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

Monday, September 24, 2012

Blue Gold: World Water Wars

Blue Gold: World Water Wars (480p) (cc)

Published onApr 3, 2012byImaginari Pacem


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"...In every corner of the globe, we are polluting, diverting, pumping, and wasting our limited supply of fresh water at an expediential level as population and technology grows. The rampant overdevelopment of agriculture, housing and industry increase the demands for fresh water well beyond the finite supply, resulting in the desertification of the earth.

Corporate giants force developing countries to privatize their water supply for profit. Wall Street investors target desalination and mass bulk water export schemes. Corrupt governments use water for economic and political gain. Military control of water emerges and a new geo-political map and power structure forms, setting the stage for world water wars.

We follow numerous worldwide examples of people fighting for their basic right to water, from court cases to violent revolutions to U.N. conventions to revised constitutions to local protests at grade schools. As Maude Barlow proclaims, "This is our revolution, this is our war". A line is crossed as water becomes a commodity. Will we survive?..."

Malcolm McDowell
Ric Davidge
Andres Barreda Marin
Danielle Mitterrand
Oscar Olivera
Jim Olson
Tony Clarke
Maude Barlow
Octavio Rosas Lando
Eduardo Hernando Halez
Robert Glennon
Ryan Schwebach
Michael Kravcik
Vandana Shiva
Peter Warshall
Helen Sarakinos
Wenonah Hauter
Kyang Hae Lee
Clair Muller
Oliver Hoedmann
Raymond Aurillier
Harry Ott
Daniel Vermeer
Wangari Maathai (Dr. Wangari Muta Maathi)
Jack Simes
Jon Steinhaus
Terry Swier
Chris Swier
Peggy Schwebach
Al-Hassan Adam
Virginia Setshed
Ryan Hreljac
Nancy Prest
George Morara Ugendi
Dr. Rosinha
Nelton Friedrich
Merle H. Jensen
Howard Dearborn
Noah Cottrell

Monday, September 17, 2012

Retreat of the Miage Glacier

Miage Glacier (3)Photographer: Piero Armando Summary Author: Piero Armando During summer holidays, I often visit the Miage Glacier in the Italian Alps. The Miage Glacier flows from the south side of Mont Blanc and is one of the longest in the entire massif (about 16 mi or 10 km in length). My first trip to this scenic alpine area was in July 1966. There's been an obvious retreat of the Miage Glacier since then. The left photo shows how the landscape appeared during my initial visit. The right photo was snapped from roughly the same position but some 46 years later. Note that the glacial lake in the foreground of the left photo is now five small shallow lakes -- each with levels at least 30 ft (about 10 m) lower than in 1966. The sharp peak visible in the background is the famousAiguille Noire (12,379 ft or 3,773 m in height). Behind Aiguille Noire is the Peuterey Crest, which leads to the summit of Mont Blanc. Right photo taken on August 22, 2012.Photo details: Canon EOS 30D camera; 17mm focal length; f/11.0 aperture; 1/250 sec. exposure; ISO equivalent 100; sRGB color space; four separate exposures stitched together. More


Thursday, September 13, 2012

Academy Finds Mixed Climate Impacts on Himalayan Glaciers, Water Supplies

The eroding Rongbuk glacier in the Himalayas, in 1921 and today.
Given all the oversimplified assertions over the years about Himalayan glaciers in a warming global climate, it’s great to see a committee assembled by the National Academy of Sciences weigh in on the question with some data-based findings in a new report, “Himalayan Glaciers: Climate Change, Water Resources, and Water Security.” The bottom line — in sync with other recent analysis — is that the region is seeing a mix of changes, with glaciers growing in some places and shrinking in others and impacts on water supplies mostly inconsequential for decades to come. In most regions, monsoon patterns, population and consumption pressures and dependence on groundwater pumping will remain the dominant source of water-related risks, the report concludes. Read on for an excerpt from the news release and link to the full report, followed by related background:

Himalayan Glaciers Retreating at Accelerated Rate in Some Regions but Not Others; Consequences for Water Supply Remain Unclear, Says New Report

WASHINGTON — Glaciers in the eastern and central regions of the Himalayas appear to be retreating at accelerating rates, similar to those in other areas of the world, while glaciers in the western Himalayas are more stable and could be growing, says a new report from the National Research Council.

