Global Water Crisis
Leading US legal scholar Robert Glennon is currently touring to promote his latest book, a factual study which is being taken so seriously that he is getting air time on some of the highest-rating shows in America – including Jon Stewart’s Daily Show which has had such guests in the last year as the then Senator Barack Obama, the former President Bill Clinton and father of the US political chat show Larry King. Robert Glennon’s issue is linked to one hugely important part of everyone’s life – water. Quite simply, the message goes, America is wasting water. And it’s not just America, either. There are water crises in Asia, parts of Europe and in Africa too. The very real danger is that if people living in countries with what should be a plentiful supply of water don’t stop wasting what they have, then our future could be looking dangerously dry.
Robert Glennon’s book, Unquenchable, is the story of how America is wasting water in ways which are in some cases breathtakingly wasteful and in others seemingly well-intentioned. Witness how the energy lobby in Washington are pushing for the greater use of biofuels, and then consider that to make one gallon of biofuel is said to cost thousands of gallons of water. According to Robert Glennon, America simply does not have that kind of water to give away. It may seem like America, Europe and other areas with a similarly rainy climate are at little risk from drought, but if the current reckless overuse of water continues there could be some damage done that will not be undone in a hurry. We may well find that scarcity will lead to some extremely negative repercussions.
In Africa and parts of sub continental Asia we have seen the results of major drought, as crops wither and die leading to serious famine. The water crisis we are currently seeing – albeit in a very limited way – has the potential to change the face of the world as we know it for the worse, and it is not just Robert Glennon who believes this. It needs to be taken into account now that without government attention and innovative thinking in countries where ready alternatives exist, we will be looking not at a potential crisis, but some years down the line at a financial crisis in some parts of the world and a humanitarian one elsewhere.
It is all the more telling that as America faces up to a real crisis, one nation in a position of relative strength right now is its neighbour to the north, Canada. Currently sitting on around 10% of the world’s water, Canada will feature very prominently in discussions the longer this situation perpetuates itself. It is to be hoped that things will not get so far that Canada is required to help out with America’s water crisis – but with the crises developing elsewhere it must be recognised that the old adage “water, water everywhere, nor any drop to drink” has never been more appropriate.
To streamline and minimize blog maintenance, I will be discontinuing maintaining the Thegreenlivingblog.com website (however, I will still hold the domain). I will gradually move all articles from this site to A Dawn Journal. This article originally published on the above website on July 18, 2009.