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