea which will probably happen when the price of water gets high enough.

Mideast Water Shortage (5, Interesting)

gpronger (1142181) | about a year and a half ago | (#42885639)

It would be nice to think that a regional water shortage would pull these countries together to solve a mutual problem.

And I've recently been in the market for the London Bridge; have one for sale?

Re:Mideast Water Shortage (4, Funny)

NevarMore (248971) | about a year and a half ago | (#42885711)

And I've recently been in the market for the London Bridge; have one for sale?

My fair lady, I did have one on the market but it has fallen down, fallen down.

pull these countries together (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42885855)

Just like our shortage of oil has pulled the west together.

Pulling Together (2)

andersh (229403) | about a year and a half ago | (#42886093)

It would be nice to think that a regional water shortage would pull these countries together to solve a mutual problem.

Oh, you mean like the GCC? :) Now, it's a long way from finished, but it's what you asked for.

The Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf, also known as the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) is a political and economic union of the Arab states bordering the Persian Gulf and located on or near the Arabian Peninsula, namely Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and United Arab Emirates. Jordan and Morocco have been invited to join the council.

On 6 March 2012, the six members of the GCC announced that the Gulf Cooperation Council would be evolving from a regional bloc to a confederation, in possible response to Arab democratic unrest and increased Iranian influence in the region.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cooperation_Council_for_the_Arab_States_of_the_Gulf [wikipedia.org]

Re:Pulling Together (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42886509)

Do any of those places have any beef with each other anyway? The conflicts, not counting internal conflicts, are just India/Pakistan and Israel/Everybody Else, did I miss anything?

Power and Influence (2)

andersh (229403) | about a year and a half ago | (#42886741)

Any beef with each other? Did you miss anything? Yes, absolutely! :)

There's certainly the external threat from Iran, and the Shi'a population in many of the countries are less than happy with their Sunni rulers. Did I mention Iran? They're quite protective of Shi'as; be it during the recent uprising in Bahrain [bbc.co.uk] or the current war in Yemen [bbc.co.uk] [on Saudi Arabia's border]. There's always the threat of homegrown terrorists who wish to establish a theocratic state (Sunni). Saudi Arabia has been battling its own extremists for years now. Iraq already attacked Kuwait once and wanted to move on Saudi Arabia. Today Iraq is mostly a threat because of instability.

However you seem to have missed the real point of the GCC's plan; to come together and create a confederation for economic and social development. They're not banding together because of threats - they're planning ahead. How long will the oil last? What do they live off afterwards? They have to develop their economies, industries, educate and train the population and be less reliant on foreign workers [from Asia and the West].

As for India and Pakistan, that's not their problem as those are Asian countries. Israel is obviously not loved by the GCC countries.

Re:Mideast Water Shortage (1)

cod3r_ (2031620) | about a year and a half ago | (#42886289)

Hilarious! Sad though. If the middle east came together as one (like we refer to them as) they could seriously do some good.

Bring in the Prophets and Sons of Gods (2, Funny)

ixarux (1652631) | about a year and a half ago | (#42885647)

Someone needs to convert all that oil into water. Now THAT would be a miracle!

Re:Bring in the Prophets and Sons of Gods (1)

magarity (164372) | about a year and a half ago | (#42885975)

That's a terrible idea. Leave the oil as oil, please. Water is much more important to basic survival needs than oil. Oil is about $98 per barrel so that should put water easily around $750 per barrel, This should take care of the mideast trade deficit in short order and the silliness of sheiks riding around in private A380's.

Re:Bring in the Prophets and Sons of Gods (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42886003)

That's actually very easy. When you burn oil, water is one of the major exhaust products.

Serious (0, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42885653)

Water is a vital ingredient in beer!

Re:Serious (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42886037)

Water shortage?! Quick! Convert all the wine to water!.

Tell the Middle Easterners to (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42885663)

reduce their population. Problem solved.

