The Emerging Water Wars - Part I

Written by Sam Vaknin

Continued from page 1

The drought in Sri Lanka is so severe and so prolonged thatrepparttar International Red Cross had to intervene and launch an appeal for emergency funds. The Mekong River, which flows from China to Vietnam, is being obstructed by 7 Chinese dams under construction. Once completed, its flow will be reduced by half.

Close to 200 million people in seven countries will be affected. In a retaliatory move, Laos is planning to hold back c. 70 percent of its contribution torepparttar 132310 Mekong by constructing 23 dams. Thailand follows with 20 percent of its contribution and a mere 4 dams. Vietnam is likely to payrepparttar 132311 price of this "dam war". Thailand is sufficiently rich to simply buyrepparttar 132312 water it needs from its truculent neighbors.

Australia is in no better shape. The diversion of Snowy River inland led to massive salinization ofrepparttar 132313 lands it irrigates - Australia's bread basket. Many ofrepparttar 132314 tributaries are now unfit for either irrigation or drinking. In India,repparttar 132315 holy river, Ganges, is depleted and impregnated with poisonous arsenic.

A long running dispute is simmering between India and Bangladesh regarding this dwindling lifeline, recent progress in negotiations notwithstanding. This is reminiscent of a low intensity conflict that has been brewing alongrepparttar 132316 banks ofrepparttar 132317 Nile between an assertive Egypt andrepparttar 132318 encroaching Sudan and Ethiopia sincerepparttar 132319 Nile Basin Initiative has been signed in 1993.

A July 2000 conference ofrepparttar 132320 riparian states, backed byrepparttar 132321 likes ofrepparttar 132322 World Bank andrepparttar 132323 United Nations, easedrepparttar 132324 tension somewhat by promulgating a workable plan to redistributerepparttar 132325 African river's throughput. The emphasis inrepparttar 132326 February 2001 meeting ofrepparttar 132327 International Consortium Cooperation onrepparttar 132328 Nile, though, was on hydro-power overrepparttar 132329 contentious minefield of water usage rights.

Turkey is constructing more than two dozen dams onrepparttar 132330 Tigris and Euphrates withinrepparttar 132331 Southeastern Anatolia Project (GAP). Once completed, Turkey will haverepparttar 132332 option to deprive both Syria and Iraq of their main sources of water, though it vowed not to do so. In a cynical twist, it offers to sell them water from its Manavgat river. Iraq's own rivers have shriveled by half. Still, this isrepparttar 132333 less virulent and violent ofrepparttar 132334 water conflicts inrepparttar 132335 Middle East.

Israel controlsrepparttar 132336 Kinneret Sea of Galilee. It isrepparttar 132337 source of one third of its water consumption. The rest it pumps from rivers inrepparttar 132338 region, torepparttar 132339 vocal dismay of Syria, Lebanon, and Jordan. Despite decades of indoctrination, Israelis are water-guzzlers. They quaff 4-6 timesrepparttar 132340 water consumption of their Palestinian and Arab neighbors.

"The Economist" claims that:

"The argument over Syria's water rights torepparttar 132341 Sea of Galilee is nowrepparttar 132342 only real stumbling-block to a peace treaty between Syria and Israel. Negotiations broke down last January, afterrepparttar 132343 two sides appeared to agree on everything saverepparttar 132344 future of a sliver of territory onrepparttar 132345 north-east coast ofrepparttar 132346 sea. Israel had insisted on keeping control of that, sincerepparttar 132347 Sea of Galilee supplies more than 40% of its drinking water."

Only two decades ago,repparttar 132348 Aral Sea featured in encyclopedias asrepparttar 132349 world's fourth largest inland brine. In a typical hare-brained subterfuge,repparttar 132350 communists diverted its two sources -repparttar 132351 Amu Darya and Syr Darya - to grow cotton inrepparttar 132352 desert. The "sea" is now a series of disconnected, toxic, patches overlaid on a vast wasteland of salt.

But excess water can be as damaging to multilateral relationships - and torepparttar 132353 economy - as scarcity. Floods brought on byrepparttar 132354 Zambezi River have devastatedrepparttar 132355 countries on its path, despite their efforts to harness it. Often, these calamities are man-made. Zimbabwe wrought a deluge upon its region by openingrepparttar 132356 gates ofrepparttar 132357 Kariba dam on March 2000. The countries of West Africa, from Ghana to Mali are "one river states". Their fortunes rise and fall withrepparttar 132358 flow and ebb of waterways.

Sometimes watercourses are conduits of destruction and death. A single - though massive - chemical spill in Romania on January 31, 2000 devastatedrepparttar 132359 entire Tisa River which runs through Yugoslavia and Hungary. Only whenrepparttar 132360 waste reachedrepparttar 132361 Danube didrepparttar 132362 West wake up torepparttar 132363 danger.

