Water Security is National Security

Water resources and how they are managed impact almost all aspects of society and the economy, in particular health, food production and security, domestic water supply and sanitation, energy, industry, and the functioning of ecosystems. Under present climate variability, water stress is already high, particularly in many developing countries, and climate change adds even more urgency for action. Without improved water resources management, the progress towards poverty reduction targets, the Millennium Development Goals, and sustainable development in all its economic, social and environ- mental dimensions, will be jeopardized. UN Water.Org

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Towards Water Security

Water comes in bottles, pours out of skies and faucets and laps at the sand on beaches, covering more than two-thirds of the planet. A recent study also pointed out that the amount of land ice lost annually from glaciers and ice caps is enough to make the global sea level rise by half an inch. Unfortunately the sheer volume of water around is not the kind of water needed to perform tasks such as cleaning, cooking and helping crops grow, much less the water needed for use by industry or as an energy source.

Ancient Roman cistern

To help alleviate water shortage concerns, many researchers are working on developing crops that are tolerant of drought or salt, and seeds that use water more efficiently. Water security itself was one of the topics discussed at the recent 14th Asian Security Conference in New Delhi.

In his speech to the conference attendees on Feb. 13, the Indian defense minister was quoted as saying that, “Water is actually fast emerging as a major source of insecurity and a potential issue for conflict among nations. Thus, nations need to cooperate on sharing water and efficient water usage and harvesting and initiate collective action for preserving our common environment.”

One method of tracking water usage to more efficiently use this resource came from a report released the same week as the Asian security conference. Engineers from the Netherlands calculated the water usage in every country between 1996 and 2005. To measure what they called the “water footprint of humanity,” they considered how much water is being used in the home, in agriculture and in industry, and factored in each country’s use of rainwater, which they referred to as “green” water, groundwater and surface water, which they called “blue” water, and polluted or “gray” water. More


Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Melting Glaciers: What You Need To Know

 If you haven’t already, take a look at this eye-opening blog post about an expedition into the mountains of Nepal. For people in the region, climate change isn’t just an abstract worry; they live with a real and everyday concern about dangerous flash floods that can result from melting glaciers.

Sadly, this is a danger that won’t go away soon. Glaciers all over the world areshrinking. This sustained ice loss is both a natural indicator that the world is warmingand a warning that local communities are at risk. For people inland, melting glaciers can mean flash floods, landslides and reduced drinking water. For people on the coast, melting glaciers mean rising seas.

We’re learning more about glacial retreat all the time. Recently, a new study was released that received a great deal of media attention. It found that mountain glaciers and polar ice 
sheets lost more than 530 gigatons of ice per year from 2003 to 2010, raising average global sea levels more than 1 centimeter. This study is consistent with other estimates of the contribution of land ice to sea level rise. In other words, not that surprising. More