Essay Examines Issue Of ‘Peak Water,’ Implications For Global Food Supply

“Wells are drying up and underwater tables falling so fast in the Middle East and parts of India, China and the U.S. that food supplies are seriously threatened, one of the world’s leading resource analysts has warned,” The Guardian reports. “In a major new essay, Lester Brown, head of the Earth Policy Institute in Washington, claims that 18 countries, together containing half the world’s people, are now overpumping their underground water tables to the point — known as ‘peak water’ — where they are not replenishing and where harvests are getting smaller each year,” the newspaper writes, and discusses some of Brown’s findings (Vidal, 7/6). “Tapping underground water resources, which got seriously underway in the mid-20th century, helped expand world food production, but as the demand for grain continued climbing the amount of water pumped continued to grow,” Brown writes in the essay, noting, “Eventually the extraction of water began to exceed the recharge rate of aquifers from precipitation, and water tables began to fall.” Brown continues, “The bottom line is that water constraints augmented by soil erosion, the loss of cropland, a shrinking backlog of unused agricultural technology, and climate change are making it more difficult to expand world food production” (7/6).

The KFF Daily Global Health Policy Report summarized news and information on global health policy from hundreds of sources, from May 2009 through December 2020. All summaries are archived and available via search.

The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation Headquarters: 185 Berry St., Suite 2000, San Francisco, CA 94107 | Phone 650-854-9400
Washington Offices and Barbara Jordan Conference Center: 1330 G Street, NW, Washington, DC 20005 | Phone 202-347-5270

www.kff.org | Email Alerts: kff.org/email | facebook.com/KaiserFamilyFoundation | twitter.com/kff

Filling the need for trusted information on national health issues, the Kaiser Family Foundation is a nonprofit organization based in San Francisco, California.