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Asian farmers are sucking the continent dry, says report
Reuters ^ | Thursday, August 26, 2004 | Andrew Cawthorne

Posted on 08/30/2004 7:04:51 AM PDT by Einigkeit_Recht_Freiheit

LONDON — Asian farmers drilling millions of pump-operated wells in an ever-deeper search for water are threatening to suck the continent's underground reserves dry, a science magazine warned Wednesday.

"This little-heralded crisis is repeating itself across Asia and could cause widespread famine in the decades to come," London-based New Scientist said in a report on scientists' findings at a recent water conference in Sweden.

The worst affected country is India. There, small farmers have abandoned traditional shallow wells where bullocks draw water in leather buckets to drill 21 million tube wells hundreds of yards below the surface using technology adapted from the oil industry, the magazine said.

Another million wells a year are coming into operation in India to irrigate rice, sugar cane, and alfalfa round-the-clock.

While the $600 pumps have brought short-term prosperity to many and helped make India a major rice exporter in less than a generation, future implications are dire, New Scientist said.

"So much water is being drawn from underground reserves that they, and the pumps they feed, are running dry, turning fields that have been fecund for generations into desert," it said.

Tushaar Shah, head of the International Water Management Institute's groundwater station in Gujarat, said there was no control over the expansion of pumps and wells.

"When the balloon bursts, untold anarchy will be the lot of rural India," he said at the annual Stockholm Water Symposium. Shah said Indian farmers were taking 200 cubic kilometres of water out of the earth per year, with only a fraction of that replaced by the monsoon rains.

Suicides and Power-Cuts

"The same revolution is being replicated across Asia, with millions of tube wells pumping up precious underground water reserves in water-stressed countries like Pakistan, Vietnam, and in northern China," the New Scientist report said.

In China's breadbasket, the northern plain, 30 cubic kilometres more water is pumped to the surface each year than is replaced by rain, it said. Officials have said water shortages will soon make China dependent on grain imports.

Vietnam has quadrupled its number of tube wells in the past decade to 1 million, while water tables are plunging in the Pakistani state of Punjab, which produces 90 percent of the country's food, New Scientist added.

In India, "farmers have invested some $12 billion in the new pumps, but they constantly have to drill deeper to keep pace with falling water tables," it said.

Meanwhile, half of India's traditional hand-dug wells and millions of shallower tube wells have already dried up, "bringing a spate of suicides among those who rely on them."

Another consequence is electricity blackouts, reaching "epidemic proportions" in some Indian states, where half of the power is used to pump water from up to a kilometer down.

To counter the water crisis, some states are placing small dams across river beds in a bid to replenish groundwater by infiltration, and Hindu priests are organizing farmers to capture monsoon rains in ponds, the report said.

But the Indian government has gone cool on a proposed $200 billion River Interlinking Project to redistribute water round the country.

"In any case, the water supplied would probably come too late," New Scientist said.


TOPICS: Extended News; Foreign Affairs; Miscellaneous; News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: agriculture; asia; environment; food; water
Yet another tragedy of the commons.

It is a good thing the planet is warming because then we will have longer growing seasons and more arable land so that food in Canada, Russia and the United States can supply the rest of the world.

Access to oil and other energy reserves is going to seem like a tremendous luxury in comparison to water and food.

1 posted on 08/30/2004 7:04:51 AM PDT by Einigkeit_Recht_Freiheit
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To: Einigkeit_Recht_Freiheit

I believe there is even worse... In Bangladesh there is widespread arsenic poisoning, from natural arsenic which leached in these wells...


2 posted on 08/30/2004 7:11:58 AM PDT by Pitiricus
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To: Einigkeit_Recht_Freiheit

A lesson for those in the U.S. who think there's no crisis over depleting the Ogalla aquifer and others.


3 posted on 08/30/2004 7:16:48 AM PDT by RonF
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To: Einigkeit_Recht_Freiheit
Don't worry, after they screw up their country, they will emigrate to the USA...
4 posted on 08/30/2004 7:16:55 AM PDT by 2banana (They want to die for Islam and we want to kill them)
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To: Einigkeit_Recht_Freiheit

The sky is falling. A piece of it hit me on the head this morning on my way to work. I'm sure it's GWB's fault. He should do more to stop it.


5 posted on 08/30/2004 7:18:16 AM PDT by aardvark1 (Something was seared in my memory but I forgot what it was.)
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To: Einigkeit_Recht_Freiheit

The world of junk science just keeps getting funnier.


6 posted on 08/30/2004 7:20:35 AM PDT by hushpad
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To: Einigkeit_Recht_Freiheit

Where's the "Blame Bush," tag to this Reuters story.


