The Forest Fire of Material Life
BY: SUN STAFF
Oct 5, CANADA (SUN) Disturbances are always found on the Earth planet in Kali Yuga, and the living entities are constantly disturbed by adhi-atmic, adhi-bhautic, and adhi-devic influences. Such disturbances have appeared to be accelerating in recent years, and particularly the adhi-devic, in the form of natural disasters associated with disruptions of the weather.
Devotees are instructed to not become fearful of such temporary calamities, but to simply take shelter of the Holy Name, continuing on with their preaching activities and regular duties while keeping a peaceful mind. At the same time, keeping apprised of environmental influences and taking responsible precautions is obviously sensible, and even necessary in order to maintain one's preaching activities without great disruption.
As the following compendium of news articles indicates, we have recently seen a profusion of reports indicating serious problems around the world with scarcity of water, storm damage, and consequent shortage of foodstuffs. Food costs have risen substantially worldwide in the last few months, and may continue to rise significantly in the months ahead. Sastra teaches us that the proper response to such disruptions is to become self-sufficient: simple living, high thinking.
In Srimad-Bhagavatam 5.13.6 we read:
kvacid vitoyah sarito 'bhiyati
parasparam calasate nirandhah
asadya davam kvacid agni-tapto
nirvidyate kva ca yaksair hrtasuh
"Sometimes the conditioned soul jumps into a shallow river, or being short of food grains, he goes to beg food from people who are not at all charitable. Sometimes he suffers from the burning heat of household life, which is like a forest fire, and sometimes he becomes sad to have his wealth, which is as dear as life, plundered by kings in the name of heavy income taxes.
When one is hot due to the scorching sun, one sometimes jumps into a river to gain relief. However, if the river is almost dried up and the water is too shallow, one may break his bones by jumping in. The conditioned soul is always experiencing miserable conditions. Sometimes his efforts to get help from friends are exactly like jumping into a dry river. By such actions, he does not derive any benefit. He only breaks his bones. Sometimes, suffering from a shortage of food, one may go to a person who is neither able to give charity nor willing to do so. Sometimes one is stationed in household life, which is compared to a forest fire (samsara-davanala-lidha-loka). When a man is heavily taxed by the government, he becomes very sad. Heavy taxation obliges one to hide his income, but despite this endeavor the government agents are often so vigilant and strong that they take all the money anyway, and the conditioned soul becomes very aggrieved.
Thus people are trying to become happy within the material world, but this is like trying to be happy in a forest fire. No one need go to a forest to set it ablaze: fire takes place automatically. Similarly, no one wants to be unhappy in family life or worldly life, but by the laws of nature unhappiness and distress are forced upon everyone. To become dependent on another's maintenance is very degrading; therefore, according to the Vedic system, everyone should live independently. Only the sudras are unable to live independently. They are obliged to serve someone for maintenance. It is said in the sastras: kalau sudra-sambhavah. In this age of Kali, everyone is dependent on another's mercy for the maintenance of the body; therefore everyone is classified as a sudra. In the Twelfth Canto of Srimad-Bhagavatam it is said that in Kali-yuga the government will levy taxes without reciprocally benefiting the citizens. Anavrstya vinanksyanti durbhiksa-kara-piditah. In this age there will also be a shortage of rain; therefore a scarcity of food will arise, and the citizens will be very much harassed by government taxation. In this way the citizens will abandon their attempts to lead a peaceful life and will leave their homes and hearths and go to the forest in sheer disappointment."
The following news reports are likely to generate anxiety for many readers, as well they should. A typical response to 'bad news' of this sort is over-preparedness. But as Srila Prabhupada states, self-sufficiency does not equate with hoarding out of fear that there is an inadequate supply of food or water. In his July 28, 1973 Letter to Sir Alistair Hardy, Srila Prabhupada wrote:
"If we actually understand that we are born of the same father and everything that is there on the surface of the globe, in the sky in the water everything is the property of the supreme Father, then we must understand that everyone has got the right to use the property of the supreme father. Just like in a big family the father is there, the mother is there and the sons are there. The father gives food to the sons as much as they require. One son may be a very voracious eater so he may eat more than the other son, but the father supplies him, he does not stop him, the father is competent to supply all the sons as much as they require. But if one son is hoarding food stuffs, that is sinful. You cannot take more than what you need. We see practically if we throw one bag of grain in the street many birds will come, they may eat two three four or ten grains, but they do not stock away for the future. But if we put a bag of rice into the street and allow people to take there will be regular fight, because every human being will want to take more than his immediate need. So this is also due to lack of God consciousness. If one can understand that the father is there, and he is supplying daily bread then why shall I stock more than I need. the present scarcity of food stuffs is due to hoarding by the capitalist. There is enough food stuff in the world, but at the same time there is a scarcity. If you pay more money on the black market then you will get enough. So from God's side there is enough food, but from our side we are mismanaging everything simply to make more money. Unless there is God Consciousness, understanding that everything is the property of the supreme father, there are so many children so he will supply, why should I hoard food, the problems will not be solved."
Precautionary measures against the sorts of adhi-devic disturbances indicated below should be intelligent, measured, and anchored by a philosophical understanding that it is the Supreme Lord who provides everything needed by the living entities. At the same time, common sense dictates that we be aware of the patterns emerging in the world today, and in a mood of sensible preparedness governed by principles of 'simple living, high thinking', we take necessary steps in order to ensure our Krsna conscious programs move forward unencumbered by obstacles such as those described in the above purport.
Global Food and Water Shortages
The following news summary is in roughly chronological order from the most current - August 2007 -- dating back five months. Most items include a source link, although some links may have expired. Information on livestock is included to illustrate the connection between shortages of grains used to feed animals for slaughter as opposed to grains intended for human consumption. With the increased reliance on corn for ethanol, meat-eaters will cause an even greater impact on the food chain by their demands on corn stock consumed for cattle raising.
CROP FAILURE / FOOD SHORTAGES
LOOMING FOOD CRISIS - the surge in demand for agrofuels such as ethanol is hitting the poor
and the environment. A "perfect storm" of ecological and social factors appears to be gathering
force, threatening vast numbers of people with food shortages and price rises. The era of cheap
food is over. World commodity prices of sugar, milk and cocoa have all surged, prompting the
BIGGEST INCREASE IN RETAIL FOOD PRICES IN THREE DECADES in some countries. "Meat, too, will cost
more because chicken and pigs are fed largely on grain." The world price [of maize] has doubled.
850m people around the world are already undernourished. There will soon be more because the
price of food aid has increased 20% in just a year. In the US, where nearly 40 million people are
below the official poverty line, the Department of Agriculture recently predicted a 10% rise in
the price of chicken. The prices of bread, beef, eggs and milk rose 7.5 % in July, the HIGHEST
MONTHLY RISE IN 25 YEARS. Reports suggest that one-third of ocean fisheries are in collapse,
two-thirds will be in collapse by 2025, and all major ocean fisheries may be virtually gone by
2048. 15% of the world's present food supplies, on which 160 million people depend, are being
grown with water drawn from rapidly depleting underground sources or from rivers that are drying
up. In large areas of China and India, the water table has fallen catastrophically.
In Britain, the recent floods will result in a shortage of vegetables such as potatoes and peas,
and cereals such as wheat. This comes on top of a 4.9% rise in food prices in the year to May and
a 9.6% hike in vegetable prices. Rain-dependent agriculture could be cut in half by 2020 as a
result of climate change. "Anything even close to a 50% reduction in yields would obviously pose
"The competition for grain between the world's 800 million motorists, who want to maintain their
mobility, and its two billion poorest people, who are simply trying to survive, is emerging as an
epic issue." It is not going to get any better. The UN's World Food Organisation predicts that
demand for biofuels will grow by 170% in the next three years. A separate report from the OECD,
the club of the world's 30 richest countries, suggested food-price rises of between 20% and 50%
over the next decade. This time last year, there were fewer than 100 ethanol plants in the whole
United States, with a combined production capacity of 5bn gallons. There are now at least 50 more
new plants being built and over 300 more are planned. If even half of them are finished, they
will help to rewrite the politics of global food.
MALTHUSIAN MISERY - With the world population growth outpacing food supply, say goodbye to the era of unlimited improvement.
The last time a British summer was this rain-soaked was in 1789. The consequences of excessive
rainfall in the late 18th century were predictable. Crops would fail, the harvest would be
dismal, food prices would rise and some people would starve. It was no coincidence that the
French Revolution broke out the same year. The question is whether we could now be approaching a
new era of misery. The United Nations expects the world's population to pass the 9 billion mark
by 2050. But can world food production keep pace? Plant physiologists have estimated that "we
must reach an average yield of 4 tons per hectare to support a population of 8 billion." Yields
now are just 3 tons per hectare, and a world of 8 billion people may be less than 20 years away.
Meanwhile, forces are conspiring to put a ceiling on food production. Global warming and the
resulting climate change may well be increasing the incidence of extreme weather events, as well
as inflicting permanent damage on some farming regions. At the same time, our effort to slow
global warming by switching from fossil fuels to biofuels is taking large tracts of land out of
food production. World per capita cereal production has already passed its peak - in the
mid-1980s - not least because of collapsing production in the former Soviet Union and sub-Saharan
Africa. Meanwhile, rising incomes in Asia are causing a worldwide surge in food demand.
The International Monetary Fund recorded a 23% rise in world food prices during the last 18
months. Of course, we're not supposed to notice that prices are going up. In the U.S., the
monetary authorities insist that we should focus on the "core" consumer price index, which
excludes the cost of food and fuel, and has the annual U.S. inflation rate at just 2.2%. But food
inflation is roughly double that.
