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The world faces a worsening global water crisis that is compounded by remorselessly increasing  carbon pollution, population, and  economic output.  For the 5.0 billion people of the impoverished global South (the Developing World minus China) the worsening water crisis is a present reality. However endless growth in a carbon economy means that all 7.6 billion of Humanity are threatened. Dire warning is now being given by the need for bottled potable water in some  towns  in the rich global North. Unfortunately  rational and humane solutions are being trumped by ruthless and deadly  neoliberalism.

The UN World Water Assessment Programme (WWAP) has summarized  Humanity’s dilemma thus (2018): “The stakes are high. Current trends suggest that around two thirds of forests and wetlands have been lost or degraded since the beginning of the 20th century. Soil is eroding and deteriorating in quality. Since the 1990s, water pollution has worsened in almost all rivers in Africa, Asia and Latin America. These trends pose broader challenges from the increased risk of floods and droughts, which, in turn, has an impact on our ability to adapt to climate change. We know also that water scarcity can lead to civil unrest, mass migration, and even to conflict within and between countries” [1].

The worsening global water crisis has many major elements that are systematically and succinctly dealt with in this well-documented essay under 30  headings as set out below.

(1) Global fresh water resources. 2.00-2.75% % of the Earth’s water is fresh water (less than 500 ppm NaCl) including  about 1.75-2.00% as glaciers, ice or snow, 0.5–0.75% fresh groundwater and soil moisture, less than 0.01%  surface water in rivers, swamps and fresh water lakes ( lakes constituting 87% of liquid fresh surface water), and less than 0.04% in the atmosphere [2]. Humanity derives nearly all of its fresh water (about 4,600 km3 pa [1]) from rain, lakes, rivers and groundwater [2, 3]. There is a  hydrological cycle of solar energy-driven evaporation with subsequent precipitation.

(2). Desalination by reverse osmosis. Reverse osmosis, the most widely used desalination technique, involves pumping water through a succession of membranes that allow passage of water (H2O) but not of larger molecules [3]. The world’s largest reverse osmosis desalination plant is at Sorek, Israel, has an output of 624,000 cubic metre per day that is  sold for  about $0.5 per cubic metre ($500/ML  i.e. $500 per million Litres) , and provides potable (drinkable) water for over 1.5 million people, this constituting  20% of the municipal water demand in Israel [4, 5]. 2015 there were 18,426 desalination plants globally, producing 86.8 million cubic meters per day of potable water for 300 million people [6]. Reclamation of used water for sanitation and agricultural use is now widespread [7].

(3) Water use. Global water demand (2018) is 4,600 km3 [cubic kilometers] per year and projected to increase by 20%–30% to 5,500-6,000 km3 per year by 2050. Agriculture uses about 70% of global water withdrawals (i.e. about 3,220 km3 pa) , with most being used for  used for irrigation. Industrial water use is about 20% of global withdrawals (i.e. about 920 km3), 75% for energy production (690 km3 pa) and 25% for manufacturing (230 km3). Water demand for manufacturing will  increase by 400% over the period 2000–2050. Global water withdrawals for energy production have been projected to rise by 20% in the period 2010–2035. Domestic water use is 10% of total global water withdrawals (i.e. about 460 km3), and is expected to increase greatly over the 2010–2050 period (3-fold in Africa, 2-fold in Latin America, but with little change in zero population growth Western Europe) [1].

The UN World Water Assessment Programme (WWAP) (2018): “Throughout the early-mid 2010s, about 1.9 billion people (27% of the global population) lived in potential severely water-scarce areas and in 2050 this could increase to some 2.7–3.2 billion. However, if monthly variability is taken into account, 3.6 billion people worldwide (nearly half the global population) are already living in potential water-scarce areas at least one month per year and this could increase to some 4.8–5.7 billion in 2050. About 73% of the affected people live in Asia (69% by 2050). Factoring in adaptive capacity, 3.6–4.6 billion people (43–47%) will be under water stress in the 2050s with 91–96% living in Asia, mainly Southern and Eastern, and 4–9% in Africa, mainly in the north… Groundwater use globally, mainly for agriculture, amounts to 800 km3 per year in the 2010s, with India, the United States of America (USA), China, Iran and Pakistan (in descending order) accounting for 67% of total abstractions worldwide … Water withdrawals for irrigation have been identified as the primary driver of groundwater depletion worldwide …  A large surge in groundwater abstractions amounting to 1,100 km3 per year has been predicted to occur by the 2050s, corresponding to a 39% increase over current levels… at about 4,600 km3 per year, current global withdrawals are already near maximum sustainable levels… A third of the world biggest groundwater systems are already in distress… An estimated 80% of all industrial and municipal wastewater are released to the environment without any prior treatment, resulting in a growing deterioration of overall water quality with detrimental impacts on human health and ecosystems.Globally, the most prevalent water quality challenge is nutrient loading, which depending on the region is often associated with pathogen loading” [1].

The enormous, quasi-linear increase in world water use in the period 1900-2000 has been graphically presented by the World Water Council, with  usage dominated by agricultural use, thence much lesser industrial use and then relatively minor  municipal use [8].  As outlined later below, water use is already severely stressing reservoirs, aquifers and rivers. Thus  by 2025 1.8 billion people will experience absolute water scarcity, 60% of European cities with populations greater than 0.1 million are using groundwater faster than the replenishment rate, and in the last 20 years 55% of China’s rivers have run dry due to industrial over-exploitation [9].

(4) Clean drinking water. In  2015 89% of people globally had access to potable water,  40- 80% of sub-Saharan Africans had access to potable water, nearly 4.2 billion people worldwide had access to tap water, and 2.4 billion had access to wells or public taps.   About 1- 2 billion people presently lack safe drinking water, this being associated with avoidable deaths of 1.5 million people each year [10].  By 2025 1.8 billion people will experience absolute water scarcity [9].