People Forget About Iraq's Marshes (5, Informative)

eldavojohn (898314) | about a year and a half ago | (#42885665)

Yeah, I know it sounds stupid but Saddam Hussein drained 7,700 sq miles just to try to flush out people [wikipedia.org] during the first gulf war. Before that the British had tried to drain all that fresh water out of there to stop the breeding of mosquitoes. Which, in the near future, is going to be looked back upon with disgust.

I don't think people yet understand or truly appreciate how much destruction they can bring to ecosystems. I wish conservation was given more respect than treating advocates like tree hugging hippies that have no clue about industry and economy. The area between these two rivers was once so lush and full of life that it was thought to be the origin of the Garden of Eden myth [wikipedia.org] .

Re:People Forget About Iraq's Marshes (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42885763)

I wish conservation was given more respect than treating advocates like tree hugging hippies that have no clue about industry and economy.

"Advocates" get 100% of the respect they deserve - none. This is because said "advocates" are tools of people like the aforementioned British and Saddams of the world.

If you want respect, you might want to try to prove you are worthy of any.

Re:People Forget About Iraq's Marshes (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42885825)

Your statement makes absofuckinglutely no sense. People who are pro conservation are tools of those who destroy ecosystems and care nothing for conservation?

Do you even read what you write before you hit submit?

He;s jus trolling (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42886351)

I';m not the GP. Whatever man.

You know, sometimes, I get so pissed off at shit that I need troll. Just to strike out at someone - without doing harm and what better way than as an AC on /. .

I need a release. I try talking to poeple but they insist on giving advice when none was asked for - I'll ask when I want it from folks that I believe who are qualified to give it - thankyouverymuch.

I can see why the GP is so pissed off - and I'm a bleeding heart Environmentalist who thinks that mussels in the Gulf trump golf course in Atlanta - lest of all lawns in suburbia.

But that's just me and the GP probably hates my fucking guts.

No worries. Hate away. I hate him too. We're even.p/>Between us, there maybe a rational outcome. Hopefully.

Everyone else is too apathetic.

It's us noisy obnoxious two-bit opinionated assholes who make changes ....

Suck it rational person!

Re:People Forget About Iraq's Marshes (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42885787)

I wish conservation was given more respect than treating advocates like tree hugging hippies that have no clue about industry and economy.

This depends on those advocates for conservation. You can't be a "tree hugging hippie [with] no clue about industry and [economics]", and then plead with everyone to respect you anyway.

Conservation can be important. So pick your battles, avoid radicalism, and state your case with careful regard for the interests of everyone else.

Re:People Forget About Iraq's Marshes (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42886139)

You can't be a "tree hugging hippie [with] no clue about industry and [economics]",

Whatever that means.

What usually happens is this:

Tree hugging hippies: "You're destroying the ecosystem and eventually it will harm humans.

Business men: "The costs outweigh the benefits i.e. It hurts our profits. "

Of course business people are so shortsighted, they never seem to see the businesses that are ecologically intelligent thrive and end up with a HIGHER margin - ex. The whole Organic food movement, hybrid vehicles, alternative energy, there's more but I have a life to get to.

And to head off the non-sequitur Ad hominem attacks that you people love:

I'm rubber and I fucked your wife.

Re:People Forget About Iraq's Marshes (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42886565)

Because for every intelligent, reasoned environmentalist, there are about a hundred idiots who are dumb enough to pay extra for "organic sea salt" at Whole Foods, and since this is the mental image that most people have, it colors their first impression with any self-described conservationist.

You know, kind of like how for every erudite, reasoned, Buckley-esque political conservative there are at least a hundred senile teapers ranting about "keep yer govment hands off my Medicare!". Same deal.

Re:People Forget About Iraq's Marshes (2)

Kreigaffe (765218) | about a year and a half ago | (#42885879)

Teddy Roosevelt was a real O.C. (yeah, original conservationist. i just did that).

I challenge anyone to call him a tree-hugging hippy.
He will haunt your dreams. Possibly hunt them as well. Not a situation I want to be in.

