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The Global Water Crisis

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I just finished a wonderful recent book by Seth Siegel on the global water crisis. The book, Let There Be Water, should be a wake-up call for world leaders to take the water crisis more seriously. Let me summarize some of its most important findings.

In recent years, 600 million people have begun experiencing water shortages. In less than a decade it could be as high as 20 percent of the world’s population or 1.5 billion people. Since water is crucial to generating energy and agriculture, a water crisis will raise global food prices and slow economic growth. With insufficient water, low economic growth, and high food prices, this could lead to a rise in failed states.

As I pointed out in a previous column, the Syrian Civil War began in March 2011 after nearly five years of the worst drought in centuries. Over 800,000 Syrians lost their livelihoods from the droughts before the civil war began. The destruction of crops caused a rise in food prices.

The problem is that another Syria could happen very soon. While Syria is an extreme case, the water crisis will spare no country. According to Siegel’s book, the global middle class is growing and per capita water consumption will require world leaders to adopt new policies. From 2000 to 2009, the global middle class rose from 1.4 billion to 1.8 billion. By 2020, it is projected to be 3.25 billion people.

People who are in extreme poverty do not consume nearly as much meat as the global middle class. This is a problem in that raising a pound of beef requires seventeen times more water than producing a pound of corn.

This situation is not hopeless, but the Western world will have to change in order to adapt to the future. For example in London, 30 percent of the water is wasted every year due to leaky pipes while Chicago loses about 25 percent. In the developing world, losing 50 percent of water due to leaks is not uncommon.

Over the decades, Israel has become a global leader in drip irrigation, desalination, and handling water sewage. This has improved diplomatic relations for Israel.

The Chinese established diplomatic relations with Israel in 1992 in part because they needed Israel to help them with their water problems. In late 1983 and early 1984, Siegel notes, how China allowed Israel to send engineering teams to Guangxi Province.

Israel recommended to them that certain seeds would be better for farming and drip irrigation would be necessary. China agreed, but asked Israel to keep its role secret for the time being. The Chinese didn’t want to offend their allies in the Arab world.

A few years later, Israeli geologists and hydrologists were sent again to China. This time they were trying to develop water in the Gobi Desert. The Israelis came up with a plan to extract water from the desert along and suggested new products that would grow better in desert conditions.

China eventually took a chance in 1992 and officially established relations with Israel. From 1992 to 2013, bilateral trade grew from $50 million to $8.4 billion. When Prime Minister Netanyahu visited China in 2013, water was still at the top of their bilateral trade agenda.

The Chinese rapprochement should be a model for Israel’s other adversaries to follow.  For example, Gaza desperately needs Israel’s help. The 1.8 million people in Gaza are over-reliant on their primary water aquifer.

If there is not enough rain to replace the fresh water pumped out, the barrier between fresh water and salt water will eventually be breached, making the water undrinkable. This will cause unrest and make Gaza ungovernable.

Even if water can be sent to Gaza, the mismanagement of sewage water alone is not just a threat to Palestinian water supplies but also to Israel’s water infrastructure. The problem is that Hamas has made it clear that cooperation in this area would be tantamount to recognizing Israel.

China is proof that Israel doesn’t need recognition to help people with their water problems. I hope that the Palestinian people will force Hamas to listen to reason.

The crisis in Gaza can be repaired. We should not forget that Israel was able to make peace with Jordan and many of the Palestinians in the West Bank by sharing their water expertise. In 1967, only four towns in the West Bank’s 708 towns and cities had running water.

Despite a population increase from 600,000 in 1967 to 2.4 million Palestinians today, 96 percent of homes in the West Bank now have running water. There is no reason Israel cannot help Gaza.

Another enemy of Israel that needs help is Iran. As much as 70 percent of its people, 50 million, may have to leave their homes due to insufficient water.

In a few years, many of their aquifers will be unusable. Iran’s agriculture is among the least efficient in the world. Israel helped them before and they can do so again.

From 1962 to 1979, Israeli companies such as TAHAL, IDE Technologies, and Mekorot all worked in Iran and helped build desalination plants, dams, and sewer systems. While the Iranians tried to reverse engineer much of this technology, after the Israelis were expelled, they have not been able to fully master it.

Since the Iranians have just been given $150 billion from their nuclear deal, there is no reason that they cannot use some of that money to pay Israel to fix their water problems. Every dollar they spend on the water crisis is less money they will spend on terrorism.