WHEAT - Traders are paying RECORD PRICES for wheat on world markets, thanks in part to
shortages caused by a mix of drought and flooding. Canada, the second-biggest wheat producer
after the U.S., looks set to harvest its SMALLEST CROP IN FIVE YEARS, due to an unusually dry
July, while production in the European Union may be down nearly 40% from last year after flooding
rains followed long droughts. Growing global demand for biofuels is also eating up grain
production, and boosting prices. Global inventories of wheat — which makes up one-fifth of the
world's food intake — are expected to fall to THEIR LOWEST LEVEL IN 26 YEARS. And, if the world
warms as expected over the coming decades, the terrible farming year of 2007 may be just the
beginning. As temperatures rise, many studies predict that crop yields will decline, as the
extreme droughts and floods that damaged this year's wheat crops become more common. The
temperature increase that occurred between 1981 and 2002 reduced major cereal crop yields by an
annual average of 40 million metric tons — losses worth $5 billion a year. Those losses are
sobering, but nothing compared to what might be in store: A recent study forecast a 51% decline
in India's wheat-growing land, potentially leaving hundreds of millions hungry. And, last week,
China's top meteorological official warned that global warming could cut the nation's grain
harvest by 5 to 10% by 2030. The effects of prolonged drought can already be seen in Australia,
where consistently dry weather ravaged last year's wheat crop, and threatens to do the same this
year. Flooding can destroy entire fields in a single day, and over time can lead to soil erosion
and loss, permanently crippling once fertile land.
MEAT & WHEAT - Meat prices are set to increase as farmers pass on the burden of surging
With wheat prices rising, animal feed costs have almost doubled for farmers.
Price rises are vital for an industry at "breaking point" after the recent foot-and-mouth scare
and floods had taken their toll.
The warning comes days after consumers were told to prepare for rising BREAD prices as WHEAT
COSTS HIT RECORDS.
Bad weather in key grain growing areas such as Canada and parts of Europe has limited supplies as
demand has risen, sparking fears of a grain shortfall.
LIVESTOCK - Increased levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere are changing the
pastoral landscape around the world, turning grasslands into shrublands
unsuitable as grazing grounds for domestic livestock.
CORN - NORTH CAROLINA - drought has reduced the 2007 crop in North Carolina to a third fewer
bushels an acre than in the 2006 harvest.
CORN- MICHIGAN - drought is hurting corn farmers as ground conditions range from abnormally
dry to extreme drought, with virtually no region unaffected.
OLIVES - GREECE - Wildfires have devastated Greek olive groves.
GRAPES - ITALY - growers are rushing to harvest the grapes which have ripened a month
WINE - EUROPE - the unusual position of the jet stream, which caused last month's freak
weather, has devastated some of Europe's best-known wine regions.
GRAPES - INDIA - Grape cultivation dwindles in Coimbatore.
Unexpected drought and unseasonal rains hit the area damaging this expensive cultivation and
entrapping farmers in debt.
ONIONS - INDIA - standing crops on 3,000 acres were reported damaged due to the rain that
lashed Kurnool city and surrounding areas on Wednesday night. Onion farmers in Orvakal suffered
huge losses as the crop was about to be harvested in a few days.
PALM OIL - MALAYSIA - the world's top producer of palm oil, said that heavy flooding will
cause 2007 output to fall.
STRAWBERRIES - AUSTRALIA - Heavy rain has severely damaged some fields.
SUGAR CANE - AUSTRALIA -
Extreme weather conditions on the New South Wales north coast during the past six weeks have made
it one of the worst crushing seasons for local cane.
COTTON - TURKEY - Severe drought has hit Turkey and water shortage has hit cotton
PEANUTS - SOUTH GEORGIA - the peanut crop is threatened by record heat
wwhich could be baking the crop in the ground.
PEACHES are in rare supply in the southern U.S. as the budding fruits became vulnerable to
cold weather when they bloomed too early during an unusually warm March.
COAL is at record price as supply dips, rain hinders output in Indonesia, Chinese exports
drop and Japan's demand increases.
CANADA - BERRY shortage in Northern Ontario sends bear encounters soaring
as bears come looking for food.
Reports of nuisance bears normally drop off in June when natural food sources flourish.
WASHINGTON - HUCKLEBERRY shortage may force bears into campgrounds -
A shortage of berries forces bears to look for new berry patches or other food sources.
UTAH - 24 counties have been designated as primary natural disaster areas. To receive a
primary disaster declaration, a county must have incurred a production loss of at least 30
percent. The state's remaining five counties have been declared contiguous disaster areas.
Contiguous areas must be surrounded by impacted counties.
In addition to record wildfires and severe drought, the 24 counties have suffered from
insect infestations, killing frosts, hot dry winds and flash flooding.
Most ranchers said in a recent survey that they expected little help after record wildfires
that have blackened more than 700,000 acres. They reported destroyed water systems, fences and
outbuildings, and problems with finding money to buy hay for thousands of displaced cattle.
UTAH - a mercurial weather pattern has wreaked havoc on the state's crops this season. It has
been a topsy-turvy season for the berry crop in Utah.
MINNESOTA - The effects of flooding in southeastern Minnesota are reaching far beyond the
flooded area into urban areas where people contract with farmers for their supply of vegetables
through community-supported agriculture programs.
The programs have been billed as a way to save the family farm by linking farmers and customers
who pay in advance in the spring to get vegetables each week during the growing season.
The flooding provides a stark reminder that the customers share the risks of farming. Their
weekly boxes of produce swell with the farm's fortunes or can get washed away.
More than 1,200 U.S. farms participate in the programs, including many farms in Minnesota and
Wisconsin where recent flooding has hurt crops.
Several recent thunderstorms have eased the drought conditions being faced by area farmers,
but they have caused another problem - knocked-down corn.
WISCONSIN - Flooding has devastated organic farms.
TENNESSEE - While most of the South is in a period of prolonged drought, that drought has hit
"extreme" levels in middle and western Tennessee, destroying crops and closing farmer's
KENTUCKY - The current drought has taken a toll on Kentucky's projected crop yields.
"This is absolutely the worst drought I've ever seen." All kinds of crops,including corn and
beans, are suffering.
INDIANA - The Indiana State Beekeepers Association is alerting residents to the possibility
of a honey shortage because of the nationwide bee die-off. The honeybee shorage is impacting the
TEXAS - Too much rain is hurting Texas crops, slowing harvests.
Drought has caused $100 million in crop damage and economic losses to Florida and the figure
could rise tenfold.
SOUTHEAST ASIA has been hit by floods and landslides affecting more than 28 million people,
who face "serious" threats of food shortage.
INDONESIA - Elephant rage claims dozens of lives in Indonesian villages -
"The deforestation has reduced their habitat and, as a result, they've suffered a food shortage."
They have come hunting for food in the villages.
VIETNAM - About one million people face food shortages in central Vietnam until the rice
harvest early next year after the worst floods in decades.
CAMBODIA - More than 19000 hectares of rice paddies in the north-east of Cambodia have been
submerged under flood waters for over a week.
BANGLADESH - Rice crops and vegetables on an area of about 100,000 hectares have been totally
damaged by the onrushing flood waters.
CHINA - drought has hit about 11 million hectares of arable land and crops in China so far
this year, 1.7 million hectares more than last year. Floods have damaged or destroyed more
CHINA - Typhoon Sepat inundated 5920 hectares of crops.
Chinese farming experts are considering planting potatoes instead of rice and wheat as a way
to beat crippling drought each year.
TAIWAN - High vegetable and fruit prices in Taipei City caused by Typhoon Sepat's heavy rain
are expected to continue for three weeks.
PHILIPPINES - Drought causes heavy crop loss -
Two municipalities suffered damage to corn crops estimated at P67 million as a result of the
NEPAL - Food shortage has affected the remote VDCs of Baglung district including Rajkut,
Devisthan, Darling and Nisi for the past two months due to recent flash floods and landslides. 42
of the country's 75 districts are threatened by food deficits.
PAKISTAN - an unexpected heavy spell of rain resulted in an acute shortage of vegetables,
propelling its prices to increase.
TURKEY - In western Turkey, where the lakes are drying up and the blazing sun burns the
crops, a 10-month-long drought has ravaged farming.
BULGARIA is seeking to import up to 1 million tons of corn after heat waves and floods
sharply cut the country's annual grain crop.
EGYPT - Now that the country is facing a wheat shortage, parliamentarians are worried that
cheap bread for the poor may become even more scarce.
FREAK WEATHER across Europe has already pushed up the cost of wheat and hence staples like
bread and pasta. Cheese and milk prices also soared last month.
Indeed, there has been talk of milk riots on the Continent, particularly in Germany, where the
price is to rise by 50 per cent because of a global shortage.
BRITAIN - Heavy rain has helped sclerotinia to germinate two weeks earlier. Overall the risk
to main crop carrots from this disease is high this year.
BRITAIN - Experts believe the unpredictable weather may lead to the shortest summer on record
for fruit growers - 'confused' fruit thinks it's already autumn.
BRITAIN - Farmers' livelihoods have been devastated across the UK by the June and July
deluges. The effect on flooded farms was "phenomenal in terms of productivity".
The public will feel the pinch and see gaps on their supermarket shelves until at least next
"I don't want to exaggerate the problem we've got, but if I say it's a crisis, I'll be telling it
exactly like it is. We're only cropping 15 to 20% of what we should be."
Among the crops worst hit are potatoes, broccoli, cauliflower and peas.
RUSSIA - A state of emergency was introduced in the Rostov region due to crop failure
resulting from drought.
PERU - The Peru Earthquake will cut agricultural & textile exports in August.
SOUTHERN AFRICA - severe natural disasters in Swaziland, Lesotho and Mozambique have worsened
the food shortage crises in Southern Africa.
LESOTHO - drought will further worsen the already precarious situation of acute poverty and
food security in Lesotho.
ZIMBABWE is suffering nationwide food shortages because of drought and what critics say are
years of misguided government policies.
ZIMBABWE - was warning of a bad wheat crop. An electricity shortage prevented farmers from
irrigating the crop.
UGANDA - Food shortage is fueling prostitution in IDP camps - Lack of food has exposed
internally displaced people and refugees in camps, especially women and children, to high risk of
GAMBIA - Kuntaur, in the Central River Region, which is one of the villages known for its
rice production, has been hit by a serious water shortage for two weeks.
