Planet Dustbowl

Here are a couple of articles which, individually, are quite disturbing, but when considered as part of a greater trend, are downright alarming. Will the next generation of wars be fought over water instead of oil? I’m apprehensive about the future for our peaceful nation Canada, a country blessed with 1/3 of the planet’s freshwater — a country also known for one of the highest individual water consumption rates in the world, I might add, as well as an unseemly fondness for four-wheel drive vehicles.

Dust from Four-Wheel Drive Vehicles ‘Choking the Earth’

Dust produced by four-wheel drive vehicles in the past 50 years is threatening to choke the globe, according to research published today.
The process of what experts have dubbed “Toyotarisation” – the growing number of off-road vehicles disturbing the earth’s surface – could have severe consequences for human health, coral reefs and climate change, according to a leading desert expert.

“They destabilise the desert surface… the increase in annual dust production – with parts of North Africa seeing a 10-fold rise in the past 50 years – and the growing frequency of dust storms gave rise to a “magnitude” of environmental consequences.

Asia Faces Water Catastrophe

FARMERS are driving Asian countries towards an environmental catastrophe, using tube wells that are sucking groundwater reserves dry, it was reported today.

…water tables are falling so dramatically that within a short time, some landscapes could become arid or even be transformed into desert, it said, quoting scientists at a worldwide water conference.

In the case of India, smallholder farmers have driven 21 million tube wells into their fields and the number is increasing by a million wells per year.

“Nobody knows where the tube wells are or who owns them. There is no way anyone can control what happens to them,” Tushaar Shah, head of the International Water Management Institute’s groundwater station, based in Gujarat, said.

In China’s north plain, that country’s breadbasket, 30 cubic kilometres more water are being extracted each year by farmers than are being replaced by the rain, New Scientist said.

Groundwater is used to produce 40 per cent of the country’s grain.

The tube-well revolution, whose technology is adapted from the oil industry, has also swept water-stressed countries like Pakistan and Vietnam, where precious underground reserves are likewise being depleted, New Scientist said.

“Vietnam has quadrupled its number of tube wells in the past decade to one million, and water tables are plunging in the Pakistani state of Punjab, which produces 90 per cent of the country’s food.”