The report examines how changes to glaciers in the Hindu Kush-Himalayan region, which covers eight countries across Asia, could affect the area’s river systems, water supplies, and the South Asian population. The mountains in the region form the headwaters of several major river systems — including the Ganges, Mekong, Yangtze, and Yellow rivers — which serve as sources of drinking water and irrigation supplies for roughly 1.5 billion people.

The entire Himalayan climate is changing, but how climate change will impact specific places remains unclear, said the committee that wrote the report. The eastern Himalayas and Tibetan Plateau are warming, and the trend is more pronounced at higher elevations. Models suggest that desert dust and black carbon, a component of soot, could contribute to the rapid atmospheric warming, accelerated snowpack melting, and glacier retreat.

While glacier melt contributes water to the region’s rivers and streams, retreating glaciers over the next several decades are unlikely to cause significant change in water availability at lower elevations, which depend primarily on monsoon precipitation and snowmelt, the committee said. Variations in water supplies in those areas are more likely to come from extensive extraction of groundwater resources, population growth, and shifts in water-use patterns. However, if the current rate of retreat continues, high elevation areas could have altered seasonal and temporal water flow in some river basins. The effects of glacier retreat would become evident during the dry season, particularly in the west where glacial melt is more important to the river systems. Nevertheless, shifts in the location, intensity, and variability of both rain and snow will likely have a greater impact on regional water supplies than glacier retreat will. More


Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Asia Risks Water Scarcity Amid Coal-Fired Power Embrace

Inner Mongolia’s rivers are feeding China’s coal industry, turning grasslands into desert. In India, thousands of farmers have protested diverting water to coal- fired power plants, some committing suicide.

The struggle to control the world’s water is intensifying around energy supply. China and India alone plan to build $720 billion of coal-burning plants in two decades, more than twice today’s total power capacity in the U.S., International Energy Agency data show. Water will be boiled away in the new steam turbines to make electricity and flush coal residue at utilities from China Shenhua Energy Co. (1088) to India’s Tata Power Co. (TPWR) that are favoring coal over nuclear because it’s cheaper.

With China set to vaporize water equal to what flows over Niagara Falls each year, and India’s industrial water demand growing at twice the pace of agricultural or municipal use,Asia’s most populous nations will have to reconsider energy projects to avoid conflict between cities, farmers and industry.

“You’re going to have a huge issue with the competition between water, energy and food,” said Vineet Mittal, managing director of Welspun Energy Ltd., the utility unit of Leon Black’s Apollo Global Management LLC-backedWelspun Group. “Water is something everyone should be probing every chief executive about,” he said in an interview.

Investors have driven up the 49-member S&P Global Water Index (SPGTAQD) about 96 percent from its low point after the 2008 financial crisis. That beat the 88 percent gain in the period by the 1,625-stock the MSCI World Index, a global benchmark, and trailed the Dow Jones Industrial Average’s 101 percent increase. More


Droughts Are Pushing Trees to the Limit

ScienceDaily (Sep. 10, 2012) — Droughts in the Southwest made more severe by warming temperatures are putting plants in stressful growing conditions, a new study has found, identifying an increasingly water-thirsty atmosphere as a key force that sucks moisture from plants, leading to potentially higher stress -- especially in mid and low elevations.

As temperatures rise and droughts become more severe in the Southwest, trees are increasingly up against extremely stressful growing conditions, especially in low to middle elevations, University of Arizona researchers report in a study soon to be published in the Journal of Geophysical Research Biogeosciences.

Lead author Jeremy Weiss, a senior research specialist in the UA department of geosciences, said: "We know the climate in the Southwest is getting warmer, but we wanted to investigate how the higher temperatures might interact with the highly variable precipitation typical of the region."

Weiss' team used a growing season index computed from weather data to examine limits to plant growth during times of drought.

"The approach we took allows us to model and map potential plant responses to droughts under past, present and future conditions across the whole region," explained Julio Betancourt, a senior scientist with the U.S. Geological Survey who co-authored the study along with Jonathan Overpeck, co-director of the UA Institute of the Environment. Betancourt holds adjunct appointments in the UA department of geosciences, the UA School of Geography and Development, the UA School of Natural Resources and the Environment and the UA Laboratory of Tree-Ring Research. More


Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Global food security and "virtual water"

Food production requires adequate soils, climate, and water. Roughly 70 percent of the freshwater appropriated by humans worldwide is used for food production. In the absence of trade, people rely on local freshwater resources to grow food. However, when water limitations constrain food production to the point that there is not enough food for everyone, the trade of food commodities provides a mechanism by which regions can compensate for inadequate local water resources.

