Water is the driving force of all nature – Leonardo Da Vinci

So…Water issues. Quite a big deal. I’m writing my master’s degree thesis and it regards water issues and the Israeli-Arab conflict. My argument is that when together with other factors, water issues, although not directly, lead to conflict. I’m using the Theory of Relative Deprivation as a theoretical base, by Homer Dixon.

Anyway, water issues. According to the Millennium Development Goals report 2012, 11% of the world’s population remains without access to a reliable water source. Imagine being yourself incapable of drinking a glass of water when thirsty or don’t having water for a bath. Well, these 11% go through that everyday.

In a world of shared resources, we need to have access to (at least) 1700m3 of water per capita per year in order to have enough water for our needs. When we don’t, things start to get complicated and people choose one of two paths: conflict or cooperation. If we’re sharing water (re)sources with an ally or neutral country it’s easier to cooperate and try to fix the problem. But when we’re sharing with a country that isn’t exactly in our circle of friends things can get nasty, not only at a state level but also among the population.

The truth is water is getting scarce. Not only because of environmental changes but also because we haven’t yet learned to consume water in a responsible way, even though it is one of the most essential resources.

Water is important. You can’t live without it. In the next few years we’ll have a decline of the quantity of available water. Does that mean we’ll have conflicts only based on water? Share your thoughts below!

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74 Comments

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74 responses to “Water is the driving force of all nature – Leonardo Da Vinci

  1. Short answer: Yes. Have no idea where you might find it but Time had an excellent feature on Water Conflict in (or around about) 1993/94. It’d be interesting to contrast that article with the reality 25 years later. Minor scale water conflict (no shooting, that is) has been going on in Australia for 100 years concerning the Great Artesian Basin. It takes in 4 states which has caused all sorts of Constitutional Law problems.

    The probable solution has to be massive desalination infrastructure which draws its power from wave (electricity) farms. That, of course, is in an ideal world where $$’s are channeled into appropriate areas.

    Good luck with the thesis. They can be daunting monsters.

  2. Nice post Tania. Here is a good web site on the topic of Water Conflicts.
    http://www.worldwater.org/conflict.html and within it a chronological list of conflicts since time immemorial. http://www.worldwater.org/conflict/list/

    The water conflict does not exist alone, it is also closely coupled with food shortages. Also as the population grows there is more strain on resources in general and a strain on suitable living areas. So as you pointed out the problem is complex and with many factors involved.

  3. because of the way humankind is to each other. If there is a shortage of a need, there will always be someone there to exploit it.

  4. When I was into Architecture and Design, Jacque Fresco, who is the lead Designer and founder of The Venus Project, dedicated most of his life to design a Resource Based Economy. Look into it!

  5. Agreed – water issues lead to conflict.

    I’d further add that most resources, in a resource poor area, will do the same.

    But I think water probably gets you there faster than most as it’s one of the things we can do without the least…

  6. I agree with those who’ve said any resource can lead to conflict – people have killed each other (or invaded other countries) over gold, oil, land…you name it. Yes, if water becomes precious, we will fight over it. This topic has been on my mind for a little while, actually. I heard a news story a couple years ago about this guy who was very concerned about water – I guess he’s also stocking up on it as well. They made him sound like a nut, but I always wondered.

  7. Interesting post, particularly given that I am currently working with a water project in Kenya.

    About 3 months ago nearly 40 people were killed in the Tana River region of Kenya in what is suspected to be revenge over clashes about water that had killed a score of other people.

    http://www.ipsnews.net/2012/09/kenyas-water-wars-kill-scores/

    People may learn to live without many things, but people will find a way to get what they truly need to survive, regardless of the methods required.

  8. Thanks for stopping by my blog, Tania. I’m not great at reponding to Likes, but but you have an interesting blog that I will visit again. And yes, water plays a major part in the Palestine/Israel standoff.

    Best regards

    Steve

  9. Thank you Tania for peeping into my blog. I really appreciated that. I have this habit of looking at the gravatars of visitors to my site especially those who liked and left comments. However, looking at my blog counter there are a lot more who drop by with no traces of likes or comments. Unfortunately, there are gravatars still that do not have personal links, in which case, there is no way for a visit.

    I love the topic about water. It is one of the most essential elements of life. In my part of the world though, there is so much abundance of water that people and the government had not expressed concern of its becoming scarce in the future. The quantity of water, especially potable water, will certainly be lessened due to man’s vanity and imprudence like cutting of trees and polluting the environment. It is detestable to see most people here are using potable water to flush toilets, wash cars and clothes, water the plants in the field, etc.

    I feel so much for those who do not have access for potable water, that is why, I abhor the senseless wastage of water here that I had imagined this is quite sinful. And yes, extravagance is certainly a sin especially when you know that you are wasting so much of what other people are so wanting to have.. I know the UN is pushing for water conservation but unfortunately some countries were quite slow to act, if at all.

    • Indeed. And when the resources are shared by more than one country (and especially if they don’t get along) things can get complicated, which can lead to shortages of water. Also, we really need to learn how to save water… Thanks for coming by!

    • It is really difficult and a shame to think of the ways water is used. I know full scale integration of grey water systems is not the easiest, but I would think a second tank and a few pipes could easily get your toilet off the system.

      Neighborhood collaborations could probably go further to collect grey water for watering uses. I also really think rainwater should be more regularly collected and used for watering, and I am appalled that places like Boulder Colorado have laws against collecting rainwater. I would really love to see some developers integrating grey water schemes more often into Building designs and extending it into larger multi home developments (suburbs -.-)

      One example of innovative rainwater collection in a building is the pixel building in Australia. Sorry i couldn’t find much more info, but here it is: http://www.pixelbuilding.com.au/

  10. Very interesting thesis! My thesis is on globalization and access to health care. Good luck!

    A site I like, which helps relieve the stress of academia, is called: “When in Academia.”

