Scarce resources, nuclear weapons, and anarchy
For years now, I have tried to sustain my excitement over protecting the environment to no avail. But two things I am passionate about, politics and war, have served to help me understand the bigger picture. And when you finish this post, it will help you too.
Yesterday I read an article that discussed the era of “Resource Wars,” whereby the increasing scarcity of resources like agricultural land or water will lead to violent conflict between nation-states. At first, I was shocked until I thought about the often cited claim that oil played a major role in the US launching war in Iraq. And while I agree with this sentiment in part, it was odd that I was more outraged over the idea of nations fighting over water as opposed to fighting for oil. But they are both natural resources and if you think oil is scarce, some statistics on water will blow you away.
I knew that we couldn’t use sea water but did you know “Humans have available less than 0.08% of all the Earth’s water. Yet over the next two decades our use is estimated to increase by about 40%… Today, one person in five across the world has no access to safe drinking water, and one in two lacks safe sanitation.” That makes me upset to think of all the times I pleaded with my Mom to give me Kool-Aid or pop (or soda for you east coasters) instead of drinking water when some people will die an early death because they don’t have access to clean drinking water.
Now if the world’s demand for water is set to increase by 40% over the next 20 years and pollution is And pollution is making more of the water that is available to us unfit for use (see Aral Sea), then who will determine who gets what and how much? And this says nothing of the growing lack of agricultural land.
The article I cited about resource wars had recent quotes from the British Defense Secretary, John Reid, talking about the dangers of increasingly scarce resources. This follows the Pentagon’s report in October 2003 entitled “An Abrupt Climate Change Scenario and Its Implications for United States National Security.” The article went on to say that “With the world population rising, global consumption rates soaring, energy supplies rapidly disappearing and climate change eradicating valuable farmland, the stage is being set for persistent and worldwide struggles over vital resources. Religious and political strife will not disappear in this scenario, but rather will be channeled into contests over valuable sources of water, food and energy.”
The key point in this quote is that religious and political strife will not disappear which means that if we are fighting the war on terror, America and its allies won’t call off the war and decide to resume once the world has enough water to sustain its growing population. On the contrary, if China has access to the last remaining water supply and they decide to be stingy with the water, do you think the “international community” will just sit back and relax? Thank God most industrialized countries have nuclear weapons they can use responsibly to ensure a fair distribution of resources not based on politics.
Clearly, I am being sarcastic but the Pentagon report stated, “In this world of warring states, nuclear arms proliferation is inevitable.” As oil and natural gas disappears, more and more countries will rely on nuclear power to meet their energy needs—and this “will accelerate nuclear proliferation as countries develop enrichment and reprocessing capabilities to ensure their national security.”
But all hope is not lost. YOU can do something about protecting the environment and using your voice and sphere of influence to help others do the same. So if the environment is low on your list of priorities, hopefully the idea of “resource wars” will inspire you to get on the ball. The future of our planet is at stake.
Stay up fam,