7 posted on 08/30/2004 7:20:37 AM PDT by onedoug
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To: Einigkeit_Recht_Freiheit
Water is more valuable than oil and people will pay dearly for it.

Buy the top desalinization company now.....ION.

8 posted on 08/30/2004 7:20:41 AM PDT by CROSSHIGHWAYMAN (3 Purple Hearts? No blood? No Way!!)
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To: onedoug
Where's the "Blame Bush," tag to this Reuters story.

Sorry:

IT'S BUSH'S FAULT!!!

9 posted on 08/30/2004 7:27:16 AM PDT by Einigkeit_Recht_Freiheit (Tax Energy not Labour.)
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To: Einigkeit_Recht_Freiheit

Good. Our crops will be expensive. We will trade them for plastic things made in China at a favorable trade balance.


10 posted on 08/30/2004 7:29:03 AM PDT by MeanWestTexan
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To: hushpad
The world of junk science just keeps getting funnier.

Not so sure what you mean by this. Are you saying that calculating that more water is being taken out of the ground than returned is junk science?

If so, I don't quite comprehend how it fulfills the criteria. Obviously if you take more out than is being put back eventually there will be none left. If people rely on the water to grow food and there is suddenly no water left, they wont be able to grow enough food. The exact amounts and timing may be open to debate but the logic is flawless. Or, do you actually believe that Rambo can keep shooting without reloading?

11 posted on 08/30/2004 7:31:27 AM PDT by Einigkeit_Recht_Freiheit (Tax Energy not Labour.)
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To: Einigkeit_Recht_Freiheit

The Chinese gov. will administer lead doses to control any Earth First type eco-terrorism that crops up.


12 posted on 08/30/2004 7:31:30 AM PDT by Rebelbase (John Kerry, sign form 180 .)
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To: Rebelbase

What? As true as it might be what does that have to do with the story?

I wanted to ask what it had to do with the price of tea in China, but in fact, it has a lot to do with the price of tea in China. However I still can't figure out what it has to do with the story.


13 posted on 08/30/2004 7:33:31 AM PDT by Einigkeit_Recht_Freiheit (Tax Energy not Labour.)
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To: 2banana

Too late, we are already here.


14 posted on 08/30/2004 7:34:22 AM PDT by razoroccam (Then in the name of Allah, they will let loose the germs of war (http://www.booksurge.com))
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To: Einigkeit_Recht_Freiheit

Water Crisis = Cause for evironmental activists of unsavory means.


15 posted on 08/30/2004 7:39:37 AM PDT by Rebelbase (John Kerry, sign form 180 .)
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To: Rebelbase

I may be a bit dense here, but you are going to have to ellaborate a bit more on your thinking.

A real water crisis means that there is not enough water to go around. As opposed to a potential or fabricated water crisis.

If people aren't getting enough to eat or drink, then eveyone becomes an activist.

I just don't see how this has anything to do with radical environmental activists. It seems to me that these are reasonable scientists saying that if you empty the glass faster than it is refilled, eventually there won't be enough to drink.


16 posted on 08/30/2004 7:47:20 AM PDT by Einigkeit_Recht_Freiheit (Tax Energy not Labour.)
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To: Einigkeit_Recht_Freiheit

The interesting spot to watch is China moving into the Russian held Mongolia and Siberia eventually as their water supply dwindles. It appears they are attempting to co-opt that territory by attrition since Chinese are moving into it.

I think that could be a major flashpoint in this century.


17 posted on 08/30/2004 8:04:27 AM PDT by OpusatFR (President Bush will win 2004.)
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To: Einigkeit_Recht_Freiheit

When the water supply gets to a crisis point, it'll all be America's fault, of course... especially if a Republican is in office.


18 posted on 08/30/2004 8:08:25 AM PDT by Teacher317
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To: hushpad

Quote:The world of junk science just keeps getting funnier.


That's BS in this case. We have to use a well because no county water is available in the rural area where I live. The well has never gone dry on us except the year we landscaped the house with new shrubbery and had the water the new plants on a regular basis and bingo it went dry that year due to overuse.


19 posted on 08/30/2004 8:15:10 AM PDT by superiorslots
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To: OpusatFR

Excellent point.


20 posted on 08/30/2004 8:22:26 AM PDT by Einigkeit_Recht_Freiheit (Tax Energy not Labour.)
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To: Einigkeit_Recht_Freiheit

Are you saying that calculating that more water is being taken out of the ground than returned is junk science?<<<<

Yes, I am. KEY WORD: CALCULATING!

Mere man can run all the calculations he wants to, but the truth is, the earth will take care of itself. It's been turning for billions of years, through billions of changes.