NAMIBIA - Small stock farmers in southern Namibia fear losing their animals due to lack of
water as most earth dams have run dry.
NEW ZEALAND - Overall, food prices have risen 1.2% in over the month - a 3.4% increase on
last year. Driving the increase is a worldwide milk shortage.
AUSTRALIA - Drought catastrophe stalks Australia's food bowl - "It's on a knife edge and if
it doesn't rain in the next couple of weeks it's going to be very ugly. People will be walking
off the land, going broke."
Australia's Murray-Darling river basin is a vast plain bigger than France and Germany, home to 2
million people and in good times the source of almost half the nation's fruit and cereal crop.
But years of drought, which some blame on global warming, have savagely depleted the huge dams
built 60 years ago to hold the snow melt from the Australian alps and push it hundreds of
kilometres inland to the parched west for farm irrigation.
The Murray-Darling normally provides 90 percent of Australia's irrigated crops and $18.1 billion
worth of agricultural exports to Asia and the Middle East.
But with some crops now just 10 days from failure, farmers are to receive no water at all for
irrigation through the summer, while others will get a fraction of their regular entitlement to
keep alive vital plantings like citrus trees and grapevines. Thousands of oranges lie rotting
under rows of trees stretching to the horizon under relentless blue skies.
The drought and a new sense of the importance of water in the driest inhabited continent, with
prices having gone from A$30 a megalitre to hover near A$800, will change Australian farming
forever and make some irrigation unviable.
"It's going to be a massive change...I spent the first half of my life developing irrigation and
I'll spend the second half pulling it down...We are now in something that is beyond
AUSTRALIA - Fish catches are down due to a lack of river run off during the drought leading
to a sense of hopelessness and depression, alcoholism and family breakdown among some fishermen.
AUSTRALIA - Geelong residents were facing a vegetable shortage not seen since World War II as
whacky weather across the nation destroyed crops in Australia's salad bowls.
AUSTRALIA - South Australian dairy farmers who rely on water from the River Murray are
deciding to sell off their entire herds, worried their stock will not survive.
AUSTRALIA - The water shortage means there is very little water for general irrigators in the
Murray or Murrumbidgee valleys and the rice industry is facing a challenge.
TURKEY - Ankara, Turkey's capital and home to more than 4.5 million people, has been in the grips of a serious water shortage for the last three weeks.
On August 1, the director general of the State Hydraulic Works announced that Ankara had enough
water for just 78 days and that the water level in the city’s reservoirs had fallen to 5.5
percent of capacity, down from last year’s 23 percent. At the time of writing, the level in the
reservoirs is a meagre 3.5 percent of capacity, which corresponds to a water supply of fewer than
two months. “Temperatures all across Turkey will be two to four degrees higher than average in
the period between August and October.” This means that evaporation of existing water stocks will
Although not as acute as Ankara's, Istanbul has also a water shortage problem. In general, Turkey
has been experiencing a dramatic decline in the level of its fresh-water supply. The newspapers
are full of pictures of arid, cracked soil, accompanied by gloomy reports of the drying up of a
river, lake or reservoir.
Water shortages have already taken their toll on agricultural production across the country. The
media is full of reports about water shortages adversely affecting the production of wheat,
olives and olive oil, figs, grapes, sunflowers and sunflower oil, and cotton.
As a result, food prices may increase substantially in the near future. The water shortages are
also affecting the generation of electricity in the country.
A massive water shortage is expected to hit Turkey after 2050.
EGYPT - Egyptians have begun mass demonstrations, demanding that the Cairo government
intervene to end their critical drinking water shortage.
In some areas in Cairo drinking water has been cut off for over a week and even over a month in
one particular vicinity. The shortage threatens to ruin over 404 hectares (1,000 acres) of
GREECE - Water shortages have hit much of Greece, particularly the Aegean islands, at the
height of the summer tourist season.
BULGARIA - There is a water shortage in about 600 small towns and villages in Bulgaria. If
the dry weather continues, incidents of water shortage may reach 800.
PHILIPPINES - Extracting water from the atmosphere won't produce substantial supply to
address the water shortage in Metro Cebu. Harvesting water from the atmosphere is already being
practiced by other tropical countries, but the technique has not produced enough water supply.
KENYA - An acute water shortage has hit Mombasa town and its environs in the past two weeks.
AUSTRALIA - Following 10 years of drought nearly every Australian city will be forced to find
new water supplies during the next decade.
WORLDWIDE -- Some of the world's most powerful nations are getting increasingly desperate for fresh water
and observers are concerned that a day will come when countries will fight for the dwindling
Countries in the Middle East and Africa have long dealt with water shortages but now the likes of
China, India and the United States are grappling with the problem.
And the United Nations says five billion people will be living in areas with limited water
availability by 2025, which will only exacerbate tensions and demand for the limited supply.
A member of the Council of Canadians said she doesn't doubt the Americans would try to pressure
Canada into sharing its water in a time of crisis.
"I am absolutely convinced that the United States has already targeted Canada's water, I'm
absolutely convinced there are high-level conversations going on between some people in
government and business in our country and the United States."
The Great Lakes probably wouldn't be targeted but she predicted interests could turn to the North
once demand for water gets serious.
"My thinking is (Americans are interested) in those mighty rivers in Canada's North and the
intention eventually is to build big pipelines to reverse the flow of that water (south)."
SOUTH AFRICA - the water reserves of Western Cape are precarious, with dire consequences
for fighting fires and addressing the "massive" water shortage.
ZIMBABWE - Zimbabwe's second largest city, Bulawayo, warned residents on the 18th to guard
against outbreaks of disease as it was forced to cut their water supply. Authorities said they
had decommissioned one of Bulawayo's three remaining dams because water levels were too low,
leaving in operation only two of the five dams that supply the southern city of about one million
Bulawayo has faced water problems before but this is the first time it has had to issue a health
warning and officials said the water shortage was likely to get worse.
SOUTH AMERICA - Global warming is drying up mountain lakes and wetlands in the Andes and
threatening water supplies to major South American cities such as La Paz, Bogota and Quito.
The risk is especially great to an Andean wetland habitat called the paramo, which supplies 80
percent of the water to Bogota's 7 million people.
Rising temperatures are causing clouds that blanket the Andes to condense at higher altitudes.
Eventually this so-called dew point will miss the mountains altogether.
"We're already seeing a drying up of these mountain lakes and wetlands. We're seeing that the dew
point is going up the mountain."
ISRAEL will likely not be able to meet its 2008 water demands if winter rainfall levels
continue to decrease, warned a leading water expert.
KYRGYZSTAN has warned its neighbours of a possible water shortage -
The monopoly power station company in Kyrgyzstan has warned that it might not be able to supply
all the water that neighbouring countries need next year.
JAPAN - By mid-June, certain regions of Japan had begun taking precautionary measures in
light of a growing water shortage across the Asian nation.
With Japan receiving a limited amount of rain during the first half of the year, authorities in
certain regions have begun implementing new policies to stretch the nation's dwindling water
supply. Officials in the Kagawa Prefecture have been forced to implement strict water
restrictions, including closing area swimming pools and substituting bread for rice at regional
MEXICO - In mid-June, more than 50% of Mexican cities were on alert due to water shortages.
IOWA - The mass quantity of water needed for Iowa's booming ethanol industry - billions of
gallons each year - has raised concerns among state officials who say laws may be needed to
prevent a water shortage in the state. Part of the issue is how most of Iowa's 27 ethanol plants
obtain their water: by pumping it out of deep underground supplies, often known as aquifers.
Aquifers often feed Iowa's drinking water supplies. Their gradual release of water prevents many
streams and rivers from drying up in the summer.
It's unknown how much groundwater exists.
The "Top 5 Actions" to take to save water.
Hundreds of millions of Africans and tens of millions of Latin Americans who now have water
will be short of it in less than 20 years.
65% of humans face water shortage by 2025.
Water shortages may be the next cause of world war.
INDIANA - Water outages possible in Indianapolis -
Demand reached a RECORD HIGH of 228 million gallons on June 13.
UN warns it cannot afford to feed the world
- Rising prices for food have led the United Nations programme fighting
famine in Africa and other regions to warn that it can no longer afford
to feed the 90m people it has helped for each of the past five years on
The World Food Programme feeds people in countries including Chad,
Uganda and Ethiopia, but reaches a fraction of the 850m people it
estimates suffers from hunger. It spent about $600m buying food in
2006. The WFP said its purchasing costs had risen "almost 50 per cent
in the last five years". The price it pays for maize has risen up to
120% in the past sixth months in some countries.
Biofuel demand is soaking up grain production as is rising consumption
in emerging countries for animal feed. Global wheat stocks have fallen
to the LOWEST LEVEL IN 25 YEARS.
"We face the TIGHTEST AGRICULTURE MARKETS IN DECADES AND IN SOME CASES,
THE TIGHTEST AGRICULTURE MARKETS ON RECORD. We are no longer in a
It’s a simple fact
that much of the developed world has lost touch with its food supply
and agriculture in general. Food is essential for life. But food has
become more than a component of survival. It has become a commodity,
and, in some cases, a luxury. The sad fact is few people know how food
is grown, harvested and processed. And with that lack of knowledge
people have literally lost control over the food they eat. And it’s a
situation that is not being addressed. Go to your cupboard and look at
the labels. How much of it contains ingredients derived from corn or
other grains that are now being used to produce biofuels? And you think
a T-bone steak is expensive now. How much will it cost when livestock
feed prices skyrocket? In the meantime, good agricultural land is being
swallowed up by development. Where’s the plan to guarantee food safety
and security? What’s the plan if there is a food shortage?
- In spite of the extreme drought in the state and farmers all over the
Midstate struggling, the Amish there have a bumper crop. A lot of their
crops looked beautiful despite all the dry weather that's plagued
Middle Tennessee. What’s their secret? One sure way to beat a drought
is to bring in some water of your own, with irrigation. The Amish do
that, but they also do things a little differently. It starts back in
the fall season with straw, a little manure, and also some wheat and
rye in the field - that helps the soil hold the moisture. Additionally,
instead of big combine tractors, the Amish are plowing the fields with
horses, so the soil is less compacted during the process, and that
means better crops when dry weather hits.