The United States' National Intelligence Council and the European Union's Institute for Security Studies estimate PDF that more than one billion people currently live in regions where the demand for water exceeds the local supply. These populations are sustained only via importation of the "virtual water" resources associated with foreign food production.

Global food security depends, in part, on the virtual water PDF trade. The transfer of virtual water from food-producing regions to food-importing regions provides a way to maximize the use of global water resources; allows overpopulated and water-poor countries to meet their food demand; and can ameliorate the effects of drought on local food production. In some schools of thought, the virtual-water trade PDF acts to reduce societal water stress, malnourishment, and water wars.

However, this "globalization of water" has adverse impacts as well. It decouples a population from the production of its food and allows the population to grow at a rate that is unsustainable with respect to local water resources. The decoupling of resources and population can also cause people to care less about the environment they live in. And although the virtual water trade mitigates local water stresses, it also lowers societal resilience to drought by reducing the water options available during a food crisis. Moreover, differences in access to water and trade introduce the potential for large inequalities to arise among nations.

Tracking the flow of virtual water. Detailed population data and trade information for 309 plant and animal food commodities, combined with production estimates of virtual water by crop commodity and country, have made it possible to reconstruct the network of virtual water flows from 1986 through 2008. This network is comprised of links (imports and exports) representing virtual water transfers between countries. The network has changed significantly over the past few decades. The total number of trade connections has increased from 8,213 to 15,789, with the number of active trading nodes (countries) increasing from 205 to 232. Moreover, the total trade in virtual water has increased from roughly 1 trillion cubic meters to about 2.2 trillion cubic meters. This increase has occurred at a rate that exceeded that of population growth, resulting in an overall increase in trade of 150 cubic meters per person per year between 1986 and 2008.

The network of virtual water trade is highly dynamic, with very few permanent links; its structure depends on many factors, including socio-economic and political conditions, demographic dynamics, and water availability. Some of the changes in this network are due to political transformations, such as the dissolution of the former Soviet Union. While both the total virtual water flow and number of trade connections have increased, virtual water trade remains unevenly distributed. In fact, 50 percent of the virtual water flows through only 1.1 percent of the links, and approximately 40 percent of the net virtual water exports come from Brazil, Argentina, and the United States -- countries that account for only 5.7 percent of the global population. Worldwide, 90 percent of virtual water exports are controlled by only 32 percent of the population. The largest net importers of virtual water in 2008 were China and Japan. African nations have low connectivity to the global network, with relatively small amounts of virtual water moving to and from African countries. More


Crops in India Wilt in a Weak Monsoon Season

MURUMA, India — Vilas Dinkar Mukane lives halfway around the world from the corn farmers of Iowa, but the Indian sharecropper is at risk of losing his livelihood for the same reason: not enough rain.

With the nourishing downpours of the annual monsoon season down an average of 12 percent across India and much more in some regions, farmers in this village about 250 miles east of Mumbai are on the brink of disaster. “If this situation continues, I’ll lose everything,” said Mr. Mukane, whose soybean, sugarcane and cotton crops were visibly stunted and wilting in his fields recently. “Nothing can happen without water.”

Drought has devastated crops around the world this year, including corn and soybeans in the United States, wheat in Russia and Australia and soybeans in Brazil and Argentina. This has contributed to a 6 percent rise in global food prices from June to July, according to United Nations data.

India is experiencing its fourth drought in a dozen years, raising concerns about the reliability of the country’s primary source of fresh water, the monsoon rains that typically fall from June to October.

Some scientists warn that such calamities are part of a trend that is likely to intensify in the coming decades because of climate changes caused by the human release of greenhouse gases.

A paper published last month blamed global warming for a large increase in the percentage of the planet affected by extreme summer heat in the last several decades. And the World Meteorological Organization, a division of the United Nations, recently warnedthat climate change was “projected to increase the frequency, intensity and duration of droughts, with impacts on many sectors, in particular food, water and energy.”

Scientists say that in addition to increasing temperatures, climate change appears to be making India and its neighbors Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh more vulnerable to erratic monsoons. More