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Water and Agriculture

Pivotfarm's picture


It’s like a futuristic film with hoards of evil masses of people, poverty-stricken, living off the land, while the rich and wealthy continue to lord it, served to their hearts content and just raking it in, while the others hardly get enough to eat and drink. Yes, the resources of the planet are finite for the moment. Yes, those resources belong to the same people and yes the lands are worked for the benefit of the dollar-hungry few, while the money-poor subsist on what scraps get thrown to them. But, it might look like the future, but the present certainly resembles very much the long-forgotten past. We haven’t come very far since the days of feudalism, have we? There is still a power-crazed lord of the manor there that is just a business tycoon under another name. There are still the poor vassals that eke out their existence and wait in expectant eagerness for the bones to get tossed to them as the lord and his ladies walk off into the ramparts of the castle. This time it’s the water and the agricultural lands that are the much-sought after means of wealth. They bring down governments these days and oust leaders.

Water and Agriculture are already the cause of many a dispute in the world and even more so in the Middle East, in the Near East and in Africa. Take the example of ex-President Mohamed Morsi and his fall from power. The Ethiopians decided to spend $3 billion on the building of a hydraulic damn to siphon off the Nile. In May 2013, Morsi convened a meeting to discuss the project and it quickly turned into a fiasco with the media as it was transmitted live (by mistake or on purpose) on national television. The meeting went from decision-making discussions to threats of declaring war and to bribery of senior Ethiopian officials, via the destruction of the dam itself by Egyptian forces. Just a few weeks later, Morsi had fallen from power.

Water is everything from economic survival to territorial appropriation. It’s the cause of the downfall of governments and the revolt of the masses in countries that saw the ousting of their leaders during the Arab Springs. No country in the region was in a position to assume agricultural independence and each country has suffered from the increased dependence on water. There were food crises that hit those nations in 2007 as the Western world was being hit by their own financial crisis. The governments of countries in the regions massively invested in agriculture to keep the barking dogs at bay. But, that did nothing but increase the financial pressure on the economy and brought about hyperinflation. The governments were to some extent the cause of their own strife.

  • Saudi Arabia pays out a billion dollars per month for imported food.
  • Egypt forked out $3 billion for wheat alone in 2010.
  • The countries of the Gulf import some 90% of their food today.
  • Food prices got out of control in the lead up to the Arab Springs when the United Nations published figures showing that price indexes rose from 2009’s level of 157 to over 230 in 2011.
  • Wheat increased over that same period by 30%.

According to the Pierre Blanc from the CIHEAM research laboratory (International Center for Agronomy Studies, France), the future will be worse as agricultural lands are transformed into deserts. Climate change coupled with demographic transitions (increasing numbers of people are huddled together on small pieces of land – in Egypt 95% of the population lives on 5% of the land, for example) in countries in the water-poor regions of the world will lead to increased hydraulic demand that will not be met by available supplies today. While the regions remain politically unstable, the volatility of governments and policies will only mean that it will pave the way for increased disputes over the sharing of resources. Recent discoveries of oil reserves and gas along the Mediterranean coastline between Egypt, Israel Lebanon and Syria as well as Turkey and Cyprus will mean that those countries (as well as other nations in the Western world) will be vying for a place to exploit those reserves to a maximum.

  • Egypt has until now supplied 50% of Israel’s energy needs.
  • But that may change in the future with the discovery of Tamar and Leviathan gas reserves.
  • Tamar (282 billion m3) would allow Israel to ensure its energy needs for the next 25 years.
  • Leviathan (540 billion m3) would be a surplus that would enable Israel to rake in a great deal of money.
  • 60% of Leviathan will be used for domestic consumption in Israel, while 40% will be exported to other countries.
  • The other countries along the coastline seem to have equally promising amounts of gas and petrol in areas under their exclusive economic control.

Where there are resources that we want, there is a fight for power; that struggle turns into political upheaval and change. Too much testosterone will be flying around there yet again and everyone will be playing out their role of the alpha male to dominate the others.

Originally posted: Water and Agriculture

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Wed, 12/18/2013 - 19:05 | Link to Comment Joe A
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Whatever you think of them, the predictions of the Club of Rome are still on track.