Investment in drought-resistant genetically modified (GM) crops has stalled, due to fears of consumer resistance.
Powdered milk prices are rising worldwide due to a shortage in raw milk supply and increasing demand.
- over the past year the price of wheat has risen by 35 per cent, for
dairy products by an average 50 per cent, and by 25 per cent for
sunflower oil in the EU. "Short term climate drought has pushed prices
above historical level, however long-term shifts, such as increasing
food demand in large Asian emerging markets, increased feedstock demand
for biofuel production and the reduction of support following
agricultural policy reforms, have increased price volatility and may
keep prices firm over time." This year, the initial results of the
barley and wheat harvests are moderate, except in Spain, and the wet
weather continues to disrupt or delay the harvests in western member
At the global level, worldwide stocks are forecast to fall to their
LOWEST LEVEL IN 28 YEARS.
WHEAT - pasta manufacturers have warned that the price of pasta, one of
Italy's staple foods, will go up by about 20% this autumn. Global
warming and the growing use of durum wheat as a bio-fuel are blamed.
Italian pasta tastes good because it is made from durum wheat, of which
Italy is one of the world's main producers. But with strong demand at
home and a growing export market, Italians are increasingly forced to
import high quality durum wheat from abroad.
GERMANY - FRUIT farmers complaining of mildew on grapes from unseasonal rains and of unduly hot spells robbing apples of moisture.
FRANCE - Deluge leaves French wine harvest at risk of ruin from mildew attack -
Sixty days and nights of almost incessant rain threaten to ruin large parts of the French wine harvest this year.
UKRAINE - More than 2.5 million acres of Ukrainian crops have been ruined by drought.
- VEGETABLES - growers are suffering the WORST SEASON THEY HAVE KNOWN
because of the recent rains, with major losses in some crops expected
to drive up prices. Vegetable growers in eastern Britain, from Norfolk
to Scotland have been hardest hit. Britain's harvest of PEAS, the
biggest in Europe, has been devastated by the weather, with as much as
50,000 tonnes of the annual crop of 150,000 tonnes expected to be lost.
Some individual farmers may lose 70 per cent of their harvest. "The
situation is absolutely diabolical. Some of the most productive areas
have been absolutely devastated by the rain. They look like a First
World War battlefield. WE HAVE NEVER SEEN A GROWING SEASON LIKE THIS."
The resultant losses have been UNPRECEDENTED. "I would say between a
quarter and a third of the national crop has been lost." The rain has
badly disrupted the planting regime for brassicas - cabbages,
cauliflowers and sprouts, for harvest in the early autumn. The soft
fruit crop, mainly of strawberries and raspberries, has been largely
protected from the damaging downpours by the extensive use of polythene
tunnels, an agricultural development that has upset many people as it
spread across the countryside in the past 15 years. "It's the worst
season we've ever seen but the polytunnels have saved the harvest."
Polytunnels, brought to Britain from Spain from 1993 onwards, have
extended the soft-fruit growing season from six-weeks to six months,
but some environmental campaigners consider them blots on the
Food stocks are suffering
with many farmers struggling to supply the shops with vegetables such
as broccoli and cauliflower.
"The English cherry season has been affected, both the availability and
the quality. Temperatures aren't allowing the strawberries to grow
quickly so it has affected the price.
Broccoli and cauliflower, runner beans, broad beans and peas have all
All the supplies are low but the demands are reasonably high so prices
are going up on English produce."
CANADA - WHEAT - The Canadian Wheat Board expects the price of wheat to rise by $18 a
tonne this month due to poor weather conditions in wheat-growing
countries: too much rain in the United States and Canada, and too
little of it in Russia and Ukraine.
- WHEAT prices surged to an 11-YEAR HIGH on the Kansas City Board of
Trade in the second week of June. That's largely due to last year's
drought in Kansas and this year's drought in Australia. With 2 of the
world's largest wheat countries wrecked by weather, limiting supply,
wheat prices have rallied. In Kiowa County, farmers are faced with the
WORST CROP IN MORE THAN A DECADE, one hit by just about everything from
drought to freeze, flooding and disease.
- The one-two punch delivered by cold and drought this year has wiped
out as much as 75 percent of the region's FRUIT crops in many areas.
- A record-breaking Easter freeze stunned the South, following the
driest winter in more than a century. With unseasonably dry conditions
since then, Tennessee and its $20-billion farming industry are heading
for ONE OF THE DRIEST YEARS IN STATE HISTORY. "You can see south moving
north. We're having Florida weather right now ...But they're geared for
it down there. We're not geared for it."
WYOMING - drought has forced farmers to cut back on the amount of planted SUGAR BEET acreage in north-central Wyoming.
- First food prices climb, now beer. Fields of hops and barley, the
spice and soul of beer, are getting replaced with rows and rows of corn
to be used in ethanol production.
"We have a shortage in terms of total acreage that is put in for barley
production." With more breweries and less barley, that can only mean
In just a couple of years, the price of hops jumped 40 percent, the
price of barley malt 30 percent and even the cost of the keg, made of
stainless steel, has gone up 40 percent. Even the steel hike has a lot
to due with ethanol since local steel manufacturers are getting
incredible demand for their product to build new ethanol plants.
RECORD-BREAKING cold snap destroys Queensland crops - Records have
been broken this week as the mercury hit sub zero temperatures across
parts of the Sunshine state.
are set to soar by up to 25 per cent after Australia’s biggest
processor warned it would be forced to pass on cost increases incurred
by dairy farmers as a result of the drought. The rise in raw milk
prices is UNPRECEDENTED, after the drought stripped more than one
billion litres from Australia’s annual milk supply. “This is having a
significant effect on milk available to support export demand.
Furthermore, the milk being produced is costing farmers more because
stockfeed prices have risen.” An increase in National Foods’ wholesale
prices for drinking milk, cheese and other dairy products is expected
next week. Milk price rises of 20 to 25 per cent are expected over the
next six months. The rise in milk prices is the latest in a list of
fresh produce prices affected by the drought, including beef and lamb
prices which are tipped to rise 10 per cent in coming weeks. The
Australian Food and Grocery Council yesterday warned consumers to brace
for price increases across a range of food and grocery items in
response to the drought and Eastern States floods.
The drought is taking its toll on WA's honeybee industry, with beekeepers planning to feed bees sugar syrup to keep them alive during the winter.
- Heavy flooding of the Mbalasuna River has affected communities within
the vicinity. Water from the floods has entered villages and it is
still at knee-length level after the initial flooding. This has caused
damage to food gardens and commercial crops causing panic of a possible
food shortage that may last for the next six months.
The river is also the main water source for the villages for drinking
and cooking but it is now unsafe for people to use and water shortage
is another issue they are dealing with.
IRAQ - "One cannot grow crops in Iraq anymore with this water shortage."
- Fresh agricultural produce is getting more expensive, in particular
fruits and vegetables. This trend has been steadily increasing since
April. The April increases were a result of that month's extreme
weather, which cut down on supplies.
The biggest increases were for a few vegetables such as red peppers,
whose price rose 70% compared to the same season last year. Another
extreme rise was for zucchini, which rose by 165%. The price for
strawberries also rose by 40%.
- For the FIRST TIME IN ITS MODERN HISTORY, Turkey has fallen short of
grain production due to drought caused by global warming.
EGGS, MEAT, MILK - In China the price of eggs and meat has quadrupled
in the middle of a sharp shortage. There is an acute shortage of milk
and drinking water in India.
The prices of GRAINS have doubled because a lot of it is used for
generating bio fuel in US.
- Waste water irrigation making vegetables toxic - Vegetables grown in
areas which use industrial waste water have high levels of heavy metals
such as lead, which is toxic to the brain, and cadmium which can cause
cancer. The two heavy metals were at “alarmingly high levels” in
vegetable samples tested. Scientists said that in a rapidly urbanising
world there is an increasing concern about fresh water shortage. “Waste
water, used for irrigation in India, has no standards for heavy metals,
though standards for bacterial content are there." Even if waste water
is treated before being used for irrigation, 40-60 per cent of heavy
metals remain in the treated water.
NEPAL - Monsoon is yet to set in, but the eastern region of Taplejung district is already facing an acute food shortage.
CHINA - Drought is affecting 26.7 million hectares of farmland and reducing China's grain output by around 30 million tons each year.
- RICE - Weather forecasters had predicted a blistering summer, but
it's shaping up to be so unseasonably cool there are fears the rice
crop may suffer. Along with lower-than-expected temperatures, many
regions have been getting less sunlight, which is bad news for rice
farmers. The lack of sunlight is APPROACHING RECORD LEVELS, reviving
memories of 1993 when the rice harvest was so bad Japanese consumers
were forced to turn to Thai imports to make up for the shortage. In
eastern Japan, covering the Kanto and Tokai regions, sunlight levels
have been only 41 percent of normal years.
The odd weather is due to the seasonal rain front stuck near the
Japanese archipelago along with the flow of cold air from the north.
Although the rainy season usually ends first in western Japan and then
in eastern and northern Japan, there are still no signs of this
happening in many parts of the nation, leading to concerns that the
UNUSUAL weather will continue, perhaps into August.
RICE - Expert says rising sea levels pose a threat to rice.
- Amid worries that the nation could soon face a shortage of FLOUR as
early as next month, authorities maintained their zero tolerance on the
presence of chemicals and almost 10 thousand tonnes of US wheat was
turned back at customs after tests revealed the presence of the
agrochemical malathion. "As early as the end of August, Taiwan could be
running short on flour, affecting the supply of bread, noodles, instant
ramen, steam buns and dumplings."
- The government of Mauritania is appealing to international donors to
help it reverse a food shortage affecting more than 1 million.
