Green World Monitor : Water the problem N. 1
Bad news about water… shortage till a war.
- 1) Water shortage
- 2) Sea level
- 3) Fresh water ? Go north…
- 4) Water & war
- 1) Water shortage
The shortage of water is affecting societies and shaping their social structures. The last example is in Mexico where the Drug Cartels are exploiting the shortage to invest lands that once produce crops. The dimension of the investments is so huge that the risk is the will change the rural environment of the Country. And if we think that an interesting part of this crops in the future will be used for bio-fuel ,( with the USA as main export market),the geo-strategic implications are more than clear.
Unlucky this is a world crisis as the data from Water.org show :
• Less than 1% of the world’s fresh water (or about 0.007% of all water on earth) is readily accessible for direct human use.
• 3.575 million people die each year from water-related diseases.
• 98% of water-related deaths occur in the developing world.
• 43% of water-related deaths are due to diarrhea.
• 84% of water-related deaths are in children ages 0 – 14. Every 15 seconds, a child dies from a water-related disease
• Approximately one in eight people lack access to safe water supplies.
• The water and sanitation crisis claims more lives through disease than any war claims through guns.
• At any given time, half of the world’s hospital beds are occupied by patients suffering from a water-related disease.
• The daily requirement for sanitation, bathing, and cooking needs, as well as for assuring survival, is about 13.2 gallons per person.
• Only 62% of the world’s population has access to improved sanitation – defined as a sanitation facility that ensures hygienic separation of human excreta from human contact.
- 2) Sea level
Summer is near… and we dream to back to the beaches that we love… Well let´s imagine that you back and…you find the level of the sea is 1 meter higher….
This is the most realistic scenario , ( year 2100), if we do not change our way to live to endorse a more sustainable habit.
We are living in a urbanized world and around 40% of the towns are costal ones. The consequences ,year after year, are alarming. Not les of 600 million people live in low lying areas in danger of being flooded, ( this according to the Centre for Australian Weather and Climate Research /CAWCR).
In the next years we will see a dramatic increase of coastal flooding and this on worldwide basis and this will affect not less than 2 million people each year.
- 3) Fresh water ? Go north…
According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the Gary Comer Science and Education Foundation. a warmer world is most likely the cause affecting the fresh water supply for over a billion people throughout the tropics and the subtropics.
One billion people from Dallas ,(Texas), to Kinshasa ,( RDC), and for that a real GLOBAL problem !
According to the report : “The rain band near the equator that determines the supply of freshwater to nearly a billion people throughout the tropical and subtropical regions has been creeping north for more than 300 years, according to the research. If the band continues to migrate at just less than a mile (1.4 kilometers) a year – the average for all the years it has been moving north — then some Pacific islands near the equator including those that currently have abundant rainfall may be drier within decades and depleted of freshwater by 2050. The prospect of additional warming because of greenhouse gases means that situation could happen even sooner.”
The band of rainfall happens at what is called the inter-tropical convergence zone ,( just north of the equator). Here winds from the northern and southern hemispheres collide at the same time heat pours into the atmosphere from the tropical sun. Rain clouds that are 30,000 feet thick in places dump as much as 13 feet (4 meters) of rain a year in some areas. The band stretching across the Pacific is generally between 3 degrees and 10 degrees north of the equator depending on the time of year.
The impact for the societies and the economies in the region are clear and they will spread worldwide.
This is not only the most prominent rainfall feature on the planet but also one that many people depend on as the source of their freshwater because there is no groundwater to speak of where they live.
Additionally other regions will be affected because also the Pacific could be interested by the event because this band of rain shapes atmospheric circulation patterns throughout the world.
We can imagine the feedback for the coastal regions of China that yet today are suffering for over pollution.
Unlucky we can do nothing to stop this trend. According to recent studies the inter-tropical convergence zone does not reside in the southern hemisphere for reasons having to do with the distribution of land masses and locations of major mountain ranges in the world, particularly the Andes mountains, that have not changed for millions of years. In addition, the research points out evidence that the inter-tropical convergence zone hugged the equator some 3 1/2 centuries ago during Earth’s little ice age, which lasted from 1400 to 1850.