Usually, I can see the politics behind these scare tactics, they are very transparent. We will always have a water source, even if we are reduced to catching rain in barrells (like that will happen - LOL!)

Oil for instance, COMES FROM THE GROUND! It is a natural (if smelly) product that man has found a use for, but that other countries and enviros with their own agenda are demonizing. Yeah, birds and other widdle helpless animals get covered in oil spills, but nature is a hard mistress, and animals do get hurt on occassion, in more natural ways like starvation and getting hunted down.


21 posted on 08/30/2004 8:27:23 AM PDT by hushpad
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To: superiorslots

That's BS in this case. We have to use a well because no county water is available in the rural area where I live. The well has never gone dry on us except the year we landscaped the house with new shrubbery and had the water the new plants on a regular basis and bingo it went dry that year due to overuse.<<<<<<<<<

You are right for the rural area where you live. I guess city water is not available? I guess the WHOLE COUNTRY must be in crisis whenever a well goes dry. . .



22 posted on 08/30/2004 8:30:02 AM PDT by hushpad
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To: Einigkeit_Recht_Freiheit

This will be headed towards resolution when China brings their vastly expanded atomic energy capacity online over the next several years, along with Three Gorges, providing power for desalination.


23 posted on 08/30/2004 8:32:13 AM PDT by mvpel (Michael Pelletier)
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To: farmfriend

ping


24 posted on 08/30/2004 8:56:51 AM PDT by Libertarianize the GOP (Make all taxes truly voluntary)
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To: hushpad; Einigkeit_Recht_Freiheit
FYI, unlike global warming as a junk science, studies of the worldwide potable water supply and its impacts on economic health (and political stability) have been ongoing by respectable institutions for many years.

I can tell you that there is considerable concern over the growing demand for fresh water verses its supply in just about every corner of the globe, including here in the US, over the next 20 years. Of course here at home we are used to solving such problems through technology.

In Asia however, the predictions are far worse, with two nuclear capable nations with populations each exceeding 1 billion (China, India) looking at contention over fresh water resources that will likely not meet either ones demand, much less both. That bodes for a very unstable situation, and one that we should all be concerned about.
25 posted on 08/30/2004 8:59:50 AM PDT by Magnum44 (Terrorism is a disease, precise application of superior force is the ONLY cure)
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To: Einigkeit_Recht_Freiheit
"Obviously if you take more out than is being put back eventually there will be none left. If people rely on the water to grow food and there is suddenly no water left, they wont be able to grow enough food."

And so everyone will die, and the WORLD WILL COME TO AN END huh? It is so fashionable to scare people into a panic over every problem.

You should know that people have overcome worse problems than this and they will overcome this one too. Farmers will learn how to grow crops using less water. Hydroponics, reverse osmosis, water recycling, these are not new technologies. The third world will have to learn them, and you better believe that they will if it means their survival.

People are pretty smart when it comes to figuring out a way to survive. The only problems will come if the governments get involved. Government waste, bungling, and in some cases, cruelty, could cause this to become a serious problem. Bureaucrats and politicians have caused close to 100% of all famines since 1900.
26 posted on 08/30/2004 9:19:27 AM PDT by monday
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To: CROSSHIGHWAYMAN
Water is more valuable than oil and people will pay dearly for it.

They already do here in the US. Bought any bottled water at the supermarket recently? -- it's, what, about 3 times the cost of gasoline, never mind crude oil.

27 posted on 08/30/2004 9:29:27 AM PDT by expatpat
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To: monday
And so everyone will die, and the WORLD WILL COME TO AN END huh? It is so fashionable to scare people into a panic over every problem.

No, but wars are fought over things like this, and we should be concerned over the possibility of an exchange between two nuclear nations (India,China) when both believe their survival depends on control over this scarce resource.

28 posted on 08/30/2004 10:19:08 AM PDT by Magnum44 (Terrorism is a disease, precise application of superior force is the ONLY cure)
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To: Magnum44
"No, but wars are fought over things like this, "

You need to look at a map. India and China are separated by the Himalaya Mountain range, not a river. The water which flows to China would be too expensive to transport to India to make it commercially feasible, and vice versa.

If you are talking about ground water, forget it. There is no way the Indian or Chinese government could control their own citizens wells let alone each others, and they don't share a common aquifer anyway. India is a subcontinent. The Himalayas are evidence of the Indian and Asian continents collision. There is no interaction between their respective aquifers.
29 posted on 08/30/2004 11:18:48 AM PDT by monday
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To: expatpat

" Bought any bottled water at the supermarket recently? -- it's, what, about 3 times the cost of gasoline, never mind crude oil."

