A drier Middle East means future water wars
Last week, I highlighted a new study that found evidence that water shortages helped fuel tensions that led to the ongoing Syrian revolution.
Last month, a report from The American Geophysical Union found supporting evidence that water will be the source of more conflict in the coming years.
The AGU study, published in its journal Water Resources Research Feb. 15, showed that freshwater reserves in Turkey, Syria, Iraq and Iran along the Euphrates and Tigris rivers that rise in Turkey and flow southward into the Persian Gulf have lost 144 cubic kilometers of the total stored fresh water in 2003-09.
That, the study says, constitutes the second fastest loss of groundwater storage after India.
That volume of water, according to UPI, is equivalent to the water needs of 100 million people and "fresh water is almost the size of the Dead Sea shared by Israel and Jordan."
Because of the climate change-fueled droughts plaguing the region, rain, which is already rare in the Middle East, is coming less frequently, which means more and more fresh water is being pumped from underground aquifers.
The Nubian Sandstone Aquifer System, which is shared by Libya, Egypt, Chad and Sudan, for example, contains water left from the last ice age, but scientists estimate it could be depleted in as soon as fifty years.
Something to think about as we continue debating water-intensive extraction methods for natural gas and tar sands oil.
via Juan Cole
Image: Smoke billows as an Egyptian farmer burns hay stubbles in Qaliubia, some 40 kms north of Cairo, on October 23, 2006. The post-harvest burning suffocates Cairo, one of the most polluted cities in the world.