I saw this series of slides on Business Insider about the coming water crisis, (http://www.businessinsider.com/facts-about-the-water-crisis-2012-6#) something that I personally believe is one of the biggest threats to mankind, but which gets very little coverage. I’m not talking about waking up tomorrow and your taps not working; it is the indirect effects of declining water supplies that worry me:
- The risk of wars as countries battle over access to to water supplies, especially in tinder-box (both in a political and meteorological sense) areas of the world such as the Middle East, North Africa and South Asia;
- Civil unrest caused by rising food prices – agriculture is the single biggest usage of water, so rising water costs and falling availability will feed through very quickly in to food prices – the revolutions of the Arab Spring can be traced to this root cause; and
- Rising tensions over population migrations as people move from drought-stricken areas, causing strain on water resources in their new locations.
There are lots of discussions over changes over agricultural methods, a move away from meat, GM seeds etc., but when it comes down to it the simple fact is that there are just too many people in the world. Politicians of all persuasions shy away from this as it upsets key voting groups, but no amount of market mechanisms from the right trying to placate religious conservatives or aid programmes from the left pulling on mass media heart strings and avoiding imposing on personal reproductive choices can change this. The only regime that has really grasped the bull by the horns is China with its one child policy, and with it have avoided the historical curse of China; mass famines.Is any politician going to have the cajones to address this? I fear the answer is not until a bloodbath has already resulted. Nick