Figure 1: The precious resource of water. On the left, the total volume of water on our planet,
on the right, the total volume of our gaseous atmosphere
Water is the source of life. Without it, all life would cease to exist. Our freshwater supply, vital to human beings, is just a fraction of our total volume of water. The Earth Policy Institute has identified 18 countries, including the world’s two most populous countries, China and India that are overpumping their aquifers. They have created a water-based food bubble. They have artificially over-inflated food production with overpumping. When the aquifer is depleted, the rate of pumping will be constrained to the rate of recharge.
After the oil embargo, Saudia Arabia wanted to eliminate their vulnerability and dependency on foreign imported water. To do this, they used their oil drilling technology for exploration and discovered a fossil aquifer (one which is not recharged) a half mile deep. The water from this aquifer gave the Saudis wheat independence. However, the Saudis have been pumping from that aquifer for twenty years to irrigate their wheat fields and in 2008 announced that this aquifer has almost reached the end of its supply. In 2011, they have lost 70% of their water and in a few years, they will be importing all their wheat. Syria and Iraq
Yemen will soon experience a dramatic drop in its grain production.
The big bubbles are in India and China. 175 million Indians are being fed by grain by overpumping aquifers while 135 million Chinese are being fed by wheat from overpumped aquifers. Most economist who perform supply and demand analysis do not have any water table variables.
Figure 2: Groundwater Resources – Depiction of global ground-water fluctuations on a monthly basis from 2002 to present. Navigate months and years by mousing along bottom-aligned timeline. Requires a webGL capable browser such as Chrome, Safari, or Firefox. Click on the play button on the far left for interactivity.
Figure 3: Worldwide potable water quality 2011. Click on the play button on the far left for interactivity.