Wasserkriege: Zwischen Mythos und Realität
MYTHOS: As the world warms, water—either too little or too much of it—is going to be the major problem for the United States, scientists and military experts said Monday. It will be a domestic problem, with states clashing over controls of rivers, and a national security problem as water shortages and floods worsen conflicts and terrorism elsewhere in the world, they said. ...
Meanwhile, global-warming water problems will make poor, unstable parts of the world—the Middle East, Africa and South Asia—even more prone to wars, terrorism and the need for international intervention, a panel of retired military leaders said in a separate report.
“Water at large is the central (global warming) problem for the U.S.,’’ Princeton University geosciences professor Michael Oppenheimer said after a press conference featuring eight American scientists who were lead authors of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s climate-effects report.
“One of the biggest likely areas of conflict is going to be over water,’’ said Wald, former deputy commander of U.S. European Command. He pointed to the Middle East and Africa.
The military report’s co-author, former Army Chief of Staff Gen. Gordon R. Sullivan, also pointed to sea-level rise floods as potentially destabilizing South Asia countries of Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, Indonesia and Vietnam.
Lack of water and food in places already the most volatile will make those regions even more unstable with global warming and “foster the conditions for internal conflicts, extremism and movement toward increased authoritarianism and radical ideologies,’’ states the 63-page military report, issued by the CNA Corp., an Alexandria, Va.-based national security think tank.
REALITÄT: The world’s future wars will be fought not over oil but water: an ominous prediction made by the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), the British ministry of defence and even by some officials of the World Bank.
But experts and academics meeting at an international conference on water management in the Swedish capital are dismissing this prediction as unrealistic, far-fetched and nonsensical.
“Water wars make good newspaper headlines but cooperation (agreements) don’t,” says Arunabha Ghosh, co-author of the upcoming Human Development Report 2006 themed on water management. The annual report, commissioned by the U.N. Development Programme (UNDP), is to be released in December.
In reality, Ghosh told the meeting in Stockholm, there are plenty of bilateral, multilateral and trans-boundary agreements for water-sharing—all or most of which do not make good newspaper copy.
Asked about water wars, Prof. Asit K. Biswas of the Mexico-based Third World Centre for Water Management, told IPS: “This is absolute nonsense because this is not going to happen—at least not during the next 100 years.”
He said the world is not facing a water crisis because of physical water scarcities. “This is baloney,” he said.
“What it is facing is a crisis of bad water management,” argued Biswas, who was awarded the 2006 international Stockholm Water Prize for “outstanding achievements” in his field. The presentation ceremony took place in Stockholm Thursday.
According to the Paris-based U.N. Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), one-third of all river basins are shared by more than two countries.
Globally, there are 262 international river basins: 59 in Africa, 52 in Asia, 73 in Europe, 61 in Latin America and the Caribbean, and 17 in North America. Overall, 145 countries have territories that include at least one shared river basin.
Between 1948 and 1999, UNESCO says, there have been 1,831 “international interactions” recorded, including 507 conflicts, 96 neutral or non-significant events, and most importantly, 1,228 instances of cooperation.
“Despite the potential problem, history has demonstrated that cooperation, rather than conflict, is likely in shared basins,” UNESCO concludes.
The Stockholm International Water Institute (SIWI) says that 10- to 20-year-old arguments about conflict over water are still being recycled.
“Such arguments ignore massive amounts of recent research which shows that water-scarce states that share a water body tend to find cooperative solutions rather than enter into violent conflict,” the institute says.