Re:People Forget About Iraq's Marshes (0)

Darkness404 (1287218) | about a year and a half ago | (#42885903)

There is a big difference between conservation and tree-huggers, namely who benefits from their policies. Conservation puts people first, tree-huggers put "the earth" first. For example, when faced with a dilemma of either eradicating a species or facing an epidemic of disease caused by that species, a conservationist would wipe out the pest while a tree-hugger would not.

Re:People Forget About Iraq's Marshes (1)

0123456 (636235) | about a year and a half ago | (#42885971)

For example, when faced with a dilemma of either eradicating a species or facing an epidemic of disease caused by that species, a conservationist would wipe out the pest while a tree-hugger would not.

Mosquitoes are people too!

Re:People Forget About Iraq's Marshes (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42885979)

There is a big difference between conservation and tree-huggers, namely who benefits from their policies. Conservation puts people first, tree-huggers put "the earth" first. For example, when faced with a dilemma of either eradicating a species or facing an epidemic of disease caused by that species, a conservationist would wipe out the pest while a tree-hugger would not.

Imaginary scenarios that have never happened are always brought up to bash "tree huggers." The reality, however, is that if you express any concern for wildlife or the unregulated and unmonitored growth of damaging industries like drilling, people write you off by labeling you a tree-hugger.

Re:People Forget About Iraq's Marshes (2)

Darkness404 (1287218) | about a year and a half ago | (#42886273)

There are lots of examples from "tree huggers" putting the environment above people.

For example, just look at "tree spiking" where a piece of metal or ceramic is hammered in a tree, when the tree is cut down the spike can easily hurt or kill someone when a saw hits the spike.

Or just look at the numerous fire-bombings that have happened due to environmental groups.

The core philosophy behind them is that preserving "the earth" is more important than preserving man.

Re:People Forget About Iraq's Marshes (2)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | about a year and a half ago | (#42886587)

You realize this is a tiny lunatic fringe and that no government has come close to touching "tree hugger" philosophy with a 30-foot pole, right?

Re:People Forget About Iraq's Marshes (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42886087)

Very rarely is human life at stake. 99.9% of the time it is someone worried about not being able to make another buck.

So, no matter what we do, we are screwed (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42885695)

Extracting energy requires clean water.

Everything and everybody needs clean fresh water.

Basically, no matter what we do, we will always be on a negative slope in terms of water conservation.

Also, lord knows that people will not want to drink recycled water.

Re:So, no matter what we do, we are screwed (1)

X0563511 (793323) | about a year and a half ago | (#42885823)

Also, lord knows that people will not want to drink recycled water.

Too bad. Drink or die.

Re:So, no matter what we do, we are screwed (3, Funny)

JeanCroix (99825) | about a year and a half ago | (#42885963)

Also, lord knows that people will not want to drink recycled water.

Call it Brawndo(TM) and they won't be able to drink enough of it.

Re:So, no matter what we do, we are screwed (1)

onkelonkel (560274) | about a year and a half ago | (#42886107)

Obligatory. "The laws of probability show that for every glass of water you drink, at least one molecule has passed through the bladder of Oliver Cromwell."

Re:So, no matter what we do, we are screwed (2)

Githaron (2462596) | about a year and a half ago | (#42886137)

Extracting energy requires clean water.

Everything and everybody needs clean fresh water.

Basically, no matter what we do, we will always be on a negative slope in terms of water conservation.

Also, lord knows that people will not want to drink recycled water.

Also, lord knows that people will not want to drink recycled water.

Almost all water is recycled [wikipedia.org] . I am actually curious what percentage of the water the average person drinks came from bodily fluids of another human being of the past or present.

Re:So, no matter what we do, we are screwed (1)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | about a year and a half ago | (#42886601)

Have no more than 2 kids, encourage your neighbors to do the same, eventually the availability of resources will magically increase.

