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The coming war for water

Boss Hog

TRIBE Member
I have an idea; since we live in Canada and have massive amounts of fresh water, let's have private corporations buy up the fresh water supplies then charge crazy amounts when it becomes scarce. This way it will ensure the only people who live are those who deserve to live; those with money!

Who's with me hey?

Michael McCarthy: World's most precious commodity is getting even scarcer
Published: 28 February 2006

Ask yourself what the world's most precious commodity is, and you might say gold; you might say diamonds. You'd be wrong on both counts. The answer is water.

If by "most precious" we mean what's most desired by most people, nothing comes close to water - fresh, clean water, that is.

This basic truth has been hidden from us in the rich Western countries because we have long had such a plentiful supply. But much of the rest of the world has had no such luxury.

Across the globe, perhaps a third of all people suffer from "water stress". There are 1.1 billion people lacking access to clean water, 2.4 billion lacking access to improved sanitation, and half the world's hospital beds at any one time are thought to be occupied by people suffering from water-borne diseases. You think this is bad? It's going to get worse.

In 2003 a UN report predicted that by the middle of the century - in the worst case - 7 billion people in 60 countries could be faced with water scarcity, although if the right policies were followed this might be brought down to (merely) 2 billion, in 48 nations.

It doesn't take much to realise that with such a commodity in desperate demand, fights are going to break out.

The essence of the problem is that there is only so much water to go round, and as the world population mushrooms upwards, we are at last coming up against the limits of it.

You might not think so from a picture of the Earth, more than two-thirds of it water, making us the blue planet. But only about 2.5 per cent of it is freshwater, while the rest of it is salt. And of the freshwater, two-thirds is locked in glaciers and permanent snow cover. What is available, in lakes, rivers, aquifers (ground water) and rainfall runoff, is increasingly coming under pressure .

Population growth is the biggest pressure. Even though growth has slowed, the world population of 6.3 billion is likely to about 9.3 billion by 2050.

Demand comes not just from drinking, washing and human waste; the greatest calls come from industry in the developed world, and in the developing world, from agriculture. Irrigating crops in hot, dry countries accounts for 70 per cent of use. Pollution from industry, agriculture and human waste, adds fierce pressure. Finally, climate change will probably account for about a fifth of the increase in water scarcity. While rainfall is predicted to get heavier in winter in high latitudes, such as Britain and northern Europe, in many already-drought-prone countries and even some tropical regions it is predicted to fall.

Other pressures will also make themselves felt, such as the growing move of the world population into urban areas (which concentrate wastes) and the increasing privatisation of water resources.

But the combined effect of population growth, pollution and climate change will probably be enough to bring world water supplies to a critical point.

Although the issues of water and sanitation are now on the international agenda, thanks to being included in the Millennium Development Goals, the UN believes that the true scale of the potential world water crisis is still eluding world leaders. A nasty wake-up call may be on the way.

http://news.independent.co.uk/environment/article348195.ece


Water Wars: Climate change may spark conflict
John Reid warns climate change may spark conflict between nations - and says British armed forces must be ready to tackle the violence
Published: 28 February 2006

Israel, Jordan and Palestine

Five per cent of the world's population survives on 1 per cent of its water in the Middle East and this contributed to the 1967 Arab -Israeli war. It could fuel further military crises as global warming continues. Israel, the Palestinian Territories and Jordan rely on the River Jordan but Israel controls it and has cut supplies during times of scarcity. Palestinian consumption is severely restricted by Israel.

Turkey and Syria

Turkish plans to build dams on the Euphrates River brought the country to the brink of war with Syria in 1998. Damascus accused Ankara of deliberately meddling with their water supply as the country lies downstream of Turkey, who accused Syria of sheltering key Kurdish separatist leaders. Water shortages driven by global warming will pile on the pressure in this volatile region.

China and India

The Brahmaputra River has caused tension between India and China and could be a flashpoint for two of the world's biggest armies. In 2000, India accused China of not sharing information of the river's status in the run up to landslides in Tibet which caused floods in northeastern India and Bangladesh. Chinese proposals to divert the river have concerned Delhi.

Angola and Namibia

Tensions have flared between Botswana, Namibia and Angola around the vast Okavango basin. And droughts have seen Namibia revive plans for a 250-mile water pipeline to supply the capital. Draining the delta would be lethal for locals and tourism. Without the annual flood from the north, the swamps will shrink and water will bleed way into the Kalahari Desert

Ethiopia and Egypt

Population growth in Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia is threatening conflict along the world's longest river, The Nile. Ethiopia is pressing for a greater share of the Blue Nile's water but that would leave downstream Egypt as a loser. Egypt is worried the White Nile running through Uganda and Sudan, could be depleted as well before it reaches the parched Sinai desert.

