State of Russia in the surrounding world. Analytical book 

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Water resources of Russia and the world for the past 100 years.

Alekseevskii N.I.

Gladkevich G.I.



According to UN research, more than half of the world's population will inhabit countries with chronic shortages of water by 2015. By 2025, two-thirds of the world's population will experience shortage of water or even complete lack of it. At the same time, neither influential international organization nor international laws, regulating the rational allocation of water resources are available at present.

Each year, about 4000 km3/year of water are spent for household, industrial and agricultural needs, i.e. about 4,5% of the total freshwater of lakes, water reservoirs and rivers, which are the main sources for water in the world. Each year, the water use is steadily increasing, and this increase ranges from 10 to 70 km3.

The industry is an important water consumer. The production of one ton of rubber requires 2500 m3, cellulose - 1500 m3, synthetic fibers - 1000 m3 of water. Thermal power stations are one of the most effective water consumers. About one third of the yearly world's industry water consumption is used to cool all turbogenerators of thermal power stations of different types in the world.

Americans calculated that 77% of water consumed by householders is spent for sanitary and hygiene needs. Only 5% of all used water is spent for drinking and cooking purposes. Of the total amount of water used, 6% is spent for dish washing, 4% - for laundry, 3% - for diverse cleaning activities and 5 % - for other needs.

With seemingly abundant water supplies, the aquatic resources are rather limited. 70,8% of the entire Earth's surface is covered with water. The ocean covers 360 ml km2, while surface of our planet is 510 mln km2. But in fact, the entire hydrosphere is significantly larger. Thus, glaciers cover 16,3 mln km2, which is about 11% of the land. Lakes and rivers on land take significantly smaller proportion - 2,3 mln km2, or 1,7% of the Earth's surface, swamps and wet lands - 3 mln km2, or 2% of the land. Thus, it is better to think, that 3/4 of the earth's surface is permanently covered with water. If one is to add the snow cover of the Northern Hemisphere to that amount, then the total area covered with water is 86% of the entire Earth's surface. However, the proportion of accessible fresh water in that amount is insignificant. According to modern estimates, the total volume of the Earth's water is about 1386*106 km3. 97,5 % of this enormous volume is concentrated in the seas and oceans. 68,7 % of the remaining 2,5% of fresh water is found in the ice of Arctic, Antarctic and mountains, while 29,9% falls on groundwater. Only 0,26% of the total fresh water is concentrated in the main freshwater sources of the world - lakes, water reservoirs and rivers.

According to the estimates of the International Committee on Climate Changes, we should expect redistribution of precipitation over the entire planet: climatic contrasts are expected to intensify - draughts and floods shall become more frequent and intense. This shall worsen the regular supply of fresh water. At present, the freshwater controversies lead to confrontation between countries, primarily in the Middle East, which is primarily desert climate, with small amounts of precipitation and decreasing levels of ground water.

In Russia, the project of turning the rivers around became re-proposed in the Moscow's government, the project which offered to dig up the channel 2550 km in length and 200 m in width from Khanty-Mansiisk to Uzbekistan through Kazakhstan. The goal of this project is to supply the Middle Asia with 27-30 km3 of water, i.e. 7% of the yearly Ob river flow. According to this project, the water is be transported through the very uneven terrain, which shall require the construction of eight pumping stations with total year consumption of energy about 10,2 billion kWt/h. It is not yet clear, where the funds for this project will come from.

There are certain prospective projects aimed at utilization of the Antarctic reserves of fresh water, i.e. to break the icebergs and transport the ice-crumbs by cargo vessels. The price for such freshwater could be almost 30 cents per liter (the regular distillation procedure is 100 times cheaper). It could be said, that during 1970-s, Western scientists have already proposed to tug the Antarctic icebergs toward the Saudi Arabia. However, such projects remained as blueprints.

There are, however, some additional approaches to solving the freshwater problem. Many scientists believe, that the problem itself is non-existing, but there is an issue of non-rational usage of fresh water. The amount of money, spent to maintain the relatively low prices for fresh water (33 billion US dollars/year), is so great, that if one to spend this amount on the development of freshwater saving systems, this problem would cease to exist.

The Western countries have reached significant progress



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