(5) Sanitation. According to the World Health Organization (WHO) (2018): “In 2015, 39% of the global population (2.9 billion people) used a safely managed sanitation service – defined as use of a toilet or improved latrine, not shared with other households, with a system in place to ensure that excreta are treated or disposed of safely; 27% of the global population (1.9 billion people) used private sanitation facilities connected to sewers from which wastewater was treated; 13% of the global population (0.9 billion people) used toilets or latrines where excreta were disposed of in situ; 68% of the world’s population (5.0 billion people) used at least a basic sanitation service; 2.3 billion people still do not have basic sanitation facilities such as toilets or latrines; of these, 892 million still defecate in the open, for example in street gutters, behind bushes or into open bodies of water; at least 10% of the world’s population is thought to consume food irrigated by wastewater; poor sanitation is linked to transmission of diseases such as cholera, diarrhoea, dysentery, hepatitis A, typhoid and polio; inadequate sanitation is estimated to cause 280 000 diarrhoeal deaths annually and is a major factor in several neglected tropical diseases, including intestinal worms, schistosomiasis, and trachoma. Poor sanitation also contributes to malnutrition. Hygienic sanitation facilities are crucial for public health. Since 1990, the number of people gaining access to improved sanitation has risen from 54% to 68% but some 2.3 billion people still do not have toilets or improved latrines” [11]. India has embarked on a massive increase in sanitation in which 0.5 million villages been declared Open Defecation Free (ODF) in the past 5 years. PM Modi has stated (2019): “Sanitation coverage has crossed 98 percent, over 100 million toilets have been built for our people” [12].

(6) Water deficits, the Global Avoidable Mortality Holocaust and crippling Carbon Debt. An estimated 15 million people die avoidably from deprivation each year in a Global Avoidable Mortality Holocaust [13] that is set to worsen as the climate emergency [14-16] and climate genocide [17] both worsen. That deadly deprivation includes lack of water for basic food production, lack of clean drinking water, and lack of sanitation.  About 1 million people die from climate change each year with too little water (droughts) or too much water (floods and storm surges) being key agents. There is a worsening climate genocide in which the direst estimates are for 10 billion deaths this century in the absence of  requisite action on climate  change [17]. The damage-related cost of carbon pollution has been estimated at about $200 per tonne CO2-equivalent (CO2-e) as determined by climate economist Dr Chris Hope from 118 Nobel Laureate Cambridge University [18, 19] and independently by leading climate scientist  Professor James Hansen from 96 Nobel Laureate Columbia University [18, 20]. This huge damage-related carbon pollution cost means that the world has an inescapable Carbon Debt of $200- $250 trillion that is increasing at $19 trillion per year [18], with this inevitably impacting the capacity of the world to realistically tackle climate change.

(7) Aquifer depletion and toxic contamination. Groundwater aquifers are major sources of usable fresh water [21] but major problems are aquifer depletion, salinization of coastal aquifers due to lowering of the water table,  high saline and other mineral content,  and contamination of groundwater (notably by toxic free arsenic arsing from anaerobic bacterial action, this being a major problem in South Asia, South East Asia, East Asia  and the US  ) [22-25]. Aquifer depletion has been cited by Professor Lester Brown as one of the causes of food price rises (2011): “Meanwhile aquifer depletion is fast shrinking the amount of irrigated area in many parts of the world; this relatively recent phenomenon is driven by the large-scale use of mechanical pumps to exploit underground water. Today, half the world’s people live in countries where water tables are falling as overpumping depletes aquifers. Once an aquifer is depleted, pumping is necessarily reduced to the rate of recharge unless it is a fossil (nonreplenishable) aquifer, in which case pumping ends altogether. But sooner or later, falling water tables translate into rising food prices… The Arab Middle East is the first geographic region where spreading water shortages are shrinking the grain harvest. But the really big water deficits are in India, where the World Bank numbers indicate that 175 million people are being fed with grain that is produced by overpumping. In China, overpumping provides food for some 130 million people. In the United States, the world’s other leading grain producer, irrigated area is shrinking in key agricultural states such as California and Texas… It is no longer conflict between heavily armed superpowers, but rather spreading food shortages and rising food prices — and the political turmoil this would lead to — that threatens our global future. Unless governments quickly redefine security and shift expenditures from military uses to investing in climate change mitigation, water efficiency, soil conservation, and population stabilization, the world will in all likelihood be facing a future with both more climate instability and food price volatility. If business as usual continues, food prices will only trend upward” [26].

60% of European cities with populations greater than 0.1 million are using groundwater faster than the replenishment rate [9]. India  (population 1.34 billion) illustrates the problem for the global South. Thus Caleb Gorton (Global Food and Water Crises Research Programme): “India is the world’s highest user of groundwater. It consumes over a quarter of the global total – equivalent to 230 cubic kilometres per year. Groundwater from over 30 million access points supplies 85 per cent of drinking water in rural areas and 48 per cent of water requirements in urban areas. Most groundwater is used for irrigation, which accounts for 88 per cent of total groundwater usage. Groundwater is required for the daily needs of around 700 million Indians living in the country’s villages. An assessment of 6,607 groundwater units in 2011 found that 1,017 were “overexploited”, indicating the rate of groundwater extraction exceeded replenishment. Around one-third of all units in India were under stress. The World Bank predicts that by 2032, around 60 per cent of aquifers in the country will be in a critical state” [27].