Bangladesh and India

Floods in the Ganges caused by melting glaciers in the Himalayas are wreaking havoc in Bangladesh leading to a rise in illegal migration to India. This has prompted India to build an immense border fence in attempt to block newcomers. Some 6,000 people illegally cross the border to India every day.

http://news.independent.co.uk/environment/article348177.ece


Armed forces are put on standby to tackle threat of wars over water
By Ben Russell, and Nigel Morris
Published: 28 February 2006

Across the world, they are coming: the water wars. From Israel to India, from Turkey to Botswana, arguments are going on over disputed water supplies that may soon burst into open conflict.

Yesterday, Britain's Defence Secretary, John Reid, pointed to the factor hastening the violent collision between a rising world population and a shrinking world water resource: global warming.

In a grim first intervention in the climate-change debate, the Defence Secretary issued a bleak forecast that violence and political conflict would become more likely in the next 20 to 30 years as climate change turned land into desert, melted ice fields and poisoned water supplies.

Climate campaigners echoed Mr Reid's warning, and demanded that ministers redouble their efforts to curb carbon emissions.

Tony Blair will today host a crisis Downing Street summit to address what he called "the major long-term threat facing our planet", signalling alarm within Government at the political consequences of failing to deal with the spectre of global warming.

Activists are modelling their campaign on last year's Make Poverty History movement in the hope of creating immense popular pressure for action on climate change.

Mr Reid used a speech at Chatham House last night to deliver a stark assessment of the potential impact of rising temperatures on the political and human make-up of the world. He listed climate change alongside the major threats facing the world in future decades, including international terrorism, demographic changes and global energy demand.

Mr Reid signalled Britain's armed forces would have to be prepared to tackle conflicts over dwindling resources. Military planners have already started considering the potential impact of global warming for Britain's armed forces over the next 20 to 30 years. They accept some climate change is inevitable, and warn Britain must be prepared for humanitarian disaster relief, peacekeeping and warfare to deal with the dramatic social and political consequences of climate change.

Mr Reid warned of increasing uncertainty about the future of the countries least well equipped to deal with flooding, water shortages and valuable agricultural land turning to desert.

He said climate change was already a contributory factor in conflicts in Africa.

Mr Reid said: "As we look beyond the next decade, we see uncertainty growing; uncertainty about the geopolitical and human consequences of climate change.

"Impacts such as flooding, melting permafrost and desertification could lead to loss of agricultural land, poisoning of water supplies and destruction of economic infrastructure.

"More than 300 million people in Africa currently lack access to safe water; climate change will worsen this dire situation."

He added: "These changes are not just of interest to the geographer or the demographer; they will make scarce resources, clean water, viable agricultural land even scarcer.

"Such changes make the emergence of violent conflict more rather than less likely... The blunt truth is that the lack of water and agricultural land is a significant contributory factor to the tragic conflict we see unfolding in Darfur. We should see this as a warning sign."

Tony Juniper, the executive director of Friends of the Earth, said: "The science of global warming is becoming ever more certain about the scale of the problem we have, and now the implications of that for security and politics is beginning to emerge."

He said the problems could be most acute in the Middle East and North Africa.

Charlie Kornick, head of climate campaigning at the pressure group Greenpeace, said billions of people faced pressure on water supplies due to climate change across Africa, Asia and South America. He said: "If politicians realise how serious the problems could be, why are British CO2 emissions still going up?"

Tony Blair will be joined by the Chancellor Gordon Brown, the Environment Secretary, Margaret Beckett, and the International Development Secretary, Hilary Benn, at today's talks in Downing Street.

They will be meeting representatives of the recently created Stop Climate Chaos, an alliance of environmental groups including Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth and Oxfam. It will also meet opposition parties.

The alliance will call for the Government to commit itself to achieving a 3 per cent annual fall in carbon dioxide emissions.

The facts

* On our watery planet, 97.5 per cent of water is salt water, unfit for human use.

* Most of the fresh water is locked in the ice caps.

* The recommended basic water requirement per person per day is 50 litres. But people can get by with about 30 litres: 5 litres for food and drink and another 25 for hygiene.

* Some countries use less than 10 litres per person per day. Gambia uses 4.5, Mali 8, Somalia 8.9, and Mozambique 9.3.

* By contrast the average US citizen uses 500 litres per day, and the British average is 200.

