Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Blue gold

As discussed in Monday's post, water seems to be on track to becoming the next big commodity, being dubbed "the new oil" and "blue gold." Catherine Brahic, for NewScientist, reports that "after a decade of sometimes difficult talks between neighbouring governments, mediated by UNESCO," a detailed map showing where underground aquifers store vast amounts of water has been developed (for the first time). "The hope is that it will help pave the way to an international law to govern how water is shared around the world." More from the article:

Aquifers are underground layers of rocks or sediments from which water can be extracted - normally by drilling boreholes or digging wells. They hold 100 times the volume of freshwater that flows down rivers and streams around the world at any time. What the UNESCO map reveals is just how many aquifers cross international borders. So far, the organisation has identified 273 trans-boundary aquifers: 68 in the Americas, 38 in Africa, 155 in Eastern and Western Europe and 12 in Asia. Each trans-boundary aquifer holds the potential for international conflict - if two countries share an aquifer, pumping in one country will affect its neighbour's water supply.

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