Israel can play a big role in the world water crisis. I can only hope that the leaders in Syria, Iran, and Hamas will put aside their hatred long enough for Israel to help them.



24 Comments on "The Global Water Crisis"

  1. onlooker on Fri, 17th Feb 2017 12:03 pm 

    Somehow water seems afterthought but it as precious as anything on this Earth and like everything else on this planet is being besieged and depleted by the human locusts hordes

  2. Karle on Fri, 17th Feb 2017 12:38 pm 

    Water does not disappear. Where is all the water going?

  3. onlooker on Fri, 17th Feb 2017 12:43 pm 

    From deep aquifers many times it does. Some of them took thousands to millions of years to charge and we are furiously drawing them down. Also, water does not need to disappear, polluting it in various ways makes is virtually unusable. Remember we are talking about fresh potable water, the kind we and other animals drink, the kind that is used in agricultural fields around the world.

  4. DerHundistlos on Fri, 17th Feb 2017 12:52 pm 

    Despite the author’s attempt at painting China as a success story, the fact of the matter is In the northwest, where the biggest problems lie, desertification has almost doubled in severity from 1,560 sq km ANNUALLY in the 1970s to 2,900 sq km. annually as of 2014.

    Further, Israel has its own serious water issues. Israel now draws the entire flow of the Jordan river. The once fabled Jordan river now exists as a putrid trickle of sewage. The consequences for wildlife have been devastating, but that’s not OUR problem.

  5. BobInget on Fri, 17th Feb 2017 1:12 pm 

    Formally drought fought Los Angles will be getting eight to nine inches of rain in the next 24 hours.
    LA has ALREADY received 16 inches this year.

    Many of those damns in CA are over 100 years old.

    If the largest city in America had built proper storage,
    that would enable later use.. As it stands, mudslides
    and flooding threaten.

    So much for breaking water news.

    AS for the article above, it reeks of that lastbookread
    syndrome. Who here were enlightened?

    We will learn a few things this week-end.

    1) Climate change, busy trying to get our attention.
    2) Emphasis needs to change to coping rather then
    denying and excuses.
    3) Water falling on California today won’t be falling
    elsewhere where expected.

    The technology is at hand to store and recycle.

  6. BobInget on Fri, 17th Feb 2017 1:16 pm 

    Breaking news:

    Fox Eats Hens

    Senate confirms Pruitt to lead EPA

    The Senate voted Friday to confirm Scott Pruitt to lead the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), ushering in what are likely to be dramatic changes to the agency.

    The 52-46 vote was almost along party lines. All Republicans except Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) voted for Pruitt, while all Democrats except Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.) voted against him.

    Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) did not vote due to a military conference he is attending in Germany. Sen. Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.) also did not vote.

    Pruitt’s confirmation came despite repeated pleas from Democrats to delay the vote due to ongoing litigation regarding emails that a liberal group had requested from the office of Pruitt, who is Oklahoma’s attorney general — a position he will leave when he is sworn in as EPA administrator.

    Republicans said Pruitt will bring much-needed change to an agency that exemplifies eight years of executive overreach by the administration of former President Obama.

    “The nominee before us … thinks it’s time for the EPA to get back to the clean air and clean water business instead, and to do so with an appreciation for the complexity of our modern world,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said on the Senate floor.

  7. Sissyfuss on Fri, 17th Feb 2017 1:36 pm 

    Everyday there is less for more. Do the math.

  8. Midnight Oil on Fri, 17th Feb 2017 1:55 pm 

    Come on now…well just build a bunch of nuclear power plants to run the bunch of desalination plants to make potable water.
    What’s the crisis?

  9. Davy on Fri, 17th Feb 2017 2:29 pm 

    I like that Sis, “less for more”, yea, you nailed it!

  10. peakyeast on Fri, 17th Feb 2017 3:03 pm 

    The crisis is that an enormeous amount of natural resources that civilisation has used and is based on – no longer will be “free”. We will have to use energy and technology to get the previously “free stuff”.

    And the timing for this to happen is just perfect. One could almost think that this is THE plan.

  11. Go Speed Racer on Fri, 17th Feb 2017 3:16 pm 

    Yeeee Hawww. Finally it is OK again,
    to dump my old motor oil into the river,
    after I changed the oil on Saturday.

    I like all those rainbow oil effects,
    making America Great Again!