- most of the major supermarkets in Zimbabwe are empty, causing serious
food shortages. While long queues of people searching for food and fuel
have resurfaced, others prefer to cross the crocodile-infested Limpopo
River into South Africa in search of food - and hope. Experts say
between two and three thousand desperate people are crossing the border
every night, as a result of the price cuts crisis that began a couple
of weeks ago. "Whereas people used to cross just by the Beit Bridge
area, people are now going across the entire length of the South Africa
border with Zimbabwe - which is almost 200km - and they are using the
whole river to come into South Africa."
The flow of economic and political refugees crossing South Africa's
northern border has become "a tsunami."
Questions are now being raised as to whether or not South Africa has
the capacity to deal with the ever-increasing flood of refugees.
- Food shortage reported along Puntland coast. The towns of Eyl, Beyla,
Qandala and Hafun are reported to be undergoing A shortage of food and
are appealing to aid agencies for help.
One million Somalis need immediate food aid as supplies may run out by October.
KENYA - An
acute water shortage has hit Bura Division of Tana River District
following the drying up of the main irrigation canal at Bura farmland.
Food crisis in the wake of the MOST SEVERE DROUGHT IN 30 YEARS. Maize
production has collapsed by more than 40%. Up to a quarter of the
population faces starvation.
GHANA - Acute food shortage looms in three northern regions.
- Severe drought has affected crop production, with most communities
receiving low yields in maize, the country’s staple food. This
situation is further exacerbated by inadequate crop diversification in
most regions, which has worsened the food insecurity situation.
A severe drought has left four million people short of drinking water in southwest China, state media
reported June 5, as the vast country battles a crippling water shortage.
Some 4.46 million head of livestock were also affected by the drought in Sichuan, where parts of the
province have not seen any rain for up to 40 days. Around 110,000 people are depending on deliveries
of water by truck. The drought has also prevented large areas of farmland from being seeded because of
a lack of moisture and many of the crops that have been planted have shrivelled. Last month, more than
4.8 million people in northern Gansu province faced similar shortages following the worst drought
there since the 1940s.
Fast-spreading, foul-smelling blue-green algae smothered a lake in eastern China, contaminating
the drinking water for millions of people and sparking panic-buying of bottled water. Prices
skyrocketed from $1 to $6.50 for a two-gallon bottle.
The algae bloom in Lake Tai, a famous but long-polluted tourist attraction in Jiangsu province, formed
because WATER LEVELS ARE AT THEIR LOWEST IN 50 YEARS, leading to excess nutrients in the water.
Officials in Wuxi, a city along the banks of the lake, called an emergency meeting Wednesday to
discuss measures to deal with the situation and allay public fears. "The smell of our tap water is
just so awful. If you use the water to shower, the smell will stay on your body."
"People form long queues in the supermarkets for bottled water. Nobody expected something like this to
happen. We aren't prepared."
ASIA is heading for a fresh water crisis due to the melting of the glaciers in the Himalayas.
The Himalayas are sources of fresh water supplies to the major rivers of Asia.
A report submitted to Congress said that reduced fresh water availability in Asia could affect more
than one billion people by the mid-century.
Globally by 2020, between 75 and 250 million people are expected to be under "water stress" due to
long-term climate shifts and population growth.
Apart from the shrinking of yields in rain fed agriculture, climate shifts in the short term can also
impact the frequency and severity of droughts, floods and heat waves, the report has warned.
MIDDLE EAST -
Shortage of water is going to be the biggest economic, social and environmental challenge facing the
Arab nations as Arab states face a water deficit of 100 to 133 billion cubic meters per year by 2030.
Acute water shortage has hit most parts of Kano state in the last four days with youths and the aged
seen on the streets of Kano searching for water. Water vendors have raised the cost of a jerry can by
over 400% from N20 per can to about N80 in places where the water could be found.
The situation is coming at the worst time, when many wells have dried up due to the biting dry season.
The scarcity arose from burst pipes due to excessive pressure they experienced during pumping. New
pumping machines acquired and currently in use were too powerful for the pipes, thereby causing damage
to the two major pipelines used for water distribution.
ZIMBABWE - Water shortages are so serious in one Zimbabwean city that authorities are now
considering running a water train. The train would bring water from the Zambezi River in the north of
Zimbabwe, around 400 kilometres away.
Current supplies will be exhausted by October.
The water was to be purified in Bulawayo before it is distributed to the city's 1. 5 million
Like most of Zimbabwe's cities, Bulawayo is facing critical water shortages. The city is situated in
the arid Matabeleland region. Shortages are being blamed mainly on poor rainfall.
INDIA - Andaman and Nicobar Administration took everyone by surprise in late May when it announced
serious curtailment in the water supply in various parts of South Andaman.
According to the new curtailment schedule, water will be supplied once in every six days in South
Although Andaman and Nicobar Islands receive rainfall nearly eight months a year and the monsoon has
already set in before schedule, parts of the archipelago is still reeling under severe water scarcity.
"This means people in Andaman will be receiving water supply for just six days a month and that too
for a very limited time. This is height of mismanagement."
Earlier, there were rumours in the city that Dhanikhari Dam, the lone water reservoir of South
Andaman, has stored water which will last for only five days.
In spite of best efforts taken by the Administration to tide over the present water crisis, sufficient
storage has not been generated in the Dhanikhari Dam even after the setting in South West monsoon.
These lush green islands are facing acute water shortage, since over the last decade, nothing concrete
has been done to increase the water storage capacity in these islands while the population has
BARBADOS - Water shortage woes afflicting residents of St. Thomas are also tapping into businesses
in that parish and surrounding areas.
"The very dry spell and heavy demand have resulted in severe shortages being experienced at the three
sources which feed this reservoir – Warleigh, Lodge Hill and Applewaites. There is definitely evidence
of dropping water levels at some well sources."
It also listed water outages to Welches, Redman's Village, Bagatelle, Arthur Seat, Sharon, Cane
Garden, Melrose, Edgehill Heights and surrounding areas because of an empty Shop Hill Reservoir. Water
levels were also low at the Lodge Hill, Golden Ridge and Castle Grant reservoirs.
The affected reservoirs will require some time for water levels to rise and resume normal service to
the affected areas.
- CORN - Tens of thousands of cropland acres were forced under water by
recent flooding along the Missouri River and will need to be replanted.
- CORN - will be scarce in Guatemala in the coming months due to the
huge demand in the United States for ethanol production, which is
buying and hoarding massive amounts of the grain. In the last six
months, a bushel of corn (56 pounds), doubled its price on the US
market, from $4 to $8 US because ethanol producers consumed 86 million
metric tons, 5 million over the figure planned. Although to date there
is no biofuel production using grains in Guatemala, the prices have
also begun to increase, up as much as 73 percent.
As a result, many producers believing prices will go even higher are
making huge purchases of animal fodder, which will affect the
availability of corn for human consumption. High prices and shortages
will affect lower-income families from June to August, when the second
harvest of the year has not even begun. This is just the beginning of
the negative effects for the region due to the massive ethanol
production promoted by the United States.
33 nations require external food assistance
- Most of the countries — 25 to be precise - are from Africa (with
exceptional shortfall in aggregate food production and supplies, or
widespread lack of access, and severe localized food insecurity). 7
countries in Asia require external food assistance. Nepal is suffering
from widespread lack of access to food. Two additional countries with
widespread lack of food include Afghanistan (causes include Conflict,
Internally Displaced People and returnees, floods) and Dem. People's
Rep of Korea (causes include Economic constraints, floods). Iraq is
described as having “exceptional shortfall of food” (due mainly to
conflict and insecurity, IDPs). Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Timore-Leste
face “Severe localized food insecurity.”
The only country outside of Africa and Asia with food shortage is
Bolivia in Latin America. Adverse weather conditions (floods in
lowlands; drought, hail and frost in highlands) in Bolivia have led to
severe localized food insecurity. In Africa, millions of Zimbabweans
are expected to face food shortages as the country’s economic crisis
deepens and inflation continues to skyrocket, while the recent flare-up
of conflict in southern Somalia has led to so much displacement that
crop production is almost certain to drop sharply around the capital
Mogadishu. The “countries in crisis requiring external assistance” in
Africa are: Burundi, the Central African Republic (CAR), Chad, the
Republic of Congo, Côte d’Ivoire, the Democratic Republic of the Congo
(DRC), Eritrea, Ethiopia, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Kenya, Lesotho,
Liberia, Madagascar, Mauritania, Mozambique, Niger, Sierra Leone,
Somalia, Sudan, Swaziland, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, and Zimbabwe. But
it is not that food supply is limited. In fact food supply has
improved, with a record or bumper 2006 cereal crops. The FAO reports
says that cereal production is on track to reach 2,095 million tons, an
increase of 4.8 per cent on the figures from last year. The bulk of
that produce will be maize. The fast-growing biofuels industry is in
demand of more and more maize, and that has also contributed to an
increase in cereal prices.
- WHEAT & MAIZE - the country is facing shortages of bread and
flour, the government has warned. It says the planting of this year's
wheat crop is well behind target and the season ends in two weeks'
time. Farmers have only planted 10% of the expected winter wheat crop.
Zimbabwe faces a huge maize deficit this year, making it dependent upon
imported food. The government had already declared 2007 "a drought
year". Zimbabwe's sugar industry is also experiencing problems,
including industrial action by workers and officials are concerned
about a nationwide sugar shortage. Last week, households in Zimbabwe
were told they would be limited to four hours power supply a day in a
move designed to support the country's wheat farmers who need power to
irrigate their crops. The monthly rate of inflation rose to 2,200% in
March, the highest in the world. This has led to widespread shortages
of fuel and food.
AUSTRALIA - The water shortage in the Murray-Darling Basin is significantly worse than first
The amount of water flowing into the basin may have been overestimated by as much as 40 per cent, as
surface water and ground water have been regarded as separate systems until recently.
Southern Australia was particularly feeling the pressure as groundwater tables were depleted.
