Tuesday, November 22, 2011
GEO #009 - 21st, the Century of Drought
I used to think that WW3, if it happens, would be an oil war, or energy war of some kind, but I see that, as time goes by, water will surpass oil as the most precious finite resource, and WW3 could well be a water war.
Several factors will lead separately to this same collective conclusion:
1. Glaciers: There are about 100,000 glaciers in the world: 25,000 in North America, South America, Europe, and New Zealand, and over 34,000 in the former Soviet Union and China.
The Himalayan range alone encompasses about 15,000 glaciers, which store about 12,000 cubic-kilometers of freshwater. They feed 8 major rivers, including the Huang Ho (China), Yangtze (China), Indus (India), Ganges (India) and Mekong (Vietnam). Altogether, they provide water to 1.5 billion people. Unlike American agriculture, which is by and large rain fed, Asian agriculture is by and large river-fed via irrigation. Dry up these rivers and not only will there be no water, there will be no food. Where are these 1.5 billion people, then 2 or 3 billion, to go? What are they to do? Migration is not an option, because water and food will be in short supply everywhere in the world.
2. Drought: "Hot and steamy" is mostly on movie screens, inside tropical rainforests and on the streets of low-latitude coastal cities. Unfortunately, New Orleans and Miami may soon both be underwater, the Amazon may turn to desert by century's end, and movie screens may not survive the collapse of civilization. The new catch phrase is "HOT and DRY", where it really counts - the agricultural areas in the temperate and tropical regions, where rainfall will diminish.
In combination with a burgeoning human population - more mouths to feed with a dwindling food supply on an already over-stretched planet - famine in diverse places will be the result.
Why hot and dry? Because warmer air can "hold" more moisture before saturation, and the warmer it gets, the farther from the dew point it will rise, and the lesser it will rain.
3. Rising demand:
Rising population x rising per capita consumption = UNSUSTAINABLE.
4. Use by sector
To which sector do you belong?
5. Water stress and security risk
Stress x security risk can = WW3
6. Water pollution - mining
In 2008, I flew over 6 Alberta tar sands mines for 2 hours and took these pictures, as well as talked to the native people there about their sky-high cancer rate.
7. Water pollution - animal agriculture
This is on top of the methane emitted into the atmosphere which eclipses the emissions of the entire global transportation system by some 25% in CO2 equivalent.
8. Food crisis and famine
Rise in population X fall in agricultural production = Food crisis and famine.
Anthony Marr, Founder and President
Heal Our Planet Earth (HOPE)
Global Anti-Hunting Coalition (GAHC)