China's water crisis

scholar

Ad Honorem
Apr 2010
3,553
In the Western Hemisphere
#1
No this isn't a speculation piece, though you could call an aspect of it one. So... in a way people may want to move the topic if it becomes focused on either sides of the world war, or the super power. But my main focus here is to focus on the water crisis.

Water is the most abundant resource on our planet that we have access to, it is also the most taken for granted. The Earth is covered 2/3's by water. Now let's think about this for a moment. Now I'm going to show you an image which may shock you, or at least get you thinking.



Of all the water in the world we only have 3% that is fresh water, of that fresh water only about 30% is readily available. But of that 30% of 3% there's an even smaller percentage ready to drink. Ground water requires pumping, and in our early years this was the best water available to us for farming. Since then almost all use of that water has become for agricultural use. There is still a large number used for drinking, but it was small then, and it's smaller now. Rivers and Lakes are king so far for our drinking supply. But add in decades or centuries of pollution it's no longer safe to drink the water without sterilization or chemicals for the general public in most of the world.

Swamps and wetlands are grouped together in the chart. And most wetlands have become "Nature reserves" along with forests. One of the most famous of these is probably many areas in the Rain Forest and the Everglades. And it should be known right off the bat you don't drink water from a swamp without a lot of treatment.

So... if we condense this we have less than a fraction of a percent of fresh water available to replenish 7 billion people. (Yes it's seven now, or at least close enough to be called that). As you can guess, we're running out of it.

Let's look at China, just for a moment here.

I give you a river which overflowed and flooded areas in China just several decades ago



It's now green land. But in a few more decades it will most likely be barren land all too ready for desertification. And this isn't the only one, China has used up at least half of it's water reserves in the past century. To feed it's population it's using up way too much water in rather wasteful farming methods. Also it's animal harvest industry stripped away massive grasslands and replaced them with deserts.

Over 6 thousand rivers, lakes, and swamps no longer exist as anything but either nice farmland (it's actually quite fertile there) or barren wasteland (After the few decades of nice farmland go away). This is a major crisis as China will loose the ability to feed it's people within the next century if things do not improve. I would also like to note that a very large percentage of it's ground water is also gone.

This has nothing to do with Global Warming people, this has to do with massive over use and pressure on less than a fraction of a percent of the water on our planet. We look at our water and we think "Hey it's everywhere!", that's true, but we can't use almost all of it. We need to desalinate water from the Oceans, and we're trying that as we speak. But it's not cheap and it's a very slow growing industry. It won't be able to sustain the public or even a single country with a big population (and I'm not talking China big, I'm talking regular normal sized nations in excess of 30 million) for at least a few more decades, and we're running out of time.

China, despite many fears propagated by the conservatives and alarmists, will never become a superpower. It's size and strength will most likely be the very reason why it will devolve into a desert and essentially starve itself into an area like Egypt where the only good place to live is along the Yangze and the few other rivers large enough to last. The one child policy hasn't helped the matter, it's actually made it worse.

It's feared that India striving towards industrialization will make the same mistakes China has and will put even further strain. India while it looks more likely now, simply cannot sustain it's population indefinitely. They may replace China for a few decades, but they'll follow suit. It's almost guaranteed from my point of view but many economists are more optimistic, but there are also a large mount of them that aren't.

It's estimated that when the water goes, government control will as well. These countries will collapse into civil strife and to ease their people, desperate government decisions will be made. Most likely they'll jump for war and it will probably be with each other. Russia, the US, Japan, and The Euro-squad will probably try to mediate this and try to get water from the Ice caps and increase desalination production very rapidly. But odds are a great war is all but inevitable.

This may lead to nuclear Armageddon or a cold war standoff, not on Government, Ideologies, Oil, or Timber such as the reasons for many of them in the past, but just the most precious resource of all, water. You may think this is the end, but it isn't.

When farmland can no longer sustain a country, they'll look to the oceans. Many species of fish are only a fraction of their former populations before man set themselves to the seas, and thus there's simply not enough of them to sustain a country either. Many, many, many species will become endangered and possibly extinct. Marine Biology and the Ecology of the oceans is simply not worth entertaining when people are dying of starvation.

