The horizon is not so far as we can see, but as far as we can imagine

Water Wars And the Great Indian Die-Off

Humans can go without food for weeks. Water, a few days:

The core fact of climate change and human mismanagement of resources that a lot of people don’t seem to understand is that the worst of it is going to be about water.

Consider the Indian subcontinent. It is under three main water threats:

  • As glaciers go away, glacier fed streams and rivers dry up.
  • There has been vast depletion of aquifers, and within twenty to thirty years this will reach a crisis that devastates agriculture. There is no water to replace this aquifer water.
  • Climate change will change wind and rainfall patterns. Much of Indian agriculture is based on the monsoon cycle. If it fails even a few times in a row, agriculture will be devastated.

These items often feed into each other: for example, depleting groundwater is one of the culprits in drying up the Ganges, and if the Ganges goes dry, India dies.

Meanwhile, how do you think Pakistan is going to react, when, as things get worse, they realize that their agriculture, or people, are dying because India has decided to take upstream water they need?

India isn’t the only nation that will be hit hard by all this, but it’s going to be one of the worst. I am almost entirely positive we will see a famine in India which kills literally hundreds of millions of people.

Perhaps it won’t include a war between Pakistan and India; nuclear armed states, over water.

We are now in the triage period of an oncoming catastrophe. A lot of people are going to die, more will be immiserated, and the question now is who, and to a lesser extent how many.

This isn’t to say that nothing can be done to decrease the death count slightly, and to reduce the odds of human extinction, but we are past the point of no return on Climate Change. It will happen, the large stores of methane in permafrost (and probably in the arctic) will be released and climate, including rainfall patterns, will change. Large numbers of rivers and streams will dry up, and sea-levels will rise.

This will not happen on an even schedule of +X every 10 years, when it goes bad, it will go ballistic, and events like ice melts and changes to ocean and wind currents will happen quickly. Some of them may happen like switches flipping. It will go from “sucky” to “catastrophic” fast, with little warning.

So, I know that many people are stuck. No money, no health, no youth and too many obligations.

But be aware of this and plan for it if you can.

And if you live in India or any of the nations around the Indian subcontinent, please be particularly careful as there is even less possibility of India avoiding the worst case scenario than there is for most countries.

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Circles of Identity, Circles of Violence


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  1. Tom

    India has seen internal conflicts over water for the past 30 years. They known about it for this long and did nothing. Then they wonder why the 7 sister states in the North East are in open revolt, though few people ever hear of it.

    Then there is the Naxalite Rebellion in the South East.

    But daring to divert the Indus is a good way to bring China in. As the Indus starts in Tibet, along with the Sutlei, China can simply cut the Indians off till they restore the flow to Pakistan.

    This is a good map of the river lines and just how much India is playing with fire here. China will not tolerate its client Pakistan being cut off. They invested too much into the Nation and using it to get hooks into Afghanistan. They know what to hit and where.

    As for the Ganges itself, Pollution is doing the job well before Global Warming. It has the highest plastic pollution and industrial waste pollution in the world. Large sections are just dead with 150 species of fish, a species of dolphins, and 90 Amphibian Species at risk of extinction.

  2. russell1200

    I hadn’t been aware of the India-Pakistan water issues. And you don’t even need global warming to get groundwater depletion.

    And then with the Wall Street Journal (hard copy) putting out front page stories about how the fracking boom has been (in not their words exactly) a bunch of smoke and mirrors as an investment, you would have to look at the peak oil, and the pressures on the food supply, is looming again.

    You can take about green initiatives, or nuclear energy all you want, but it does really seem like time is running out in a very hard way, for business as usual.

  3. Dale

    If you haven’t read it already, I suggest you find a copy of Brian Fagan’s “The Long Summer – How Climate Changed Civilization”. It does an excellent job of describing how the warming climate since the last ice age has impacted human civilization and culture. What we as humans are going through is nothing new; it is the global effects and extremeness that are new. There is no escape this time.

  4. Seattle Resident

    The thing is, most Americans won’t change their views or habits, elites and proles, until the catastrophe hits them in the face. In the meantime, they’re more likely to invest in water stocks. If you can’t beat catastrophe, at least profit from it.

