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Author Topic: How can there be water shortages on a planet 2/3 covered in sea?  (Read 9245 times)

Herman Melville

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Many water shortages are going to occur in regions that are relatively accessible, for example here in Germany. It's really a question of what is meant by "water shortage". It is forecast that there is likely to be a water deficit in summer more frequently with the onset of climate change. The result of this is a reduction to many ecosystems, such as the forests. If these forests don't get enough water, there are many results borne from the die-back of trees and ecosystem dysfunction. Simply irrigating is not going to be a solution to the problem - there is FAR more water required than we could ever put back into the system. Adaption is a much better course - introducing species/provenances that can cope with reductions in water supply, and still maintain ecosystem function. Ultimately, drinking water is extracted from the the ground under these forests, and so it is in our best interests to ensure that the system works.

So if we radically increased the Earth's forestry, would there be more or less water to go round?
 

lyner

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People confuse the overall economics of food production on a global scale and the need for fresh water, locally, where the food is produced with the availability of water, locally, in our factories, gardens, kitchens and bathrooms.
Transporting water over vast distances has got to be the solution to the problem. It will be done when there is enough economic pressure. Desalination seems to me to be a very unsatisfactory process for most applications - the natural Water Cycle does it all the time for free.

I agree with BC, though. Let's get rid of half he World's population and the water problem, along with most of the others, will disappear.
Now, who can we choose to delete? TNS members will be needed in the future, so they should be allowed to survive.
 

Offline dentstudent

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For the purpose of this discussion, the amount of water there is doesn't change - it's more a question of where it is and in what state. However, in an attempt to answer your question, I'm afraid that the answer is both. It is such a complex issue that quantities and qualities of the water that would result are unknown, especially at local levels. There are so many parameters to consider that there cannot be a single answer for all situations. However, in general, the amount of water released as run-off or that becomes included into ground-water increases with the removal of forests. This is because the water is used as part of the growth process and released as transpiration back into the atmosphere. However, the quality of that increased water flow through removal of the forest is likely to be severely reduced, as it would cause increased soil erosion etc which increases its particulate matter loading for example.
 

Herman Melville

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I agree with BC, though. Let's get rid of half he World's population and the water problem, along with most of the others, will disappear.
Now, who can we choose to delete? TNS members will be needed in the future, so they should be allowed to survive.
I agree. As a thicko, however, I will have to be one of the ones you get rid of.
 

Offline Don_1

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....TNS members will be needed in the future......

That's debatable!
 

Offline dentstudent

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I agree with BC, though. Let's get rid of half he World's population and the water problem, along with most of the others, will disappear.

But this will only be a short term solution. Do you think that if half the world's population disappeared overnight, that the remaining half would take it upon themselves to retain this new lower population? I very much doubt it. In fact, studies into animal eradication (grey squirrel for example) show that after a large population decline, an even larger population growth results, with a larger end population than prior to the "cull". And who is to say that the remaining half will not have a sudden desire to use energy in even greater amounts?
I really don't think that we actually have a population problem at all. It is more a question of where this population is in relation to resources.
« Last Edit: 04/06/2009 11:52:12 by dentstudent »
 

Online Bored chemist

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It's a bit of a moot point but if humanity changed its nature such that they were prepared to, for example draw lots so that half of them died, then yes it's quite possible that they would be enlightened enough to keep the numbers down.
Since it's almost certainly not going to happen...
 

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