Forget oil ... It is water the world wants more than anything else.
Last week the Environment Agency warned parts of England were facing a drought this year. Seven water companies have announced hosepipe bans in the southeast from next month. It is not just the southeast of England that is short of water. According to the latest United Nations (UN) water report, published last week, there are a billion people across the world who do not have access to safe drinking water, and the number is rising.
Droughts and water shortages are common across large parts of Asia, Africa and the Middle East. Two-thirds of the Arab region's available surface water originates from outside of the region, leading to many conflicts with upstream countries. Experts have often predicted that "water wars" will break out in the Middle East as nations struggle to feed their people and water becomes scarcer. At the UN World Water Forum in France, the former Soviet president, Mikhail Gorbachev, warned there was no substitute for water. "The deficit of fresh water is becoming increasingly severe and large scale," he said. "Continuation of water consumption at 20th-century rates is no longer possible."
In his book, Peak Water, Scottish writer and a political adviser to the Scottish Government, Alexander Bell imagines the decimation of Dubai, leaving hundreds of thousands dead. "The great monument to 21st-century civilization lies in ruins, shattered into the sand like so many before," he wrote. "Not long before the world had fought over oil, but now water is the prize."
In another scenario, he has both Chicago and Toronto smashed into "twisted steel and broken concrete" after a war between the US and Canada over access to water. Canada is one of the wettest countries in the world, but the US is growing short of water, partly because it consumes two and half times more per person than Europe. Debates have raged for decades over whether Canada should sell water to its southern neighbours. The US problem is illustrated by Las Vegas. To sustain the city's two million people, water is brought 1400 miles from the Rockies by the Colorado River via a vast artificial lake created by the Hoover Dam. "This may be a sure case of ecocide," observed Bell. "Las Vegas can only die, and within our lifetimes, because the water supply is running out."
Even in Europe, as many as 120 million people lack access to safe drinking water. "Water resources are under pressure in many parts of Europe, and it is getting worse," warned Jacqueline McGlade, the executive director of the European Environment Agency, based in Copenhagen. "With climate change making water supply less predictable, it is extremely important that Europe uses water more efficiently for the benefit of all its users. Water resources should be managed as effectively as any other natural asset owned by countries." Farmers, who use about a quarter of Europe's water, need to adopt less wasteful ways of watering their crops like "drip irrigation" , she said
Large parts of Spain, France, Ireland and the southeast of England are shown to have "extreme water stress". The whole of Italy and other parts of France, Spain and England are said to be enduring "water stress", while Scotland has "no stress".
First Minister Alex Salmond views Scotland's water is a natural resource with the potential to swell the national coffers by selling it to England. Salmond suggested that Scotland could help alleviate the long-term shortages. "..you would sell it on...as an ongoing commercial transaction." The Scottish Government said Scottish Water could make a profit out of selling water to England. But the idea of selling water to England has run into criticism from other experts, who warn that it would be impractical, polluting and expensive. "It is not simple," said Dr Jon Hargreaves, chief of Scottish Water for six years until 2007 and now chair of the British Waterways Scotland Group. "Ultimately, it depends on the market.
Chris Spray, a professor at Dundee University's water centre and a former director of environmental science at the Scottish Environment Protection Agency explained that it raised a series of difficult questions about ecological damage, costs and ownership. Dr Sarah Hendry, another Dundee University specialist said exporting water would also mean that you would have to turn it into a commercial commodity, which would open up the difficult political issue of who should own and benefit from Scotland's water. Scotland's water has no legal owner.
Sunday, March 18, 2012
Sunday, March 09, 2008
Been a while that Socialist Courier reported on the competition to exploit the ever warming Arctic regions , the last time being here . Well , just because the problem isn't reported , it doesn't mean it has disappeared . Also raised in the article are the other potential causes of conflicts , like for instance possible "water wars" and other competition for resources
European Union leaders will receive a stark warning next week of potential conflict with Russia over energy resources at the North Pole as global warning melts the ice cap and aggravates international security threats. A report by EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana and the executive European Commission describes climate change as "a threat multiplier" that will exacerbate many existing tensions and heighten instability.
"A further dimension of competition for energy resources lies in potential conflict over resources in Polar regions which will become exploitable as a consequence of global warming," the eight-page report obtained by Reuters said.
The report said the EU needed to address the growing debate over Arctic territorial claims and access to new trade routes that challenge its ability to secure its trade and resource interests and may put pressure on relations with "key partners." It suggested the 27-nation bloc develop a specific Arctic policy "based on the evolving geo-strategy of the Arctic region, taking into account ... access to resources and the opening of new trade routes."
The study suggested the EU should do more to focus international attention on security risks related to climate change using the U.N. Security Council, the Group of Eight major industrialized powers and specialist U.N. bodies.
It cited a host of regional examples of the increased prospect of conflict caused by the reduction of arable land, water shortages, dwindling food and fish stocks, increased flooding and prolonged droughts which were already occurring.The east coasts of China and India, as well as the Caribbean region and Central America, face particularly severe economic damage from sea-level rise and increasing natural disasters, the report said.Loss of territory as coastlines recede and large areas are submerged would magnify disputes over land and maritime borders. "Europe must expect substantially increased migratory pressure," the report said, as millions of "environmental migrants" flee poverty, poor health and unemployment, risking increased conflicts in transit and destination areas.
Solana and EU External Relations Commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner said climate change could increase instability in failed or failing states, stoking tensions between ethnic and religious groups and political radicalization.Existing tensions over access to water in the Middle East were almost certain to intensify, "leading to further political instability with detrimental implications for Europe's energy security and other interests," the report said. It also saw additional potential for conflict in central Asia from an increasing shortage of water, vital for both agriculture and power generation, with an impact on EU strategic and economic interests.
War is indeed the natural condition of capitalism .
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