Wed, 12/18/2013 - 15:05 | Link to Comment the grateful un...
the grateful unemployed's picture

the rich probably consume fewer calories, per capita, and they have more nutritious choices. to be fair, the typical working class stiff is going to burn xxxx calories a day, and finding good quality protein is not easy. the nature of the job they have is usually repetitive, certain muscles get used a great deal, and others not at all. the need for calories also reflects stress, and very little of their work requires aerobic exercise which would burn off the fat and reduce the gylcemic index. if you want to get in shape you should give up your day job. as the typical working stiff gets older his or her joints begin to deteriorate. you still have the calorie habit but you can barely get around. this creates the obesity spiral. the japanese corporate culture uses regular PT to keep their workers fit, and there are fewer obese Japanese. these are cultural differences, an american worker will pick up 100 lb item by himself, but a japanese worker will find three other guys and they all carry one corner. work has more to do with our nutrition problems, there is plenty of good food available. and americans hate exercise, their excuse is i'm too busy, or too tired. but we love our labor saving gadgets. marathons and joggins are popular but most americans consider them gay, or something women do to raise money for breast cancer. europeans aren't as obese as americans either, but they have similar ideas about work which is unique as an american art form.

Wed, 12/18/2013 - 13:58 | Link to Comment Tortuga
Tortuga's picture

After I read "Climate change coupled" I knew the author believes in Unicorns and pixie dust, so I quit reading. The comment section has more sense than this article.

Climate does change; but not by man induced correlations.

Tooooooo many people breeding in deserts, fed with charity; is the problem.

Fri, 12/27/2013 - 18:55 | Link to Comment MeelionDollerBogus
MeelionDollerBogus's picture

it's already been proven. The climate change drivers of co2 & methane are concentrated around our industrial zones globally & now the thawing permafrost of the North arctic ring around the arctic ocean.
Only an idiot would now deny it.

Nature has NOT increased its changes of solar deflection, or incoming radiation, or gas balances of oxygen, nitrogen, methane, co2, etc., we've done that with industry. Pre-iron age there were no such changes from us. Even agriculture, while able to do so on a per-unit basis, didn't over-all because there were so few humans 200+ years ago.

You believe in unicorns & pixie dust.

I believe in nothing. Science proves what you pretend isn't there. It's not a faith, it's a series of evidentiary items & analysis, testing, experimenting, to ensure the conclusions are correct. They are.

Climate change is here, now, faster than ever in Earth's living history and we did it. Period.

Wed, 12/18/2013 - 14:09 | Link to Comment novictim
novictim's picture

Tortuga, can we split open your long bones for nutritious marrow when your climate denial ramblings lead to a lack of proper preparation and mass starvation?

Yes, will be held to account.

Wed, 12/18/2013 - 16:19 | Link to Comment Apply Force
Apply Force's picture

novictim - so tortuga's thoughts (ramblings) lead to our collective inaction?  And he will be held to account for centuries of pollution brought about by .gov, corps and society in general?!?  You are a douche for multiple reasons - this comment being but one.

Wed, 12/18/2013 - 22:06 | Link to Comment novictim
novictim's picture

Eat up while you can, AF.  I want you good and fat when me and the starving masses come to eat you.

Fri, 12/27/2013 - 18:57 | Link to Comment MeelionDollerBogus
MeelionDollerBogus's picture

I'm with you. Also a wolf's jaw is ideally suited to cracking bones.

Problem/solution: wolf needs food. So you make sure the wolf gets fed but brings enough kills for you to get fed. They're good hunters but we humans still have tracking & predicting skills they don't. If the wolf believes you will find more food than it can, you won't be food. You'll hunt together.

Wed, 12/18/2013 - 23:54 | Link to Comment Apply Force
Apply Force's picture

I wish you true luck and godspeed - you'll need it : )

Wed, 12/18/2013 - 14:34 | Link to Comment Billy Sol Estes
Billy Sol Estes's picture

Don't worry, you'll be rounded up with the rest of us deniers when the UN has had enough of us ants.

Wed, 12/18/2013 - 13:32 | Link to Comment walküre
walküre's picture

7+ billion people and not enough food or food sources on the planet. Either we feed the world synthetically just because or they die off. No other species is able to expand and keep feeding itself when the well runs dry. They disappear and that's the end of it. Keep pumping water and keep shipping food into barren places and you're responsible for the creation of dependency. Population growth is on a trajectory to reaching 9 billion by 2025. 90% of the additional 2 billion people will be living in locations that cannot support the food supply for the people now, nevermind when they're adding a couple billion more.