"You've seen quite good rainfalls in some areas but very small stream flows and that's because the
ground is very dry, groundwater tables have been depleted and the water is running into that dry
sponge which is the earth. "
The water shortage across eastern Australia is now so acute it has begun to affect power supplies,
and the country is at risk of electricity shortages next year.
"I think we are in denial, and are going to have brownouts in NSW if we don't get snow this winter."
Coal and hydro power generation require very large amounts of water, and the Snowy scheme depends on
it for 86 per cent of its generation capacity. "Last year we had the lowest snowfall ever recorded. If
this happens again we are in trouble." Power stations have a voracious appetite for water, and the
shortage is affecting production in NSW, Victoria and Queensland, despite an abundance of coal and gas
"Australia has never factored in the cost of water, which is why it has some of the cheapest power in
In January the price of a megawatt hour for delivery to NSW in 2008 was $38. This week the price rose
to just over $72, a 90 per cent rise in less than five months. The electricity price in Queensland has
more than doubled.
It ranks as ONE OF THE BIGGEST COMMODITY PRICE INCREASES EVER SEEN.
TURKEY - Alarm bells are ringing in the country's three-largest cities over water shortages.
Officials, startled by the low level of water resources, have been warning the public over the last
few days about a possible water shortage crisis. Water levels in dams serving Istanbul indicate
supply will last just six more months at current levels. Meteorology reports stating that the weather
this summer will be warmer than in former years increases the worries.
GEORGIA - crops are at risk because of a drought that has
reached extreme conditions in 33 out of 159 counties.
The dry weather is the WORST SEEN IN 38 YEARS by the agriculture
department director. There have been longer and harsher droughts in
the past, but he can't remember a year that was so dry this early.
Apples, peaches and other crops that help make agriculture a $50
billion industry in Georgia are suffering badly. Fruit trees were
already hard hit by an April freeze.
Unless the state sees a dramatic increase in rainfall in the next
few months, some farmers could lose their entire harvests. That
could cripple the economy in Georgia's farm communities and drive up
prices on peanut butter, fresh produce and the other crops that
The extreme drought conditions in 33 counties are expected by
weather experts only ONCE EVERY 50 YEARS. Another 46 counties are
rated as having severe drought, meaning the dry spell is as bad as
experts would expect ONCE IN 20 YEARS.
The rest of the state is under a moderate drought.
CALIFORNIA - CATTLE - San Luis Obispo County cattle ranchers are
selling cattle off in RECORD NUMBERS after this season’s meager
rainfall failed to produce enough grasses to sustain their herds.
Cows and their calves are being sold nearly two months earlier than
usual — and at lower weights — because ranchers say they’d rather
sell than pay for expensive feed. Cattle and calves are the second
most valuable agricultural product in the county, valued at more
than $59 million last year. They are second only to wine grapes,
which are valued at $151 million. The last dry season that pushed
them to sell early struck in the late 1980s or early 1990s.
“It’s been a long time since we’ve had a year like this, and I don’t
know if it was this bad." Calves are weighing in about 450 pounds,
when they often weigh as much as 650 pounds at the time of sale.
BULGARIA - The Association of Agricultural Leaseholders for the
districts of Pleven and Lovech has called for an emergency situation
over the drought crisis. According to forecasted poor rainfalls and
high temperatures crops may be seriously damaged. 85% of the WHEAT
crop and 75% of the BARLEY crop have withered.
- Despite damaging floods, Argentine farmers were expecting a RECORD
HARVEST in April. Farmers anticipated a record 45.5 million tons of
soybeans and a record 22 million tons of corn when the harvest began at
the beginning of the month. At the end of March, more than 500
millimeters of rain (about half the average annual rainfall) fell in
the period of a few days over parts of the Santa Fe and Entre Ríos
provinces. The rain fell on ground already soggy from excess rain,
triggering extensive flooding. The floods destroyed between 0.5 and 2
million tons of soy, but caused little damage to the already mature
ZIMBABWE - MAIZE - The cost of maize, a basic food staple, in Zimbabwe will rise seven-fold.
The price of a 10-kilogram bag of the grain will now cost more than 41,000 Zimbabwe dollars (16 cents), from just over 6,000.
The huge rise in the price of maize comes after inflation in Zimbabwe reached 2,200% in March.
Critics of President Robert Mugabe's regime accuse him of destroying a once-prosperous country.
in New York have surged about 28 percent in the past six months on
speculation that dry weather might impair cocoa production in the Ivory
Coast and Ghana, the world’s largest suppliers of beans to make
Now the Chocolate Manufacturers Association, whose members include
Hershey, Nestle SA and Archer Daniels Midland Co., has a petition
before the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to redefine what
constitutes chocolate. They want to make it without the required
ingredients of cocoa butter and cocoa solids, instead using artificial
sweeteners, milk substitutes and vegetable fats such as hydrogenated
and trans fats. A pound of chocolate currently contains roughly 25%
cocoa butter, at a cost of $2.30, while vegetable oils are as little as
70 cents a pound.
- RICE - the vital grain could be at risk from climate change.
Environmentalists and scientists say that as the world gets hotter,
floods, droughts and rising sea levels could push Thailand's rice
yields down significantly - with a huge impact on rural communities.
Extreme weather has already hit Thailand. Widespread floods last year
wiped out crops and killed about 200 people.
"The whole province was affected by the flood. It was the worst in my
life, I had never seen rice fields under the water like that before."
"The weather has become hotter and hotter every year, the floods are
getting worse. I'm afraid that it is going to get worse." While plants
themselves would be only be slightly affected by rising temperatures,
the animals and small microbes that give the soil its nutrients are
very sensitive to heat and humidity.
Floods and heavy rain would erode the soil and destroy the nutrients,
while droughts and longer hot days parch the soil.
- Unseasonal rain and hailstorms damaged PADDY CROP and MANGO orchards
in Karimnagar, Nalgonda and Medak districts. SUNFLOWER, SOYABEAN and
RED-GRAM crops were also damaged. In some places, mango trees were
blown down by the gale. A large quantity of paddy lying in the open at
the Agriculture Market Yard in Siddipet Mandal in Medak district was
soaked in the rain. The paddy, which was kept for purchase by the
Government agencies, could not be covered due to the non-availability
of gunnysacks. In Karimnagar too, the rains caused severe damages to
the paddy crop and mango groves. Heaps of paddy, which was bought to
the agricultural market yards was damaged, causing concern among the
farming community. In Karimnagar agricultural market yard, the farmers
were seen wailing after seeing their paddy being washed away in the
- FOOD PRICES - The full impact of the drought is sweeping through
Perth’s supermarket shelves, with new figures showing prices of
everyday foods have spiked 40 per cent over the past year.
The drought is biting disproportionately hard on those goods that rely
on the grains sector. The price of bread in Perth shot up 11.4 per cent
over the past 12 months, a dozen eggs almost 19 per cent, 2kg of
self-raising flour increased 9 per cent a kilo of rice went up by close
to 15 per cent. A 250g pack of bacon averaged $5.37 during the past
three months, an increase of 14.5 per cent, while a kilo of sausages is
about 22 per cent higher than a year ago. “We are still in this
100-year drought and it hasn’t broken. Nobody should think that the
drought has broken.”
- CROPS- A spring drought affecting parts of Europe north of the Alps
is worrying farmers, who say they need rain within the next couple of
weeks or crops will fail. Mechanical rakes raise clouds of dust when
they are drawn over many fields. The drought area stretches from
northern France through to Poland.
Affected farmers say the soil is as dry as it usually is in August.
"Even if it rains now, it can't be a top harvest. I'd guess it will be
about 80 per cent of potential. And if it doesn't rain in the next week
or two, it will be a lousy harvest."
After a rainy March, this April was among the hottest on record for
many places in Europe, and dry too. Reports are coming in from farm
advisers in much of Germany that the rural world is worried, "very
worried." Market gardeners, with higher-value crops, have been spraying
water in the Rhine valley, and say the warm weather is accelerating
cauliflower and cabbage growth.
GEORGIA - PLANTING - With
rainfall levels lower than half the normal amount in many areas, many
farmers have not been able to plant at all. After May 30, farmers say
it's really too late to plant COTTON, and by June 15, it's too late for
the PEANUTS. The PECAN trees are all right for now, but the crop may
suffer from lack of rain, causing the small pecans to fall off the
Will ethanol fuel a food shortage?
- American farmers are expected to plant 90 million acres of CORN this
year. That's 15 percent more than last year because they're trying to
meet the demand for ethanol.
The price of corn has surged with the demand. Some researchers say
using all that corn for fuel may cause starvation.
Nearly 80 percent of the corn used in the U.S. is fed to animals, not
people. "Beef, hogs, poultry, eggs, milk are the big categories that
use corn." The prices of those foods are going up along with those
sweetened by high fructose corn syrup, another corn product.
Others say malnutrition is often caused by food distribution problems,
not a lack of food. In fact, we have about 500 million acres of
cropland in the U.S. and could feed our population with just 25
million. However, the increasing world population, food prices, and our
fuel needs could eventually cause shortages.
"So we do need to worry about how we're going to feed the world in the
future." Many in the biofuel industry say the future is in what's
called cellulosic ethanol. That fuel uses the stems, leaves, and stalks
of plants, which makes the food-versus-fuel debate moot. In the
meantime, some experts expect corn prices to fall as farmers rush to
plant more crops.
CALIFORNIA - Bay Area water managers are on edge as temperatures
climb, taking a toll on already low water supplies. Sonoma County is
facing UNPRECEDENTED LOW WATER LEVELS in Lake Mendocino.
FLORIDA - South Florida residents and golf courses were placed
under the region's most severe water restrictions on record
Thursday, as officials try to cut use by up to 45 percent to offset
UNPRECEDENTED drought conditions.
The new rules mean outside watering will be cut to once a week in
Broward and Palm Beach counties.
Pumping from four coastal wells in Lantana, Lake Worth, Hallandale
and Dania Beach will be cut back or eliminated as officials try to
stave off saltwater intrusion that could taint the freshwater
sources. More than 90 other wells are also in jeopardy and are being
"If we don't shut them down and the salt gets in the wells, they
won't recover for decades."