Fracking trades water for energy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42885703)

I sure know I often need a fresh drink or two after a good fracking.

dstate is full of shit (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42885705)

The link in dstate's addendum already contradicts the sentence it's used in. The Golan Heights tributaries provide less than 20% of the freshwater used in Israel, and the original source is no longer functional. Moreover, Isreal recently completed a huge desalination plant, which provides a massive amount of freshwater (almost to the point of export). This winter, the Sea of Galilee nearly reached full levels, something that hasn't happened in over 20 years.

Not to mention that he linked to a footnote source on wikipedia. Not exactly a reliable source of information.

Israel is almost completely desalination provided (5, Informative)

Sun (104778) | about a year and a half ago | (#42885713)

Quite a bit of Israel's water consumption is already either from desalination (domestic) or recycled (agriculture) water. It created quite a spike in the water prices, but otherwise greatly increased Israel's water reserves (the Kineret, as well as a couple of big underground reservoirs, one of them shared with the Palestinians).

Shachar

Re:Israel is almost completely desalination provid (1)

Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) | about a year and a half ago | (#42885863)

Exactly. It's all there in desalinization. This is just a little more expensive currently.

Like electricity to the home, in 100 years politicians will be taxing it.

Re:Israel is almost completely desalination provid (1)

acoustix (123925) | about a year and a half ago | (#42886607)

Like electricity to the home, in 100 years politicians will be taxing it.

Actually, it already is basically taxed - at least in the US. Most of the water systems are municipal operated. Call it a fee or a tax...the money is going to the government at some level.

Re:Israel is almost completely desalination provid (1)

phayes (202222) | about a year and a half ago | (#42886191)

The submitter "dstates" has presented the results of study as being essentially Israel vs the rest of the region. This is coming from his bias & not the study itself as the video is centered on the Tigris/Euphates basin (Turkey/Syria/Iraq) where the loss of water reserves is much more severe.

Because you see, a Palestinian suffering from thirst is apparently somehow worse than an Iraqi...

Re:Israel is almost completely desalination provid (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42886345)

so they can stop raping Jordan??

Not a big deal (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42885721)

It's common knowledge that nobody over there bathes.

Re:Not a big deal (1)

X0563511 (793323) | about a year and a half ago | (#42885847)

You don't need potable water to bathe.

Re:Not a big deal (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42886431)

It's common knowledge that nobody over there bathes.

That's a peculiar stereotype to arise about a people whose majority religion commands them to wash five times daily (Muslims can't do the obligatory prayers unless they do ablutions first).

Re:Not a big deal (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42886657)

Their feet, hands and face. Just enough that they think they are clean. Butts, not so much.

Where were you when the water wars began? (2)

concealment (2447304) | about a year and a half ago | (#42885733)

We knew we'd reach this point inevitably. Earth is finite, and humanity keeps reproducing.

Now we've hit the point where resources are limited. By the rules of nature, this means we're going to fight it out and someone's going to hoard the resources. They will then outreproduce others and replace them.

A game changer could be a nanofilter that desalinates water, but that could make the problem worse. If every nation on earth was able to keep overpopulating, the resulting land clashes could be catastrophic.

In the meantime, take careful notice of where you are. You want to be able to tell your grandchildren (or fellow Mars base refugees) where you were when the water wars began.

In other words... [youtube.com] (NRSFW)

Re:Where were you when the water wars began? (-1, Flamebait)

AK Marc (707885) | about a year and a half ago | (#42886021)

Someone elsewhere asked why conservationists are looked down upon, but I think we've managed to find the answer. The idiots who jump on the issue with the "it's about population" responses. It always comes across as stupid, inane, or eugenitics. Not to mention it's internally inconsistent, unless you see it as a justification of mass murder.

Now we've hit the point where resources are limited. A game changer could be a nanofilter that desalinates water, but that could make the problem worse.

OMG, we are all going to die from the Water Wars. Well, unless someone solves the problem, in which case the delay will make it worse. We should have a good war in the middle east now to help control population. Better still, lets just kill enough of them that the issue goes away.

