A Looming Global Water Crisis?

A Looming Global Water Crisis?

In many respects water is integral to human life. There is virtually no realm of human endeavor that can be undertaken without water. Indeed seventy per cent of the human body is itself composed of water. Therefore indeed the future of water use can be said to be the future of humanity. There is however much speculation in this regard.   water scarcity    For not all regions are equally blessed with abundant water resources. Nor do all countries have equal resources to tap this resource that is so important to human life.

The immediate speculation regarding water is whether earth is headed towards flooding or to becoming one vast desert by 2100. If the most populous country, China, is any indicator; the earth may be headed towards desertification on an extensive scale.

The struggle to control this precious resource, sometimes described as ‘blue gold’ is also one of geo-politics involving struggle between large and small nations. It is also a struggle therefore between the strong and the weak. As some water experts such as T. Tvedt have pointed out, not only is there diversity in the spatial spread of water resources but also there is diversity in access to such resources within countries. We are having a scenario ranging from extreme abundance to extreme scarcity. For example while Canada on the one hand is water abundant we have extreme water scarcity in Africa and large parts of Asia. The United States itself is not well endowed in terms of water resources while Latin American countries such as Brazil are. In Africa, women have to walk long distances to collect water. Contrast this with Canada which alone accounts for about twenty per cent of global water resources.

The struggle to control water is never ending. While we have some regions of the world like the Netherlands, southern England or Venice constantly battling against water and the risk of submergence we have on the other hand lower riparian states like Egypt or Bangladesh or even India crucially dependent on water but by no means able to control access to it. This is because successful water use for nations is also about global cooperation. That may or may not materialize. What is undeniable is that the ‘blue gold’ or rather access to it has and is fueling conflict. This poses a danger both to relations between nations as well as to the survival of nations. Spain is a prime example where northern parts of the country are abundant in water resources while southern regions are water deficient. Often indeed seemingly intractable political conflicts are centered actually on access to water resources. Kashmir is a leading example.

 

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