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Groundwater Improvidence Expanding Worldwide October 1, 2010
Field irrigation
The increasing rate of groundwater depletion is not sustainable, and will eventually lead to hunger and chaos, according to reearchers.
A new study shows that the use of groundwater around the world has more than doubled in recent decades, threatening famine and chaos once it eventually becomes depleted.

Marc Bierkens of the Netherlands’ Utrecht University says his findings indicate that so much water is being taken out of the ground, evaporated and transported to the oceans through precipitation and runoff that it actually accounts for about 25 percent of the annual rise in sea level across the planet.

“If you let the population grow by extending the irrigated areas using groundwater that is not being recharged, then you will run into a wall at a certain point in time, and you will have hunger and social unrest to go with it,” warns Bierkens.

Groundwater depletion rates are highest in northwest India, northeastern China, northeast Pakistan, California’s Central Valley and the American Midwest, according to the study.

Photo: Bruce Barnett - Flickr