Saturday, April 9, 2011

Water

I am in North Eastern Pennsylvania for the weekend. I am staying in a cabin at the Boyds Mills conference center and from its front porch I can hear the roar of a stream as the water makes its journey downhill. Oddly in the collection of books in my cabin is a classic entitled Water, The Next Great Resource Battle, by Laurence Pringle written in 1982. In this book he raises the water issues facing America. He says the east is water rich, yet wasteful practices and growing populations will eventual lead to a shortage of clean water. The west is already water challenged and seeking ways to address the interests of agriculture, business, miningand growing urban centers. Though we have these issues we in are in many ways one of the water rich countries and our water resources are for the most part contained wihtin our country.

What the future will hold for us and for the rest of the world is highly unpredictable. The instability of weather means that familiar seasonal patterns may no longer be so predictable. Droughts may last longer and rainy seasons may be shorter. Or the opposite may be true. Both can disrupt agriculture and food supply. We know the glaciers in the world are shrinking which means less water and different rates of water flow. Many nations of the world share their water resoources with others, being dependent on nations upstream and responsible to others downstream. Currently one of the countries upstream from Egypt is planning a new damn on the Nile bringing objections and threats from Egypt.

While in the past there have been skirmishes over water it seems almost certain that as oil now is an underlying cause of war we are not far from the time when water will be a cause of war.

Not to be to naive nor simplistic but at some point we need to realize we are all in this together and we need to learn to share.

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