U.S. Security Will Be Put at Risk With Future Water Shortages

 

Water shortages, polluted water and floods will increase the risk of instability in nations important to U.S. national security interests, according to a new U.S. intelligence community assessment released Thursday.

“During the next 10 years, many countries important to the United States will almost certainly experience water problems – shortages, poor water quality, or floods – that will contribute to the risk of instability and state failure and increase regional tensions,” the report from the office of the director of national intelligence states.

 

The assessment focused on seven key river basins located in the Middle East, Asia and Africa that are considered strategically important to the United States: the Indus, Jordan, Mekong, Nile, Tigris-Euphrates, Amu Darya and Brahmaputra basins.

The intelligence report indicates conflict between nations over water problems is unlikely in the next 10 years, but after that, water in shared basins will increasingly be used by some nations as leverage over their neighbors, the report says.

A senior U.S. intelligence official who briefed reporters on the report said, “It’s very difficult to be specific about where because it depends upon what individual states do and what actions are taken on water issues between states.”

The study also warns of the potential for water to be used as a weapon, “with more powerful upstream nations impeding or cutting off downstream flow.”

Water could also become a terrorist tool, according to the report. The U.S. official said that, “because terrorists are seeking more high visibility items to attack, in some cases we identified fragile water infrastructure that could potentially be a target for terrorism activity.” A likely target would be dams.

The official also said terrorist groups could take advantage of large movements of people displaced by water issues in vulnerable nations.

The report indicates water supplies will not keep up with the increasing demand posed by a growing world population.

Climate change will further aggravate the water problems in many areas, as will continued economic development, the report says.

“The lack of adequate water,” it says, “will be destabilizing factor in some countries because they do not have the financial resources or the technical ability to solve their internal water problems.”

Food markets are threatened by depletion of ground water in some agriculture areas of the world. Unless corrective steps are taken, food production will decline, increasing the stress on global markets, the report predicts.

The intelligence community assessed that by 2040, water shortages and pollution will harm the economic performance of important trading partners.

The study does not name specific countries, because it is based on a classified national intelligence estimate.

But the report indicates that increasing populations, industrial development and climate change in South Asia, the Middle East and North Africa will make it difficult for those regions to deal with water problems.

The report does say that improved water management and investment in water-related sectors, such as agriculture, hydroelectric power and water treatment, could compensate for increased demand over next 30 years.

Since agriculture uses nearly 70% of all ground water, the report states it has the most potential to provide relief if technological changes are implemented such as large-scale drip irrigation systems.

The intelligence study suggests developing countries are likely to turn to the United States to lead the effort to resolve water problems, because of its technological capabilities.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who was concerned about how global water problems could affect U.S. security interests over the next 30 years, requested the study on global water security. The National Intelligence Council prepared the assessment with contributions from 10 intelligence organizations.  

At a World Water Day event at the State Department on Thursday,  Clinton labeled the report “sobering,” and called on everyone to read it to “see how imperative clean water and access to water is to future peace, security, and prosperity, globally.” 

The Secretary also used the occasion to announce a new effort called the U.S. Water Partnership which bring together experts in the private sector and government to find system wide solutions to water problems.

http://security.blogs.cnn.com/2012/03/22/u-s-security-at-risk-over-water/?hpt=hp_t3

Dried-Up Texas Lakes Exposing Graveyards and Old Towns

 

 

 Johnny C. Parks died two days before his first birthday more than a century ago. His grave slipped from sight along with the rest of the tiny town of Bluffton when Lake Buchanan was filled 55 years later.

Now, the cracked marble tombstone engraved with the date Oct. 15, 1882, which is normally covered by 20 to 30 feet of water, has been eerily exposed as a yearlong drought shrinks one of Texas’ largest lakes.

Across the state, receding lakes have revealed a prehistoric skull, ancient tools, fossils and a small cemetery that appears to contain the graves of freed slaves. Some of the discoveries have attracted interest from local historians, and looters also have scavenged for pieces of history. More than two dozen looters have been arrested at one site.

“In an odd way, this drought has provided an opportunity to view and document, where appropriate, some of these finds and understand what they consist of,” said Pat Mercado-Allinger, the Texas Historical Commission’s archeological division director. “Most people in Texas probably didn’t realize what was under these lakes.”

read more here:  http://news.yahoo.com/depleted-texas-lakes-expose-ghost-towns-graves-182124788.html

Thanks to Mr. C for bringing this to the attention of the It’s Interesting community.

 

Peanut Butter Prices Getting Ready to Soar

Prices are set to spike following one of the worst peanut harvest seasons growers have seen in years.

