By JOHN DEVINE
Awakening News Associate Editor
National Geographic reports that well over one million acre-feet of U.S. water has been given free of charge to the Chinese and Saudi dairy industries by using that water in the dry American West to grow alfalfa for export, under relevant trade agreements.
For humans to survive, it is essential that the world’s citizens understand the importance of being better managers of our planet’s aquifers, not just its surface water.
Generations yet to be born, as well as our children and grandchildren, may someday ask why their ancestors traded away the world’s ground and surface water, drastically reducing the natural water supply for future generations—or possibly running the aquifers dry.
The vital process of educating people starts by identifying the aquifers which can’t sustain current demand, and those aquifers which can, while also identifying pollutants.
For perspective, the middle-America Ogallala Aquifer is underneath seven states. It’s virtually like another Great Lake, only below the surface.
National Geographic also has identified 17 sectors of our farming community, detailing the amount of water being consumed in each community to produce one pound of food (beef, pork, etc.) or in the diary sector, one gallon of milk. Some findings are as follows:
• It takes 1,799 gallons of water to produce one pound of beef.
• It takes 880 gallons of water to produce one gallon of milk.
(Editor’s note: National Geographic did not break down the amount of surface water and the amount of groundwater being consumed for this data; cattle drink from well water [groundwater] as well as surface water).
With this data, the governments around the world should be able to calculate the status of their water/groundwater trade deficits, and/or surpluses, when these farmed products are either bought or sold.
In other words, water cannot help but be the most valuable substance on earth because of its inherent purpose of sustaining life. Without life itself, the value of other commodities (crude oil included) ceases to be. Life gives money and commodities value, not the other way around.
So, unduly impacting water supplies beyond the capacity of earth to regenerate those supplies—while assuming water has no applicable value in the pursuit of free trade—is unwise and creates what’s best defined as a “water trade deficit.”
In light of this, the world’s governments need to know the amount of clean groundwater that has to be consumed to produce one pound of fish in a fish hatchery. We cannot limit the data-collection to beef and pork. Clearly, we must measure water usage with aquatic animals above all, not just ground-dwellers. And it’s important to recognize that hatcheries are a type of farm.
But flow-through hatcheries that use massive amounts of groundwater and have a high pollution factor were not included on National Geographic’s list. Citizens living in regions that are heavily into fish-farming, such as Norway, Sweden, and the UK, should have a report card done on the status of their aquifers and their groundwater trade deficits.
Again, for these regions to calculate their groundwater trade deficit, they have to know how many gallons of groundwater are being consumed to produce one pound of fish in their respective hatcheries, along with the impact on water quality and supplies brought about by fracking, massive water-bottling operations, soft-drink manufacturers like Coca Cola, etc.
It’s hard to believe that bankers do not have data stashed somewhere regarding the sustainability of aquifers, or the lifespan of aquifers, very similar to data on mining operations of the past and present. When the ores are gone, the mining company leaves, and the bankers who financed the mining company close their books, historically giving way to ghost towns.
The question that still has to be asked is: “How Low Will the Wells Go Before the Bankers Say No”? Bankers will not extend loans to farmers who no longer have adequate water available.
Coca Cola knows this—as do the banks financing Coca Cola’s massive mining of India’s aquifers (see protest photo at top). India, even more so than the American West, is an arid place where drought is always near, yet the vast majority of India’s vulnerable citizens are in the dark.
Meanwhile, what about the development of island resorts? Can their aquifers sustain all the new demand? Do island natives know about this unfettered mining of their indigenous water?
And what’s really left of the waters under OUR feet here in North America? Do we know? Please email
LTE@AwakeningNews.ca to send in your feedback. ###