Pardon…there is one thing that we can do. If we cannot change a geo-physical shifting we can try to learn form our current mistakes and change our way to live to endorse one that is more sustainable. This will reduce the effect of this natural trend.
- 4) Water & war
‘If there is a political will for peace, water will not be a hindrance. If you want reasons to fight, water will give you ample opportunities’ (Steve Lonergan is the Director of the Division of Early Warning and Assessment at UNEP)
Water more than oil can be the reason for the next war in the Middle East and not only in that region.
Any regional plan issued by Ankara must face the reality of its need of water related to that of the others in the region, ( Lebanon, Israel, Syria, Jordan). Water and its management will show the will of Ankara to be a responsible stakeholder in the region able to sacrifice for the common wealth or an aptitude to use it as a weapon.
This is only an example.
The problem will affect the whole world also in the EU.
Look at Cyprus ,for example, where rainfall has declined by 15 per cent since the 1970s. And when we mention Cyprus we think also to Greece, Italy and Spain where the is likely to diminish a further 20 per cent by 2050.
Desalination is only a partial solution because we can fill part of our needs but we can never replace the water lost to the environment.
Soon holidays destination in Cyprus , (for example Paphos and Ayia Napa), may be concrete oases in a desert landscape. Then will be the time for others in Italy or Spain.
Our civilization started around the 4th millennium BC and the central social achievement to start it was the promise of supplying and controlling water . We call it irrigation.
In other part of the world it was the same. For example in India the very first legal codes, including those of the early Hindu tradition, were based on the assumption that a king would protect water supplies, and in return the people would obey him.
And from that moment to the code in Rome till Stalin and the Aral Sea, nations and their leaders have been entranced by the notion that water could deliver some kind of paradise.
In a sentence : water has pervaded our culture because it was so central in our history.
So central that we can even find a link between water and…terrorism: Yemen and Pakistan.
They are centres of fundamentalism because of thier poor economies and one of the most important reasons of these poor performance is the water shortage.
If we consider it and we consider also that the UN thinks that Yemen will become the first nation to run out of water on 2015 the political implications are more than clear. A new Jasmine Revolution will shape again the region . If this time people uprise for bread that day it will be for water !
In Pakistan the old irrigation scheme was so useful to produce cotton and rise but now is salting up.
Water will be the detonator that will activate the time bomb generated by rural unemployment, slum growth and discontent.
Solutions are available but no one want to implement them because in Cyprus, Palestine or Pakistan, there is an immense resistance to adopting them.
This is a real geo-political tragedy.
We can try to analyze it from a different perspective:
- that there are 17 million people living in the Jordan Basin – but sustainable water supplies for just one million. Puzzling over why the region hadn’t long ago collapsed into wars and civil wars.
Thanks to “ virtual water “.
What is “virtual water” ?
It is the huge amounts of water embedded in foodstuffs and products.
For example :
- It takes over 300 litres to make a hamburger
- a computer needs 3 thousands
On clear term the point is is now on to find a way of valuing virtual water, so that, like oil, its price can begin to influence how it is used and change our way of life in a more sustainable dimension. There is resistance among food producers and free traders as well as among ordinary citizen. BUT if nothing is done, food production in large parts of the world will fail within decades, driving up prices and forcing people off the land and that will mean only social instability and uprising . The kind of social instability found in Yemen could occur in, say, Arizona or in Sicily . And in Arizone as well as in Sicily or Athens or Cataluna we will have our own fundamentalism and messianism…that day a Colt M16 used by a WASP in Tucson or in Oklahoma City as welll as a Beretta AR15 used by a civilized WEC ,( White European Christian),born in Palermo, Athen or Siviglia will kill like a AK47 used by …
On other terms : the age of easy water is over and ,again,it is upon to us to find a sustainable way.
Prosumerzen Intelligence Team
P.S. … About a sustainable living style and quality that balances SPIRITual and matERIAL you can find more in our linked blog SPIRITERIAL at : http://spiriterial.wordpress.com