The worst thing is that when China and India start WWIII, idiots like you will claim you were right all along and that the issue was water rights from Himalayan runoff, even if that wasn't related to the political issues.

Re:Where were you when the water wars began? (0)

Hoi Polloi (522990) | about a year and a half ago | (#42886123)

No one will address the human population issue. Everyone is scared (except China) of having to enforce limits on people's sex organs. Instead they will let it go until things collapse, like a person ignoring their diet until they have a heart attack then they go to their doctor demanding to be fixed.

I can't get excited by any conservation tech or effort because I know population increases will erase any gains.

Taboo. (0)

concealment (2447304) | about a year and a half ago | (#42886245)

No one will address the human population issue. Everyone is scared (except China) of having to enforce limits on people's sex organs. Instead they will let it go until things collapse, like a person ignoring their diet until they have a heart attack then they go to their doctor demanding to be fixed.

We have invented modern taboos, such as any restriction on any person wanting to do anything in any place at any time is bad, and not only is it bad, but it's literally Hitler.

China isn't fooled, and so they're not only limiting population, but using eugenics to improve the abilities of their population [edge.org] .

It's going to be interesting when the next war comes about. Chinese supermen versus the obese sofa-bound citizens of Western liberal democracies.

I can't get excited by any conservation tech or effort because I know population increases will erase any gains.

Generally I agree. The exception might be spaceflight cheap enough to displace most of our population to Mars.

Re:Taboo. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42886307)

Unless they figure out how to make their "supermen" radiation-proof, I suspect it won't make much of a difference as far as the outcome is concerned.

Re:Where were you when the water wars began? (3, Insightful)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about a year and a half ago | (#42886757)

You do realize that much of the world has fallen below replacement rates by the simple expedient of making people wealthy enough that they can choose whether to extrude yet another baby or not?

China has been trying to avoid the messy demographic squeeze that occurs in the intervening period(since improvements in standard of living usually slash child mortality before they slash fertility rates, you end up with ~1 generation of unsupportable boom children); but the evidence is overwhelming that people actually don't like keeping up the uterine-clown-car act once they have an option.

Nobody will care (-1, Flamebait)

benjfowler (239527) | about a year and a half ago | (#42885769)

Nobody will care, since it'll only be illiterate poor brown people dying of thirst and hunger and they're a dime a dozen. If it were white people, things would be a lot different. /s

At the end of the day, it's merely self interest, coupled with the ability to maintain those interests, which matters. Such is the world that soulless neoliberalism has wrought.

A History of Water Diplomacy in the Middle East (5, Interesting)

ixarux (1652631) | about a year and a half ago | (#42885783)

Ok. Seriously. There is a problem, but there are solutions too. Water conflicts have been around for a long time now in the Middle East since the beginning of civilization tiself.
4500 years ago, the control of irrigation canals vital to survival was the source of conflict between the states of Umma and Lagash in the ancient Middle East. 2700 years ago, Assurbanipal, King of Assyria from 669 to 626 B.C., seized control of wells as part of his strategic warfare against Arabia. In the modern era, the Jordan River Basin has been the scene of a wide variety of water disputes. In the 1960s, Syria tried to divert the headwaters of the Jordan away from Israel, leading to air strikes against the diversion facilities. The 1967 war in the Middle East resulted in Israel winning control of all of the headwaters of the Jordan as well as the groundwater of the West Bank. In these cases, water was certainly an important factor in both pre- and post-1967 border disputes.
But contrast this to cases in Africa, like the Okavango delta (the world's largest inland delta) which through a negotiation by Angola, Botswana and Namibia has received a fresh lease of life. I think the key is how likely countries are to negotiate rather than go to war. The current Middle East does not seem like a place where cooperation can or will replace conflict.

Fracking? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42885813)

What's the fracking problem?

Our water for your oil. (1)

ewieling (90662) | about a year and a half ago | (#42885869)

Dear Middle East, we are happy to trade you our water for your oil. -- The Western World

Re:Our water for your oil. (1)

chad.koehler (859648) | about a year and a half ago | (#42886073)

That may be a bit short-sighted.

