Wednesday, May 14, 2008

The Water Wars Are Coming Soon

Although it is not widely known in the general populace of the west, more than one billion people do not have access to fresh water and sanitation problems exist for one out of every three people. Even when that statistic is read to westerners, it is processed with a sigh, a compassionate thought or two and then dismissed until somebody brings it up again, though each time jades the listener that much more. The problem with this is that just because water problems exist in the third world, it doesn't mean they can't come here.

In the Southeastern United States, people in Florida and Georgia got a good wakeup call to what happens with water shortages. There were no actual wars over this commodity, but tensions were definitely raised. Now it is happening again in Western Europe, specifically in regions of Spain. Things are not looking good there at all.

From The Guardian:

Already Barcelona's authorities have turned off civic fountains and beachside showers, brought in hosepipe bans, and banned the filling of swimming pools. Schoolchildren are being taught how to save water.

"We are only too aware of the crisis with the water as they have been giving my daughters classes for months on how to save water and only to use what they need," said city resident Begoña Gómez, 43, as she sipped a glass of bottled water. "But we need better management of water by the government."

As the reservoirs across Spain run dry, a "water war" has broken out, with different regions scrabbling for extra supplies.

The Socialist government, which initially opposed water transfers from one region to another, executed a political U-turn and allowed water to be pumped into Catalonia from the river Ebro in the neighbouring region of Aragon.

The move infuriated southern regions such as Murcia and Valencia, which asked for similar concessions. Both are significant agricultural areas, with a busy tourist season about to start, and expect their water supplies to be hit hard.

Both areas, run by the opposition conservative Popular party, claim Spain's Socialist prime minister José Luis Rodrìguez Zapatero denied their requests for water transfers for political reasons.

Today arguments are played out at a national political level. However in the future as the water shortages get worse and worse, things have the ability to get out of hand. Water is the most important life-giving resource and people will fight to the death over it. This isn't some crazy conspiracy theory either, or else the military wouldn't be seriously considering the potential scenarios and battles that lie ahead.