* In the West, it takes about eight litres to brush our teeth, 10 to 35 litres to flush a lavatory, and 100 to 200 litres to take a shower.

* The litres of water needed to produce a kilo of:

Potatoes 1,000

Maize 1,400

Wheat 1,450

Chicken 4,600

Beef 42,500

Mike McCarthy

http://news.independent.co.uk/environment/article348196.ece


I guess by the time water resource becomes a problem we'll have figured out some way to filter salt water and the problems will be solved. We're smart enough, right?
 

Ditto Much

TRIBE Member
* The litres of water needed to produce a kilo of:

Potatoes 1,000

Maize 1,400

Wheat 1,450

Chicken 4,600

Beef 42,500

I've been harping on this for a long time! Everytime we import a kilo of beef we should be shipping a portion of the water required to produce it back to the source nation. If we buy those cute little tangerines from Israel and Morocco we should be shipping back the production cost in water.

There are 2 issues that this article does not contend with that i wish it did. First although %97.5 of the planets water is salt water this sure as hell doesn't make it useless to us. Although we can't use it without removing the salt we can most definately turn salt water into fresh water in large quantities. Hell we do it over most of the world.

Second although water will be a source of conflict we need to stop pretending that %30 of the worlds population should live in deserts. Either we need to accept that death due to lack of resources will occur or we need to begin moving those people out of deserts and into places like Canada.
 

atbell

TRIBE Member
No water and no oil make America something something...

(there is a simpsons quote for everysituation)
 
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FC St. Pauli

TRIBE Member
Ditto Much said:
we should be shipping back the production cost in water.
this is insane

Ditto Much said:
Second although water will be a source of conflict we need to stop pretending that %30 of the worlds population should live in deserts.
we should be allowed to kill a man and drink the water content of his body
 

atbell

TRIBE Member
FC St. Pauli said:
this is insane



we should be allowed to kill a man and drink the water content of his body
It's insane but on target.

By shipping food long distances in large volumes we are depleting the land the food was produced on and using large amounts of energy to do so.

Readily available oil has spoiled us. Before the combustion engine there were few options as far as settlement location was concerned. People were forced to live close to clean water and good agricultural land or other food supplies (Nfld.).

Who knows what amount of soil degradation and fresh water problems we are causing by moving such large amounts of food all over the world. Isn't it odd that Florida has been exporting oranges for years and has chronic problems with drinking water supply? How much clean water is shipped out of that state by tropicana each year?

Or the problems with wild fires in California. Is the fact that so much fruit and veg (both high in water content) is exported from California adding to these problems?

I don't know the answers here, I don't think anyone does. That doesn't mean that Ditto Much's concerns aren't justified though.

I propose a study. Find the volume of produce exported from a region, approximate the amount of water contained in the exported product and see what can be seen. A bigger study might include mineral content too.
 

swilly

TRIBE Member
Mexico water marches turn violent
Protesters at the World Water Forum in Mexico City beat up an AP photographer
Radical youths were blamed for outbreaks of violence
Masked protesters have clashed with police at a global conference on water management in Mexico City.

Police detained about 17 people as some rallies turned violent on the second day of the World Water Forum.

More than 120 countries are represented at the conference, which has pledged to focus on ways to improve access to water for the world's poor.

Mexican President Vicente Fox said water needed to be seen as a global heritage to which everyone had a right.

But protesters claim the forum is being held in the interest of big corporations and their profits, rather than that of the poor.

Petrol bombs

Most of the demonstrations in Mexico City remained peaceful, however, with the violence blamed on a small number of radical youths.


We just want to have a say over our own water and manage it ourselves, like we always have
Delfino Garcia Velazquez
Mexico City resident
State news agency Notimex said police had arrested 17 people found carrying sticks, rocks and home-made petrol bombs, many of them wearing masks.

At least one police car was destroyed in attacks by violent protesters, the Associated Press news agency reports.

Large numbers of peaceful protesters included indigenous groups whose water is being diverted to supply big cities and those forced to live with sewage pollution.

Water is scarce in Mexico City, with many of its inhabitants managing on just one hour of running water per week.

Delfino Garcia Velazquez, a construction worker from the outskirts of the capital, said his community's scarce water resources had been taken over to supply new developments.

Women of the ethnic Mazahua group head a march at the World Water Forum
Most of the protests were quiet, with indigenous women leading some

"We just want to have a say over our own water and manage it ourselves, like we always have," he told AP.

Delegates at the summit heard a call for large donations to help rebuild water systems in poor countries.

