All your science in here

If the earth’s water is finite (which I have checked it is) then can anyone enlighten to me as to why it is becoming more scarce? Is it a case of where it is located and/or the state it’s in rather than the absolute quantum available?

Given what’s happening at the poles and on glaciers etc you might have expected there to be more in liquid form than there was 100 years ago.

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There’s no change in the amount of water. There’s a cycle - from sky to sea and back, basically. And there’s plenty of water overall. The issue is mainly about having sufficient infrastructure to provide clean water to the population locally:

In the UK, water companies haven’t invested in new infrastructure since being privatised, for Tory reasons.

In the Middle East, they need to build loads of desalinisation plants to provide fresh water. That’s getting done generally, depending on where you are.

In much of the third world, population increase has gone much faster than water infrastructure. And in places where the population in steadier they are becoming more affluent, this increasing water usage per person.

So it’s never a lack of water, it’s around having the appropriate infrastructure for the local requirement.

The main caveat is around climate change - this has, in many places, changed the water supply. Generally this means that different infrastructure is required, although I guess that some places might become largely uninhabitable if they’re in the middle of a new desert or something.

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Our relationship with liquid water is very complex. Unless it appears almost exactly when, where and in the quantity we need it we will find ourselves in serious trouble. We might well call that ‘scarcity’. We need to intercept it in its brief ‘fresh’ state, either as rain or meltwater or from an aquifer.

Worse still, keeping the supply in the steady state won’t do. Between the planet’s rising population and that population’s rising standard of living the demand for water is climbing fast. It’s been a problem for decades and isn’t improving I’m afraid.


Water is scarce on a planetary level. Even if you take into account sea water, which covers some 75% of our planet, it’s a relatively thin layer. Fresh water is even more scarce.

We don’t have a water shortage in the UK, just piss poor infrastructure.

Sub Sahara Africa, certain S American countries on the other hand.


Glad to see that this work will keep going for at least a bit longer


Too little efficient waste-water treatment. Too much industrialisation. Too much pollution. Too many humans. And especially, too rapid increase in population - the first billion humans took ~4.5 billion years to arrive (in the early C19th); the next billion took 100 years; the last billion took 12 years…

Human overpopulation is the elephant in the room for me. It tends to be dismissed because of a variety of historical and current factors, such as advances in technology, global-inequalities of wealth and resources, misuse or incomprehension of statistics (e.g. % expansion rate has nominally declined, but only because we reached such huge numbers so insanely fast), declining birth-rates in some regions, and a woolly-headed notion that if we just installed the perfect utopian systems into all nations, things would be fine and we could keep on like this forever.

We can’t keep on like this forever.

No matter what you choose to believe - no matter how hard you ignore human nature’s greed, selfishness, irrationality, superstition, aggression, destructiveness and short-termism, no matter how desperately you cling to the delusion of human-rights and freedom-of-choice, no matter how hard you dream of better societies and amazing new technologies - exponential population increase cannot continue indefinitely.

That means some generation of humanity will have to address the issue that is the source of our greatest squeamishness. Some generation will have to Take The Pain.

The usual counter to this argument is to point-out how the spread of wealth and technology has tended to allow continuing population growth, as humanity appears to be sucked-out of the countryside and into cities - and sure, for a while, standards of living improve locally. That ignores all the negative factors: that in time the depopulated areas backfill, that better standards of living expand life-expectancy - which in turn increases the negative impact of growing populations of unproductive resource-hungry elderly, that cities concentrate problems as well as solutions, that cities produce pollution and have HUGE resource requirements which are both deflected back into rural areas, that technological societies have a declining need for more humans, that humans remain instinctively tribal organisms for whom high population density = emotional misery, &c, &c

Every ‘solution’ comes down to humanity magically becoming more rational, altruistic, peaceful and sociable than it is now, and less change-phobic. How does that happen, exactly? Selective breeding programmes? We’ve already removed most of evolution’s influences, so we have to do it ourselves - anyone keen to embrace eugenics? Or do we accept that this imaginary utopia is just that: imaginary?

