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Are Possible Water Wars Just Overblown Hype?

Are dire predictions of future water wars just overwrought environmentalists fanning the flames of fear? You be the judge.

By 2025, the United Nations estimates that two-thirds of the world’s population will live where water is scare. Unsafe drinking water kills more than 2 million people each year. This year, drought across swaths of Africa created waves of refugees. Some neighboring countries closed their borders, afraid refugees would overwhelm their meager resources. 

Water is a basic human need. Without it we die. Just one percent of the Earth’s water is accessible and drinkable. With a world population in excess of 6 billion, all competing for each drop of water, the potential for conflict is real. We already wage war over oil which is not essential to human survival. Water is.

The recent pact by Great Lake border states and Canadian provinces ensuring them control over 95% of America’s fresh surface water (see our Aug. 13 post) is a telling example of what’s to come. The pact came in response to a Canadian businessman’s attempt to send an annual 158 million gallons of lake water to drought-stricken parts of Asia. Last October, New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson further alarmed border states by suggesting Great Lakes water could solve growing water problems in the Southwest.

“There will be a water crisis,” said Ohio State Representative Matthew Dolan. “When it happens, we want to make sure our waters are protected and we have the fundamental last say in the use of our water.”

If this is the response of the usually staid Midwest, imagine what an unstable nation filled with desperate, thirsty people might do. War is not out of the question.