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Water Fights


I don’t know how many of you are fans of Spooks, the BBC1 drama based on the British intelligence services (blimey writing that on a blog might be enough to get me…..well, best not think about that…)?  On Monday the episode featured a scientist who was working on desalination technology, essentially turning sea water into drinking water.  The value of her work was such that she became an asset over which the Chinese and American governments were arguing (with the plucky Brits caught in the middle!!).

Far fetched? Maybe. Maybe not.

The theory was based on the increased risk of drought through global warming with usable water becoming a commodity….and therefore the ability to convert abundant sea water to portable water would become akin to energy production.  When you start to look at the global predictions, it doesn’t seem so far fetched……

We’re all aware of the power struggles for oil, but water?  Remember Darfur? That was about the Janjaweed right?  Well yes…..and no.  The root causes of the conflict can be traced back to the need for water. The Council for Foreign Relations reported,

“The conflict that led to the crisis arose from the tensions between nomadic farmers’ groups who were competing for water and grazing land—both increasingly scarce due to the expanding Sahara Desert.”

Ok but that was a one off and these things happen don’t they? Since the late nineties reports have been calling for action on water, a report sponsored by the UN Development Programme suggested that water might  be one of the main reasons for conflict on the African continent for the next few decades.

And that could just be the start….

As some of you will know, today is Blog Action Day.  An event held every October 15 where the world’s blogggers unite by posting different posts about the same issue on the same day with the aim of sparking a global discussion and driving collective action.

We know that right now, almost a billion people on the planet don’t have access to clean, safe drinking water. That’s one in eight of us who are subject to preventable disease and even death because of something that many of us take for granted. And we know that unless we take action, things are only going to get worse.

So take a moment today when you turn on the tap, run a bath or fill the kettle.  Take a moment to think what is and what could be. However, far fetched it might at first seem. Take a moment and then take action by signing the global petition here. And show them what a lovely bunch of people we are here.

Water is a right, not a privilege.

Have a good weekend.

Blog Action Day 2010: Water from Blog Action Day on Vimeo.

5 Comments leave one →
  1. 10/15/2010 07:44

    You’d think with the technology available, we would be able to solve a relatively simple problem, after all de-salination has been used in submarines for years. Surely the cost of production must have come down to a reasonable level!
    Shall be signing and re-tweeting.

  2. garethmjones permalink
    10/15/2010 08:32

    Good point Theo, and I wasn’t aware of the Blog Action Day initiative so thanks for pointing it out. This post reminds me of your Future Imperative blog post and my subsequent response. It is most definitely not about oil. That is merely a ‘now’ pre occupation for governments and fatcats. Nothing more. Water, and the ability to create basic shelter and warmth (Light a fire) will be where its at. Maybe not in my lifetime, but who knows. And the strange thing is, no one is getting it. But you know why don’t you?!

    Because, right now, there is no money in it. Its that simple.

    Once there is, and once one of the major western economies becomes compromised because of lack of the clear stuff, boy will you see a change. And I’m going to predict a new type of person will emerge – Water Baron!

  3. 10/15/2010 09:10

    No money in it? mmmm Go tell that to Vital and Evian. Thousands of litres of water are bought in supermarkets each week. I remember my father scoffing about our EU neighbours who couldn’t drink water from the tap. one generation on and water is big business, but marketing is even bigger. Creating a desirable USP for recycled water from the north sea is much more of a challenge than marketing Spring Water bottled by artisans straight from the Stretton Hills (our local brand)

    However, a serious point well made. We all need to get smart about our limited resources and that includes fresh water.

    Driving the other night I heard a very interesting program on R4 about the untapped reserves flushed away daily. Apparently there is a veritable gold mine of precious minerals and metals in our urine and once these are extracted there is of course H2O…. now, how would you market that?

    A good call to practical action – thank you!

  4. Charlie Duff permalink
    10/15/2010 13:21

    Hello Theo

    Am on hols at the moment but couldn’t read this without saying thanks for posting about this.

    As someone who studied the IR and is a firm believer in the ‘new’ security agenda I couldn’t agree more.

    Water, and access to clean water is an issue which is fundamental but sadly a widespread problem.

    I’m always pleased to see the new security agenda highlighted in Spooks. Believe it or not there are still people, including academics, who don’t believe these kind of issues cause conflict or really matter.

    We know better. Next time you run a bath or turn on a tap, consider how many people can’t; scary stuff.

    I plan to do my first triathlon next year. I’d like to collect sponsorship for it: if you have any ideas of a charity let me know. Wateraid do good work, as does Against Malaria, but other suggestions welcome…

  5. 10/24/2010 11:51

    @paul – Thanks for the support. I think an answer is probably there, the question is whether the will it there?

    @garethmjones – I chose this topic because it really resonated with me following the Future Imperative post. Water barons? Not a million miles away in my opinion.

    @LizMorris – Great points. We need to start thinking completely differently about some of these topics in my humble opinion. Many of the BAD10 posts are really very exciting.

    @Charlie Duff – Thanks Charlie…I’ll have a think about charities… must be mad 🙂

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