peak water

Global Peak Water

in Environment by

Colin Campbell and I first changed the order of the words “Oil Peak” to “Peak Oil” when we thought it would give a better acronym for the name of the NGO we were considering forming. When we did that we had no idea that the “Peak-” descriptor would one day have the impact it has demonstrated. The NGO we were discussing had the working title of “The Association for the Study of the Oil Peak”, ASOP. That acronym jarred a little and thus “Oil Peak” was swapped around to “Peak Oil” so that ASOP would be “ASPO”. Since then many “peaks” have been discussed. Indeed, Richard Heinberg has written a book titled ”Peak Everything”.

My reason for taking up the “peak” term again is an article in The Guardian where they discuss “Peak Water”: Grain harvests are already shrinking as US, India, and China come close to ‘peak water’. They assert that there are already nations that have passed “peak water”:

“Among the countries whose water supply has peaked and begun to decline are Saudi Arabia, Syria, Iraq, and Yemen. By 2016 Saudi Arabia projects it will be importing some 15m tonnes of wheat, rice, corn, and barley to feed its population of 30 million people. It is the first country to publicly project how aquifer depletion will shrink its grain harvest.

“The world is seeing the collision between population growth and water supply at the regional level. For the first time in history, grain production is dropping in a geographic region with nothing in sight to arrest the decline. Because of the failure of governments in the region to mesh population and water policies, each day now brings 10,000 more people to feed and less irrigation water with which to feed them.”

Peak Oil will cause great difficulties but will be advantageous in terms of reducing greenhouse gas emissions. However, when it comes to “Peak Water” there is no silver lining. You can read the entire article in the article here.

Kjell Aleklett is Professor of Physics at Uppsala University in Sweden where he leads the Uppsala Global Energy Systems Group (UGES).

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