20 Jul '11, 3pm
Growing Water Deficit Threatening Grain Harvests @earthpolicy
July 20, 2011 Growing Water Deficit Threatening Grain Harvests Lester R. Brown Many countries are facing dangerous water shortages . As world demand for food has soared, millions of farmers have drilled too many irrigation wells in efforts to expand their harvests. As a result, water tables are falling and wells are going dry in some 20 countries containing half the world’s people. The overpumping of aquifers for irrigation temporarily inflates food production, creating a food production bubble that bursts when the aquifer is depleted. The shrinkage of irrigation water supplies in the big three grain-producing countries—the United States, India, and China—is of particular concern. Thus far, these countries have managed to avoid falling harvests at the national level, but continued overexploitation of aquifers could soon catch up with them. In most of the leading U.S. irrig...