Where's Waldo (1)

ThatsNotPudding (1045640) | about a year and a half ago | (#42885875)

Earlier in the year, while pointing out several areas across the globe suffering significant droughts, the other person asked: "Well, where is it all going?" I had no ready answer. I guess the oceans? Though I thought the sea level rises were due mainly to ice melt (even more water!), not increased rainfall and runoff.

Re:Where's Waldo (4, Informative)

plover (150551) | about a year and a half ago | (#42886233)

Weather patterns carry evaporated water off the oceans and over land, where it can fall as rain or snow. If the rain falls on the ocean, or on the shore running back into the sea, it doesn't replenish inland reservoirs. If a winter is very mild, less polar water will be frozen in place, meaning the snowmelt won't be enough to keep the rivers full all summer. The evaporation process is also the natural desalinization process, making rainwater the most critical supplier of freshwater. That's why droughts and global patterns like El Niño and El Niña so important.

  The overall amount of water on the planet is (mostly) constant, bet the amount of accessible freshwater is a tiny fraction of it, and is highly dependent on the weather and the rate of consumption.

The main reason I'm against fracking (2)

Grayhand (2610049) | about a year and a half ago | (#42885913)

Even ten years ago it was getting obvious that the main problem we'll face this century isn't energy it's water. People worry about cheap energy but cheap or even availibility of food should be the bigger concern. In the US we won't face a lack of water but it'll get expensive and food prices are likely to double and could triple or more in adjusted dollars. If you're spending a $100 a week what happens when that's $200 or $300? Some families I'm sure the number is already $200 or more a week. They'll face $400 to $600 food bills. That's $1,600 to $2,400 a month. It'll equal or exceed their mortgage. That was mostly from droughts and higher chemical prices. If the water used to irrigate those crops is polluted then the prices could be much higher. We can simply spend more of our cash on food. The third world will starve.

Re:The main reason I'm against fracking (1)

dkleinsc (563838) | about a year and a half ago | (#42886113)

In the US we won't face a lack of water but it'll get expensive and food prices are likely to double and could triple or more in adjusted dollars.

There have been areas of the US that have had to face water shortages already, actually: Los Angeles periodically has to ban watering of front lawns, for example. It's kind of interesting living where I do, less than 5 miles away from the world's largest supply of fresh water anywhere: there have been numerous attempts to convince the various governments that have access to it to divert as much of it as possible in various directions, thankfully none of them successful. Generally speaking, liberals want to protect the water for environmental reasons, while conservatives want to protect the water so that businesses that need the water will relocate to the area.

Re:The main reason I'm against fracking (2)

Darkness404 (1287218) | about a year and a half ago | (#42886141)

Except that cheap energy = cheap food. If you look at the logistics of farming in America, unless you are a factory farm and use hundreds and thousands of acres of land, you simply cannot profitably produce (much) food. Energy is needed to provide the power to run tractors and combines, energy is needed to ship the food. We are healthier today than we were in 1813 partially because we can have a wide variety of foods in our diet. If you lived in a non-tropical area 200 years ago, you couldn't eat tropical fruits. If you lived in an area where apples could grow and oranges couldn't you ate apples and not oranges. You had only a handful of different ingredients to get all their nutrients from, if something didn't grow during that time of year or the crops failed, you didn't eat that. Just look at the malnutrition that faced countries with a single staple food (such as Ireland). Today though, even though its the dead of winter in Minnesota, I can still go out to my local grocery store and pick up a fresh pineapple.

When it comes to water, we've got a nearly infinite water reserve called the ocean and desalination is quite feasible already and will more than likely become more and more refined as time goes on. We might have to pay a bit more for water than right now (although if we encouraged competition with water companies that could be lessened) but I don't see some gigantic water-less apocalypse happening anytime soon. Just build a couple more desalination plants and the problem will solve itself.

