Water Wars

In the 1970s, my dad frequently said that the next wars would be fought over water.me hawaiiDSCN2984

He told a story that I think arose from an idea proposed by Georges Mougin, as reported in Phys.org. “Way back in the 70’s Georges Mougin, then an engineering graduate, had a big idea. He suggested that icebergs floating around in the North Atlantic could be tethered and dragged south to places that were experiencing a severe drought, such as the Sahel of West Africa. Mougin received some backing funds from a Saudi prince but most ‘experts’ at the time scoffed at his idea and the whole scheme was eventually shelved.”

Back then, it might have sounded like a good idea, if it could be managed without the ice melting before arrival, for a cost that was reasonable. Today, some scientists think an iceberg could be transported without melting, but the costs would be exorbitant.

More importantly, something critical has happened since Mougin’s idea was first conceived.

Today, the arctic contains considerably less ice.

Arctic sea ice fluctuates in quantity throughout the year. According to NASA, it reaches its minimum each September. Because increased levels of carbon dioxide and other pollutants are leading to a gradual heating of the earth’s atmosphere, the global temperature has risen 1.9 degrees Fahrenheit since 1880. As a result, more arctic ice is melting. NASA said that September Arctic sea ice is now declining at a rate of 12.8 percent per decade, relative to the 1981 to 2010 average.

And this heating trend in our atmosphere is accelerating. Nine of the ten warmest years have occurred since 2005. The EU satellite service just reported that June 2019 was the “hottest ever recorded on earth.”

Today, countries like India are running short of groundwater.

clouds mine 22046022_10210249962150346_4908882350092498926_nIndia supports 1.3 billion people who need water to survive. This June, NPR reported that India’s sixth largest city, Chennai, “with a population of almost 10 million, is nearly out of water.” Rains are becoming more unpredictable due to climate change. India’s lakes and groundwater are drying up. NPR said that 21 major cities in India could face water crises by next year (2020) due to water shortages!

Today, the effects of human-induced climate change have become apparent.

Scientifically trained individuals—like those who created the diagnostic systems you rely on to know whether you must act quickly or die soon of cancer—agree that we must act immediately to reduce human produced carbon emissions or the earth will become unsustainable for life as we know it.

Seriously.

This is not the time to listen to a quack doctor or to try a cancer cure of apricot kernels. This is not a time to put politics before good sense. This not a time to be stubborn.

Climate change is a life and death issue for billions—billions—of people, and for the uncountable other species with whom we share this earth. Species that know something is changing, but can do nothing to stop it. Only our species can make a difference.

The Sixth Edition of the Global Environmental Outlook Report, published by the UN in 2019, “calls on decision makers to take immediate action to address pressing environmental issues to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals as well as other Internationally Agreed Environment Goals, such as the Paris Agreement.” At the very least, take a look at this research! Figure 2.20 lists five independent indicators that scientists have studied showing a changing global climate: land surface air temperature, sea surface air temperature, marine air temperature, sea level, and the extent of summer arctic sea-ice.

All indicate that human activity is leading to climate change, and that the change is accelerating.

This is a time to listen and act.

It is a time to vote in people who believe the science and will ADDRESS climate change now, aggressively—pulling out all possible resources.

It is a time to work together with other nations—reentering and leading alongside other countries to fulfill the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement.

It is a time to work together for the earth, for our children and our grandchildren—so the children of this world have a planet that can sustain them.

This is a time to listen and act.

As Thomas Moore wrote in The Reenchangment of Everyday Life, “According to the Greek philosopher Thales, everything is water, and water is the basic element in all life… water is not just H2O but also an element of the soul….” Water is at the heart of life, physical and psychological.

This is a time to listen and act.

Or the next wars will be fought over disappearing ground water, drowned cities and islands, dying sea life, failed crops, and global hunger. As my dad reasoned in the 1970s,

Unless we listen and act now,

The next wars will be fought over water.

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