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Merryn Somerset Webb's Article In Sunday Times

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Excerpt from article:

ASK any fund manager what liquid is the most important to the global economy and he’ll tell you oil. The tight supply- and-demand situation has pushed prices up to a level that threatens economic growth and is kicking off inflation around the world, he will say.

And if we don’t really start thinking about how best to kick our addiction to the black stuff — which powers every part of our economies — there’ll be trouble ahead. I’d agree with him on much of this — there is trouble ahead — but not on the first bit. Oil is not the most important liquid. Water is. Oil is vital to the way we live now but it is replaceable (there are all sorts of alternative sources of power) and we could, with difficulty, survive without it.

But water, on the other hand, is not replaceable and we can’t live without it. As the Environment Agency indicated last week, it is becoming frighteningly scarce, with Britain facing the worst drought in a century. And if the UK of all places doesn’t have enough, what chance is there for warmer climes? Although water covers two-thirds of the Earth’s surface, a mere 0.08% is usable as is; the rest needs cleaning or desalination. And, as our populations and economies grow, it is becoming increasingly apparent that is not enough



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Guardian article today hilighting Fred Pearce's book echoing Merryn's article in yesterday's Sunset Times.

On numerous occasions on these forums it has been said oil may beteh catalyst for HPC (eg here, http://www.housepricecrash.co.uk/forum/ind...opic=21235&hl=), but these two articles should cause us to reconsider.

I wish I could post the photos of the Rio Grande. They compare the river today with 10 years ago. They are truly shocking. There is no water! Just dry river bed!


Cry me a river

It was one of the world's great rivers, but today the Rio Grande is reduced to a feeble trickle. What does its plight say about our abuse of our most precious resource - water? By Fred Pearce…

This is an edited extract from When Rivers Run Dry, by Fred Pearce, published by Eden Project Books. To order a copy for £17.99 with free UK p&p (rrp £18.99), go to guardian.co.uk/bookshop or call 0870 836 0875.

On the map, the Rio Grande is the fifth longest river in North America and among the 20 longest in the world. Its main stem stretches 3,000km (1,900 miles) from the snowfields of the Colorado Rockies to the Gulf of Mexico, via New Mexico and Texas. It drains one tenth of the continental US and more than two-fifths of Mexico. The hub of human exploitation of the Rio Grande is the Elephant Butte reservoir near El Paso in Texas (about 300km upstream of Presidio). It was built in 1915 and changed the river for ever. The wild, untamed flow - which obliterated villages and once rode right through downtown Albuquerque - was ended for good and its waters were corralled for irrigation.

Today, Elephant Butte and its downstream sister, the Caballo, all but empty the river to supply El Paso and nearby farmers. More than 9 million people in the basin rely on the Rio Grande's waters. But it is the farmers who make most use of it. Four-fifths of the water in the river is taken for irrigation - most of it to grow two of the thirstiest crops in the world: cotton and alfalfa, a grain fed to cattle. And the wastage is huge. Only about 40% of the water reaches the crops, while evaporation in the hot sun takes more than two metres of water a year from the reservoirs - a total of around 300m cubic metres from Elephant Butte alone.

Usually a trickle of water gets through to the sea. But since the mid-1990s, a decade during which drought has gripped the basin, the flow has been at record lows. In 2001, it ceased altogether. A sandbar 100m wide completely blocked off the river from the Gulf of Mexico. The bar lasted for five months before summer flows washed it away. And for much of the next two years it returned. You could drive a car across the beach between the US and Mexico. The Rio Grande had, literally, run into the sand…

The maps in an atlas no longer accord with reality: inland seas and lakes are disappearing; the old geography lessons about how rivers emerged from mountains, gathered water from tributaries and finally disgorged their bloated flows into the oceans are now fiction. Some of the great rivers of the world are disappearing: the Nile in Egypt, the Yellow River in China, the Indus in Pakistan, the Colorado and Rio Grande in the US - all trickling into the sand, sometimes hundreds of miles from the sea. Few of us realise how much water it takes to get us through the day. On average, we drink around five litres of the stuff. Including water for washing and for flushing the toilet, western Europeans use only about 150 litres each. In some countries suburban lawn sprinklers, swimming pools and sundry outdoor uses can double that figure. Typical per-capita water use in suburban Australia is 350l and in the US around 400l…

Downstream of El Paso, the river becomes a dribble of sewage effluent disappearing into remote scrub most of the way to Presidio. Hydrologically speaking, the Rio Grande pretty much ends here. Beyond Presidio, the river winds through dramatic canyons in the Big Bend National Park. But the flow is small and muddy. "We get about a sixth of the historical flow here," Dave Elkovitz of the park authority told me. A couple of weeks before my visit, the river dried up here for the first time in more than 50 years. Stagnant pools of water evaporated, leaving dry gravel beds and thousands of dead catfish. Starved of food, a troop of black bears headed back to Mexico. "We have treaties for the river," said Elkovitz. "But they allocate more water than actually exists. What good is that?"



Edited by Baz63

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  • 301 Brexit, House prices and Summer 2020

    1. 1. Including the effects Brexit, where do you think average UK house prices will be relative to now in June 2020?

      • down 5% +
      • down 2.5%
      • Even
      • up 2.5%
      • up 5%

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