It's a myth to believe that this is sustainable in any way. Stick your heads in the sand and have a nice(r) life. Our empathy is creating shitholes all over the planet. Literally. Growing populations of people are pushing out every other species which supported itself or died off. The planet is losing plants and animals because the planet is getting overpopulated with humans. That's not rocket science.

If there's a God, it doesn't mean it has a plan. Presumption is not a virtue.

Fri, 12/27/2013 - 19:01 | Link to Comment MeelionDollerBogus
MeelionDollerBogus's picture

indeed. It would be smarter to combine improvement of yield from the soil, quality of the soil, & migration of PEOPLE TO THAT SOIL, not moving the YIELD to the people. It can rot or be stolen.
This means the entire notion of stopping global migration, calling people "illegals" must end.
It's a vast statist anti-capitalist pro-slavery regime of capital misallocation of resources (workers & food sources + water).
We'll each make our own minds up when a particular city is too full to accept more.
America's done that before too: Great Depression, one of the famous signs telling the unemployed walking into town to just keep walking.
Shouldn't be any different this time & they weren't "illegals" they were from towns not far away in many cases.

Wed, 12/18/2013 - 13:29 | Link to Comment Billy Sol Estes
Billy Sol Estes's picture

Here in CONSERVATIVE Texas we just gayfully sold our water rights to the state by passing Proposition 6. It's another of CONSERVATIVE Rick Perry's slush funds that grabs water rights, gives it to the state, then sells them back out again to corporate interest. Private property owners and Conservationists be damned. Rick Perry and Texas democr... err I mean CONSERVATIVE Texans all must believe in perpetual population growth. I think those damn CONSERVATIVE Republicans must be intentionally dumbing down the school system otherwise any wise 6th grader would recognize the law of conservation of mass in this situation. If X amount of rain falls in the state....that is all you have. You can't divide X by infinity for all Texans.

I have faith though, because our CONSERVATIVE lawmakers in Austin will handle the situation with CONSERVATIVE values. Gov Perry will give you a "LBJ" handshake to ensure your trust.

Wed, 12/18/2013 - 13:45 | Link to Comment Uncle Remus
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Careful you don't bite off your tongue.

Wed, 12/18/2013 - 13:13 | Link to Comment zippy_uk
zippy_uk's picture

Egypt probably need to purchase some of these with their gas money then-

Wed, 12/18/2013 - 13:34 | Link to Comment Billy Sol Estes
Billy Sol Estes's picture

Dubai already uses them

Wed, 12/18/2013 - 12:25 | Link to Comment Laughing Stock
Laughing Stock's picture

"hydraulic demand"

"hydraulic damn" [sic]


Whoa...big fancy word for "water"

Are you kidding me?

Does anyone check this garbage before it goes on ZH?

This guy and Feenicks Crapital -- please for the love of God stop posting this shit


Wed, 12/18/2013 - 12:06 | Link to Comment deerhunter
deerhunter's picture

they are going to drill holes in the bottoms of the Great Lakes and just drain that water right over to the other side of the world for rice patties and such,,,,,  or maybe freeze it,  Fed Ex it and thaw it when it arrives on time via shipping????  Copy that,,,,,,,

Wed, 12/18/2013 - 10:55 | Link to Comment gookempucky
Wed, 12/18/2013 - 13:51 | Link to Comment superflex
superflex's picture


 You sound like some central planner.

Some of us dont live in shitholes with water deficits.  

Are you gonna tell me the Ohio river is drying up because of people watering their lawns.  The biggest 4 users of water in the region are power plants, refineries, agriculture and beverge production.  Municipal water production comes in 5th.



Wed, 12/18/2013 - 13:31 | Link to Comment Billy Sol Estes
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Make me! The government has raided and plundered to keep water prices artificially low for years because otherwise it would be racist or some shit so people wouldn't complain about the actual market cost of water in arid regions. (Owens valley, San Antonio, Boone Pickens, etc )

Wed, 12/18/2013 - 11:08 | Link to Comment mess nonster
mess nonster's picture

You don't really believe that kind of stuff do you?

