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"Water is fluid, soft, and yielding. But water will wear away rock, which is rigid and cannot yield. As a rule, whatever is fluid, soft, and yielding will overcome whatever is rigid and hard. This is another paradox: what is soft is strong." Lao Tse

A number of eco-writers - including me - have been called grim, unyielding Malthusians among other things, largely because of our collective emphasis on reporting dire news on climate change, rising populations, depleted soils and water resources. Well, I don't think any of us derive pure joy from writing about it as countries like Taiwan will be one of the first affected by rising sea levels which could leave many parts of the country under water while some low-lying islands in the Pacific are at risk of disappearing altogether.

The impact of water-related climate phenomena (e.g. drought, flooding, sea level rise) is so acute that China's cabinet declared that climate change threatens the country's development with increasing extreme-weather "events" and exacerbating water shortages.

As the promised climate change legislation is dead in the water for the foreseeable future, here is a sample of things to come:

Growing pressure on water supplies affecting one in five global businesses:

At least one in five of the companies using the largest amounts of water in the world is already experiencing damage to their business from drought and other shortages, flooding, and rising prices. Source: The Guardian

Crime to rise because of water shortages, affirms study:

An increase in water shortages and a decrease in food production in Mexico could lead not only to more people migrating in search of economic opportunities, but to more criminal activities. Source: El Universal (in Spanish)

Study: Overpumping Draws Down the World’s Groundwater Reserves:

Much of the global groundwater pumped out of aquifers for household use and irrigation ends up in the world’s oceans, depleting the aquifers faster than they can be replenished, a new study published in Geophysical Research Letters shows. Source: Circle of Blue Water News

Catastrophic Drought Looms for Capital City of Bolivia:

If temperatures rise more than 1.5 to 2 degrees Celsius (3 to 5 degrees Fahrenheit) above those of modern times, parts of Peru and Bolivia will become a desert-like setting. Source Science Daily

Arab world among most vulnerable to climate change:

Dust storms scour Iraq. Freak floods wreak havoc in Saudi Arabia and Yemen. Rising sea levels erode Egypt's coast. Hotter, drier weather worsens water scarcity in the Middle East, already the world's most water-short region. Source Reuters via Yahoo News

Beijing turns to snow to quench water woes:

Beijing will collect and melt snow this winter in a bid to quench the water shortage that has plagued the Chinese capital for years, state media reported. Source ABC Australia

As Glaciers Melt, Scientists Seek New Data on Rising Seas:

As a result of recent calculations that take the changes into account, many scientists now say that sea level is likely to rise perhaps three feet by 2100 Source New York Times

Water Shortage in India:

Water scarcity in India is widespread in all states. Even in states like Karnataka where we are proud to say that infrastructure is the best, there is water shortage affecting the school children also. Around 65% of primary schools lack basic drinking water facilities. Source Deccan News vis India Water Portal

US sees water scarcity as a 'security issue':

Water scarcity has become a key global issue for the United States because of its potential to fuel armed conflicts in regions such as the Middle East or between nuclear rivals such as India and Pakistan. Source European Union Website

If you have a spare $20, you can change someone's life in a water-stressed country: charity: water is an amazing organization which brings clean and potable water to thousands of people throughout the world. Just $20 can give one person clean water for 20 years. I am a monthly contributor to this outfit, every single cent goes towards water projects. Donate here.


And finally, the Atlantic December issue has a must-read, great article by Kenneth Brower about the great man (not so great when it comes to climate change though) Freeman Dyson, heir to Einstein , and I quote: "a visionary who has reshaped thinking in fields from math to astrophysics to medicine, and who has conceived nuclear-propelled spaceships designed to transport human colonists to distant planets."

Brower writes, ominously:

The Atlantic is afloat with tar balls, and that detached sections of fishnet and broken filaments of longline drift, ghost-fishing, in all our seas. Many of the large cities of Africa, South America, and Asia are megalopolises of desperate poverty ringed by garbage. Vast tracts of tropical rain forest, the planet’s most important carbon sink, disappear annually, burned or logged or mined. Illegal logging is also ravaging the slow-growing boreal forests of Siberia. The ozone hole over Antarctica continues to open every southern spring, exposing all life beneath to unfiltered ultraviolet rays. African wildlife is in precipitous decline. Desertification continues in the Sahel, turning that semi-arid zone into just more Sahara. Frogs are vanishing everywhere. We are in the middle of a mass die-off, the "sixth extinction," this one caused not by volcanoes or collisions with asteroids and comets, as before, but by mankind—with species disappearing, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature, at 1,000 to 10,000 times the rate prevalent over the 65 million years since the previous great extinction.

Originally posted to Patric Juillet on Sun Nov 14, 2010 at 11:28 AM PST.

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