In Palestine,  Apartheid Israel controls water supply, notably that from the largely West Bank-based Mountain Aquifer with   8.9 million Israelis  getting  87% of Mountain Aquifer water whereas 5 million Occupied Palestinians  get a mere 13% . While the WHO minimum daily per capita water allocation is 100 litres, Israelis get 240-300 litres  and West Bank Palestinians  get 73 litres. Israelis have deliberately  demolished 50  water extraction facilities in the West Bank and by bombing have destroyed water and sewerage  infrastructure  in the Gaza Concentration Camp to the point that it is approaching unliveable conditions [28- 30]. In relation to this massive and deliberately  imposed domestic water deficit, a serial war criminal Apartheid Israel is grossly violating Articles  55 and 56 of the Geneva Convention Relative to the Protection of Civilians in Time of War that state that an Occupier must provide the Conquered Subjects with life sustaining food, medical  and other conditions “to the fullest extent of the means available to it”[31]. Apartheid Israel is stealing Mountain Aquifer water that derives from rain falling on the West Bank and in doing so is violating the Hague Regulations of 1907, which prohibit an occupying power from expropriating the resources of occupied territory [30].

(8). Crop agriculture via  drip irrigation and closed greenhouses. Agriculture consumes 70% of global water withdrawals [1] but there is massive water loss associated with evaporation. Fertilizer and water loss can be greatly decreased through plastic-based drip irrigation systems developed  initially in the US and Israel.  In California  there was 5% drip irrigation in 1988 and 40% by 2010 [32].  Of massive potential are closed system glass houses for hydroponic   horticulture [33].

(9). Evaporation. Massive water loss occurs through evaporation. In 1995 evaporative losses from reservoirs totalled 200 kilometer3 and of the 10% of water from renewable resources withdrawn for human use, about 50% was lost through run off and evaporation. Depending on the technology, consumption can range from 30–40% for flood irrigation to 90% for drip irrigation.  In 1995 11% of water withdrawn  for agricultural  use was  lost through evaporation [8].  In  hot countries  like Australia over 33% of stored water can be lost by evaporation from surface storages, with  this leading to proposals for underground  storage of surplus  water in aquifers [34]. Evaporation from surface dams can be reduced by 80% through  use of six-sided floating disks that spread out to cover water surfaces and also cut down on algal growth [35].

(10) Salinization. The World Water Council (2001): “Unless carefully managed, irrigated areas risk becoming waterlogged and building up salt concentrations that could eventually make the soil infertile. This process probably caused the downfall of ancient irrigation-based societies and threatens the enormous areas brought under irrigation in recent decades. By the late 1980s an estimated 50 million hectares of the world’s irrigated areas, or more than 20%, had suffered a buildup of salts in the soil” [8].

10. Cost of water. The cheapest water in the world is that from the Mountain Aquifer in Palestine that is simply expropriated (stolen) by the international law-violating, war criminal Occupier, Apartheid Israel for $0.0 per megalitre (ML) [30]. The most expensive  water is bottled water which costs  about $1 per litre or $1,000,000/ML in a Western supermarket or $200,000/ML in India. However there are numerous other rates in between these extremes.

Thus, for example, the Murray-Darling Basin in south eastern Australia is a major irrigation area and “Australia’s food bowl”. However overuse of water has resulted in decreased flows in the Murray River and the Darling River, with the latter now reduced to a succession of dead pools.  A politically contentious Federal Murray-Darling Plan has involved “water buy-back”  for the environment from users whose forebears ( like the Israelis today and their ongoing Palestinian Genocide ) had stolen the land and the water rights from Indigenous people in a 2-century Australian Aboriginal Genocide [36]. Reviewers of the scheme stated (2018): “Overall, the average cost of water recovery by RTB [Restoring The Balance] since 2007–2008 was AUD2,026/ML [US$1,418/ML],while infrastructure cost was AUD4,970/ML [US$3,479/ML]. But the costs of water recovery from subsidies from infrastructure could, in fact, be many times more costly per megaliter of water recovered than these figures suggest because of the decline in return flows associated with upgrades in infrastructure” [37]. In a worsening “Watergate scandal”, a corporate  entity  with links to the National Party (the ecocidal farmer’s party that is part of the Australian Coalition Government)  and with corporate structures involving the Cayman Islands tax haven, sold  28,700 ML of “overflow” surface water to the Australian government for A$78.9 million,  this yielding  a water price of A$2,749 /ML (US$1.924/ML) (this “overflow” water from rare excessive precipitation would normally have flowed to downstream creeks, rivers and users, but was retained by artificial  levees for private profit [38],  and one notes that the cost of expensively desalinated water is about $500/ML [4, 5]).

11. Water Apartheid in Apartheid Israel and North versus South.  While the state-of-the-art Sorek desalination plant in Apartheid Israel supplies high quality drinking water at $500/ML, the Occupied Palestinians have to pay huge prices for dangerously insufficient and dangerously low quality water as revealed by the World Bank (2009): “[West Bank] Water prices that before the Intifada were generally in the range 5-10 NIS/m3 were now typically in the range 10-20 NIS/m3 [$2,800 – $5,600/ML; 1 New Israeli Shekel= 0.28 USD; 1 m3 = 1000 L]…  There is a high incidence of water related diseases. Water-borne disease is a major problem for Palestinians, creating substantial costs and losses … The health impacts can be gauged by the high incidence of diarrhoea amongst infants, and the health costs of poor water and sanitation services have been estimated at 0.4% of GDP … In Jenin, farmers are paying up to NIS 12/m3 [$3,360/ML] for water to irrigate plastic houses… These prices are considerably higher than those paid by (competing) Israeli farmers, who pay less than 1 NIS/m3 (0.818 NIS/m3) [$229/ML]… [In Gaza] between 5% and 10% of water supplied through the network meets potable standards” [39].

