So sang Tommy Steele who topped the British charts with the song of the same name, in 1957.
Water is a chemical compound and has the formula H2O. It’s a liquid at standard temperature and pressure but also exists naturally in the solid and gaseous state. It covers just over 70% of the Earths surface and is vital for all life forms as we know them. Only 2.5% of the water on Earth is fresh water, and almost 99% of that is ice and aquifer water, the rest, a touch under 0.3% is found in rivers, lakes and the air that we breathe. Is it any wonder then that water is contested so fiercely in some parts of the world?
After Katrina people were lacking basic amenities including the ability to find enough drinking water that was not contaminated. After Sandy, people once again stood in line to collect bottled water from the government. Across the globe disasters both natural and man made affect the water supply, almost immediately, either through cessation of supply or contamination of supply.
It’s not a major stretch of the imagination to assume that should a country be hit by major civil disobedience that the population could be rapidly brought to heel by restriction of the one thing that only rarely can we survive longer than three days without. I can’t think of an easier way to subdue parents than to remove their ability to give their children a drink. I can’t think of an easier, and more cost effective way to bring a neighbourhood to its knees than to ring fence it militarily and cut off the water supply. Block the major exits from New York City and cut off the water supply and you instantly curtail the ability of a large proportion of the population to survive for even a week. At this point the population will turn on each other, killing not for the latest phone but for a cheap bottle of mineral water, a positive boon to those who advocate population reduction. Those who survive such a scenario will soon succumb to diseases associated with lack of water for hygiene such as typhus and typhoid, and to those of contaminated water such as cholera and leptospirosis.
Those who control the water supply, without doubt in my mind, control the population. A thousand guns and a 25 year supply of food will not keep you alive if you don’t have access to drinking water.
Globally the situation is not much better, Water is already being used to bring people into line, to force them to accept conditions they otherwise would not.
Civil wars in some countries have already seen a rise in deliberate contamination of water sources in order to exert pressure on a village or town to comply with the wishes of the people that see themselves as the major power in that area. This has happened in Sudan, The Democratic Republic of Congo, Cameroon and Niger in recent years. Its easy to assume that water being used as a political tool, or a bargaining chip in areas so remote from ourselves means it will never happen to us, sitting safely here in the first world. I believe it would be shortsighted to adopt that view.
Even if water is not used as a weapon, supplies are being outstripped by demand. In China, aquifers are running dry, droughts are continuing year on year in some areas and decimating the food chain in the process as cattle and crops cannot be kept hydrated.
Ownership of the freshwater that is still available will be questioned in the future.
The Danube runs through 17 states, the Rhine through 9. The mighty Colorado provides water to northern Mexico, and has had levels far lower in recent years than ever before. Where does the sovereignty of a river lie? At its source? At its Delta? What if pollution upstream affects those downstream? What if the course of the river changes, either naturally or by design?
The Helsinki Rules drawn up in 1966 states eleven principles to guide the use of water that crosses international boundaries, the rules were updated in 1997 but there is still evidence that they are not always adhered to.
In 2003 Koichiro Matsura, Director General of UNESCO said:
“Of all the social and natural crises we humans face, the water crisis is the one that lies at the heart of our survival, and that of our planet Earth.”
Differing perspectives on the value of water gives rise to contestation of supply. Conflict over water has risen since Matsura made his statement. Increasing population with a more or less static amount of water in the hydrological cycle will mean conflicts over water will most likely increase as time goes on.
Explore ways now of storing water, or distilling your own, even on a small scale, from waste water and sea water. Add canned fruit juices to your preps to enable you to eek out your freshwater supply in the future.
Anything that reduces the amount of water used for personal hygiene and non-consumption uses should be seriously looked at as a way of making the ever dwindling supply you may be facing in the future, last longer.
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Contributed by Lizzie Bennett of Underground Medic.
Lizzie Bennett retired from her job as a senior operating department practitioner in the UK earlier this year. Her field was trauma and accident and emergency and she has served on major catastrophe teams around the UK. Lizzie publishes Underground Medic on the topic of preparedness.