New development in South Florida must find alternative water sources
such as reuse or desalinization as cities and counties are forced to
use only currently allotted supplies. The drought is also hitting
the agriculture industry, which was forced to cut back use by 50
percent last month, and digging into tourism dollars as many of the
state's inland waterways dry up, removing opportunities for boating
U.S. Sugar Corp., the nation's largest producer of cane sugar, is
feeling the pinch as a new crop is just getting started on its
160,000 acres in Florida. Harvest season ended last month.
AUSTRALIA - Several Australian states and the ACT are
considering the use of recycled water as a response to critical
The director of infectious diseases and microbiology at ACT
Pathology told a senate inquiry the recycled waste water would be
best used for non-drinking purposes, and should be used for drinking
only as a last resort.
Purifying water of sewage has historically been a major cause of
public health improvement, so putting sewage back into water is a
The reverse osmosis process used in the proposed recycling has been
shown to incompletely remove salt.
"If it leaves 1 or 2 per cent of salt, why can't it leave 1 or 2 per
cent of viruses?" If industry and irrigation used treated waste
water instead of tap water, that would halve the demand for natural
water. "The whole premise of recycled water saving Queensland works
on the belief that you will excrete more than you drink. I don't
think this is physically possible unless you have got a condition
that requires immediate hospitalisation."
TURKEY has suffered a dramatic fall in the level of its potable
water supply in recent months, with the water level in dams dropping
alarmingly low and major rivers and lakes - particularly in central
Anatolia - beginning to dry up.
Experts say that unregulated irrigation, together with pollution and
global warming, are to blame for the country's looming water
shortage, which may pose threats both economic and natural.
Officials are urging citizens to take measures for water
conservation in the hope of mitigating the effects of what
to be a drought, perhaps a severe one. This year Istanbul is bracing
itself for what looks to be an arid summer. Authorities and city
residents alike are both wondering if the painful days of the past
water shortage the city endured less than two decades ago once again
lie around the corner. The amount of water stored in Istanbul’s dams
has fallen to less than 50 percent of capacity. Global warming has
taken a huge toll on Kizilirmak, Turkey’s longest river. Rain
shortage and increasing temperatures have dried out the river, where
mass deaths of fish are now common. Fishermen can pick up the fish
swimming in the puddles that are all that’s left of the river with
their bare hands. “Central Anatolia is not rich in rainfall anyway
and in the past year rainfall has significantly decreased.”
BOTTLED WATER, the world's fastest growing beverage,
carries a heavy environmental cost, adding plastic to landfills and
putting pressure on natural springs. "Bottled water is really
expensive, in terms of environmental costs and economically."
In addition to the energy cost of producing, bottling, packaging,
storing and shipping bottled water, there is also the environmental
cost of the millions of tonnes of oil-derived plastic needed to make
the bottles. The environmental impact can start at the source, where
some local streams and underground aquifers become depleted when
there is "excessive withdrawal" for bottled water. In many countries
bottled water is scrutinised using lower standards than plain tap
water. Bottled water costs from 240 to 10,000 times as much as water
straight from the tap. World consumption of bottled water more than
doubled between 1997 and 2005, with the United States being the
YEMEN - For the past two decades, Taiz city has been suffering a
miserable water scarcity, particularly given that the city’s
population is on a marked increase. The indicators are alarming
concerning a real disaster due to massive water shortage and lack of
any attempts to contain the looming crisis.
Water sometimes is cut for three to four weeks, causing both health
and environmental problems.
One of the outstanding reasons for water scarcity in Taiz is that
city is situated on a base of rocks, which don’t store water, in
addition to a shortage of rainfall, which would greatly help to
PAKISTAN - There was a time when the prospect of a nationwide
water shortage would have seemed absurd to most Pakistanis, who
thought of their country as a water-rich nation, fed as it is by one
of the mightiest rivers in the world, the Indus, and its
tributaries, several of which are also major rivers.
In recent years, however, the realisation has begun to dawn on
Pakistanis that they will have to alter their agricultural
techniques and water management practices to economise on water. New
storage reservoirs will also have to be built on the Indus and other
rivers to compensate for the reduction in storage capacity of the
existing reservoirs – Tarbela and Mangla – due to siltation.
Salination is another serious long-term problem. When irrigation
water soaks down into the soil, it absorbs mineral salts from the
earth, flushing them to the surface. As the water evaporates, these
salts dry out on the fields, gradually destroying their fertility.
According to one estimate, some 25 per cent of Pakistan’s cultivated
land has been damaged in this way. Feeding Pakistan in the years
ahead will require gigantic schemes to be successful – or it will
require farmers to use water more efficiently. World water reserves
are drying up fast and booming populations, pollution and global
warming will combine to cut the average person’s water supply by a
third in the next 20 years. A shortage of fresh water is also likely
to be the most serious resource problem Pakistan will face in the
years ahead, given its burgeoning population and the increasing
demand for water that this explosive population growth has created.
INDIA - Though it is situated around the Mahi river ravine area,
water woes are taking a toll on education of girls and marital peace
in Ranchhodpura village, near Sindhroth, on Vaoddara's outskirts.
While young girls are forced to drop out from school to fetch water
for the household, wives, tired of the water shortage, are even
leaving their husbands. The four water hand pumps in the village
have become non-functional and water from wells and borewells is not
potable. The only recourse left for residents of the village is to
fetch drinking water from the Mahi river or neighbouring villages.
"Twice a month during high tide, the river gets flooded with sea
water. So water from borewells is rendered useless for washing
clothes and drinking." Officials are planning to dig borewells in at
least 42 villages of the 99 villages in Vadodara taluka. But this
process will take some time.
VIETNAM will suffer from a severe water shortage this May,
according to the meteorological forecasting centre.
AUSTRALIA - Drought has left the mighty Snowy Mountains
hydro-electric scheme with so little water it has become a generator
of last resort.
Last month its massive storages were down to about 10 per cent of
active capacity - the LOWEST APRIL LEVEL SINCE THE SCHEME WAS
COMPLETED IN 1974. To conserve water, Snowy Hydro is using two
gas-fired power plants it already has in Victoria, it is funding a
cloud seeding trial to increase snowfall and it is recycling water
through its Tumut 3 power station. The water roars downhill to
produce expensive peak-hour electricity then is pumped back up the
hill, using cheaper off-peak power. Water levels have been falling
for a decade and a return to wetter conditions could take five
years. "We are not confident that these difficult times are going to
GEORGIA - Due to the lack of rain, residents throughout Georgia
are required to follow a more stringent outdoor water use schedule.
“Every area of Georgia has been in a persistent and progressive
drought condition since last June.” “March was very dry and it’s
historically a very wet month for Georgia. That’s one of the reasons
we’re in trouble now.”
FLORIDA - The ongoing drought has so depleted Southwest Florida
reservoirs that those reserves may take at least three years of
rainfall to replenish.
CALIFORNIA - State water officials said the measured water
content of snowpack in the Sierra Nevada Mountains was 71 percent
below normal, the LOWEST IT HAS BEEN IN 20 YEARS.
On Tuesday the California Department of Water Resources completed
its final survey for the winter months.
"This is continued bad news for the Bay Area water supply." The San
Francisco Public Utilities Commission gets 85 percent of its water
from the Sierra Nevada snowmelt. The remaining 15 percent of the
water comes from local watersheds, which also dry up during a
CANADA - COD stocks in the southern Gulf of St. Lawrence, from the Gaspé to Cape
Breton, have hit an all-time low.
INDIA - MANGOS -
Uneven temperature and unseasonal rains have affected nearly 25-30 per cent of mango crops in various parts of the country.
- WHEAT - thousands of acres in Punjab and Haryana has been destroyed
in untimely rains. The losses to farmers could run into billions of
The wheat crop in over 50,000 acres of land has been flattened in
The rains, accompanied by hailstorm in several areas across Punjab and
Haryana, have been continuing since Sunday. Though the skies opened up
Tuesday morning, the dry spell lasted only a few hours before moderate
to heavy rains came back.
INDIA - 3/15/07 - Heavy unseasonal rains and a hailstorm have damaged vast tracts of crop in Gwalior, causing huge losses to farmers.
- FRUITS - spring snowfall has caused extensive damage to the cherry,
almond, apricot and apple orchards, which were in full blossom.
Horticulture experts are keeping their fingers crossed but they admit
the damage to these famous Kashmir fruits is colossal especially the
famous Kashmir cherry.
Water tension is getting worse -
one of every six people on Earth doesn't have access to clean
Nearly 5 million people - mostly children - die each year from
cholera and other preventable, water-related diseases that all but
vanished from the United States 100 years ago. "The risks of
conflicts over water are growing and not shrinking." A lot of people
fear we're moving toward an era of bulk exports and water transfers.
Canada, the most water-rich country, is expected to get wetter.
Africa, India, and other parched regions - including the
southwestern United States - are expected to get dryer. Competition
for water will be fierce by people, agriculture, manufacturers, and
CHINA - At least 200,000 people, about 2.5 percent of the
population in south China's Hainan Province, are suffering drinking
water shortages caused by persistent drought.
Almost 100,000 hectares of crops are affected by the drought and
more than 50,000 livestock have insufficient drinking water.
Some 1,636 wells in 668 villages and 448 out of Hainan's 2,487
reservoirs have dried up.
Water reserves in the province are dangerously low. The province's
water conservation facilities are holding only 30 percent of the
Prolonged high temperature and a lack of rain have been blamed for
Average monthly rainfall since January is 115 millimeters, 35
millimeters down on the provincial average.
AUSTRALIA - Water supplies to drought-ravaged Queensland towns
are at risk because of a shortage of suitable tankers to deliver
Trucking contractors and councils are warning that the logistical
problems involved in carting water mean supplies cannot be
guaranteed if towns run dry.
A growing list of Queensland towns are at risk, such as Killarney
and Leyburn on the Darling Downs.