This deadly, Zionist-imposed Water Apartheid is a direct consequence of the Zionist imposed political Apartheid in Palestine. Of about 14 million Palestinians (50% children, 75% women and children), 7 million are forbidden to even step foot in their own country, 5 million are highly abusively imprisoned in the blockaded and bombed   Gaza Concentration Camp (2.0 million) or in ever-dwindling West Bank ghettoes (3.0 million),  and 1.9 million live as Third Class citizens as Israeli Palestinians under over 60 Nazi-style Apartheid Israeli race laws. GDP per capita is $3,000 for Occupied Palestinians as compared to $40,000 for Israelis. Through  imposed deprivation, each year Apartheid Israel passively  murders about 2,700 under-5 year old Palestinian  infants and passively murders 4,200 Occupied Palestinians in general who die avoidably from deprivation each year under Israeli Apartheid (in the 21st century Israelis have also violently killed an average of 550 Occupied Palestinians each year) . There is a circa 10 year life expectancy gap between Occupied Palestinians ands Israelis, this grossly violating Articles 55 and 56 of the Geneva Convention Relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War that demand that an Occupier must provide life-sustaining food and medical services to the Occupied “to the fullest extent of the means available to it”. Nuclear terrorist, serial war criminal, genocidally racist, democracy-by-genocide Apartheid Israel determines that 72% of its now 50% Indigenous Palestinian subjects who are Occupied Palestinians cannot vote for the government  ruling them i.e. egregious Apartheid [40-44].

While the US lackey and Zionist -subverted West largely  ignores these horrible Zionist crimes, numerous anti-racist Jewish and non-Jewish humanitarians endlessly protest the gross violation of Palestinian human rights by Apartheid Israel in its ongoing Palestinian Genocide [45-53].  Of course the same moral indignation in decent people is also elicited by the desperate lot of 1 million Rohingya refugees [54], of 70 million refugees worldwide [55] and of  5.0 billion people in the Developing World (minus China) who are suffering deprivation in general and variously suffering deadly deprivation in relation to water quantity  and  quality [13]. Thus 15 million people die avoidably from deprivation each year on Spaceship Earth with One Percenters in charge of the flight  deck – deadly Apartheid indeed,  with Water Apartheid being a major factor and directly causing about 10% of these deaths [10].

12. Per capita water use by country. There is wide variation in per capita water use for domestic, industrial and agricultural  purposes [56]. However a stand-out is Australia at 5,104 m3 per person per year as compared to 1,600 (the US), and 305 (Apartheid Israel) [56].  Under Apartheid Israeli occupation  the Occupied Palestinians score a deadly 91.5 m3 per person per year [57] (an Olympic swimming pool contains 2,500,000 L or  2,500 m3 of water, and 1 m3 is equivalent  to 3.2  forty-four  gallon drums).

13. Aqua nullius and terra nullius. Just as the genocidally racist Zionists stole all of Palestine and all of its surface and underground water, so the genocidally racist  British invaders did the same to Indigenous  Australians. Thus R. Quentin Grafton and Sarah Jane Wheeler (2018):  “[Re] Australia’s First Peoples, water is a part of everything in their culture, such as their dreaming stories, art, songs, and dance, and there is evidence that they have been managing water in the MDB [Murray-Darling Basin] for perhaps as long 40,000 years. Indeed, the Brewarrina fish traps (Baiame’s Ngunnhu) on the Barwon River are possibly the oldest continuously used human water construction in the world… By comparison, European settlers typically viewed water as a resource to be used, manipulated, and harnessed for economic benefits. These two vastly different worlds have often clashed. Along with the legal fiction of terra nullius, there was also the myth of “aqua nullius” that rendered existing Indigenous water relationships invisible” [37]. Capitalist greed by the descendants of the genocidal British invaders  has  meant that the Darling River  has now been reduced  to a succession of putrid water holes [58]. For the dispossessed and impoverished  survivors  of the Aboriginal Genocide  along the Darling River and its tributaries  the Barwon and Namoi Rivers (that meet at the town of Walgett that means “the meeting of the two waters”)  there is no water to drink, fish  or swim in [58-60].

14.  Water footprint for meat. The water footprint in litres per kilogram (L/kg) is as follows for milk (1,020), eggs (3,265), chicken meat (4,325), butter (5,553), pig meat (5,988), sheep or goat meat (8,763) and beef meat (15, 415) [61, 62]. In contrast, the the water footprint for vegetables and potatoes is 300-400 L/kg [62]. Animal-based food is also very expensive in terms of conversion of plant material to animal meat.  Thus consider the following conversion efficiencies (kg grain to produce 1 kg gain in live weight): herbivorous farmed fish (e.g. carp, tilapia, catfish; less than 2), chicken (2), pork (4), and beef (7) [63]. Annual per capita meat consumption (in kg per person per year) [64] very roughly correlates with annual per capita income (in USD per person per year) (UN, 2014) [65, 66 ] (while noting the exceptions of livestock-based but impoverished Mongolia and the fishing-rich but impoverished Island States of Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines and Samoa).

Annual global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions presently total 64 billion tonnes CO2-equivalent with methanogenic livestock production and associated land use contributing over 50%. With annual emissions of CO2 per se from industry at a record high, grossly insufficient global climate  change action, and with Humanity and  the Biosphere existentially threatened by the Methane Bomb of the warming Arctic in coming decades [67], Humanity must  urgently adopt a vegetarian or vegan diet to help save the Planet [66]. Several recent reports collectively endorsed by thousands of expert scientists have warned the world that time is running out to save Humanity and the Biosphere from further catastrophic climate change and further massive biodiversity loss [68-75]. Massive harm has already occurred due to continuing carbon pollution, population growth and economic growth, and it is clear that zero growth in these areas is insufficient – there must be negative carbon pollution (atmospheric CO2 draw-down to about 300 ppm CO2) [76-80], negative population growth (50% population decline) [81] and negative economic growth (50% degrowth with most of the burden in Developed countries) [71] to halt and reverse this worsening disaster.