Solutions also require increasingly miraculous new technologies, and yet we have become somewhat stuck-in-a-rut since the middle of the C20th. We still burn hydrocarbons for energy, we still exploit nuclear fission, we still use inefficient, materials-hungry batteries to store power, water is pulled wantonly from the ground and discharged post-use in various degrees of contamination; the realities of anthropogenic climate change are literally being burned into our consciousnesses and yet still powerful economic lobbies furiously and effectively battle against change. Even the IT revolution seems to yield more harm than good - aiding the promotion of lies and the splintering of society. Technology does improve - but chiefly incrementally now, rarely revolutionarily.

We are ostrich-with-its-head-in-the-sand tier ignoring the need to continually resource perpetually-expanding populations. If we’re to provide food, water and viable habitation for growth=infinity, we must eventually turn every inch of this planet into a farm, factory or home of some kind, and we must eventually re-use every molecule that we shit/piss/sweat/exhale or otherwise consume with perfect efficiency…

And even then - one day we will still hit the bump-stop…

We also ignore the nature of the journey we must take to get from where we are now, to the hypothetical ‘utopian’ end point where the whole planet is some kind of primitive ‘Dyson Sphere’ - fully enclosed by human habitation. Never mind the depressing (and probably unsustainable) loss of most non-human life, and all open, natural spaces - how many entire civilisations and cultures must be destroyed to allow that to happen? Humanity is powerfully change-resistant - we may dream of true equality for all, but that is VERY much not a dream that is universally shared, most especially not by the various Bronze-age mass-superstitions that call themselves ‘religions’. They’ve shown themselves - again-and-again - willing to commit mass-slaughter to enforce their absurd beliefs. Much the same can be said of the power-hungry, the wealth-addicted, the nationalistic-fanatics, and many more - none willing to embrace change that threatens them, and all willing to kill to protect their interests. So how many thousands of years of war will humanity have to endure to achieve this nightmarish ‘dream’ of unchecked population growth?

And even then, no matter how hard we go “La-la-la!” with our fingers in our collective ears - no matter how enormous the sacrifices - one day we will still have to look at population and say “Enough!” - and then we have to start deciding who gets to breed…

So do we start to find acceptable ways to do that now - before we’ve turned this whole planet into a wasteland, or do we selfishly crack-on as we are and leave some other poor cunts to do our dirty work?

TL;DR - FFS, Sod’s gone-off on one… :roll_eyes:


Please elaborate


Thanks. I was hoping for a “How’dya mean?”, for old-times’ sakes :+1:


Bit of a worry, eh ?

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I think we’re too late. We cannot turn around in decades what has been building and accelerating since the Industrial Revolution.

Gaia’s gonna stomp on us.


So will Logans Run become a thing? Or will wars, big wars, be the inevitable?
You show a grim future, Maureen :disappointed_relieved::disappointed_relieved::disappointed_relieved::disappointed_relieved:

Of course we will do fuck all, we’ll just leave it to a straight forward supply/demand population control, same as every animal does. Population will shrink when food, water and disease dictate, aided and abetted by wars.

In the meantime we will try and not heat the planet up to the extent where we kill our species, I have a margin of optimism on that.

Generally speaking, the wealthy will fuck over the poor everytime. At the moment the wealthy includes Europe, USA etc, the poor equals Africa, most of Asia, South America etc.

And we think we can colonise Mars… Lol.

I, on the other hand, have the rather slimmer (~ 0) margin of realism.

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Based on?

FWLIW, no-one hopes I’m wrong more than me, but it feels like cheating that I’ll be dead long before the shit really hits the fan…


No more than the decline of the use of fossil fuel in cars and the switch to electric generated by nuclear and renewables.

The take up of electric cars will be rapid, diesel and petrol will be a rare sight in ten years.

Good stuff - seems to me that just taking our septic isle, we could do with making water a much higher priority and valuing it massively more - water execs held to account and make it a high up electoral priority Feargal Sharkey in the cabinet :wink:

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Actually, it would seem that, contrary to what we might think, the wrong sorts of agriculture/meat production contributes more than the fossil fuel burning. Still think we’ve already fucked it tho’

Not sure of this deals with view cow farts, but it looks to be a good start.