The Green Book
Where the Wild Things Were
How Conservation Efforts are Faltering
The Globalization of Animal Welfare
More Food Does Not Require More Suffering
Africa’s Anti-Poaching Problem
How Wildlife Trade Bans Are Failing the Continent's Animals
How Technology Is Transforming Conservation
Animal Rights, Animal Wrongs
The Case for Nonhuman Personhood
The Day the Earth Ran Out
The Causes and Consequences of Earth Overshoot Day
Environmental Alarmism, Then and Now
The Club of Rome’s Problem—and Ours
Is Growth Good?
Resources, Development, and the Future of the Planet
No Wars for Water
Why Climate Change Has Not Led to Conflict
The Devolution of the Seas
The Consequences of Oceanic Destruction
How Yemen Chewed Itself Dry
Farming Qat, Wasting Water
Suicide By Drought
How China is Destroying Its Own Water Supply
A Light in the Forest
Brazil's Fight to Save the Amazon and Climate-Change Diplomacy
The Reincarnation Machine
From Cars to Skyscrapers, Indiana to Shandong
The Great Leap Backward?
Pollution Without Revolution
Why China's Environmental Crisis Won't Bring Down the Regime
Harder to Breathe
India's Pollution Crisis—And What To Do About It
Why We Still Need Nuclear Power
Making Clean Energy Safe and Affordable
Tough Love for Renewable Energy
Making Wind and Solar Power Affordable
Cleaning Up Coal
From Climate Culprit to Solution
Don't Just Drill, Baby -- Drill Carefully
How to Make Fracking Safer for the Environment
How Chinese Innovation is Changing Green Technology
Beijing's Big Gamble on Renewables
The First Cold War
The Environmental Lessons of the Little Ice Age
The Geoengineering Option
A Last Resort Against Global Warming?
The Truth About Geoengineering
Science Fiction and Science Fact
The Climate Threat We Can Beat
What It Is and How to Deal With It
How Big Business Can Save the Climate
Multinational Corporations Can Succeed Where Governments Have Failed
In a little over a decade, Sana’a, Yemen, may become the world’s first capital to run out of water. Failed governance and environmental mismanagement share some of the blame for drying up the city. But there is also a more surprising culprit: a national addiction to qat, a narcotic that is incredibly water-intensive to cultivate.
If current trends continue, by 2025 the city’s projected 4.2 million inhabitants will become water refugees, forced to flee their barren home for wetter lands. In preparation, some officials have already considered relocating the capital to the coast. Others have proposed focusing on desalination and conservation to buy time.
As policymakers butt heads over the best course for Yemen, the dwindling water supply is already leading to instability: according to Al-Thawra, one of the country's leading newspapers, 70 to 80 percent of conflicts in Yemen’s rural regions are water-related. And across the country, Yemen’s Interior Ministry estimates, water- and land-related disputes result in about 4,000 deaths each year -- 35 times the number of casualties in the deadliest al Qaeda attack in the country’s history.
THE QAT CAME BACK
The cultivation of qat, a mild narcotic plant that releases a stimulant when chewed, accounts for up to 40 percent of the water drawn from the Sana’a Basin each year, and that figure is rising. That is both because qat takes a lot of water to farm (much more than coffee, another plant that does well in Yemen’s fertile soil) and because cultivation of it increases by around 12 percent each year, according to Yemen’s Ministry of Agriculture and Water Resources. Not only is the crop drying the Sana’a Basin, it has displaced over tens of thousands of hectares of vital crops -- fruits, vegetables, and coffee -- which has sent food prices soaring. According to the World Bank, rising food prices, in turn, pushed an additional six percent of the country into poverty in 2008 alone.
Why the increasing reliance on qat production? Farmers are
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