Will there be wars over the ownership of water? Yes.

Image from Graham Dean on Flickr, CC2 licensed


By Carroll Colette J. Yorgey
Today in many parts of the world there are already conflicts over water rights, so it is very conceivable that wars could be started or fueled by people’s ability to use water. A shortage in water will also lead to shortages in food supply, since water is necessary to grow food.
In Africa, water is extremely vulnerable. There are very few mountainous regions where ice caps can melt into the flowing waters of rivers, especially in the northwestern and southern regions. This can cause rivers and streams to dry up more quickly and it is already doing that in certain areas where there are high temperatures.
Global warming will cause less rain to fall in Africa within the next 50 years. With a 20% drop in rainfall, Botswanna will completely dry up and so will Cape Town in South Africa.
According to professor Adil Najam of Tufts University, “Many people in Africa spend more time and money on acquiring water than nearly any other resource.” He states that when “water becomes scarce, people will do what they must to obtain it.” He also states that water is nonnegotiable and that you don’t stop drinking water because you are poor. African rivers cross international boundaries and less river water may heighten international conflicts, he further states. (http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2006/03/0303_060303_africa_2.html).
In Peru and Chile there are already conflicts over water between gold and copper mining companies and poor farmers. Many farmers have successfully blocked the start-up of new mines, and the larger more powerful mining companies have instituted a system whereby they extract water from the Pacific Ocean for use in their mining operations. The main large mining companies that have adopted this procedure are Cerro Lindo in Peru and Antofagasta Minerals in Chile.
“Conflicts over water, especially in Peru, where they often turn violent, have delayed billions of dollars of investments in new mines.” Poor residents are afraid of losing access to fresh water supplies.
Mining companies typically use billions of gallons of water in their mining operation, which may last 40 years or more.
According to climate change specialist with the Peruvian government, Alvarez Lam, “The scarcity of water will cause economic conflict – it already has in parts of Peru and it will affect the development of industry.” (www.reuters.com/article/latestCrisis/idUSN21383591)
When food and water are in scarce supply the world over this could cause conflicts that could lead to war, or heighten ongoing conflicts between nations. According to Lester R. Brown at (www.earth-policy.org/Books/Seg/PB2ch03_ss2.htm) “Since the overpumping of aquifers is occurring in many countries more or less simultaneously, the depletion of aquifers and the resulting harvest cutbacks could come out roughly the same time. And the accelerating depletion of aquifers means this day may come soon, creating potentially unmanageable food scarcity.”
What will happen when food is scarce the world over and the waters are also depleted? Water and food are more precious than oil and the metals of gold and silver. We can survive without oil, gold, and silver. But we can’t survive without food and water.
It is important for people to wake up and understand priorities. Our basic needs of food, clothing, and shelter come first. Food and water are the most basic needs of all.
Copyright © 2018 Carroll Colette J. Yorgey. All rights reserved.
[Editor’s comment by Zebulon Goertzel: Indeed, the situation concerning the Nile looks dangerous. Already in 1875-6, Egypt tried to conquer Ethiopia in its quest for control over the whole Nile region. Ethiopia’s construction of the Grand Renaissance Dam on the Blue Nile, said to be the source of most of the Nile, has provoked threats from Egypt. For now the two countries are negotiating, but when resources become truly scarce, things may get ugly again. There is also the issue of water disputes between India and Pakistan, which have more than enough tensions without the added factor of water. Then there is Central Asia, which is full of poverty and deserts, and has a long history of incessant tribal conflicts; the Soviet Union literally destroyed the biggest lake in the region, the Aral Sea.]