The US will be stretched exceedingly thin with calls to increase production of food, even though we are the bread basket of the world anyways. This is dangerous to keep up for many decades as will most likely be required, but the influence of the US will extend to almost every country in the world. Canada will also get some extra influence as well, and other nations, especially European ones that have the ability to sustain and export food will become vital.

The new world in the next century will be run on water, liquid gold and the long forgotten wooden gold will still be important, but not as important as it is today and in the past. These are just my views, which have been built up on by many tens of thousands of individuals and scientific papers. I'm not going to say go green and recycle because to be honest I don't trust half of those institutions with a penny and nearly all of them are highly political and not worth entertaining. But the idea is going to become important in the future.

And keep in mind I'm talking about 2050-2150, time frame. For all I know technological advances can make the Artic ice very easy to harvest, and the oceans can be easily and efficiently desalinated. So this could just be wrong. I don't know what the future holds, I can just estimate based on our current way of life continued to the upcoming decades.

Thoughts?
Opinions?
Criticisms?

Don't worry I won't hold it against me if you call me an idiot, or if you just quote my bottom paragraph. I'm not here trying to be the messenger of death, doom, and the apocalypse. I'm just trying to bring up a very real possibility, and one that's very likely to happen if the world goes unchanged.

Also here's some predictions from the world bank, and some estimations.
 

scholar

Ad Honorem
Apr 2010
3,553
In the Western Hemisphere
#5
No, it was meant to provide power. It's a hydroelectric dam. China is a developing nation with rapidly increasing needs for power, the Yangze is the most powerful river in China, damming it allows for power to be produced in such tremendous quantities that it could power entire countries.

[ame=http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Three_Gorges_Dam]Three Gorges Dam - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia[/ame]
 

davu

Ad Honorem
Jun 2010
4,078
Retired - This Mountain isn't on a Map
#7
most interesting editorial -- i should be following these instead of the threads running all over the place -- whether earth warning is the cause or not -- the american "conservative" thought police should be very aware of their surroundings -- we have our own continental history to prove all of this -- the southwest -- its there - its happened -- and there really were no survivors --- just hodge podge tribes -- then the spanish showed up -- the rest is "history" --

we are left with digging up the tree rings, pond sediments, etc etc -- the picture they paint is not very pretty -- does not matter one iota what Al Gore has to say -- all he is doing is saying the train wreck is coming -- do something --
 
#8
Hi, Interesting points, and in case anyone likes to get more information on this, perhaps have a look at the site of Circle of Blue, who pitches energy needs vs water resources.

" The one child policy hasn't helped the matter, it's actually made it worse. "
I am not sure how the one child policy would have made things worse, so if you can elaborate on that it would be great.

"...a desert and essentially starve itself into an area like Egypt where the only good place to live is along the Yangze and the few other rivers large enough to last. "
Also the Yellow river (one of the major rivers of China), has in fact for many years now never actually reached the ocean - yes, it runs out of water before it reaches the coast. Hence it may not prove so attractive for people to move to its shores, at least not on its lower reaches.

In 2008 I started a picture story on the topic of water scarcity in Northern China. Feel free to look
at my work here:
Thirsty Beijing: Olli Geibel (Chinadialogue) and here:
Beijing Water Crisis
 

scholar

Ad Honorem
Apr 2010
3,553
In the Western Hemisphere
#9
timesnaps;bt458 said:
Hi, Interesting points, and in case anyone likes to get more information on this, perhaps have a look at the site of Circle of Blue, who pitches energy needs vs water resources.

Also the Yellow river (one of the major rivers of China), has in fact for many years now never actually reached the ocean - yes, it runs out of water before it reaches the coast. Hence it may not prove so attractive for people to move to its shores, at least not on its lower reaches.

In 2008 I started a picture story on the topic of water scarcity in Northern China. Feel free to look
at my work here:
Thirsty Beijing: Olli Geibel (Chinadialogue) and here:
Beijing Water Crisis
I apologize for not getting to you sooner, I hadn't actually been aware that the Yellow River no longer reached the Ocean.

I'll be sure to take a look at your work.
 

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