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Posted Wed Dec 8 2010: from Earth Institute:
Parched for Peace: The Fertile Crescent Might Be Barren
Hydrology experts and research scientists at the conference reported that between 2002 and 2008, the [Syrian] national water supply fell from 1,200 to less than 750 cubic meters per person per year, a decrease of over 35 percent. At the conference, scientists and hydrological engineers expressed concern over not only the low water supply itself but also, the rapid rate of decline. Many were not surprised by the news, however, pointing to Syria's notoriously inefficient water policies and supply systems. Consequently, many also pointed out that with some reform in these two areas, Syria could easily meet its water needs. A key aspect to such efficiency reforms will be changing agricultural practices. Crop irrigation currently constitutes 80 percent of Syria's water consumption and due to the continued application of outdated techniques (such as flood irrigation), more than 70 percent of this water is wasted through evaporation and runoff.... Climate scientists say that the entire Fertile Crescent - which encompasses all of Syria and much of neighbor Iraq - might be turning barren. Such a permanent, drastic decline in agriculture in the face of diminishing oil reserves and declining foreign investments would spell disaster for Syria. Iraq faces a similarly tenuous future: agriculture there has been all but decimated by years of warfare and drought. The collapse of farming is presenting extreme economic challenges as well as safety concerns: both Syria and Iraq are becoming increasingly dependent on imported food and water, and both face growing numbers of displaced migrants no longer able to glean profit or sustenance from farming.
[Read more stories about: water issues, aquifers depletion, food crisis]

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