Much of eastern Australia has recently been in the grip of years of severe drought, and sheep and cattle production has suffered in huge swathes of country without a blade of grass. Yet neoliberal governments have moved to support continued methanogenic livestock production that is immensely environmentally destructive. The Indigenous Australians had a 65,000 years old farming civilization based on use of fire to encourage pasture for kangaroos and other soft-footed macropod marsupials, with areas of strict conservation as emergency resources in times of drought. The British invaders actively and passively exterminated most of the Indigenous people in an ongoing Aboriginal  Genocide and Aboriginal  Ethnocide, engaged in massive ecosystem destruction (ecocide) and  speciescide. The hard hooves of the ungulate sheep and cattle compacted soil and introduced feral animals (rabbits, rats, cats, dogs, foxes, camels, cane toads and  pigs) wiped out much  of the Indigenous fauna. Professor Jared Diamond in his seminal book “Collapse” described this carnage as “mining the land” and predicted that Australia would eventually become a food importer [82]. Australia is among world leaders in 14 areas of environmental  destruction and  climate criminal activities or parameters, to whit: (1) annual per capita greenhouse gas pollution, (2) live methanogenic livestock exports,  (3) natural gas exports, (4) recoverable shale gas reserves that can be accessed by hydraulic fracturing (fracking), (5) coal exports, (6) land clearing and deforestation, (7) speciescide – species extinction,  (8) coral reef destruction, (9) whale killing  and extinction threat through global warming, (10) terminal carbon pollution budget exceedance,   (11) per capita carbon debt, (l2) GHG generating iron ore exports, (13) climate change inaction, and (14) climate genocide [83, 84].

15. Crop agriculture water footprint. M.M. Mekonnen and A.Y. Hoekstra (2010): “The water footprint of a product is defined as the total volume of freshwater that is used to produce the product… The bluewater footprint refers to the volume of surface and groundwater consumed (evaporated) as a result of the production of a good; the greenwater footprint refers to the rainwater consumed. The grey water footprint of a product refers to the volume of freshwater that is required to assimilate the load of pollutants based on existing ambient water quality standards” [85]. The water footprint in litres per kilogram (L/kg) is as follows for various food crops: sugar (197), vegetables (322), starchy roots (387), fruits (962), cereals (1,644), oil crops (2,364), pulses (4,055) and nuts (9,063) [62, 85].

The water footprint is 9,113 L/kg for cotton lint and 9,982 L/kg  for cotton textile [85].  Australia is heavily involved in arid zone cotton production and in cotton export that amounts to an absurd export of water from the world’s most arid inhabited continent. Upstream irrigation for cotton has massively contributed to the near- death of the Darling River that is at the heart of the Murray-Darling Basin that is “Australia’s food bowl”.  Neoliberal greed and corruption are at the core of this terracidal disaster. Neoliberalism demands maximal freedom for the rich and advantaged to exploit natural and human resources for maximum private profit. Conversely, social humanism (socialism, democratic socialism, eco-socialism, the welfare state) aims to sustainably maximize happiness, opportunity and dignity for everyone through evolving intra-national and international social contracts [86, 87].

16. Manufacturing industry water footprint. Water footprint: “The average Briton drinks about 2 to 5 litres of water each day, and then uses another 145 or so litres for cooking, cleaning, washing, and flushing. Does that sound like much to you? Now multiply that figure by 23, and you have just uncovered a hidden truth: the average Briton really consumes about 3,400 litres of water every day – well over a million litres a year!… Embedded water refers to the amount of water necessary to produce a product. It takes about 140 litres to grow one cup of coffee; about 11,000 litres to produce a pair of jeans; and about 400,000 litres to build a car. When we add to the amount of water running from our taps the amount hidden in everything we consume, our true water consumption is exposed – about 3,400 litres per Briton per day” [88].  Between 2000 and 2050 manufacturing industry use of water will increase by 400% [9].

17. Deforestation. Forests have major roles in the hydrological cycle (involving transpiration, water evaporation and subsequent water precipitation) [89] and the carbon cycle (involving photosynthetic CO2 fixation in cellulosic and non-cellulosic carbohydrates and subsequent CO2 release through oxidation of carbohydrates) [90-93]. Trees consume water through photolysis, release water through respiration,  and move water from roots to escape via leaf stomata through transpiration. Trees also retain water in living cells and in the soil through generation of water-retaining soil carbon. Water from transpiration in the Amazon rainforest is so large as to affect continent-scale weather and precipitation. Deforestation and land clearing (most notably in countries  like Brazil, Australia and Indonesia [94-96]) has a huge impact on the water cycle, the carbon cycle, biodiversity,  greenhouse gas (GHG) pollution, global warming, drought, precipitation and soil water retention.

Climate change economist Sir Nicholas Stern critically stated (2006)  “The science tells us that GHG emissions are an externality; in other words, our emissions affect the lives of others. When people do not pay for the consequences of their actions we have market failure. This is the greatest market failure the world has seen” [96, 97],  and also argued for an international programme to combat deforestation, which contributes 15-20% of greenhouse gas emissions (2006): “For $10-15bn (£4.8-7.2bn) per year, a programme could be constructed that could stop up to half the deforestation” [97].