  12. James boags on Fri, 17th Feb 2017 3:49 pm 

    Yeah speed and you can burn those old mattresses and tyres as well

  13. onlooker on Fri, 17th Feb 2017 4:21 pm 

    We will have to use energy and technology to get the previously “free stuff”.–And exactly what will that accomplish? It would just allow us to come up against other limitations and continuing depleting other resources and continuing to overpopulate the planet. People do not seem to totally wrap their brains around the fact that now our “successes” are working against us, in so much as we have overshot diverse natural limits or overshot our carrying capacity. And are confronting an inevitable correction by Nature. Look again at the seminal study Limits to Growth done in the 70’s. It demonstrated that overcoming or overshooting certain limits would then lead even more profoundly overshooting carrying capacity in other ways. So energy in fact is now a problem because it is what most allows us to overshoot carrying capacity.

  14. makati1 on Fri, 17th Feb 2017 4:33 pm 

    onlooker, few think beyond their genitals, what to watch on TV tonight, or their next meal. To actually look at the total picture is either beyond their abilities (some here) or they don’t want to because they suspect that what they would find would be dream shattering (others here). Not one well thought out path leads to a better future for humans anywhere on the planet. All we can do is prepare to ease the pain.

  15. makati1 on Fri, 17th Feb 2017 4:41 pm 

    Not all water problems are the lack there of…

    “Water pipes, sewer systems and water treatment facilities all over the nation (U$) are aging and are in desperate need of repair. Of course the exact same thing could be said about our power grid. It was never intended to handle so many people, and on the hottest days of the summer the strain on the grid is very evident.”

    “Meanwhile, President Trump is completely correct when he says that our airports look like something that you would see in a third world country. Most of our airports are at least several decades old, and they are definitely showing their age.” (I can verify that declaration as I have seen many of them in the last 10 years.)

    “Once upon a time, America was the wealthiest nation on the entire planet and we could afford to construct bold, new infrastructure projects from sea to shining sea. But today we have the biggest mountain of debt in the history of the world and we can’t even afford to repair what we already have”

    And the slide continues…

  16. onlooker on Fri, 17th Feb 2017 4:52 pm 

    Well said Mak. Have a nice day over there in PHIl.

  17. makati1 on Fri, 17th Feb 2017 5:11 pm 

    Onlooker, it is Saturday morning and the sun is shining. Currently 76F and going up to 88F later. Normal day here. Most always in the low 70s to the upper 80s with sunshine and maybe a shower later. My sister in PA keeps asking me to send her some of my nice weather. I hope it is nice where you are.

  18. Davy on Fri, 17th Feb 2017 5:20 pm 

    It wonderful here Makati. Thanks

  19. Hubert on Fri, 17th Feb 2017 5:56 pm 

    What happens when China runs out of water?

  20. makati1 on Fri, 17th Feb 2017 5:57 pm 

    Davy, wonderful? Sub-freezing is deadly. Those hot 100+ days are killers. WE do not have such problems here. LMAO

  21. Davy on Fri, 17th Feb 2017 6:48 pm 

    Makati, we are talking about today and today my weather pissed on your weather it was so nice. In regard to our extremes I am not a pussy. I appreciate a range of weather. It builds character. Yet, I realize you being an old man you can’t take extremes. This is probably why you are never at the fantasy farm.

  22. Go Speed Racer on Fri, 17th Feb 2017 8:00 pm 

    The democrats want a rainbow coalition.

    The republicans prefer a rainbow coagulation.
    It’s when the oil spill makes rainbows on
    the fresh water lake.

  23. Go Speed Racer on Fri, 17th Feb 2017 8:02 pm 

    Definitely can have mattress and
    tire fires now, to make America great again.

    Could just dump the used motor oil
    into the mattress fire, but it’s more fun to
    throw old motor oil into the river.

  24. DerHundistlos on Sat, 18th Feb 2017 2:48 pm 

    @ Racer X

    But some would have us believe there’s no difference between the Dems and the Repubs. I assume this statement applies to environmental issues as well since I do not recall qualifications.

    Meanwhile, Monarch butterfly numbers continue to nose dive according to an analysis by my beloved alma mater, the University of Missouri- Columbia. The analysis concludes that the iconic Monarch has reached or is close to reaching functional extinction due to a perfect storm of large habitat loss in the US, deforestation in Mexico, and pollution.

    Thankfully, Trump and the Republican congress are responding to the mass extinction emergency. The Trump White House and congress are proposing legislation that will repeal the highly successful Endangered Species Act (don’t let success get in the way). For now, Trump refuses to grant endangered status to any newly proposed species. Most recently, the critically endangered Rusty Patched bumblebee was told to go extinct by Trump/

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