Abstract

Around the world, groundwater sources are in decline due to overpumping and pollution. History informs us that as water supplies are lost so are civilizations. Such was the case with the Garamantian civilization, which thrived in the western Libya desert from 500 BCE to 400 CE, then disappeared when the groundwater ran out. Present-day mining of groundwater from large aquifers in the United States, North Africa, and China illustrates this problem. In less than a century, pressures from food production and population growth are leading to declines in supplies that appeared to many as inexhaustible. In many countries, there can be no replacement for declining water resources. Food scarcity and health epidemics, leading to societal decline, are likely outcomes as people chase dwindling water supplies.

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