Malthusian Empire Strikes Back In Africa!


Well, that didn’t take long.  Last month I reported some great news. 

Malthus Is Getting Destroyed Before Our Very Eyes

I showed how agricultural production was increasing and that our oil production was nowhere near peak.


And, I also shared some news which I consider the best news.  A study of ground water availability in Africa.  The volume of groundwater is estimated to be 0.66 million km3, more than 100 times the annual renewable freshwater resources, and 20 times the freshwater stored in African lakes. (from the conclusions)

I have felt, for a very long time, that the impoverishment of much of Africa is intentional, as is many other parts of the world.  Some, clearly can’t be helped until the populous of the particular regions gather the collective will to raise themselves up.  But, others seem to have, yet, outside political influences seem to wish to thwart the progress of humanity in these parts of the world.  And, I believe there are some who actively engage in such actions.  So, when it becomes known that there is an abundance of water in places where it is desperately needed, my guarded optimism jumps just a bit.  But, it is tempered with the knowledge that the totalitarian Malthusians won’t go quietly into the night.  

And, here we may see an example of such.  The study I referenced was MacDonald et al (2012).  It has garnered much attention, as it should.  This is great news and should be put to use as soon as possible. 

Not so fast, says W Mike Edmunds.  Now, much of this could be sour grapes.  It turns out, Edmunds has studied the water in Africa as well.  Maybe he’s mad that MacDonald wrote this before he did.  Oddly, though, it appears Edmunds had ample time to do so, were he so inclined.   Maybe it wasn’t his focus, maybe he’s daft, maybe he’s a Malthusian.  Here are some quotes from his response to MacDonald et al. 

However, the headline—that groundwater storage is some 100 times the annual renewable surface waters—could be misconstrued as implying that groundwater is an abundant new resource, which it is not. Whilst groundwater is key to sustainable development, renewability and accessibility issues need to be addressed. The paper may therefore be seized upon to justify unsustainable groundwater exploitation, or to provide an argument against funding to NGOs and others, for water provision for needy communities.

….modest yields of groundwater are quite widely available at accessible depths and sufficient to sustain small communities and their development, but larger yields (>5 l s−1) suitable for urban development or major agricultural schemes are unlikely outside of the sedimentary terrain. ….. To this end, the use of managed aquifer recharge (MAR), coupled with other forms of rainwater harvesting, can also locally conserve and augment groundwater resources and offer obvious advantages over building surface water storage.

……Groundwater extraction and transmission is possible only with the energy provided from the proximity of fossil fuels; large water transfer schemes are energy intensive and for most areas of Africa not an economic option, having also social and ecological consequences (Matete and Hassan 2005). Moreover a steady decline in water tables (typically from 0.5 to 2 m yr) has been taking place widely in semi-arid areas globally, mostly due to abstraction exceeding recharge, with consequences for both human requirements and ecosystems.

….Saharan aquifers this water can be shown, from numerous studies, to be almost entirely non-renewable…….consider mining palaeo-reserves only as a last resort.

Abundance is relative, but I’m sure Mr. Edmunds knows this.  Funding for NGOs would only dry up if the need is eliminated.  I’m sure Mr. Edmunds would join us all in acknowledging the fact the hydrologically starved people don’t exist for the NGOs, but rather, the other way around.  Mr. Edmunds seems concerned that some people might progress from small communities and small farms.  He also doesn’t seem to want these people to build damns.  Yes, that would be horrible.  They might actually figure out that they could generate some reliable, cheap energy if they did so.  Then, to further aggravate the situation, they could use that energy to extract water from the ground, thereby, alleviating a potential lowering of the water table from the newly built damn. 

Yes, I would say, bring water to water starved populations would have social and ecological consequences.  Most of us would call that human advancement. 

I’m not sure if he’s aware, or simply doesn’t care about the poverty, hunger, thirst, despair and depravity some of these communities suffer through.  A large step for ending this would be to bring water to them.  He’s worried about them using it up.  Mr. Edmunds, if that happens, what would come to them which is worse than today?  Idiot.  

The first two references in his response are to himself.  Nice.  This gives a new meaning to “don’t drink the water!”

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12 Responses to Malthusian Empire Strikes Back In Africa!

  1. Latitude says:

    and with that, I bring you a much easier to read African aquifer map…..

    they are not hurting for water at all……

    • suyts says:

      No they’re not. They just have to know where it is and how to go get it.

      • Latitude says:

        Funny thing is…..when you look at the map….the water is not where it should be….and it is where it shouldn’t be

      • suyts says:

        Which map? They’re actually different maps. The one you presented is how much water they have (It comes from the study I referenced) and the map I showed is how deep it is and the lines show the recharge rate.

        • Latitude says:

          Either one….Where the most rain fall occurs…is not where the most water is stored…and some places – that would need ground water the most – have the most ground water and the least rain fall.

        • suyts says:

          I would take that to mean some massive aquifers, in that they go in great lengths. But, that’s just a guess.

        • Latitude says:

          exactly…..just like the south Florida aquifer is actually rain that falls in Georgia

        • suyts says:

          Exactly, that ack jass doesn’t seem to want to acknowledge these things. He seems to be one of those people who wish to hold them down.

  2. kim2ooo says:

    The money quote:
    “Groundwater extraction and transmission is possible only with the energy provided from the proximity of fossil fuels; “

    • suyts says:

      Yes. It is, I believe a bit of deception. Fossil fuels can be moved great distances, if one has the proper infrastructure. A little hydro-electricity would go a long ways. 😉

  3. DirkH says:

    If Africa manages to rise from poverty, the NGOs will lose their biggest cash cow. No more sitting in posh hotels in the capitol of an African country for weeks on end, debating about how to best help the people in that remote village (and after 4 weeks visit it in your 4 wheel drive climatized jeep to shake hands)…

    All that will be left for them is fighting for the protection of squirrels…

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