And when it comes to the third world, the problem is mostly government. When governments stop fighting wars and stop the theft of their people, agriculture can truly start taking off, but with the current climate in many of the starving places of coming into an "enemy" village, burning its crops and killing its men of course you are going to have hunger.

Re:The main reason I'm against fracking (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42886199)

The problem of water is related to the problem of energy......if we have enough cheap energy, we can purify the water from the ocean and ship it to deserts. We can create moisture farms.

Plentiful cheap energy makes everything else in the world easier.

Re:The main reason I'm against fracking (1)

Bigby (659157) | about a year and a half ago | (#42886373)

Except as the price of food increases, more people want to make food to get in on the profit train. You will literally see an increase in farms around the world. Same for water. As it gets more expensive, mechanisms to clean the water become not only feasible but profitable. Then supply increases.

Now if you are talking about there being no arable land or water literally escapes our atmosphere; that is a different story.

Re:The main reason I'm against fracking (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42886409)

If fracking continues, we may be able to have exploding cherries to throw at people so we wouldn't need those seed like fire works. Think of the fun.

Cheap energy = cheaper water (2)

phorm (591458) | about a year and a half ago | (#42886523)

For desalination and filtering plants, it seems one of the bigger obstacles is energy. So if we had cheap (renewable) energy, we could also have more abundant potable water .

Re:The main reason I'm against fracking (2)

gl4ss (559668) | about a year and a half ago | (#42886563)

look, the problem with water isn't that there wouldn't be enough of it.
the problem is that all the good fresh water is elsewhere from where you'd need it(well, plenty of places where you need it have plenty but for some reason people insist on living on dry patches of desert that have been rape farmed for thousands of years..).

water wars are local. in middle east they're limited to middle east. it's not like they're going to invade greenland for the water or some shit like that, they'll just go upstream of some river and try to get control that area and if they have control then re-route the water to their fields. and since they've been warring already non-stop when the fuck did the water wars start? 1949? 1929? 1915?

(oh and if you have energy you can purify or create water...)

What I want to know (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42886015)

What I want to know is why, in 2013, my fucking easy cheese still has that nasty hard cheese plug in the nozzle after its first use. Can we not solve this fucking problem?!?!

Re:What I want to know (1)

mcarp (409487) | about a year and a half ago | (#42886265)

We HAVE solved it my dear fellow geek. Eat the whole can. There are no second uses.

Re:What I want to know (1)

HornWumpus (783565) | about a year and a half ago | (#42886725)

Screw eating it. Hook it up to an IV. Perhaps mixed with bacon grease.

Re:What I want to know (1)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | about a year and a half ago | (#42886675)

The cheese at the end of the nozzle is exposed to air and dries out. Sealing the end of the cheese nozzle might help.

Middle East lacks water? GOOD!!!! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42886147)

Now we have those bastards where we want them. It's time for them to decide what's more important: water or Islam?

"Moon is a Harsh Mistress" (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42886149)

if you haven't read it, you should.

The key reason the Moon has to revolt is that they realize that shipping grain down to the Earth really means sending water on a one way trip. Luckily, North America and other countries are all part of the same ecosystem on Earth, but the original article's point of shrinking the Ogalla aquifer by exporting grain is the exact same point as in Heinlein's novel from the 60's.

water is and will continue to be cheap (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42886169)

I understand that for poor (3rd world)people, and for wasteful agriculture, the cost of water is a big deal and should be managed, but the _actual cost_ of desalinated water is ridiculously low for a first world country, and will never be an issue. According to wikipedia (I'm lazy), as of 2005, it was 0.2 cents (US) per gallon. I pay at least an order of magnitude more than that right now in the US, getting water from Lake Michigan - clearly the "cost of the water" is mostly things other than "making" clean water - presumably it's the infrastructure for moving it around, and oversight / corruption. My monthly water bill is over $30, and I don't use the 500 gallons a day that my $30/month should buy - and I'm guessing processing Lake Michigan water is 1-2 orders of magnitude less expensive than desalination.