Prices for a ton of runner peanuts, commonly used to make peanut butter, hit nearly $1,200 this week, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. That’s up from just $450 per ton a year ago.

It won’t be long before consumers see this price increase reflected on store shelves.

Kraft will raise prices for its Planters brand peanut butter by 40% starting Oct. 31, while ConAgra expects increases of more than 20% for its Peter Pan brand.

A spokesperson for Unilever, which makes Skippy, would say only that it’s watching the situation “very closely.”

Representatives for J.M. Smucker, which makes Jif, did not respond to a request for comment, though the Associated Press reported that Jif’s wholesale prices are set to rise 30% in November.

What’s to blame for this sticky situation? The intense heat and drought that hit the southern U.S. this year, said John Beasley, a professor of crop physiology and management at the University of Georgia.

“It was just unmerciful, and we had a lot of problems setting the crop,” he said. “I literally walked some fields that had zero yield.”

http://money.cnn.com/2011/10/14/markets/peanut_butter_prices/index.htm?hpt=hp_t2

Tuvalu Island Almost Out of Fresh Water

 

The tiny Pacific nation of Tuvalu has declared a state of emergency because it has only several days’ worth of fresh water remaining, after being ravaged by an extended drought.  Neighboring New Zealand and Australia have stepped in and offered to provide desalination equipment, which would keep the islands from running dry.  Australia is also sending rehydration packs for use in hospitals, as well as money and fuel for the desalination plants.  Residents are currently rationing water, with those in the capital of Funafuti down to two buckets a day, but the crisis point has already been reached.

Read more: http://ecocentric.blogs.time.com/2011/10/07/tuvalu-goes-dry/#ixzz1aEmS3Ar8

Texas Drought Could Last 9 More Years

A devastating Texas drought that has browned city lawns and caused more than $5 billion in damages to the state’s farmers and ranchers could continue for another nine years, a state forecaster said on Thursday.

“It is possible that we could be looking at another of these multiyear droughts like we saw in the 1950s, and like the tree rings have shown that the state has experienced over the last several centuries,” State Climatologist John Nielson-Gammon told Reuters.

Some 95 percent of the state is listed as being in either “severe” or “exceptional” drought by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Drought Monitor, and Nielson-Gammon said the last 12 months have been the driest one-year period on record in the Lone Star State.

The state’s worst recorded drought lasted from 1950 through 1957 and prompted the creation of artificial lakes all across Texas to supply water to a state that at the time had a population of 15 million – a whopping 10 million fewer than today.

The long-term weather patterns, including La Nina currents in the oceans, mirror records from the early 1950s, Nielsen-Gammon said. The current drought, which he said began in earnest in 2005, could wind up being a 15-year stretch if patterns hold, he said.

“We’re very lucky that we had 2007 and 2010, which were years of plentiful rain,” he said. “2010 was the wettest year in record. Were it not for last year, we would be in much worse shape even than we are today.”

Conditions in Texas now are far from good. The drought has dried up many lakes built after the drought of the 1950s, and more than 23,000 separate wildfires fueled by dried brush and trees have destroyed 3.8 million acres and with that 2,800 homes, according to the Texas Forest Service.

Nielson-Gammon said Texas was now 10 to 20 inches of rainfall behind where it should be at the end of September, usually one of the state’s wettest months.

Rather than being the exception, severe drought could become the rule in Texas going forward, with wet years being more noteworthy.

“We’ve had five of the last seven years in drought, and it looks like it is going to be six out of eight,” he said.

The month is going out the same way it came in, with Texas firefighters on edge. Friday will be another extremely dangerous day for wildfires, with conditions similar to those over the Labor Day weekend when 60 fires erupted across the state, Holly Huffman of the Texas Forest Service said.

On Sept. 4, a gust of wind blew a dead pine tree into power lines east of Austin, sparking the deadly Bastrop Complex Fire. That blaze killed two people, destroyed 1,600 homes, and is now the costliest fire in terms of lost property in Texas history.

The Forest Service this week called in two air tankers from Canada to fight wildfires that continue to burn around Texas, citing a shortage of enough planes to fight the state’s fires.

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/44725170

Too Many Donkeys in Hawaii

 

In an effort to control the wild donkey population on Hawaii Big’s Island, about 100 of them are being flown to California next month.   

Drought conditions have led the donkeys from the highlands into a populated area in search of water. Donkeys were appearing near the highway and a school.

The Humane Society and a local veterinarian have been trapping and sterilizing animals from the rapidly growing population estimated at about 400 to 600 donkeys.

At the end of the month, a clinic is to be set up at a ranch to castrate captured male donkeys.