I am grateful to have been born in Canada, and for a multitude of reasons, not least because we control most of the world’s fresh water.
Water shortages can and do lead to wars. Wars create refugees. Drought creates migrants. We’ve already seen a preview in the Middle East of what could happen on a larger scale. A decade-long drought (reportedly the worst in 900 years) had by 2008 brought Syria to the lip of catastrophe. In the Euphrates River valley, farmers were drilling wells 30, 60 and finally 490 metres down, literally to the bottom. The wells ran dry and huge tracts of farmland were put out of commission. Iraq, Iran and Jordan all face similar potential water catastrophes.
The situation in Israel was grim as well. The Sea of Galilee, its biggest fresh-water source, had dropped to within centimetres of what is called the “black line” of irreversible salt infiltration. Farmers lost a year’s crops. It hadn’t helped that Israel had been a leader in water conservation for years, with water treatment systems recapturing 86 per cent of used water for irrigation (the second most efficient country, Spain, recaptures 19 per cent), and numerous desalination plants providing 55 per cent of its domestic-use water. It wasn’t enough to stave off a 500-million-cubic metre shortfall.
Today, a scant eight years on, Israel has more potable water than it knows what to do with.
Continue reading Barbara Kay’s National Post article here