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Worldwide shortages could lead to water wars


Get ready for the water wars.

Most of the world’s population takes water for granted, just like air. But a Hindustan Times blogger said that in India right now, as in so many other places around the globe, drinkable water has become such a “precious commodity” that it’s dragging the world into “water wars to follow the ones for the control of fuel oil.”

Climate change is drying up lakes and rivers almost everywhere. In Australia, for example, an unprecedented heat wave brought on massive wildfires and critical water shortages.

As water grows scarce, more countries are building dams on rivers to hog most of the water for themselves, depriving the nations downstream. Already, Egypt had threatened to bomb the Grand Renaissance Dam upstream on the Nile River in Ethiopia.

And as the Earth’s population crossed the 7 billion mark last year, more and more water sources are so polluted that drinking the water can kill you. No one’s counting, but various government and private estimates indicate that worldwide, tens of thousands of children die each and every day from drinking contaminated water.

By most estimates, half the world’s people live in places where clean water is not easily available. Bangalore, India, for example once had 400 lakes in its vicinity. Now, the New Indian Express newspaper wrote, only 40 are left, and all of them are polluted.

Hence the fights. One of the biggest areas of conflict is the India-Pakistan-China nexus. Multiple rivers intertwine the countries, and as water levels fall, all three are building dams to keep much of the water for themselves.

China has built more dams than any other nation, making numerous countries angry because Chinese rivers flow into more adjacent states than from any other state. And yet, even with 14 different downstream border states, China refuses to agree to any water treaties. Right now, China has approved plans to build 54 more dams on rivers, many of which serve as the lifeblood of neighboring states.

So where is all this water going? With ever-rising temperatures, more and more water evaporates and returns to the ground as rain. But most of it falls into the oceans. That’s one reason sea levels are rising worldwide, threatening vast coastal areas.

— Joel Brinkley,

Des Moines Register

10 Comments on "Worldwide shortages could lead to water wars"

  1. Norm on Wed, 1st Jan 2014 12:25 pm 

    Agree there will probably be water wars. As a minor complaint in this article… he says when the water in rivers is used by people, it evaporates, thus causing sea level rise.

    That is clearly bogus, because, if there weren’t any people and the earth functioning as it would originally, the river flows directly to the ocean.

    It flows most directly to the ocean without any dams.

  2. Kenz300 on Wed, 1st Jan 2014 4:44 pm 

    Too many people and too few resources……….

    Endless population growth is not sustainable.

  3. Feemer on Wed, 1st Jan 2014 5:30 pm 

    There will absolutely be water wars, but decreased water accessibility will also damage crop yields and industry. So we will not only have fights over water, but food is going to become more scarce. And as the earth warms, most precipitation will fall as rain rather than snow, or if it is snow, will melt rapidly, leading to water insecurity. Start a large garden and use water saving techniques like mulching, because food and water are going to be very valuable pretty soon

  4. robertinget on Wed, 1st Jan 2014 6:11 pm 

    I’ll take the position that fair water distribution issues are extremely complicated but unlike tribal, political power and religious differences are negotiable.
    At least that has been the history.

    “While there is no money to be made at the end of civilization, there is plenty to be made leading up to the end”.

    Once again, because of respect for the law and adequate water, energy and educational resources, North America is once again blessed.

  5. stilgar wilcox on Wed, 1st Jan 2014 8:59 pm 

    Water wars will simply be the end result of acting as if there is phantom capacity (a term used by Author William Catton). It’s like needing fuel for a 400 mile drive (with no fuel stations ahead) but only having a 300 mile capacity. Acting as if there is a 400 mile supply is acting as if there is phantom capacity of 100 miles of fuel.

    Apparently people do not make calculations as to how much water there is and how many people that will support long term, and then stay within those limits. No, people act as if there is phantom capacity and therein lies the problem.

    The same thing is happening with oil. As peak oil advocates suggest limits, most people fall in line to feel assured there is phantom capacity because of the Bakken and Eagle ford, tight oil from fracking. The mentality is for ‘now’ we have what we want, so don’t be negative about limits.

    Apparently we are only designed mentally to go after resources full tilt, not question any of the numbers involved. Look at blue fin tuna for example. Did the Japanese say to themselves, well there are still 5,000 and that is the minimum population to sustain their numbers for the long term? No, they fished them out until they are near extinction.

  6. rollin on Wed, 1st Jan 2014 9:46 pm 

    Nature seems to be making the hive-humans get stirred up at each other. Conflict and war will be the result since the hive-humans don’s deal with the actual causes or understand that political boundaries are imaginary constructs.

  7. Dwight Eichorn on Wed, 1st Jan 2014 10:05 pm 

    For real answers check out

  8. andya on Thu, 2nd Jan 2014 12:32 am 

    Seriously, rain falling in the sea causes sea level rise? Rain has been falling in the fracking sea for billions of years, it’s a wonder there is any land left at all.

    Draining lakes and wetlands must cause some, so would pumping out fossil aquifers, but the largest portion is to come from ice and melting off of Glaciers, Greenland and Antarctica.

  9. Makati1 on Thu, 2nd Jan 2014 3:52 am 

    Robertinget. America has water NOW, but that is no guarantee that it will not change rapidly with climate change. After all, most of the world’s deserts were once forests not to many years ago.

    And, what water America has is being polluted so badly and fast that there may be water but not usable or containing life.

  10. TIKIMAN on Thu, 2nd Jan 2014 12:39 pm 

    I will think of this a few times a week as I wash my Honda with fresh clean water…


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