From Oil Sheikhs to Water Barons?

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Maanantai 2.11.2020 klo 15:44 - Mikko Nikinmaa


The time of becoming rich on oil is beginning to be past. The use of oil will rapidly be diminishing with energy and electricity production, and car industry turning to alternative fuel sources. In the short-term heavy road traffic, ships and planes will continue to use oil fuels, and oil remains as the major ingredient of plastics, but the amount of oil needed will decrease certainly hundredfold. This is bad news for Putin and the oil sheikhs of Middle East, who are almost completely dependent on oil revenue.

In contrast, the ongoing climate change has increased arid land Autiomaa.jpgarea, and the number of people living in dry areas, markedly. Whereas people in parts of temperate world complain about the frequent rain, many people virtually never experience the luxury of raindrops falling on their hair. Even though the majority of Earth’s surface is water, it cannot be utilized for irrigation or as drinking water, as its salt content cannot be tolerated by plants or animals. Of all the water available, only a couple of percent is freshwater. The biggest amount of freshwater is bound on Antarctic and Arctic (mainly Greenland) ice, and all the freshwater lakes and rivers, and the groundwater make up only about a percent of total water area. Although presently a large proportion of the freshwater rains and flows in the tropical rivers Amazon and Congo, the areas with the largest water resources are the rich temperate and boreal European and American areas.

This being the case, there is a possibility that the inequality between different parts of the world further increases as a result of water resource inequality. We in the rich world have caused most of the climate change, which dries up most of the poor world. We now sit on the water resources, which also the poor people need. If we behaved like the oil sheikhs, we – water barons – would take further riches for ourselves. I am afraid, though, that such behaviour would end up in total chaos with hordes of immigrants coming to the water-rich areas. In view of this, we should start planning a global distribution system of water with pipe network from moist to arid areas. This would certainly be doable – there are roads and railways all across the world. The global water distribution system, which should be supervised by UN, would be a massive step for decreasing world inequality and thereby reducing migrations of people. Further, since it would be an international collaborative effort, it would certainly promote world peace.

Avainsanat: climate change, water resources, global initiative


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