I can get distilled water for 49 cents a gallon in plastic containers where I live. Reverse osmosis water is only 15 cents a gallon, if you have your own container. Gasoline costs $1.75 a gallon here. Of course gasoline would be closer to 40 cents a gallon if taxes were subtracted from the cost.


30 posted on 08/30/2004 11:32:03 AM PDT by monday
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To: hushpad

You should also add that every species that has ever existed on the planet (with the obvious exception of those currently here) has gone extinct. I guess life in general is better at adapting than specific species.

But, it should be kept in mind that adopting and prospering don't necessarily go hand in hand.


31 posted on 08/30/2004 12:49:28 PM PDT by Einigkeit_Recht_Freiheit (Tax Energy not Labour.)
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To: hushpad

You should also add that every species that has ever existed on the planet (with the obvious exception of those currently here) has gone extinct. I guess life in general is better at adapting than specific species.

But, it should be kept in mind that adapting and prospering don't necessarily go hand in hand.


32 posted on 08/30/2004 12:49:35 PM PDT by Einigkeit_Recht_Freiheit (Tax Energy not Labour.)
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To: RonF

In NM we had a very far-seeing water policy in place-I think even before we became a state. In our area so many farmers have gone broke that about 50% of the farmland is lying fallow while our city buys up every available water right they don't NEED it now but they are looking to the future.


33 posted on 08/30/2004 12:54:19 PM PDT by tiki
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To: Einigkeit_Recht_Freiheit

You should also add that every species that has ever existed on the planet (with the obvious exception of those currently here) has gone extinct<<<<

So what? WHO is to say what species is supposed to survive for how long and for what purpose? What if we still had dinosaurs? It just would not work, you know?

I bet the Dinosaur would drink one heck of a lot of water - what an OUTRAGE! Outrage I say! SUre glad they are gone, we'd all get really thirsty.

I mean, What if it stopped RAINING? then what? Guess we'd all die, and guess it would just be TIME for our extinction.


34 posted on 08/30/2004 1:04:36 PM PDT by hushpad
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To: Einigkeit_Recht_Freiheit; abbi_normal_2; Ace2U; adam_az; Alamo-Girl; Alas; alfons; alphadog; ...
Rights, farms, environment ping.
Let me know if you wish to be added or removed from this list.
I don't get offended if you want to be removed.
35 posted on 08/30/2004 2:38:09 PM PDT by farmfriend ( In Essentials, Unity...In Non-Essentials, Liberty...In All Things, Charity.)
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To: farmfriend

BTTT!!!!!!


36 posted on 08/30/2004 2:40:27 PM PDT by E.G.C.
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To: monday
India and China are separated by the Himalaya Mountain range, not a river.

...which like our own Sierra's and Rocky Mtns, is a valuable fresh water resource from melt-off. BTW, I never said I knew what single source of water they would fight over, just that they have burgeoning populations that their current supply won't satisfy.

I won't try to be the earth science expert on this. That is who strategy and policy experts rely upon to distill the science into trends. They then look at what the impact of those trends could be. Its only prediction, but its what we all do to avoid being caught off gaurd in a crisis.

These fresh water availability analysis and trends are publicly available, and much of the analysis on the political, economic, and military implications of the trends in water usage vs availability are also in open literature.

I'll simply report again that among many, many other things, military and political strategists are concerned about a crisis in the 10-25 years out period over fresh water shortages in Asia.

Regards,

37 posted on 08/30/2004 2:48:12 PM PDT by Magnum44 (Terrorism is a disease, precise application of superior force is the ONLY cure)
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To: superiorslots

Rural water has created a dependency on water for rural people and in many cases, the water costs considerably more that comparable urban water rates. What happens when urban areas start reducing water access to rural residents to satisfy the urban need? The water crisis is very real in America as well and I predict water needs will outstrip the demand for oil and gas.

As for wells, I heard there will be a new government regulation next year on new deep wells FORCING a well owner to provide water to neighbors as well as other intrusions into the property rights of the well owner.
Be advised that the government deems underground water as government property and not your property, even though you have assumed the expense of drilling and maintaining the well.

And if with many other wells drilled in your area, the year you ran out of water tells you that there is very little left to share in your water table.


38 posted on 08/30/2004 5:16:25 PM PDT by o_zarkman44
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To: o_zarkman44

I can tap into the county water main but it is 3.8 miles from my house and I would have to pay the installation cost. Big bucks!!!There are several neighbors in between but they don't want to do it or do not have the money.

If I pay the whole cost, the neighbors could later tap into it with only tap fee after I've paid all the money. My dad did not raise me to be a sucker.
The year the well went dry was a dry year and I did use it alot but I'm still concerned.


39 posted on 08/30/2004 6:12:10 PM PDT by superiorslots
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