Climate Change

Sucked Dry

By Ryan McGreal
Published March 02, 2006

Humans are depleting fresh water sources faster than natural processes can replenish them, even as climate change threatens to reduce the supply of fresh water still further. Water is second only to air as an essential substance to support human life. As access to adequate supplies of water is increasingly threatened, we edge closer to the prospect of water wars.

According to a recent article in the Independent (UK), British Defence Secretary John Reid warns that the "tragic conflict we see unfolding in Darfur" is at least partly due to the shortage of water and farmland. "We should see this as a warning sign," considering that things are only going to get worse.

The article casts water use into context:

  • The recommended basic water requirement per person per day is 50 litres. But people can get by with about 30 litres: 5 litres for food and drink and another 25 for hygiene.

  • Some countries use less than 10 litres per person per day. Gambia uses 4.5, Mali 8, Somalia 8.9, and Mozambique 9.3.

  • By contrast the average US citizen uses 500 litres per day, and the British average is 200.

  • In the West, it takes about eight litres to brush our teeth, 10 to 35 litres to flush a lavatory, and 100 to 200 litres to take a shower.

Ryan McGreal, the editor of Raise the Hammer, lives in Hamilton with his family and works as a programmer, writer and consultant. Ryan volunteers with Hamilton Light Rail, a citizen group dedicated to bringing light rail transit to Hamilton. Ryan writes a city affairs column in Hamilton Magazine, and several of his articles have been published in the Hamilton Spectator. He also maintains a personal website and has been known to post passing thoughts on Twitter @RyanMcGreal. Recently, he took the plunge and finally joined Facebook.

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By Josh (registered) | Posted March 06, 2006 at 03:16:03

I've already heard an arguement calling Israel's occupation of the West Bank the first water war. The West Bank is above one of the few aquafers in the region and Israel gets most of its water from it.

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