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War Over Water

Water Is the New Oil: Could There Be Wars For Water?

Theoretically enough water exists for everyone on the planet, yet all too often it is in the wrong place at the wrong time and in the wrong amounts. And there is no shortage of humanitarian crises when this happens.

Half the world's population lives in countries where water is scarce. Lack of it and ineffective sanitation are largely blamed for the death of 11 million children under age five; the hunger of one billion people; the inadequate food and nutrition of two billion; and 60 million girls kept out of school each year.

Water scarcity causes tension and is increasingly seen as a threat to peace, making it the new, new oil. It's blamed for causing disease, hunger, and mass migration. Many believe conflict is inevitable, and the secretary of the United Nations has even predicted "water wars."

While it makes sense that people would fight for their most precious resource, so far there has been only one war, between Sudan and Egypt, over it. Marq de Villiers, author of The Water Wars, believes this is because countries are more likely to help each when it comes to water, a necessity of life. "You cannot do without water," he said, "when shortages pinch, states do cooperate and compromise."

Will goodwill run out when the water does? Is war for water inevitable?


Join The Conversation
hypnoticmix hypnoticmix 8 years
I think all we have to do is look at the history of water wars between California, Arizona and Nevada right here at home that have been raging on in court battles for decades to appreciate this matter. I just love how developers in California kept building neighborhood after neighborhood knowing that the Colorado River would be diverted and lakes would be drained. Leaving future home owners to deal with the consequences and taking their check to the bank. One of my professors back in 1989 laid all of this scenario out for us but you see back then anyone who talked like that was deemed by the powers that be (crazy environmentalists) now as our hands move ever so closer to the fire and we begin to feel the heat on the seat of our @$$ all of a sudden the realization becomes common ground. I tell ya I don't get people.
beavis667 beavis667 8 years
Clearly you need to use more smiley faces when telling jokes. Sometimes I'm so dense, light bends around me.
foxie foxie 8 years
It's okay! Sarcasm doesn't always translate well over the internet, it's cool. =)
UnDave35 UnDave35 8 years
I'm sorry Foxie. I didn't mean to make anyone feel stupid. I am curious what everyone thinks about storing water, even if it's only a few hundred million gallons. :)
beavis667 beavis667 8 years
I think you are referring to the salt flats. If we'd fill that with water: A. Wouldn't it become salt water? B. Nobody would be able to set land speed records anymore. That's where people go to test their 400MPH motorcycles, rocket cars, and jet-trikes. C. It is hot in NV. It would evaporate and still be a desert!
foxie foxie 8 years
Aw I feel dumb now. =/
UnDave35 UnDave35 8 years
Double sinks have nothing to do with water waste. BTW - Flooding the badlands or filling the Grand Canyon were jokes, so I'm sorry I didn't make that more obvious. However, I am kinda serious about the water collection idea. My only problem is where do we store it? Also, what is the name of the desert area in Nevada (I think) that is below sea level? Could we fill that with water? Would anyone care?
foxie foxie 8 years
Anyways... double sinks don't strike me as the enemy to water, since they make dishwashing more efficient and easier than having a single basin. They save water by letting dishes soak in a single sink of water (probably only half way full) as opposed to using running water to wash and rinse. On the other hand, I have a dishwasher. My extra basin is used to store dirty dishes mostly, and thus uses no extra water. So again... I really don't see what double sinks have to do with water conservation.
foxie foxie 8 years
Please, 'enlighten' me!
gabiushka gabiushka 8 years
And I am guessing you don't want to know?
beavis667 beavis667 8 years
UnDave, I don't like the idea of flooding the badlands being from ND. I'm sure the folks in AZ don't want the grand canyon used as a reservoir either. You have an interesting idea nonetheless. We have alot of freshwater reserves in the US. I'd think collection of mountain thaw would be the optimal place to catch water, but then that may disrupt the ability to travel/ship on our rivers. Whatever the case, I'm all for a new business sector that involves the use of fresh water, as long as the government isn't propping it up with taxpayer dollars, and it's sustainable on its own (those 2 things usually go hand in hand).
foxie foxie 8 years
I don't know what double sinks have to do with water conservation....
gabiushka gabiushka 8 years
Oh come on, but everyone loves their 3 bedrooms 2-1/2 baths house with separate tub and shower in the master bathroom...I mean we CAN'T live without out tubs and double sinks right?
foxie foxie 8 years
I've never heard a proposal like that, UD. It's interesting and definitely sounds appealing on the surface.
UnDave35 UnDave35 8 years
How do people feel about manipulating the countries waterways to divert a portion to save the amount of fresh water that is being dumped into the ocean every day? We could divert it to, say, the grand canyon (we'd have to build a dam, which would mean more jobs), or the badlands, and just fill those places up with water, so that Our supply would increase.
Deidre Deidre 8 years
The sheer water waste that happens in households across this country everyday just adds to this crisis. The thing that is scary is so few people realize what a huge problem this will become in a very short amount of time. Thanks for writing about this Citzen and getting the word out there!
Gossamer Gossamer 8 years
so this is a good thing for Michigan right? We have all the great lakes!I am going to propose breaking up from the rest of the united states and becoming a rich independent country like Kuwait. lol
UnDave35 UnDave35 8 years
I agree that corn based biofuels are unsustainable. Fortunately, scientists are using what they have learned to use other, non-food biomatter to make biofuels. One day our garbage could go to plants to make biofuel, instead of the landfill.
foxie foxie 8 years
Right on, beavis. Anyone remember Six Feet Under's George having a breakdown because he felt water would soon be more valuable than oil? That series of episodes made me paranoid any time I left the sink running too fast or for a moment too long.
beavis667 beavis667 8 years
It takes 3 gallons of water to make 1 gallon of ethanol. Corn based biofuels are unsustainable, they drive up the cost of food, and they aren't cheaper than gas without government subsidy. Who is to blame when someone buys snake-oil? Well the buyer is partly to blame for being dumb. The seller is to blame for duping people. And in the case of biofuels, the government is sharing the blame too by enabling that industry.
UnDave35 UnDave35 8 years
Don't we have almost 2/3's of the earth's fresh wated in the great lakes? Aren't we the Saudi arabia of H2O? If we can effectively work that avenue, we can become richer than the Saudi princes, and since we don't need oil, like we need water, they can't "develop" an alternative to what we have...
bluesteyes bluesteyes 8 years
I am going to borrow that book asap! Thank you very much for this info :)
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