18. Global warming. Since the beginning of the Industrial  Revolution in circa 1750, the atmospheric level of CO2 has increased from 280 ppm CO2 to the present circa 410 ppm CO2. Increases in other GHGs such as methane (CH4) and nitrous oxide (N2O) mean that the CO2-equivalent in the atmosphere is presently about 490 ppm CO2-e, and the average global surface temperature has increased by about 1 degree Centigrade (1C).  This has been associated with the world’s Sixth Mass Extinction event in which species extinction is 100-1,000 greater than normal in what is now described as the Anthropocene Era [66-81].  The world already has an inescapable  Carbon Debt of $200-250 trillion that – instead of being urgently reduced by massive atmospheric CO2 draw-down –  is relentlessly increasing at about $16 trillion per year [18]. In a domestic household budget setting this would be utter lunacy – in a global setting it is mass suicide of  humanity.  This utterly disastrous present scenario means that  a catastrophic plus 2C temperature rise is now evidently unavoidable – we have only 10 years at the current rate of GHG pollution before a 50% probability of a catastrophic plus 2C exceedance [72-74]. However we are obliged to do everything we can to make the future “less bad” for future generations. 90% of the extra heat has gone into the oceans [72-74].

As further detailed below, global warming is variously associated with increased drought and forest fires in some regions,  and increased  evaporation, increased atmospheric H2O and thence increased precipitation in others. Global warming-driven changes in ocean currents and stratospheric jet streams have paradoxically been associated with colder winters in Europe. In Australia global warming has been associated with increased precipitation in the tropical north and decreased precipitation and drought in southern Australia. Global warming and increased sea temperature in the tropics has been associated with more intense storms (cyclones, hurricanes). Global warming-driven sea level rise is associated with more damaging storm surges impacting coastal parts of Island Nations and of low-lying, mega-delta countries (notably north eastern India and Bangladesh most recently devastated by Cyclone Fani [98]).

19. Floods.  Increased ocean temperature leads to increased evaporation and thence increased precipitation, floods and flash floods that are compounded by the effects of deforestation [99-101].  Lin et al (2018): “Weather extremes have widespread harmful impacts on ecosystems and human communities with more deaths and economic losses from flash floods than any other severe weather-related hazards. Flash floods attributed to storm runoff extremes are projected to become more frequent and damaging globally due to a warming climate and anthropogenic changes” [99]. The recent huge  Kerala flood disaster (350 deaths and 1 million people displaced) was  not a natural disaster – it was a man-made disaster involving local Indian contributions (inadequate water storage hazard response and landslides from deforestation) and a major international contribution from global warming due to ever-increasing greenhouse gas (GHG) pollution, with the prosperous First World and Anglosphere countries being disproportionately high contributors on a per capita basis [101].

20. Drought and soil loss. Global warming variously impacts drought and precipitation. The overall global drought risk as variously determined from tree rings and meteorological data shows an increase in the period 1900-1950, a paradoxical decrease in the period 1950-1975 and a  steady state since 1975. Nevertheless increasing global drought risk is implicit in the data [102, 103]. Thus in specific areas (the Sahel, the Middle East and Southern Australia) drought is having a big impact. The African Sahel has experienced a 50% increase in record dry months in recent decades [104].  Famine from drought is impacting  30 million people from Niger to Yemen [105] and is compounded by the obscene war on starving Somalis and starving Yemenis by the obscenely wealthy US Alliance [106]. Drought in the Middle East has contributed to the Syrian War catastrophe [107] that was also driven by  US and Apartheid Israeli desire for fossil fuel resources and hegemony. Loss of vegetation means that topsoil in drought-ravaged South East Australia has been blown in huge dust storms into the Tasman Sea [108]. The Australian Climate Council states that climate change has exacerbated the present disastrous drought,  and that Southern Australia is predicted to become drier. The Australian Murray-Darling Basin, which produces more than 33% of Australia’s  food, has experienced a 41% decline in streamflow over the past 2 decades [109, 110].

21. Ice sheet melting,  glacier melting and  sea level rise. Global  warning has resulted in a circa 25 cm rise in sea level since 1880 through the effects of thermal expansion and ice melting, with the current rate being about 30 cm per century and a predicted rise to 1 metre  by 2100 [111]. There is massive loss of Arctic summer sea ice that is predicted to disappear completely  over the next several decades [112].  There is also massive melting of the Antarctic  ice  sheet with about 159 Gt being lost per year [114].  Greenland contains enough ice that when melted would raise sea levels by 7 metre, and has already lost about 10,000 Gt [115]. Complete melting of the Antarctic ice sheet would  increase sea level by 57 metres.  Glaciers around the world are melting and western North American glaciers are losing 12.3 Gt annually [115]. 327 million Gt of melting would increase sea level by 1 mm [115]. In the Arctic there are huge stores of methane (CH4) that exists with water (H2O) in clathrate crystal arrays. CH4 has 105 times the Global Warming Potential (GWP) of CO2 (on a 20 year time frame with aerosol impacts considered). The predicted released of 50 Gt CH4 (5,250 Gt CO2-equivalent) from the Arctic in coming decades means game over for Humanity and the Biosphere [15].  Compounding this nightmare is a positive feedback loop in which warming -> decreased sea ice -> decreased albedo (reflectivity) -> increased light absorbance – > increased warming.

22. Paleoclimatology and sea level. Dr Andrew Glikson (an Earth and paleo-climate research scientist at Australian National University, Canberra, Australia) (2009) has commented thus on the long-term implications of the present CO2 level rise : “The continuing use of the atmosphere as an open sewer for industrial pollution has already added some 305 GtC to the atmosphere together with land clearing and animal-emitted methane. This raised CO2 levels to 387 ppm CO2 to date, leading toward conditions which existed on Earth about 3 million years (Ma) ago (mid-Pliocene), when CO2 levels rose to about 400 ppm, temperatures to about 2–3 degrees C and sea levels by about 25 +/- 12 metres [79, 80, 116].

