“Thirsty In the Sea” – A World War for Water

In the year 1999 and seven months [July] The great King of Terror will come from the sky He will resurrect Ghengis Khan Before and after war rules happily.


Nostradamians have interpreted this quatrain as his prophecy for the third World War. While the world is still in dilemma over the above interpretation that it actually meant a World War, but situation these days is sure heading us to the doomsday. Figuratively speaking, there is no shortage of water in the world. But this abundance does not correspond to the Usable form of water. And although the amount of water sources is limited the consuming population is growing at an alarming rate. The population of the world 2000 years ago was a mere 3% of what it is today. One does not need a management guru to analyse the whole scenario. It’s simple; there is limited amount of ‘Supply’ and a manifold increase in the ‘Demand’.


Water covers 73% of the planet but more than 97.5% of the surface water is ocean.


This is not useable water due to it being salinated. Desalination of this water is far too expensive process for widespread adoption. The fresh water which the world uses represents a mere 2.5% of available water. But all of it is also not available. An amount of 3/4th of this fresh water is trapped in the form of snow and ice. So we are left with a minimal 0.65 of surface water for use. This is the limited amount of ‘supply’ we are having.


Now let’s have a look at the ‘demand’. We are more than a six billion inhabitants in this planet. In which about 12 million people, i.e., 20% of the global population spread across 40 countries do not have access to safe water. Over the next 20 years, the world’s population will increase from the present 6.4 billion to an estimated 7.2 billion whereas the average supply of water per person is expected to fall by 1/3th. Even the available water sources are not that fairly distributed. Women in Asia and Africa walk an average distance of 6km a day to collect water.


India too is not helping the cause with its growing population and unmanaged water resources. In having 1/6th of the population of the world we are merely increasing the demand. Most of the water sources in India are contaminated by sewage and agricultural waste water. Although India has seen progress in the supply of safe water to its people but this water is largely contaminated. According to a report by the World Bank 21% of communicable diseases in India are related to unsafe water.


It makes quite a debatable issue that a country where a major of its population depends on agriculture has so little concern to tap the water resources. Government has made water a mere ‘election issue’ than actually dealing with the matter.India has many rivers, especially the Himalayan Rivers which are perennial in nature. But the major problem is the inadequate or excessive distribution of water and also the quality of water available. Although the government has launched a National River integration Scheme but its implementation is not that proper. So the problem here lies merely in managing rather in the availability of the resources.


The problem isn’t confined to a particular region in the world. Scientist at the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) have identified water crisis as the second most worrying problem of the world after global warming. A large amount of water is used in agriculture. Today one in five people have no access to safe drinking water and it estimated that by 2020 we shall need 17% more water than currently used. With present conditions it seems a ‘distant dream’.


The major causes of this crisis are the growing population of the world, the improper use of the available water resources and the incessant water pollution. However it’s a notable fact that increasing population is not the only cause for increasing the demand. It’s been found that there has been a six-fold increase in water use for only a two-fold increase in population size. With the amount of globalisation being done, the usage of water has increased a lot. Setting up of large industrial plants and agricultural farms has led to an increase in the demand too.


Farmers too use water less efficiently. It’s said that China uses 1000 tonnes of water to produce 1 tonne of wheat. There is a large amount of water being pumped out of the earth for farming use. Many water reservoirs are suffering reduction in storage capacity due to sedimentation caused by deforestation. The fresh water reserves are also being contaminated.


This entire crisis for water can well become the cause of the next World War. The previous two wars may have been fought for land and power but water could surely be the cause of the next one. Nowadays when most of the nations have become nuclear power one could only imagine the amount of destruction this war could cause. Just imagine a war situation where countries are fighting over every available water body and each drop of water is being paid for by a drop of blood. Even inside the countries there is are civil wars for water. Among this entire crisis going on, if nuclear weapons are used then world soon could be vaporised within minutes. This would end it all. Prophecy would certainly become true.


The need of the hour is to form an international agreement over the proper utilization of water. Although many nation are sharing their water resources through international treaties but still more such concrete steps should be taken. Proper canalization of the rivers should be done to effectively use the available water. Government should look into the matter and make proper water utilization schemes.


Rain water harvesting could provide a vital solution to the regular water usage crisis.


It’s time for a collective effort by the people of the world.


Each drop of water saved today could well be a thousand lives saved tomorrow.”


Harshit Shukla



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