Student Post on Water and Food Scarcity

Jonathan Trinidad



Falling Water Tables and Shrinking Harvest

In his book World on the Edge: How to Prevent Environmental and Economic Collapse, Lester R. Brown writes about “Falling Water Tables and Shrinking Harvests.” He discusses how the traditional way of farming has changed a great deal in the last 30 to 40 years due to technological advances. Farmers no longer rely on rain water and dams to water crops. Diesel-fueled and electric water pumps have allowed farmers to become more productive since the water is coming from underground wells and natural aquifers. Recently, more and more farmers are selling their water to localities who are not able to provide enough water to their citizens. It is more profitable for farmers to sell their water than it is to farm their land. This is happening on an international level. The final result is that worldwide water tables are falling and harvests are shrinking.

Once the aquifers run dry, two things will happen: water will become very scarce and food prices will inflate at an exponential rate. The three major grain producers are the U.S., China, and India. All three are reaching peak water levels. The water is being consumed faster than it can be replenished. The growth of the population is also a major concern for how fast water is being depleted. There are two ways of procuring irrigation water. The first is by building dams to retain rain fall and use water when needed. The second is by drilling underground. The first can be replenished by rain fall, but in contrast, the second will be pumped dry over time.

Every year water tables are falling more and more. The growth of population around the world is going to increase the consumption of water. With water in high demand, it is unavoidable that many shortages are going to start occurring. It is just now a matter of when these shortages will take place and what kind of contingent plans governments have in place. If governments fail to asses these problems now while there is still time, they run the risk of total chaos in a future society. Once a population has difficulty affording life’s necessities, then there is no outcome but revolution, but by then it may be too late.