"All wars are [still not] fought over natural resources" but today I published my 20th post tagged 'water' at my Ecowar blog and I created a Google Map companion for the blog: The Ecowar Battlefields.
Please chip in or criticise. Let me sum all of it up for you...
Privatization is the preferred solution from those who brought us into this situation of scarcity and escalating conflict: traditional capitalist believers in growth seemingly unaware of the fact our ecosystem is finite. Since water is an essential prerequisite for life isn't private ownership inevitably a controversial subject?
Any incentive for profit will really solve our issues? Unfortunately, evidence supports another conclusion. Observed consequences include transfer of wealth from local communities to US or European based multinational companies, declining water quality, rising prices and failure to protect publicly owned water.
Industrialization leads to increased water consumption (at least so far it did). Freshwater demand is climbing at twice the rate world population is. 70% of our supply is taken by industrialized agriculture - and agriculture is increasingly industrialized. In fact, the industrialization of farming is a whole battlefield in itself as the 'big ag' is forcing their monopolized, genetically modified monoculture agriculture upon the world by any means necessary it seems (including by funding politicians who wage wars on discontenting countries and thru 'foreign aid' by their model only).
Industrialization as we have known it has led to global warming which in turn too aggravates our water issues. Industries have also been very wasteful. In some places, like Israel, an approach to water shortages is construction of desalination plants - vastly energy consuming monsters in themselves contributing to the build-up of green house gasses.
Our experiences with privatization and industrialization of water extraction and consumption so far is increasing pollution. To cut costs companies optimize or outright violate their sewage limits.
Distribution by plastic bottles is an extremely energy consuming and pollution business. US Americans spend 1.5 million barrels of crude oil every year producing plastic water bottles of which only one in four is recycled. The remainder is fuelling an escalating global plastic pollution issue as well as infusing phthalates and other toxic chemicals into our ecosystem.
Water industries have been ignorant of conservation needs. Investments must be optimally returned now, not in three or hundred generations.
The fact our economic system allow this scheme speaks volumes...
Even the existence of 'water wars' is controversial. Recently the highly esteemed journal Nature has run a number of (highly informed) opinion pieces on the subject (see Water wars - myth or reality?
and Debate on water wars in Nature). In my honest opinion the arguments in favour of using the term far outweighs the arguments against - but read them for yourself.
Then there is the whole labyrinth of issues and conflicts surrounding Israel. They are recycling and minimizing use. But they are also taking water from occupied territories and denying others access to that water. All the while using much more than other nations in the area and exporting water costly crops. (See Water of the "Holy Land")
Perhaps most telling of all is the attitude of the Turkish military which has warned its politicians that climate change and resulting water shortages are a direct security threat. At the same time the country is buying weapons from Israel and The West, allowing US military bases on its soil, slowing down the flow from rivers by dam construction - while monetizing on selling water.
Turkey is also exploiting their position for diplomacy which hopefully will have positive outcomes. Likewise it is being argued that rather than being a cause of conflict water issues usually lead to cooperation. But as it was said...
Quote Zhou En Lai - Chinese diplomat & Communist politician (1898 - 1976)
The Google Map: The Ecowar battlefields
Please use it for an alternative navigation of my two years of blogging at Ecowar. It is by no means complete - in fact most pins have only an URL and some keywords for a description. But I will update it.
As always, critique is more than welcome.