Peak Water

Discussion in 'Chit Chat' started by wildfirepow, Sep 5, 2009.

  1. “It should be obvious from simple arithmetic that population growth is on a direct collision course with increasingly scarce resources.”
    Jeremy Grantham

    The notion of peak water probably sounds crazy to most people. The earth is 70% covered by water. The water cycle replenishes water on a continuous basis. The global warming enthusiasts tell us that glaciers are melting and oceans are rising. This should make water more plentiful.

    But, as they say in the real estate business – Location, Location, Location. Freshwater shortages in the wrong places could have calamitous consequences to those regions, worldwide commodity prices, the economic future of nations with water shortages and possible war. Regional water scarcity means water usage exceeds the annual natural replenishment from the water cycle. The impact of water scarcity can be far reaching. It can lead to food shortages, famine, and starvation. Many nations, regions and states have mismanaged their water resources, and they will have to suffer the long-term consequences.

    According to the United Nations, by 2020 water use is expected to increase by 40% to support the food requirements of a worldwide population that will grow from 6.7 billion people to 7.5 billion people. The U.N. estimate is that 1.8 billion people will be living in regions with extreme water scarcity. Even though 70% of the globe is covered by water, most of it is not useable because it is saltwater. Only 2% of the earth’s water is considered freshwater. Most of the freshwater is locked up in glaciers, permanent snow cover and in deep groundwater.

    Desalinization is a process that can convert saltwater into freshwater, but it is only practically useful on the coastlines and it is 15 times more expensive. The middle of the United States is considered our breadbasket, where the majority of our food is grown. Drought and/or over-consumption of existing sources of water in this sensitive area would have worldwide implications, as the U.S. is a huge exporter of wheat, soybeans, rice and corn. The United States exported $115 billion of agricultural products in 2008 while importing $80 billion, according to the USDA. This is one of the few remaining businesses where the U.S. is a net exporter. Population growth and water shortages could change that equation.

    The major challenges regarding freshwater are:

    Tremendously uneven distribution of water on earth.
    The economic and physical constraints of tapping water trapped in glaciers.
    Human contamination of existing water supplies.
    The high cost of moving water from one place to another.
    Regional scarcity is not easily solved. Once the extraction of water exceeds the natural rate of replenishment, there are only a few options.

    Reduce demand to sustainable levels.
    Move the demand to an area where water is available.
    Shift to increasingly expensive sources, such as desalinization.

    None of these options is available for many areas in the Southwest U.S. The cities of Las Vegas, and Phoenix were built in the middle of the desert. The Hoover Dam, built on the Colorado River near Las Vegas during the Great Depression, created Lake Mead, the country's largest artificial body of water. The lake provides water to Arizona, California, Nevada and northern Mexico - but after several recent years of drought, on top of ever-growing demand, it's dangerously depleted. Housing developments on the outskirts of these towns have been stopped dead in their tracks by lack of water supply. The growth of these major U.S. metropolitan areas is in danger of going into reverse if their long-term water supplies are not secure.

    Potential Impact on Commodities

    The United States, for better or worse, is a sprawling suburban dominated country with large supplies of freshwater in some regions and limited amounts in other regions. Suburban sprawl has put intense pressure on local water supplies. The millions of acres of perfectly manicured green lawns and millions of backyard “cement ponds” require vast quantities of water to retain that glorious green hue. The Ipswich River near Boston now "runs dry about every other year or so," according to Sandra Postel, director of the Global Water Policy Project. "Why? Heavy pumping of groundwater for irrigation of big green lawns." In drought years like 1999 or 2003, Maryland, Virginia and the District have begun to fight over the Potomac -- on hot summer days combining to suck up 85 percent of the river's flow. With 67 million more people expected to inhabit the United States by 2030, these water shortages will only become more severe.

    Complete article-:
  2. Yet another "sky is falling" we'll have to tax you to the poor house scheme.

    Same as the peak oil garbage and the global warming nonsense.

    no one addresses the real problem.

    A human rat infestation of the planet. Poor people tend to be illiterate and religious. A dangerous combination.

    Most of the world is poor and they've taken the "be fruitful and multiply" nonsense to heart.
  3. just21


  4. You are too jaded in your views. You don't see things clearly. I've seen enough of your posts to believe that you are no different than the extreme right wing nutjobs - where you differ from them is that you reside at the other extreme end of the spectrum.

    Peak Oil and Peak water are not schemes. Are you aware that China and Saudi Arabia have been buying the best farming land in Africa? Why is that? Is that a scheme?

    As for biofuels replacing or transitioning from Oil - that too will become increasingly difficult as the world relies more on water to feed its population.

    And as for the poor populations growing - that's true. But the rich don't get off that easy. We consume a ridiculous amount of energy and oil based products and create more trash than all those poor countries combined.
  5. Eight


    Has anybody noted how farmers waste such incredible amounts of water? In the Mojave Desert a lot of onions and alfalfa are grown... the irrigation is done by spraying the water into the air... half of it is absorbed by the atmosphere and never touches the soil... they should be using drip systems but they don't want to pay for the maintenance...
  6. In Spain 800 golfcourses build to give real estate more value (although nobody plays golf in Spain) consume the same amount of water as 16 milion people a year.

    Free markets...:cool:
  7. I hope people don't forget that water isn't a finite commodity. Unlike fossil fuels, water can be recycled and be brought to market relatively easily. The worlds water reserves are easily provable lol.
  8. Target our love of lawns.

    <u>19 trillion gallons</u> per year spent making it look better than your neighbors. (Less than 5 trillion / yr in rainfall over the US I believe)


    25 billion lawn care industry (but hey pet industry is twice as much).
  9. lol :D :D

    Time we put a stop to this era of entitlement trough a dictatorship.
  10. Where else is your dog gonna take a dump...

    BTW I live on a course in Spain, plenty of locals play but mainly its Brits and Japanese down the fairway.
    #10     Sep 5, 2009