Leyburn was this week forced to confront the possibility of having
to evacuate residents when one of its two bores ran dry, amid fears
the second bore could soon follow.
PAKISTAN - Private water tanker owners have increased the rate
of water tankers in the Cantonment areas and are exploiting the
area’s severe water shortage.
BHUTAN - Hordes of men, women and children carrying jerry cans
and utensils make their way back and forth from their houses to the
nearest water taps to collect water twice everyday.
Households that do receive water have huge drums to store the flow
and to carry them through to evening when the tap flows again.
During weekends washing and bathing is usually done by the
This is everyday life for residents of the industrial town of Gomtu
in Samtse, which has been facing an acute water shortage for the
Gomtu’s water supplier started the rationing of water from 6 to 8 am
and 5:30 to 7:30 pm last year when the town and the neighbouring
villages suffered an acute shortage because of scanty rainfall.
However, residents said that they barely received an hour’s supply
of water at both times. Some said that because of the low volume of
water at the source, water from the tap could hardly make it to
elevated water tanks.
VIETNAM - More jungles in the Mekong Delta region are turning
saline and prone to fire, after 100,000 hectares of rivers and
channels dried out, aggravating residents as the dry season comes to
The protracted drought has dried out 500km of canals in Dong Thap
province, seeing the average water level up to 40cm lower than usual
with districts of Tan Hong, Hong Ngu, and Tam Nong hit hard.
About 12,000 ha of irrigation canals at the Tram Chim National Park,
based in Tam Nong district, have reportedly gone dry, placing the
park under an extreme blaze alert.
TRINIDAD & TOBAGO - Tobago taps have begun to run dry, even as
WASA is promising that water will flow once more to South and
Central Trinidad. Electrical and other maintenance problems at the
desalination plant were completed, and have ended “nagging problems”
at the plant which culminated in its complete shutdown on April 13.
Wells which were recently drilled have been supplying Tobago with 60
percent of the water supply while the remaining 40 percent is
obtained from the rivers. But water levels at the majority of the
rivers are diminishing with the exception of Richmond.
“This dry season is ONE OF THE WORST THAT WE HAVE SEEN, even the
cracks in the ground are bigger than usual.”
CALIFORNIA - With California on track to have the fourth-driest
winter in history, San Francisco Public Utilities Commission General
Manager urged customers to curtail their water consumption in an
effort to avoid mandatory rationing in the Bay area during the
In order to avoid a water shortage the SFPUC will need to decrease
water usage by 20 percent. Such drastic water saving measures have
not been required by the utility since the drought between 1987 and
The Sierra snow pack, which represents 65 percent of the utility's
water storage in the utility's reservoirs, is at 46 percent of
normal for the season.
GEORGIA - The state of the water situation is getting worse.
Georgia's climatologist announced it's gone from severe to extreme
in nearly 24 southern Georgia counties.
"The maximum recorded was 14 in 1955 so we're SETTING A RECORD
Temperatures are on the rise across the state while water flow is
reduced. Water experts and climatologists are worried. They hope
things don't dry up even more. The Flint River is now only at 25
percent of normal flow. Soon, farmers will begin irrigating their
cotton and peanut crops which could cause even more problems.
"The lower Flint Basin has about 900,000 irrigated acres. That's a
lot of demand on the resource."
It's a resource that's been used overtime lately to fight raging
wildfires in Southeast Georgia. "Those streams, a lot of them, are
essentially dry. Just a fraction, one percentile of what normal flow
is this time of year." The aquifers are still in good shape and
although the Flint is low, it still has a good flow. If the drought
gets worse though, endangered aquatic life in the streams could be
AUSTRALIA - Drought towns could be forcibly evacuated -
Residents of two drought-stricken towns on the Darling Downs could
be forced by the government to move as water becomes increasingly
State bureaucrats have reportedly considered moving residents out of
Leybum, population 200, and Killarney, population 1500.
Water is currently being carted to Killarney, located at the source
of the Murray Darling river system, at the cost of $8000 per week.
"The reality is with no water, you can't live anywhere for long."
THE NETHERLANDS - Much of the Netherlands has not had rain in 33
days. That is an exceptionally long period, meteorological institute
KNMI said on Tuesday. Long dry periods like this have only occurred
four times in the past. Though even those did not last 33 days.
There was a smattering of rain in De Bilt on 3 April, which keeps
the past period from qualifying as a drought.
The dry weather is starting to cause problems for crops and various
animal species. At least nine species of butterfly are suffering
because of the dry warm weather. "Caterpillars need leaves, leaves
need water. A lot of water has evaporated because of the warm
period." "Summer hasn't even started yet and the water shortage will
become even greater then."
CALIFORNIA - The East Bay Municipal Utility District's board of
directors declared a water shortage Tuesday and asked its 1.3
million customers in Alameda and Contra Costa counties to
voluntarily reduce their water use until further notice.
The conservation plan calls for residential customers to only
irrigate three days a week, never on consecutive days, and only at
night or early morning before dawn.
Large irrigators are being asked to reduce their water consumption
by 25 percent.
The water district said it's urging greater conservation because the
winter of 2007 has been ONE OF THE DRIEST IN ITS 84-YEAR HISTORY,
yielding less snow and rain than necessary to fill its water supply
reservoirs next fall.
There's less than half of the normal runoff this year.
District officials say that if the winter of 2008 also is dry, it
could lead to further dwindling of water supplies and create a
drought scenario that would require mandatory rationing.
In less than 20 years (by 2025), two thirds of the world will
not have enough water. Agriculture is the number-one user of water
worldwide, accounting for about 70 percent of all freshwater
withdrawn from lakes, waterways and aquifers around the world.
Water shortages are obviously most acute in the driest areas of the
world, which are home to more than 2 billion people and to half of
all poor people.
Some of the world's major rivers are reaching crisis point
because of dams, shipping, pollution and climate change.
"The world is facing a massive freshwater crisis, which has the
potential to be every bit as devastating as climate change."
Governments should see water as an issue of national security.
Five of its "top 10" rivers in crisis are in Asia, such as the
Yangtse, Mekong, and Ganges, though Europe's Danube and North
America's Rio Grande are also included.
World Water Day was March 22.
Currently, 40 per cent of the world’s population (2.5 billion
people) live in impossible hygienic conditions because of lack of
water. They are among the poorest people on earth, half of them in
China and India. Some 11 million die each year from diseases tied to
the lack of clean water.
In Africa, daily water consumption ranges from 12 to 50 litres per
day. (Individuals experience water stress with less than 50 litres
of water per day per person.)
In Europe it rises to 170-250; in the United States it reaches 700
Only 16 people out of a 100 can turn on a water tap to sip drinking
water that has no polluting substances or pathogens. The other 84
must look for it, often trekking long distances, at poor and
In-depth global water crisis
information - Fully 70% of global water consumption is channeled
into agriculture. An additional 22% goes to industry, and just 8% to
- This year's drought has already affected more than eight
million people in 58 provinces, with water levels in several major
rivers ''critically low''. The total number of drought-hit villagers
since the dry season began in November has jumped to 8.2 million,
and the number was likely to increase with the drought crisis
expected to grow even more severe this month.
About 114,000 rai of farmland has been affected. To relieve water
shortages, the department has installed water pumps and distributed
drinking water to villages in the worst-hit areas.
The Irrigation Department reported on its website that water in
major rivers had dropped to critically low levels.
The chief of the artificial rainmaking unit in the Central Plains,
expressed concern over the worsening drought situation in Nakhon
Sawan, Uthai Thani, Chai Nat, and Lop Buri, with no rain in the
region for months.
Water storage in Central Plains reservoirs are expected to drop to
critical levels within the next two months because unusually high
temperatures, triggered by the El Nino weather phenomenon, have
caused more rapid evaporation of stored water than normal.
Scientists have not ruled out the possibility of a future war
because of water shortage and they urge national governments to
implement long-term policies to avert this and secure peace.
"This war will be either between states or it will be a conflict
between let’s say farmers and population. When a country does not
manage its water resources correctly, then it will have to buy and
transport water from other countries. But I am not sure that this
transport from one country to the other will be a peaceful one.”
Today, around 30 million people living in the Mediterranean are
deprived of access to water, research shows.
The world is running out of water. Humans are polluting,
depleting, and diverting its finite freshwater supplies so quickly,
we are creating massive new deserts and generating global warming
In many parts of the world, surface waters are too polluted for
human use. Ninety per cent of wastewater in the Third World is
discharged untreated. Eighty per cent of China's and 75 per cent of
India's surface waters are too polluted for drinking, fishing, or
even bathing. The story is the same in most of Africa and Latin
America. Humans, using powerful new technology, are mining
groundwater sources far faster than they can be replaced, creating
drought in once-fertile areas. When water is taken from an aquifer
to grow crops in the desert, another desert is created. A recent
scientific report from the United Kingdom warned of "coming anarchy"
in Asia as water is sucked out of the ground by untold millions of
Water is also massively displaced through the building of large
dams, the main reason so many of the great rivers of the world no
longer reach the oceans. Around the world, a massive network of
pipelines is being constructed to move water from place to place,
similar to the pipeline network that now moves oil and gas. Huge
amounts of water are also displaced through the trade in "virtual
water" where poor countries grow water-intensive crops for export to
countries trying to conserve their water supplies. They are left
with dead lakes and rivers. In Canada, they have tended to ignore
water problems, believing that they have plentiful supplies. But
recent studies suggest otherwise, particularly in the western
prairies, where water has been scarce at the best of times. The
climate of the Prairie provinces has already warmed by from 1to 4C,
and is predicted to warm that much again by mid-century. Already,
snowpacks and glaciers of the Rocky Mountains, the "water towers" of
the prairies, are dwindling, and increasing evaporation is stealing
more water from lakes, rivers and soils as a result of warmer
One concern is for agriculture, because soil moisture is predicted
to decrease over vast semi-arid areas of the prairies where crops
are already limited by water supplies in many years.