Water shortage may be next cause of world war

While much attention and debate have been correctly focused on the impending planet-wide oil shortage, a far greater calamity awaits us as the reality of the looming global water crisis becomes more apparent. It is not unreasonable to wonder whether the next world war will be fought over oil or water.
No resource on Earth is more precious than water. While ongoing events draw our attention to oil, we ignore what will become the most serious resource issue in this century – the international water shortage. The reports that nearly a third of the world’s population lacks clean water for personal daily use and estimates that by 2025 that number will grow to half of the world’s population. A number of world leaders have even suggested that the next world war could be sparked by water disputes.
In places as different as the American west, the Middle East, Northern Africa, and China the problem of diminishing water supplies is becoming steadily more serious and more dangerous. The World Bank has reported that as many as 80 countries now have water shortages that threaten their economies as well as their citizens’ health, while 40 percent of the world’s population have no access to clean water and sanitation.

In addition, more than a dozen nations receive most of their water from rivers that cross borders of neighbouring countries viewed as hostile. As readily as people and countries fight over control of oil, one can only imagine what it will be like when our precious life source of water is no longer available in sufficient quantities.
According to Frank Rijsberman, the director of the International Water Management Institute, “Globally, water usage has increased six times in the past 100 years and will double again by 2050, driven mainly by irrigation and demands of agriculture.”
The consequences of this increase in demand will be widespread scarcity and rapidly increasing water prices. As described in a report issued last August by WWF, the global conservation organization, rather than being simply a problem effecting poor and undeveloped countries, the “combination of climate change and drought and loss of wetlands that store water, along with poorly thought out water infrastructure and resources management, is making this (water) crisis truly global.”
In the Middle East, Israelis and Palestinians are fighting over shrinking water resources. In China & India more than 400 of 600 towns & nearby cities are suffering water shortages and in Peru, as around the world, mountain glaciers are in retreat, taking with them vast stores of water that grow crops, generate electricity and sustain communities.
“The situation will only be exacerbated as climate change is predicted to bring lower rainfall, increased evaporation and changed patterns of snow melting.”
So what is to be done about this imminent case of water insecurity? The most important first step is to develop a better method of agricultural irrigation. Presently 70 percent of all water use is agricultural, with 60 percent of that water being wasted, primarily through seepage and evaporation. Other strategies to address this growing global water problem include: water conservation, more desalination plants, slowing population growth, reducing pollution, and simply better managing the supply and demand of our most precious resource.
Ultimately, there will be no remedy for this seemingly intractable problem unless and until truly sustainable practices of water conservation are undertaken at the personal, national and global level. If we fail to do this, and don’t learn to conserve and cooperate, the war(s) for control of the oil in the Middle East will appear mere picnics by comparison.
And in addition to the already existing “No Blood for Oil” protest signs, our newest antiwar protesters will be carrying signs saying, “No War for Water.”

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