Proposals for an international peacekeeping force to intervene in future conflicts over water were also put forward.

But protesters said they felt the discussion of community-level water projects that was supposed to be at the heart of the summit was being overshadowed by big companies' interests in privatisation.
 
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atbell

TRIBE Member
Any bets on where in the world the first shots are fired over water?

My money is on the US.

Small farmer A goes after another farmer, a corporate farm, or a government agency. It will be somewhere in the Mid-West.
 

atbell

TRIBE Member
"The World Water Forum, which brought together representatives from nearly 150 countries in Mexico City to discuss the problems of water supplies, concluded that “governments have the primary role in promoting improved access to safe drinking water”.

...

Alain Dangeard, a water consultant and economist, said: “The most important thing is to give local [projects] a chance. In countries such as India and China, you have real problems between centralised and local planning.”


He said that water services could be provided by small, local companies that better understood local needs rather than large multinationals.


People worldwide are suffering increasing water shortages, owing to pressures such as the increasing population and urbanisation, as well as climate change. A fifth of the world’s population lacks access to clean water, while two-fifths do not have basic sanitation. Increasingly intensive agriculture is also soaking up more water.


About 70 per cent of the world’s fresh water is used to irrigate crops, but less than a third of this water is returned to the environment locally.


Water is commonly underpriced, especially in agriculture, and that is at the root of much of the waste problem and lack of investment efficiency, the UN found."

http://news.ft.com/cms/s/c0b0c3b0-ba97-11da-980d-0000779e2340.html

And a link to the people who organized the 4th world water forum:
http://www.worldwatercouncil.org/

I haven't read anything about them yet but it looks interesting.
 

Klubmasta Will

TRIBE Member
atbell said:
Any bets on where in the world the first shots are fired over water?

My money is on the US.

Small farmer A goes after another farmer, a corporate farm, or a government agency. It will be somewhere in the Mid-West.
?

less fortunate countries/regions have been fighting over water for ... i dunno ... ever?
 

atbell

TRIBE Member
Klubmasta Will said:
?

less fortunate countries/regions have been fighting over water for ... i dunno ... ever?
My mistake.

My thinking is based on the fact that I don't know of any major conflicts that have been fought over this resource yet. I would love to look at any examples you have of past water conflicts. Reading about them would likely shed some light on when, where, and how any new conflicts arise / are resolved.
 
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Ditto Much

TRIBE Member
atbell said:
My mistake.

My thinking is based on the fact that I don't know of any major conflicts that have been fought over this resource yet. I would love to look at any examples you have of past water conflicts. Reading about them would likely shed some light on when, where, and how any new conflicts arise / are resolved.
Syria/Israel - Golan Heights 67 (river)
Libya/Chad - Libya invaded chad for deep desert wells in there territory
Israel-France-Britain/Egypt - Invasion of Sinai Pinisula to gain control of Suez canal

This one isn't over water however technically several of the battles related to Iran/Iraq were actually over water.
 

Ditto Much

TRIBE Member
This is a fairly good list

http://www.worldwater.org/conflictchronology.html

The trick is deciding which wars were over water versus the ones in which water was a weapon. For instance the German invasion of the Netherlands in WWII was not over water, it was over control of ports and access to the North Sea. It was also used as a weapon with the intentional bombing and flooding of the dike system to prevent allied re-capture.

Technically Israel has fought a war over water each and every time its been to war. Ethopia has been to war at least a half dozen times that I can think of and thats just since the 60's.

Singapore / Malaysia is a great example of a conflict that has been boiling for almost a decade. It comes up every now and then but its highly unlikely that an actual war will devlop.
 

atbell

TRIBE Member
Good list.

I was thinking mainly about drinking water though. Port / canal access I figured was a tactical given.

Did Ethiopia attack anyone other then Eritrea or has it been a continued struggle to get the port?
 

Ditto Much

TRIBE Member
Ethiopia/Somalia - 1963-64 Ogaden desert. Tough call as this one is over oil and water but also has an ethnic root. Ethopia's borders made little sense and this war was part of the result. This one almost happened again in 2004 when Somali nomads captured several wells.

Egypt/Ethiopia - This one has been a political conflict over the Blue Nile which Ethopia plans to dam and cut off (it feeds into Egypt) and egypt has made clear that this will trigger a war.


Eritrea and Ethiopia... This one is Ditto Much's pick for dumbest man made border ever. Although they have gone to war a couple of times water isn't listed as a reason. Normally its a target though with sanitation and water distribution being targeted and destroyed by both parties.
 
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