The impact of water on political power
and relations worldwide.
The future of water in 3 parts (52 minutes each),
exploring the implications of a growing, changing world for this important
The power of water.
All societies have been shaped by the struggle to control water.
From the first civilizations in the middle east in Asia to the mega
cities of our days.
The future of humankind will also be shaped by the unruly element
In the next decades huge water projects will radically change the
face of the earth. A new uncertainty will force all societies to ask
" Do we live in the age of droughts or in the age of floods?
This year’s drought ranks as one of the top 10 worst U.S. droughts
for the last century.
With more than half the country (54 percent)
experiencing drought conditions, it’s the single worst drought since
Houses should be built on stilts to adapt to flooding
caused by climate change, scientists have said.
The struggle to control water will hold the balance between peace
and profoundly influence relations between countries and continents.
The future of humankind is shaped by water
No one can escape the power of water.
Stable climatic conditions have lasted for 10,000 years. Are these ideal
conditions that have lasted for 10,00 years about to end.
We live in what we can call an age of climatic uncertainty. In an age where
uncertainty of the future of water will dominate political live.
It will have enormous consequences on our societies.
Are we at the threshold of a century of droughts or floods will the
worlds oceans rise and how much? No one know the answers.
Severe droughts or flooding can be fatal to millions of people in poor
Uncertainties in worlds conditions will pose huge challenges to the
world's most advanced societies.
These challenges will effect international relations, migration patterns
and the position of democracy all over the world.
The Yellow River:
Is the second longest river in China and the cradle of Chinese civilization
Tibet's Yellow river has been central to the drama of China's past. The world's
largest mountain places this desolate area right in the middle of Asia's
development and political rivalry.
From this flow the Yance Mykong, Brahmaputra and Ganges are a vital
lifeline to 3 billion people.
India and China are dependent on what happens in the Hymalayas,
Tibet is Asia's water tower.
Eternal ice that has been there for eons has recently begun to melt.
Asia's water banks, 15,000 glaciers have hardly any rainfall. In spite of
this 10 huge rivers,all crucial to civilizations history has shaped
Gacier shrinkage effects water flow in rivers. Some oasis' will disappear.
Many will be effected by this and will be forced to leave there homes.
The river has significance for a whole continent. This river, the Indus,
the lifeline of Pakastan gets 90% of its water from glaciers.
The Mykong River plays a vital role in Cambodia Laos , Vietnam,
Thiailand and Burma. In low lying Bangladish the river Delta
consequences will be fatal.
The Chinese government has stated that the looming water crisis
is a major threat to China's development.
Changes in the flow of their crucial rivers will deepen this crisis and
have far reaching consequences.
And what if the glaciers don't melt and it turns out that the relationship
between climate and water flow is far more complex than comprehended?
Tibet's new role as a water bank is here to stay because the new age of
uncertainty is going to last a long time.
It's not just the Hymilayas glaciers that are melting they are shrinking
all around the world such as the Alps of central Europe.
Some scientists predict that all glaciers not higher than 2,000 ft. above
sea level will be gone by 2070.
What will become of the Netherlands, Europe's most densely
populated country with most of its southwestern part a series of river
60% of the Netherlands lies below sea level including one of the
world's busiest airports.
Windmills and pumps are used to pump
water out of canals. The nerve center of the country.
In the Netherlands they have begun to plan floating cities
and and a new major airport in the sea. The main reason for such plans
is an anticipated change in water conditions.
Fear of rising sea levels has changed an ice wilderness into a
hotspot of worlds politics.
The east coast of Greenland is one of
the most isolated places in the world. Along the 2,600 coast line
live about 3,500 people.
Because of ice covered water in the Fjord, the local population can
only reach the outside world by sea 5 months of the year.
Nevertheless it is this outpost of civilization that holds the key to
forecasting the key to future of the human race.
The world's largest island has about 10% of the world's water in the
form of ice. The inland icecap covers are the size of England and in
some places it is 3 kilometers thick.
The Greenland icecap has been stable for the last 10,000 years but
will this last and if not, what will be the global consequences?
Runoff from glaciers is increasing. Colder fresh water in the oceans
will dramatically effect ocean currents. Climate change predictions vary.
Nassau scientists say the glaciers could melt within 200 years.
Venice is flooded 10 times more today than it was 100 yrs ago.
The city and the lagoon it was built on were formed by the Adriatic
and the 3 large rivers flowing into it. Waves and river silt built up
00's of tiny islands.
The problem now is the rising sea level.
Project Moses in Venice is being used to divide rivers and protect
the city from the Adriatic. Lagoon gates prevent the city from high tides.
If the Greenland icecap melts, cities like London and New York
will be flooded.
If the Antarctic melts the ocean level will rise 60 meters.
Only prophets of doom argue that this will happen and if
it does it will be in the very distant future.
The rising ocean level.
Bangladesh is the most venerable to glacier melt. Rising ocean
levels pose the threat of salt water seeping in and destroy the ground
Uncertainty jeopardizes investment and development.
History is filled with examples of civilization that have collapsed
when faced with changes in water's behavior.
The ancient Indus civilization in what is today's Pakistan and India
and the Sumerian Civilization collapsed partly because water let them down.
The same thing happened with the Myan civilization in South America.
Changes in climate and water conditions interacting with social and political
conditions caused the demise of the old centers of this civilization.
Mayan agriculture was largely based on artificial dams filled with rain water.
When rain fall failed for a period of several years about 1200 years ago this
speeded up a process of decay that culminated in the core areas of south
of the Yucatan Pinnensula being reclaimed by the jungle.
Chitizinitza survived because water conditions were different.
There were no rivers but they survived on 3,000 sink holes formed when
limestone fell in.
These natural cathedrals became centers of a religious cult.
They were venerated as the earth's stomach, as the watery
doorway to the underworld's rain Gods.
They were also places of sacrifice to placate the rain Gods.
Humans were sacrificed by being pushed into the sink holes,
never to reappear.
These are some of the world's largest underground river ways.
These were empty caves prior to the last ice age.
When the ice melted the caves were filled with water.
We must ask will modern society prove better equipped to tackle
the vagaries of water?
World literature is full of accounts of how the
Gods have punished human frailty with drought or floods.
Prophycies of catastrophic changes in water conditions caused
by human action have therefore a deep global, cultural resonance.
What is new is that they are justified by the arguments of rational
science and the politicians have taken the place of the Gods.
The overriding question will be, will politicians succeed in controlling
the vagaries of water and there consequences.
And what will happen to societies when people start demanding a
new government because of bad weather, drought or too much water?
Order 'A Journey in the History of Water' and 'The Future of Water