Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Groundwater Pollution and a Thirsty Twenty-First Century

Clean, fresh water supplies are shrinking globally due to climate change, waste, and pollution.

The Atlantic recently described the impact of climate change on water supplies:
Sam Kean. December 2015. The end of thirst. The Atlantic, http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2015/12/the-end-of-thirst/413176/

According to the United Nations, 1.2 billion people already suffer from severe water shortages, and that number is expected to increase to 1.8 billion over the next decade, in part because of climate change.
Pollution is an equally pressing issue:
China report sounds alarm on groundwater pollution. The Mainichi. April 12, 2016, http://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20160412/p2g/00m/0in/051000c

BEIJING (AP) -- More than 80 percent of China's underground water drawn from relatively shallow wells used by farms, factories and mostly rural households is unsafe for drinking because of pollution, a government report says.

The Water Resources Ministry study posted to its website Tuesday analyzed samples drawn in January from 2,103 wells used for monitoring in the country's major eastern flatland watersheds.

The ministry said that of those samples, 32.9 percent were classed as suitable only for industrial and agricultural use, while 47.3 percent were unfit for human consumption of any type. None were considered pristine, although water in wells in the Beijing area was rated better overall than elsewhere in the northeast.
China is hardly alone. Every industrial nation on earth has been actively contaminating its ground water with chemicals and other waste forms (e.g., tritium) for the last hundred and fifty years (at least).

Groundwater contamination occurs in myriad ways, especially through agricultural chemical runoffs. The US has accelerated its ground water contamination with fracking over the last 10 years:
Kevin Begos. Jan 5, 2014. 4 states confirm water pollution from drilling, USA Today, http://www.usatoday.com/money/
(AP) — In at least four states that have nurtured the nation's energy boom, hundreds of complaints have been made about well-water contamination from oil or gas drilling, and pollution was confirmed in a number of them, according to a review that casts doubt on industry suggestions that such problems rarely happen. 

The widespread practice of injecting waste into underground caverns plays an important role in fracking contamination.

Wall Street Banks and mega-corporations have been rushing to buy up the remaining fresh water wherever possible:

Jeneen Interlandi. October 8, 2010. The Race to Buy Up the World's Water. Newsweek, http://www.newsweek.com/race-buy-worlds-water-73893

 It is going to be a thirsty twenty-first century.


  1. "Chronicling the Death of the Pacific Ocean" http://www.picassodreams.com/picasso_dreams/2016/04/chronicling-the-death-of-the-pacific-ocean.html

    "The Pacific Ocean is barely alive. "This PDF is an updated list of links from 3/11/2011-4/11/2016 chronicling the death of the ocean. No whale calf has survived more than a year. The starfish are gone. Sea lions, seals, dolphins, crabs, jellyfish...everything is diseased."
    --60 pages in length--
    Apt to be a very disturbing read.