23.  Storm surges, inundation and salinization. 90% of the extra heat from the greenhouse effect has gone into the oceans. Ocean surface warming of circa 2C means increased water evaporation and increased energy of tropical storms associated with precipitation. Global warming has meant increased energy of tropical hurricanes (cyclones) [117] that with increased sea level means inundation of coastal areas with destructive and deadly sea surges. Higher sea level and storm surges means increasing salinization of coastal areas and consequent decrease in crucial  agricultural productivity. Low-lying tropical Island Nations and mega-delta regions (e.g. Bengal) are existentially threatened  by sea level rise,  high energy  hurricanes and storm surges [17, 118].

24. Forest fires including tropical and temperate rainforest combustion. Global warming and dry conditions have been associated with increased forest fires around the world, notably in western North America, southern Europe, Indonesia and Australia. Climate change is a major contributor to this world-wide conflagration [119-121]. Warmer and drier conditions lead to a greater probability of undergrowth  ignition due to loss of moisture and humidity.  There is a positive feedback loop associated with this massive ecosystem destruction: greenhouse gases (GHGs) -> global warming -> dryness -> increased wildfires -> more CO2 release -> more warming. Alarmingly, wet, tropical forests are now burning  due to deforestation and drought. Thus forest fires in the Amazon emit twice the GHGs due to deforestation [122].  Edges of the  extraordinary  temperate rainforests of southwest Tasmania may now be susceptible to burning due to drought [123].

25. Death of rivers and lakes.  In the last 20 years 55% of China’s rivers have run dry due to industrial over-exploitation [9]. In Australia the Darling, Barwon and Namoi Rivers of the key food-producing  Murray-Darling Basin  have become successions of putrid puddles due to drought and over-exploitation of scarce riverine water for irrigation agriculture in a very dry region (notably for cotton production) [58-60]. In Central Asia, the Aral Sea was once the fourth  largest lake in the world but due to water use for agriculture (notably for cotton production) has almost disappeared [124, 125]. Salinization of rivers is a major problem across America because of the use of salt (sodium choride, NaCl)  to clear roads of snow and ice. In Flint, Michigan, the authorities stoped sourcing water from Detroit and to save money took it from the Flint River.  Consequent corrosion of lead piping lead to lead poisoning of 27,000 children [126, 127], this being reminiscent of the waste methylmercury neurotoxic poisoning of the people of Minamata in Japan [128]. The Jordan River,  immortalized in Christianity and in African American spiritual songs,  has become an agricultural run-off-,  sewerage- , saline-polluted stream [129], and the Jordan Valley has been largely ethnically cleansed of Indigenous Palestinians by the genocidally racist Zionists [50].

26. Desertification. Drought and over-exploitation of water resources is contributing  to the growing cancer of desertification around the world. The regions of high to highest vulnerability to desertification are those contiguous with existing desert regions  in the Western USA, Central Asia, the Sahara (North Africa and the Sahel), southern Africa, the Middle East,  Australia and parts of South America and South Asia. Desertification is increasing while population and the need for arable land is also increasing, Drylands represent about 40% of the Earth’s land area and are inhabited by about 2 billion people. About 1 billion people are presently threatened by desertification [130].

27. Ecocide, speciescide, omnicide and terracide. The Earth is presently undergoing a 6th extinction event in what has been described as the Anthropocene Era [68-71, 131-133]. The Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) re Summary of the 2019 Global Assessment Report on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (2019): “ 75%: terrestrial environment “severely altered” to date by human actions (marine environments 66%)… >85%: of wetlands present in 1700 had been lost by 2000 – loss of wetlands is currently three times faster, in percentage terms, than forest loss… 8 million: total estimated number of animal and plant species on Earth (including 5.5 million insect species)… Tens to hundreds of times: the extent to which the current rate of global species extinction is higher compared to average over the last 10 million years, and the rate is accelerating… Up to 1 million: species threatened with extinction, many within decades…  >500,000 (+/-9%): share of the world’s estimated 5.9 million terrestrial species with insufficient habitat for long term survival without habitat restoration …  >40%: amphibian species threatened with extinction…  Almost 33%: reef forming corals, sharks and shark relatives, and >33% marine mammals threatened with extinction… 25%: average proportion of species threatened with extinction across terrestrial, freshwater and marine vertebrate, invertebrate and plant groups that have been studied in sufficient detail…  33%: marine fish stocks in 2015 being harvested at unsustainable levels; 60% are maximally sustainably fished; 7% are underfished… >55%: ocean area covered by industrial fishing … 70%: proportion of cancer drugs that are natural or synthetic products inspired by nature” [131].

The summary for policy makers of the global assessment report on the biodiversity and ecosystem services of the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) (2019): “Scenarios project mostly adverse climate change effects on biodiversity and ecosystem functioning, which worsen, in some cases exponentially, with incremental global warming. Even for global warming of 1.5°C to 2°C, the majority of terrestrial species ranges are projected to shrink profoundly. Changes in ranges can adversely affect the capacity of terrestrial protected areas to conserve species, greatly increase local species turnover and substantially increase the risk of global extinctions. For example, a synthesis of many studies estimates that the fraction of species at risk of climate-related extinction is 5 per cent at 2°C warming, rising to 16 per cent at 4.3°C warming. Coral reefs are particularly vulnerable to climate change and are projected to decline to 10-30 per cent of former cover at 1.5°C warming and to less than 1 per cent at 2°C warming. Therefore, scenarios show that limiting global warming to well below 2°C plays a critical role in reducing adverse impacts on nature and its contribution to people” [132].

