Back in the 1990′s I remember reading many dire warnings about a future in which competition over increasingly stretched natural resources would see countries around the world going to war over water scarce water supplies. With populations around the world growing, and climate change increasing temperatures and reducing rainfall in already arid regions, local and regional tensions over water supplies would increase in both number and urgency, eventually leading to outright ‘water wars’.
The conventional wisdom suggests that, despite increasing tensions and a number of diplomatic spats, these ‘water wars’ have not materialized, and do not look likely to any time soon.
But look beneath the surface and a different picture begins to emerge. Although there are, as yet, no examples in which two countries have gone to war specifically over water, the issue of drought and water supply can be seen as a significant and growing causal factor behind many armed conflicts – especially in the Middle East.
Over the coming years and decades this looks set to increase. The Middle East water wars may have already begun, but the conflicts of recent years may pale in comparison to the conflicts of the future...
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