Water: The lifeblood of the Earth, but at what cost?

Claims that the third world war will be about water pervade mainstream media from time to time, yet these are often met with criticism and denial. As the planet faces a climate crisis of an unprecedented nature and capitalism appears to be on the verge of collapse, could this claim, indeed, be true?

Water is one of the most valuable resources in the world and is required by all – rich and poor, man and woman, old and young. The issue, however, arises when the population of the world comes to the sobering realisation that water is a finite, non-renewable resource, and more importantly, one which is unevenly distributed.

The irony of 71 percent of the surface of the Earth being covered in water that is not fit for human consumption is not lost on anyone – approximately 96 percent of all of the water on the planet can be found in the oceans. While strides are being made to develop systems which purify salt water and make it potable, these are incredibly expensive and not at all feasible, particularly for developing countries.

From icy tundras to arid deserts, human beings inhabit myriad regions around the world, many of which differ in their climate and temperament. Climate and temperament often pose a problem to residents, particularly people in deserts, such as those in the Middle East and North Africa, who have to use water sparingly as it is an incredibly valuable and scarce resource.

The commodification of water under capitalism has negatively impacted a majority of people around the world, particularly those in the global South. Due to the fact that water is scarce in developing countries as a result of a lack of infrastructure and poor chains of distribution, citizens must spend substantial amounts of their already meagre earnings on water. Those who cannot afford water and those who live in areas which have no access to clean, running water must make use of wells and rivers. Water from these sources undergoes no purification process and is occasionally riddled with diseases such as cholera and giardia which can lead to illness and even death.

Water in certain countries is, obviously, more expensive than in other countries. The price of water is dependent upon a number of factors, such as whether or not it is subsidised by the government and whether or not it has to be imported, among others.

Water sources around the world are gradually dwindling, with more and more areas facing water shortages and drought-like conditions. Global warming has significantly contributed to the drought crisis, and the United Nations has approximated that the phenomenon has affected 1.5 billion people in the last two decades alone.

Not only does drought affect individuals, it also affects the economy. Without substantial amounts of water, the primary, secondary, and tertiary industries are brought to a standstill, unable to function. This has ripple effects, resulting in the weakening of the economies of many countries which, in turn, exacerbates poverty and inequality.

With water drawing the line between the haves and the have-nots, it is no surprise that a considerable amount of tension is growing around the resource. This development is best highlighted by the unequal distribution of water in the fertile crescent of the Middle East, with Israel having seized control of numerous freshwater sources and citizens of surrounding countries contending with paying exorbitant rates for water, or alternatively, facing water shortages, particularly in the occupied Palestinian territores.

Although none of the conflicts playing out on the world stage at present have water as their primary motive, the world seems to be shifting in that direction.

Without curbing water wastage or striving toward distributing it equally, it is likely that issues of contention surrounding water will rise exponentially and may very well pave the way for World War III.

About the author:

Humairaa Mayet is incredibly passionate about issues of social justice and strives to make a difference in the world through as many avenues as possible. She spends her days listening to music, cooking and baking, attending protests, and raising her plants.



#Water #WaterPolitics #WorldWarThree #ClimateChange #ClimateCrisis #GlobalWarming #Capitalism

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