Besides, if you don't want the Cinese to have the water, I'd say, water even more grsss, just so the Chnese can't get it.

But really, here is the real water grab:

And it's not just ski resorts. The Forest Service is also extorting water rights from ranchers. It works like this: Ranchers graze on public lands, and the FS and BLM are saying, "If you want to renew your grazing permit, you need to sell us your water rights."

So, yeah, water and grass do go together, but in bigger ways than most of us imagine.

if you need a real investment, buy arable land with water rights.



Wed, 12/18/2013 - 15:17 | Link to Comment zjxn06
zjxn06's picture

"if you need a real investment, buy arable land with water rights."

So here's how I've done it:

Before investing, read the posts :

and the book:


Remember what you paid for this tip

Company has primary assets in Cali-foreign-ia. Serious political risk

Stock is thinly traded

Wed, 12/18/2013 - 11:53 | Link to Comment Joe Davola
Joe Davola's picture

Just be suspicious if Evelyn Mulwray shows up unexpected in your office.

Wed, 12/18/2013 - 14:27 | Link to Comment TheFuture_MrGittes
TheFuture_MrGittes's picture

Evelyn isn't gonna show.

Wed, 12/18/2013 - 13:44 | Link to Comment DaddyO
DaddyO's picture

She's hot, she can show up in my 'anywhere', if she so desires...


Wed, 12/18/2013 - 11:43 | Link to Comment gookempucky
gookempucky's picture

Just making point mess--water and grass go together when the rain falls out of the sky period.

Water rights battles have been around since the cattle drives--as for ski resorts--again snow falls from the sky--no snow then stream water to make crushed ice for the slopes--melts and is on its way to be wasted--read the article--water shortage--been to lake meade--it will be a mudhole in ten years . Ha guess I can say that when I check the oil level in my truck and the dipstick reads add 3 qts I'll just keep on driving cause it's still running. WOW.

Wed, 12/18/2013 - 10:45 | Link to Comment LawsofPhysics
LawsofPhysics's picture

Indeed.  Looking to the future, all I will say is that while robots do not need to eat, they still require energy (calories) in order to actually do anything.

FYI-  "Predicted reserves" are just that, what matters is the amount of calories that need to be consumed in order to access those calories and what is actually delivered at the end of the day (presumably for consumption - stupid humans).

Hedge accordingly.

Wed, 12/18/2013 - 11:42 | Link to Comment boogerbently
boogerbently's picture


He had me up until "climate change".

Wed, 12/18/2013 - 11:54 | Link to Comment LawsofPhysics
LawsofPhysics's picture

Shit, the climate changes all the time and species come and go...

Meh, same as it ever was...

Wed, 12/18/2013 - 14:23 | Link to Comment novictim
novictim's picture

Carbon Dioxide in the atmosphere is at 400ppm...higher than any level ever since we apes walked out onto the plains of Africa.  

Resulting ocean acidification is leading to collapse and death of shllfish and coral reefs!  Fish stocks aroung the planet are collapsing.


And here you bozos are blabbering about a topic you've never bothered to study for yourselves.

As I have said before.  When TSHTF and people start to starve, you climate denialists will find it VERY hard to hide.  Life is going to be cheap as shit and I would not want to be you.

Wed, 12/18/2013 - 14:31 | Link to Comment Billy Sol Estes
Billy Sol Estes's picture

Go say a few more chants at the Dag Hammarskjöld shrine

Wed, 12/18/2013 - 14:45 | Link to Comment Ying-Yang
Ying-Yang's picture

No worries Mate... Monsanto has it covered! /s

Wed, 12/18/2013 - 11:51 | Link to Comment kaiserhoff
kaiserhoff's picture

Yeah, same old shit from the urban central planners.

The Midwest gets forty inches plus in a typical year.  Spring flooding is chronic.  Drought?  Once a decade.

There are many places with severe water problems.  The eastern half of North America is not among them.

Wed, 12/18/2013 - 15:03 | Link to Comment MeBizarro
MeBizarro's picture

WTF are you talking about.  Water is a huge issue in the Plain States especially depending on where you at and the depth you have to drill down into the Ogallala Aquifer and parts of Western Kansas in particular face huge issues with it. 

Large parts of the Plains States are semi-arid and the crops that crow there including corn requires large and vast amounts of pumped irrigation annually. 

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