Friday, October 15, 2010

Blog Action Day 2010: Dirty Water -> Despair -> Conflict -> Violence

This year's Blog Action Day topic is "Water", plain and simple. Many blogs will point out that access to clean water is a human right. They will say that getting clean, potable water to those living without is the first step in improving their living conditions. And those bloggers are right! For my part, I choose to focus on the chain of despair that leads from lack of access to clean water to conflict and, potentially, violence.

Mankind has a long, depressing history of fighting over resources - land, gold, diamonds, oil, you name it. Although my research hasn't yet turned up any evidence of wars having been fought over water, there is increasing evidence that the risk of such a thing happening is increasing daily as we ignore the plight of those most in need of clean water. Alexander Bell (no relation), in his March 2010 article on pointed out that the lack of clean water is already causing conflict in Cyprus, Yemen, and Pakistan. According to Bell:
The most bitter conflicts of the next 50 years won’t be over oil. The prize commodity of the future is the stuff of life – water.
John Taylor's post "War Over Water" includes a quote from Boutros Boutros-Ghali that:
... the next war in the middle east will be fought over water, not politics.

This was from 1985, so he obviously got that wrong. But it's just a matter of time. Taylor also quotes a statistic from the Conservative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) predicting that if trends continue one in three of the world’s population will be affected by water shortage by 2025, with Africa having as many as 500 million people without access to clean water. If anyone thinks this type of situation will evolve peacefully, I'd like a hit of whatever it is they are smoking.

Check out some of the other Blog Action Day posts on and read what more eloquent authors are proposing to deal with the looming issue of Water. With all of the other problems we are facing - climate change, sustainable energy, Fox News - it's going to be tough to get any attention for the topic. But it's something we're going to have to address eventually, and the outcome will be far more humane if we deal with it sooner rather than later.


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