Nor are these phenomena confined torepparttar 132364 poor precincts of our planet. The people of Catalonia in Spain are thirsty. They contemplate diverting water fromrepparttar 132365 river Rhone in France to Barcelona. A two years old government plan to redistribute water from rain-drenched regions torepparttar 132366 arid 60 percent of Spain met with stiff domestic resistance. The Ogallala aquifer inrepparttar 132367 USA, its largest, has been depleted to near oblivion. The BBC estimates that it lostrepparttar 132368 equivalent of 18 Colorado rivers by 2000.


Sam Vaknin ( ) is the author of Malignant Self Love - Narcissism Revisited and After the Rain - How the West Lost the East. He served as a columnist for Central Europe Review, PopMatters, and eBookWeb , and Bellaonline, and as a United Press International (UPI) Senior Business Correspondent. He is the the editor of mental health and Central East Europe categories in The Open Directory and Suite101.

The Emerging Water Wars - Part II

Written by Sam Vaknin

Continued from page 1

"Control of Water Resources (state and non-state actors): where water supplies or access to water is atrepparttar root of tensions. Military Tool (state actors): where water resources, or water systems themselves, are used by a nation or state as a weapon during a military action. Political Tool (state and non-state actors): where water resources, or water systems themselves, are used by a nation, state, or non-state actor for a political goal. Terrorism (non-state actors): where water resources, or water systems, are either targets or tools of violence or coercion by non-state actors. Military Target (state actors): where water resource systems are targets of military actions by nations or states. Development Disputes (state and non-state actors): where water resources or water systems are a major source of contention and dispute inrepparttar 132308 context of economic and social development." Mark de Villiers, author of "Water Wars" contrasts, in ITT's aforementioned Guidebook, two opposing views aboutrepparttar 132309 likelihood of water-related conflicts. Thomas Homer-Dixon,repparttar 132310 Canadian security analyst says:

"Water supplies are needed for all aspects of national activity, includingrepparttar 132311 production and use of military power, and rich countries are as dependent on water as poor countries are ... Moreover, about 40 percent ofrepparttar 132312 world's population lives inrepparttar 132313 250 river basins shared by more than one country ... But ... wars over river water between upstream and downstream neighbors are likely only in a narrow set of circumstances. The downstream country must be highly dependent onrepparttar 132314 water for its national well-being;repparttar 132315 upstream country must be able to restrictrepparttar 132316 river's flow; there must be a history of antagonism betweenrepparttar 132317 two countries; and, most important,repparttar 132318 downstream country must be militarily much stronger thanrepparttar 132319 upstream country."

Frederick Frey, ofrepparttar 132320 University of Pennsylvania, disagrees:

"Water has four primary characteristics of political importance: extreme importance, scarcity, maldistribution, and being shared. These make internecine conflict over water more likely than similar conflicts over other resources. Moreover, tendencies towards water conflicts are exacerbated by rampant population growth and water-wasteful economic development. A national and international 'power shortage,' inrepparttar 132321 sense of an inability to control these two trends, makesrepparttar 132322 problem even more alarming."

Who is right?

The citizens of Karnataka and Tamil Nadu states in India are enmeshed in bloody skirmishes overrepparttar 132323 waters ofrepparttar 132324 Carvery River. Colonel Quaddafi has been depletingrepparttar 132325 Iittoral aquifer inrepparttar 132326 Sahara for decades now - torepparttar 132327 detriment of all his neighbors - yet, not a single violent incident has been recorded. Last year,repparttar 132328 Rio Grande has failed to reachrepparttar 132329 Gulf of Mexico - forrepparttar 132330 first time in many decades. Yet, no war erupted betweenrepparttar 132331 USA and Mexico.

As water become more scarce, market solutions are bound to emerge. Water is heavily subsidized and, as a direct result, atrociously wasted. More realistic pricing would do wonders onrepparttar 132332 demand side. Water rights are already traded electronically inrepparttar 132333 USA. Private utilities and water markets arerepparttar 132334 next logical step.

Water recycling is another feasible alternative. Despite unmanageable financial problems and laughable prices,repparttar 132335 municipality of Moscow maintains enormous treatment plants and re-uses most of its water.

Wars arerepparttar 132336 outcomes of cultures and mores. Not every casus belli leads to belligerence. Not every conflict, however severe, ends in battle. Mankind has invented numerous other conflict-resolution mechanisms. There is no reason to assume that water would cause more warfare than oil or national pride. But water scarcity sure causes dislocation, ethnic tension, impoverishment, social anomy, and a host of other ills. It is in fending off these pernicious, all-pervasive, and slow-acting social processes that we should concentrate our efforts.

Sam Vaknin ( ) is the author of Malignant Self Love - Narcissism Revisited and After the Rain - How the West Lost the East. He served as a columnist for Central Europe Review, PopMatters, and eBookWeb , and Bellaonline, and as a United Press International (UPI) Senior Business Correspondent. He is the the editor of mental health and Central East Europe categories in The Open Directory and Suite101.

    <Back to Page 1 © 2005
Terms of Use