Now if you want cheap corn and beef and certain consumer goods (paper for example), then if water gets more expensive, agriculture and industry will have to quit wasting it - but they will, because it won't be cheap anymore. Funny how changing the price does that. Oh wait, no it isn't funny, it's basic economics - when something is nearly or actually free, people use it without a thought.

How you make it "not free" when anyone can put in a well and pump until the aquifers are empty is a different, mostly political issue. Presumably a tax on the sale of things that require water for their production would be the simplest, but there are smarter people than me who can figure that part out.

Hmmm.... (1)

3seas (184403) | about a year and a half ago | (#42886179)

Remove oil and what fills the void?.... could it be ground water?

Well this is certainly a good argument against.. (1)

3seas (184403) | about a year and a half ago | (#42886223)

HHO powered vehicles...

Ice Pirates (4, Funny)

Stele (9443) | about a year and a half ago | (#42886277)

I watched the documentary "Ice Pirates" back in the 80s. It shows a far future without much water, and people turning to piracy to get it. I bet they never knew how quickly we'd be getting to that point.

Oh and Bruce Vilanch.

Israel recycles! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42886301)

Just FYI:

In a normal, non-drought year, Israel gets seven billion cubic meters of precipitation. However, only about a quarter is collected in the aquifers or above-ground reservoirs and the Kinneret. The rest is either lost to evaporation or as surface run-off into the sea.
Two thirds of Israel’s land mass qualifies as desert (defined by annual rainfall levels below 10”). The Galilee in the north receives about 35” of rain a year and Tel Aviv about 20”, while Eilat gets only 1”. So, 2/3 of the rain in Israel falls on only 1/3 of its land mass.
Measures to Curb Consumption
In 2009 and 2010, household water consumption decreased to the lowest levels in 20 years, due to an aggressive public relations campaign as well as economic penalties.
Average bi-monthly water bill for a family of four in a major city:
Nov-Dec 2008 – NIS 308.4 - $88.11
Nov-Dec 2009 – NIS 1,189.4 - $339.82 (drought tax = NIS 680 - $194.28)
Nov-Dec 2010 – NIS 796.6 - $227.60
Non-conventional water resources: desalination and wastewater recycling
Israel’s main concern is its capacity to supply water for household use.
Domestic consumption makes up 38% of total water usage in Israel.
Israel currently supplies just under 50% of household water needs with desalinated water produced in three different facilities. Its goal is to construct a few more plants and supply all household needs by 2020.
The agriculture sector in Israel accounts for 56% of the country’s total water usage. The Water Authority aims to reduce the agriculture sector’s use of potable water so it can be saved for domestic consumption.
Where will the water for agriculture come from? High-quality purified wastewater.
Israel recycles 75% of its effluents—the highest rate in the world. Spain comes in second at 13%. Even still, vast amounts of treated water are lost to the sea simply because there are not enough reservoirs to store the water. Israel’s goal is to utilize 95% of treated wastewater by 2020, making continued reservoir construction vital.

3 minutes, 3 days, 3 weeks ... (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42886319)

You can live without oxygen for 3 minutes, on average, if not a bit longer.

You can live without water for 3 days, depending on the environment.

You can live without food for 3 weeks, but in the case of Americans more like 3 months.

You can live without gasoline forever.

Now, can any of you bright people guess the order of importance of the above resources ?

Soylent green (1)

codepigeon (1202896) | about a year and a half ago | (#42886393)

I wonder how much water is now being stored in the increased population of humans and domesticated animals.

Using wikipedia articles on average water in a human body and world population growth you get about 40billion liters of water being stored in humans in the year 1800, up to 280billion liters being stored in humans in the year 2012. A more indepth study would be interesting.

evolution (4, Funny)

WillgasM (1646719) | about a year and a half ago | (#42886533)

Let's hurry up and evolve to live off salt water. Go forth, and have sex with sweaty people.
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