WASHINGTON, May 20 (Reuters) - Water levels in U.S.aquifers, the vast underground storage areas tapped foragriculture, energy and human consumption, between 2000 and 2008dropped at a rate that was almost three times as great as any time during the 20th century, U.S. officials said on Monday.
The accelerated decline in the subterranean reservoirs is due to a combination of factors, most of them linked to rising population in the United States, according to Leonard Konikow, a research hydrologist at the U.S. Geological Survey.
The big rise in water use started in 1950, at the time of an economic boom and the spread of U.S. suburbs. However, the steep increase in water use and the drop in groundwater levels that followed World War 2 were eclipsed by the changes during the first years of the 21st century, the study showed.
As consumers, farms and industry used more water starting in 2000, aquifers were also affected by climate changes, with less rain and snow filtering underground to replenish what was being pumped out, Konikow said in a telephone interview from Reston, Virginia.
Depletion of groundwater can cause land to subside, cut yields from existing wells, and diminish the flow of water from springs and streams.
Really great interactive map. Hover your mouse over nearly any country to view stats on ag production and needs. There’s also a drop down menu to help show various densities by color on the map. Straight forward and well researched. Check it out and follow the center for investigative reporting.
The United States is the world’s biggest economy and the leading exporter of wheat, corn, beef and many other commodities. It also has the most unequal wealth distribution of all major developed countries. Economic woes in the U.S. have led to one in seven Americans to rely on food assistance.
“Photographer Livia Corona — a native of Baja California, Mexico — lives in New York City and Mexico City. She is the recipient of a 2009 John Simon Guggenheim fellowship, awarded for her photography book project Two Million Homes for Mexico.
The project is a long-term study of the surge of mass-scale public housing projects throughout Mexico, exploring their role in the ongoing transformation of the ecological, social, and cultural landscape of the nation and its citizens.”
The elephant in the room is what to do about overpopulation.
For those who care about the environment, the future of human civilization, or both, the Day of 7 Billion should prod us to face and address the risks of continued population growth.
By the sheer scale of our presence and activity we are putting ourselves and all life at risk. No human being has the right to consume forever more than any other. Yet if we could somehow close the global consumption gap, the importance of our numbers would be even more obvious as the limits of natural systems were crossed.
Above: Population growth, historical and projected, 1950-2100
It scarcely lessens the importance of reducing both consumption and inequity to celebrate the fact that population growth can end without policies that restrict births, without coercion of any kind, without judgments on those who choose large families. We are not far from a world in which the number of births roughly balances the number of deaths, based on pregnancies universally welcomed by women and their partners.
But apparently it’s about to be banned if the bill survives one more committee. The NRDC’s Leila Monroe reports that California is one of the largest markets for shark fin soup in the world, second to Asia. And, since it’s the west coast, plenty of celebrities are lobbying for the bill to pass (including my future wife, Scarlett Johansson).
If you’re unfamiliar with shark finning, click this video of sharks getting finned alive, then being tossed into the ocean, still alive. It’s sick (imo, at least shoot the damn things in the head).
This afternoon, California came one important step closer to banning the sale, trade and distribution of shark fins. Assembly Bill 376 passed out of the Senate Natural Resources & Water Committee with the support of Senators Pavley, LaMalfa, Evans, Kehoe, Padilla, Wolk, and Simitian. This bill will help protect the estimated 26 – 73 million sharks killed each year for their fins, which are used to meet the exploding demand for shark fin soup. The bill’s next stop is the Senate Appropriations Committee.
California is one of the largest markets for shark fins outside of Asia; the ban will deter finning in international waters by ending the fin trade here. More than 1/3 of shark species are threatened with extinction as a result of the international shark fin trade, with some populations declined by 99%. This morning, the Sacramento Bee carried an excellent article about the importance of this bill, discussing how the opposition critiques are misguided and inaccurate.
When the Indian monsoon failed in 1965, President Lyndon Johnson’s administration shipped one-fifth of the U.S. wheat crop to India, successfully staving off famine. We can’t do that anymore; the safety cushion is gone.
Lemme tell you a few facts about Amman, Jordan, okay? (Please?)
Amman is one of the oldest, most continuously inhabited cities on earth. First signs of civilization date back to over 10,000 BC (NEOLITHIC, TIMES, yo). The Bible records that King David captured the city in the early 10th century BC; Uriah the Hittite, husband of David’s paramour Bathsheba, was killed here after the king ordered him to the front line of battle. Around 220 BC, after being conquered by first Assyrians, then Persians then Macedonians, it was renamed Philadelphia. THEN it was conquered again by the Romans (this was all in a space of like, 300 years). Oh, okay, but the whole city is built on all sorts of crazy bad fault lines, so around the 7th century, the city was reduced to Romantic, Historic Rubble and a tiny, inconsequential village for over 1,000 years.
Then, in the late 19th century, the Ottoman Sultan decided to run a rail line, used by Muslims going to the Hajj in Mecca, straight through Amman. The city EXPLODED overnight, By 1921, King Abdullah I decided to move all city government here. It’s now one of the fastest growing cities in the region, mostly due to immigration from Iraq, and it’s metro area should reach 7 million (NYC sized) by 2025. As the picture above shows, planning for the city is kind of non-existant (which is really Too Bad since it’s a water scarce area that sort of can’t support this kind of thing laissez faire style!) in non-gov areas.
A blog about the interactions between the built environment, people, and nature.
I'm a climate change consultant specializing in climate adaptation, environmental law, and urban planning based in the U.S. In addition to traveling and hiking, I research, publish, and lecture on how cities can adapt to climate change. "Try to understand what the author wished to do, and do not blame him for not achieving what he did not attempt." - John Updike
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