Warming, acidification and pollution of the oceans is killing the world’s coral reefs, complex ecosystems associated with many species. Fertilizer run-off and warming are creating huge dead zones in the oceans. Over-fishing is driving species to extinction. More complex pathways are threatening ocean species. Thus, for example, man-made global warming   is decreasing Antarctic sea ice and hence the substratum for photosynthetic algae that are consumed by krill, with the consequent decline in krill impacting krill-eating species such as whales.  Massive land clearing, forest fires, desertification, wetland “reclamation” and urbanization are destroying habitats, ecosystems and species. Violation of water systems is variously associated with ecocide and speciescide, with this putting the planet on a path towards  omnicide and terracide.

28. Water theft and water wars. The Palestinian Genocide (commonly described by the Mainstream media as the “Israeli-Palestinian Conflict”) has been about land, fossil fuel and water resources as well as race-based colonization and ethnic cleansing [39-55]. Drought, displacement and disaffection had a major role in the  related US Alliance- and Apartheid Israel-backed Syrian Civil War (aka Syrian Holocaust and Syrian Genocide) [54, 55].  Major potential conflict arises from multi-national upstream exploitation and damming of major rivers such as the Nile, the Indus, the Ganges and the Mekong.

29. Australian water and environmental lunacy.  Australia is the driest inhabited continent but is profligate in the use of water and in the effective export of water through export of goods with a high water footprint (e.g. cotton and cattle).  The worsening water crisis and the worsening climate emergency are intimately connected. Rich Australia is among world leaders for the following 14 climate criminal activities or parameters: (1) annual per capita greenhouse gas pollution [134-136], (2) live methanogenic livestock exports [82, 137-144],  (3) natural gas exports [145-147], (4) recoverable shale gas reserves that can be accessed by hydraulic fracturing (fracking) [148], (5) coal exports [149-153], (6) land clearing,  deforestation and ecocide [154, 155], (7) speciescide – species extinction [156], (8) coral reef destruction  [78-80, 156-163], (9) whale killing  and extinction threat through global warming [164], (10) terminal carbon pollution budget exceedance [165-168],   (11) per capita carbon debt [18-20, 169-172], (12) GHG generating iron ore exports [173-175], (13) climate change inaction [176] and (14) climate genocide and approach towards omnicide and terracide [17].  Thanks to the homicidal greed of climate criminal countries such as Australia,  the present plus 1C is already devastating Island Nations and  a catastrophic plus 2C warming is now unavoidable [14-17, 177].

30.  Mina Guli, activism and Mainstream media unresponsiveness. Mina Guli is an Australian  science and law graduate with an impressive  business  background in carbon trading and energy policy. She founded the water use advocacy and education organization Thirst,  and courageously  attempted to run  an extraordinary 100 marathons over  100 days to bring global attention to the water crisis, but  was stopped after 60 by a bone fracture [178, 179]. It is a sad testament to entrenched denialism in public life in neoliberal Western democracies that an informed,  skilled and articulate  professional  such as  Mina Guli found it necessary to embark on such an extraordinary physical endeavour in order to achieve effective free speech and be able educate the public on the worsening water crisis. Indeed I was  inspired by Mina Guli’s courageous and ethical example to research and write this wide-ranging, science-based  and documented sketch of the water crisis in the interests of Humanity.

Final comments.

The world faces a worsening water crisis that is inextricably linked to a worsening climate emergency and climate genocide. Presently 15 million people die avoidably from deprivation and deprivation-exacerbated disease in the Developing World minus China [13]. This Global Avoidable Mortality Holocaust is significantly linked to water-related impacts including drought, storms, fires, inundation, biosphere degradation, lack of water for agriculture, and lack of potable water. However a worsening, water-related climate genocide may see up to 10 billion people dying this century if man-made global warming is not requisitely addressed [17].  Technological solutions exist for water deficiency problems in rich countries e.g. urban water recycling, hydroponic agriculture, desalination, and rational industrial and domestic water use. However the linked water crisis, biodiversity crisis and climate crisis require drastic global action, specifically negative greenhouse gas pollution (CO2 draw-down to 300 ppm CO2 from the present dangerous and damaging 410 ppm CO2), negative population growth (a halving of population) and negative economic growth (a 50% decrease with the burden to be  largely borne by the rich North) [81]. Fundamentally these water-related crises require replacement of neoliberal facilitation of untrammelled individual  greed with balanced and sustainable resource utilization for the benefit of all peoples and all species. Please inform everyone you can.


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Dr Gideon Polya taught science students at a major Australian university for 4 decades. He published some 130 works in a 5 decade scientific career, most recently a huge pharmacological reference text “Biochemical Targets of Plant Bioactive Compounds” (CRC Press/Taylor & Francis, New York & London , 2003). He has published “Body Count. Global avoidable mortality since 1950” (G.M. Polya, Melbourne, 2007: ); see also his contributions “Australian complicity in Iraq mass mortality” in “Lies, Deep Fries & Statistics” (edited by Robyn Williams, ABC Books, Sydney, 2007:

) and “Ongoing Palestinian Genocide” in “The Plight of the Palestinians (edited by William Cook, Palgrave Macmillan, London, 2010: ). He has published a revised and updated 2008 version of his 1998 book “Jane Austen and the Black Hole of British History” (see:  ) as biofuel-, globalization- and climate-driven global food price increases threaten a greater famine catastrophe than the man-made famine in British-ruled India that killed 6-7 million Indians in the “forgotten” World War 2 Bengal Famine (see recent BBC broadcast involving Dr Polya, Economics Nobel Laureate Professor Amartya Sen and others:  ;  Gideon Polya:  ; Gideon Polya Writing: ; Gideon Polya, Wikipedia: ) . When words fail one can say it in pictures – for images of Gideon Polya’s huge paintings for the Planet, Peace, Mother and Child see: and  .


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