Watering Hole

  

Image Credit : UCAR

People, animals and crops are likely to lose their favourite watering holes over the next few decades, not just in “poor” countries, but just about everywhere :-

http://www2.ucar.edu/news/climate-change-drought-may-threaten-much-globe-within-decades

The growing hole in water supplies is going to interfere with food security, and it’s going to interfere with human community survival, but it’s also going to interfere with energy production. In fact, it’s doing that already, as competition for water in Peru between food, grazing, people and energy shows most clearly :-

http://www.guardian.co.uk/global-development/poverty-matters/2010/sep/21/climate-wars-machu-picchu-irrigation
http://www.guardian.co.uk/global-development/video/2010/sep/23/peru-asparagus-wells-run-dry

What’s the story on the United Kingdom ? :-

http://www.physorg.com/news/2010-10-farmings.html

“Adapt now to keep farming’s water flowing : October 20, 2010 : Agricultural and horticultural businesses could face damaging water shortages in the coming decades as a result of climate change. Adaptation across the whole industry is needed to meet the impending challenge…”

http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSTRE69H4PS20101018

“UK crops to face water supply crunch, may relocate : LONDON | Mon Oct 18, 2010 : …Agricultural crops in Britain may need to be moved to new areas as the threat of both drought and flooding rises in the coming decades, a report commissioned by the Royal Agricultural Society of England said on Monday. The report said climate change was expected to produce higher temperatures, drier summers and wetter winters across much of England. “This is likely to mean reduced river flow and less water available for agriculture,” said one of the report’s authors, Alison Bailey, of the University of Reading’s School of Agriculture, Policy and Development…”

And the United States of America ? :-

http://www.skepticalscience.com/climate-change-impacts-on-CA-water-resources.html

“…The study found that water withdrawals in California are estimated to be greater than 100% of the available precipitation in 2050…”

http://www.doi.gov/news/pressreleases/Secretary-Salazar-Launches-New-Regional-Climate-Science-Center-and-Water-Census-at-Meeting-of-Colorado-River-Basin-Water-Leaders.cfm

“…10/20/2010 : Contact: Joan Moody : PHOENIX, AZ—At a meeting of water leaders from the seven Colorado River Basin states in Phoenix today, Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar announced that the Department of the Interior has chosen the University of Arizona as home base for a regional Climate Science Center and selected the Colorado River Basin for the launch of the first U.S. water census since 1978. “The Colorado River Basin is ground zero for assessing the effects of climate change on our rivers and taking creative management actions to head off the related dangers posed to our water supplies, hydroelectric power generation and ecosystems,” the Secretary said. “We are with you for the long haul to protect our region and its water.”…”

http://www.uusc.org/content/examining_water_crisis_and_climate_change

“Examining the Water Crisis and Climate Change : UUSC understands that there is a global water crisis, which is the product of shifting and competing political and economic interests, depletion from environmental contamination, climate change, over-extraction, and increasing human population. As a human-rights organization, UUSC recognizes the urgent need to respond. Climate justice is a central theme of UUSC’s Environmental Justice work. More people are losing their access to clean, affordable water in the United States and in other nations, and too often, the victims are people in low-income communities, women, and racial and ethnic minorities…”

Undue Optimism

We learn from Caroline Spelman, care of Fiona Harvey, that Climate Change could be good for British farming :-

http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/4e2c238e-c276-11df-956e-00144feab49a.html

“Climate change could benefit UK farmers : By Fiona Harvey and George Parker : Published: September 17 2010 : Climate change and global food shortages could bring unexpected benefits for British farmers in the next two decades, ultimately relieving taxpayers of the burden of subsidising them, Caroline Spelman, environment secretary, has claimed. Ms Spelman said the UK was unlikely to suffer the severe water shortages that scientists predict will afflict other parts of the world, and that British farmers should be able to exploit greater demand for their produce…”

Note that the argument is not that Climate Change will create better conditions for growing food in the UK.

Instead, the logic is that because we live in North Western Europe, which will see less Climate Change than other parts of the world, our agricultural produce won’t be affected as badly as, say, Asia, so, suddenly British food production will have stronger commercial value as export.

That’s rather perverse, isn’t it ? Profiting at others’ expense never looked so…existential, so morally challenged.

I think that what will happen is that British food production will be increased in order to give it away, in the form of international disaster aid.

The Common Agricultural Policy could become the Crisis Agricultural Subsidy.

In a never-ending rolling disaster, the ethics of meeting basic human needs will surely take precedence over business competition.