  11. Good luck with your thesis. My own view is that we have to look more at how we use water, it’s ludicrous to me that we still flush it down the toilet and as usual it’s the west that use more than their share of a scarce resource.
    http://humanurehandbook.com/ has some very interesting facts and figures on water usage and may be worth a look to help you with your study.

  12. patricknicholas

    The development of the solar powered green house in Australia is encouraging:
    http://www.abc.net.au/news/2012-04-16/solar-greenhouse-outback-desalination/3952090
    After all if you can convert seawater into fresh with solar energy, grow vegetables in the desert and sell the salt as a by-pruduct, the results will be dramatic especially in areas of conflict such as the Middle East.

  13. T_T – I searched and found it. Thanks for the post. Ann Santo

  14. o_o – I searched and found it. Thanks for the post. Joseph Beek

  15. Great article!!! I add this blog to rss feed. tkanks

  16. Much of the Palestine-Israel conflict is over water (or all of it, if you interpret the Old Testament that way) for making earnings from irrigated agriculture. ~ A stream struggles to flow on both sides of a wall.

  17. Absolutely. We already have some fairly nasty water squabbles among states here in the American Southwest and we’re all (theoretically) part of the same country.

  18. In my opinion, the earliest wars were all about territories as empires expand their kingdoms. Modern wars like ww1 and ww2 were all about ideologies as countries sought to spread their influence. But I think future wars will be all about resources as they become scarce especially on fuel and water.
    Thanks for liking my article about the Philippines 🙂

  19. I have said for years that–very soon–wars will no longer be fought over religion, political ideologies, or sovereignty. They will be over water. Yet so many turn a blind eye to the destruction of our environment.

  20. iluvtheword

    Very interesting topic and debate; people will fight over anything that someone else has; especially if they have a bias against that people in the first place.
    Thanks for liking one of my recent posts by the way!

  21. the water wars will likely make the oil/energy wars seem petty- to say the elast

  22. So, do you believe in an resource-based economy like the one proposed by Jack Fresco?

    • Hey Fred, sorry about the late reply. Well, trade-based economy lasted for long, that is true. I think it is possible, if it is fair…But since we live in a world that a lot of people try to cheat to gain power, I think it would fail after a while, unfortunately.

  23. Is it really true that water is getting scarce? You say that 11% of people do not have access to clean water. Throughout much of human history that figure was much higher. Water sanitation was introduced in Britain in the 19th century. In the US, it was not until the 1940s that federal drinking water standards were widely applied, and the Clean Water Act wasn’t passed until 1972. So worldwide, and on a historical basis, I wonder if access to clean water is actually improving.

  24. paulrrulon

    I believe conserving what we can now and learning to utilize what the oceans offer in a respectful way is the answer to our water issues.

  25. Yes, i believe there will be water wars…unless we can really get busy at more permaculture-based design of lifestyles, not just landscapes… i designed a zero wash and zero waste garment for a course i was on in 2010, and am amazed how people react in disgust…it is vented to avoid trapping body sweat etc, and in a temperate climate gets washed at the end of summer to keep it safe from moths etc, unless i spilled food on it, it should be fine…we should ALL be thinking about stuff like this, 18 litres of water to wash a t-shirt 6 times before throwing it away (US & UK shaming statistics) to landfill is just beyond stupidity…
    anyway, that’s my way of lighting a candle rather than cursing the darkness, find the little changes we can make so war becomes unthinkable…it’s a round world, where is this “away” people want to throw things?
    all good wishes, you are doing some very interesting thinking and writing! i will send the link on to friends 😉
    singing bird artist

  26. A long time ago when I was studying international relations (1978), when our lecturer suggested water would be the future source of conflict, we looked at him in amazement! Having since witnessed the intricacies of water sharing and water sharing arrangements for great rivers like the Nile, I am no longer amazed. I am glad you are writing on this important subject.

  27. Thanks for the like on my East Meets West.
    I really appreciate your expansive knowledge of world affairs and as a former linguistics major and classics minor out of Univ of PA, wish I were as fluent in as many tongues as you. As a freelance writer, I just finished a series on the writing process, in case you’re interested. You don’t have to get to these, but just to save you digging time:

    https://aholisticjourney.wordpress.com/2013/05/25/the-writing-process-save-spit-part-2/

    https://aholisticjourney.wordpress.com/2013/06/14/the-writing-process-the-final-word-finale/

    Cheerleading your continued success in the studies and blogging.

  28. Thank you for visiting my blog today. I appreciate the time you took to stop by. May your day be filled with joy and peace.
    BE ENCOURAGED! BE BLESSED!

  29. Access to water, like any other commodity, can be effectively addressed through the free market system. The problem is that the free market system only works well when administered by “just” people. Until the darker side of human nature can be reconciled with our obligations to others there will be little unforced

  30. oopss… little unforced change.

  31. Lullaby

    I’m sure you’ve read Eyal Weizman’s Hollow Land, which discusses the water problem in Israel and Palestine. If not, do.

  32. Here is an interesting article by Mikhail Gorbachev / Global Green that I thought you may be interested in reading if you have not done so already. I run a blog on Water Security at http://watersecurity.blogspot.com/

    Regards,

    Nick

  33. Pingback: Your ecological footprint – what?! | Internationally Unrelated

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