Friday, January 30, 2009

“Where Has All the Water Gone?” highlights the eminent dangers of a diminishing fresh water supply on the planet. Although the Earth’s surface is mostly covered by water, only a tiny fraction of that water is potable, or available for human drinking needs. Because of the sheer size and demand of the global population for water, it is being diminished at an alarming rate.

The depletion of the World’s freshwater has already proven to be a plague for populations living in water stress and scarcity conditions. More than two billion people on the planet live without access to clean drinking water and proper sanitation. Therefore, many, especially children, die from waterborne diseases every year. The annual death toll from diseases such as cholera and typhoid fever is estimated to be higher than the total from HIV/AIDS, war, famine, and traffic accidents combined. In the United States, the freshwater situation is becoming increasingly severe. Every day the catastrophe becomes more of a reality, and as politicians and the mass media ignore it, the human race sinks deeper into a grave situation.

In my opinion, the article legitimately cites technology, affluence, and population all as key factors in the situation. To me, the scariest thing is the USA’s seemingly blind march into these problems. For example, within approximately 16 years the USGS expects much of the High Plains aquifer, a major US source for irrigation, industry, and drinking, to be dried up. After that point, no one knows where the water will come from. Ocean desalinization is not currently a viable option because it is extremely expensive. Being responsible with water resources not only promotes a healthy environment, but saves us the future economic costs of desalinization and the health problems associated with polluted water. To conserve and protect our water supplies is not a question of economics versus the environment; it’s a question of our commitment to future generations of Americans.
--Fred Teasley

Sunday, January 25, 2009

New class

Welcome to Natural Resource Economics class at Towson University. As we study economic theory and apply it to resource issues, we're also going to keep up with current events. This blog is dedicated to highlighting the issues we find interesting. For example, in December the Washington Post did a pretty in-depth piece on how the governmental agencies set up to improve the Chesapeake Bay ecosystem have so far failed. The Chesapeake Bay Foundation published this report around the same time, highlighting the many failures particularly at the EPA, and just a few weeks ago it filed suit against the government in order to force the EPA to act. The CBF is happier about Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley's protection of environmental budget items in spite of the budget crunch, which has meant furloughs for many of us working here at Towson and which will probably mean tuition increases for students. When people are forced to take unpaid leave so that there's money to protect the environment, the link between economics and natural resources is painfully clear! Hopefully this semester we will find other interesting issues to talk about. More soon!