  5. S Brennan

    Population doesn’t get mentioned in such treatise…and perhaps that is right.

    With open borders we can now simply ship those extra 1,000,000,000 Indians to the USA…right? And since China faces similar problems, [to a lessor degree], another 1,000,000,000 Chinese immigrants probably won’t have much of an impact on conditions here…well, food, housing…and dare I say, water will hit astronomical prices but, that is a net gain to GPD..and of course, the 1%..

    Plus, wages will plummet to unheard of depths, I don’t want to be long winded about why all this is good news for your average joe & jane, besides, I am sure economists will be more than happy explain. And if an economists can’t justify it, surely today’s “liberals” & clergy will remind us of the moral argument..”The USA is a land of immigrants, we’d be hypocritical if we didn’t take in a couple of billion”

  6. Hugh

    Tensions have also risen in other river basins around the world between countries controlling the headwaters and those downstream, such as the Nile, the Euphrates, and the Mekong.

    These problems can also be seen in the US with the divvying up the Colorado River and the depletion of the Ogallala aquifer in the Great Plains.

  7. different clue

    India has atom bombs and ICBMs. If India is going to die, will India really die quietly and alone?

    Water woes throughout South and SouthEast Asia will get even more worser given all the water that China is brute-force stealing from all the downriver countries in Asia . . . and of course from Great Han Lebensraum Occupied Tibet and so-called “Chinghai” “Province” itself. And since the SouthEast Asian nations ( and Tibet) have zero atom bombs and missiles of their own, they will relive the wisdom of the old saying that the strong can do what they like and the weak can go die.

  8. Karl Kolchak

    Lately, I find myself wondering is \”the switch\” hasn\’t already been flipped. The number of major weather-related catastrophes seems to have increased exponentially in just the past two or three years. In the U.S., we seem to lurch from one disaster to another (right now many areas of the Midwest are experiencing record flooding, just a few months after the California wildfires and two major hurricanes).

    We might be at the start of a phase of accelerated global warming. If so, the 2020s are going to be a very troublesome decade indeed.

  9. Eric Anderson

    February was one of the coldest months on record in the Seattle area.
    The past three days have set scorching records for heat.
    It was 79 there today.
    Our shoulder seasons in the PNW are gone.

  10. Eric Anderson

    Not that this is any fix, but one has to imagine that die offs in the realm of 100’s of millions of people will have a sizable impact upon slowing the global economy. Which, in itself, will decrease CO2 production.

    Then the economic dominos will start tumbling as well. So, add massive unemployment levels to the list of troubles waiting in store. Not only will our food stores become more expensive due to scarcity, but billions will be out of any means to procure an income to buy the food/water at inflated costs.

    Get out of the cities you fools.

  11. False Solace

    It seems like a weird sort of fantasy that “hundreds of millions” of people could die off and have the mere effect of slowing the economy. It’s much more likely that this sort of mass death will result in large, full scale war. None of those millions is going to go willingly, they are going to fight. And let us not forget the Indian subcontinent is home to multiple countries with nukes. Global dimming means that if industry declines, the temperature will increase due to increased sunlight. But war tends to mean lots of resources and fuels getting used up. On the other hand, a nuclear exchange would result in temperature decrease for a few years. Probably cause enough disruption to put the finishing blow on a few dozen more million. This would be a pretty good planet with 1/8 the people. Not that the survivors will thank us.

  12. Tom

    Combat Obscura has been held up for a bit, but now will be released after the Pentagon cleared it.

    This is the ground reality of young Americans without a clue, thrown into a meat grinder, and becoming pawns of a system of exploitation.

  13. Eric Anderson

    False Solace:

    Oh, I agree. There will be wars. What I’m saying though, is that even the countries that aren’t forced into war will pay the price in grossly inflated food prices and unemployment due to the ripple effects of the mass die offs and ensuing regional wars.

  14. Deb

    Indian here. If we die, we are going to bring the whole world down with us. We would not be that nice.

  15. different clue


    I had a feeling that would be the Indian basic default position.

    ” We’ll all go together when we go.”

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