Thursday, 20 August 2009

Peak Water?

The earth system crisis is about so much more than climate change and yet this has been latched onto by politicians and commentators alike so much so that one might assume it is the only challenge we face.

The point of a holistic approach to sustainable development is that there are no simple solutions or singular threats.

New data from NASA satellites suggests evidence for impending water shortages that could in some parts of the world be compounded by climate change while in others be alleviated by higher levels of current rainfall. In the case of this latest data, the assumption is that groundwater depletion is due to human over use rather than a long term trend of lower precipitation locally or in the Himalayas.

While the report from NASA focuses attention on the mining of groundwater reserves in North West India, there are similar concerns in the USA, China and other parts of the world.

In addition to recharge from rain, groundwater and climate change are linked by the threat of rising sea levels which are increasing the salinity of coastal aquifers.

Where human society is indulging in mismanagement of environmental resources, climate change could be the source of further stress that tips local ecosystems into chaotic behaviour leading to total collapse.

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