Friday, 11 February 2011

Water Wars, will humans win?

Life if interesting. I was going to write about Alan Titchmarsh's return to ITV, but something else caught my eye.

A large part of my week is spent researching conservation stories, not only here in the UK, but across the globe. And every now and again I come across a story which makes me stop and think, such as the one below.

There are huge pressures coming towards Mankind in the next 50 to 100 years, Climate Change, electricity shutdowns and dwindling oil resources are mere drops in the ocean of concern compared to running out of water and food. The World at 6.5 billion people is almost at capacity for fresh water, but with the Global population set to rise to 9 billion by the end of the century, what happens then?

We've heard this many times before, and I'm okay, I'll not be about to see it. But should I think like that? Of course I shouldn't. But knowing what is around the corner was one of the reasons I made a conscious decision not to have children. I didn't want my grandchildren facing what we know is coming. Unless Mankind does something drastic soon, wars won't be started for land, or gold, or religion, they'll begin for food and more importantly water, the so called Water Wars which are increasingly being discussed.

And it is the prospect of Water Wars which made me sit up and think while reading this article from the on-line news service, Wildlife Extra . We are both equally right to conserve wildlife, our landscape and the natural world, as we are to conserve water, conserve food, provide hydro energy and so on. But a tipping point is nearing. I do my bit of course, haven't washed my car for over a year, (its filthy but so what), I don't have a hosepipe, never have baths, just quick shower (no comments please??), have eco-washing machine and so on and have water bills of £35 a half year. But that's not enough really as the Western World consumes vast water resources in it's commodity buying. But that's how it is. Going back to a pre-industrial World is not a possibility.

Is there a solution? Is there a way forward, I just don't know. It is a rock and a hard place scenario. Better minds than me will work out what to do, but one thing is for sure, being able to turn on the tap and have fresh drinkable water, even in the maritime wet UK may, in the not too distant future, be a luxury. And that is a sobering thought.

Below is the article from wildlife Extra which made me think :

February 2011. Forest & Bird have launched a campaign to give New Zealanders the chance to urge Meridian Energy to withdraw its proposal to build an 85-metre-high dam on the pristine Mokihinui River on the West Coast.

Forest & Bird is asking New Zealanders to send a Forest & Bird e-card to publicly-owned Meridian, asking the company to live up to its stated environmentally-friendly ideals by leaving the Mokihinui alone.

Join the campaignA giant-sized postcard was delivered by Forest & Bird representatives to Meridian's Wellington head office to kick off the campaign. The public can send their message via the Forest & Bird website or Facebook page.

Forest & Bird was joined by MPs, including Chris Hipkins, Peter Dunne and Kevin Hague, and representatives of organisations representing kayakers, rafters and trampers, who also want the river to remain in its natural state.

"We are asking Meridian to do the right thing and enhance its reputation as a generator of renewable energy by leaving this non-renewable river in its wild state. This e-card campaign is an opportunity for New Zealanders to join with us in showing Meridian how much this beautiful river means to us." Forest & Bird General Manager Mike Britton said.

Forest & Bird Conservation Advocate Quentin Duthie said: "Destructive dams are old technology and are no longer acceptable on our irreplaceable wild rivers."

330 hectares of rainforest and riverbed to disappearMeridian's proposed dam would create a 14-kilometre-long reservoir covering 330 hectares of rainforest and riverbed along the Mokihinui River gorge in New Zealand's largest ever drowning of conservation land by a hydro project.Until recently Meridian was the primary sponsor of Project Crimson, a programme to protect and regenerate rata and pohutukawa throughout New Zealand. Along the Mokihinui there is a profusion of rata that would be submerged by the hydro lake.

16 Endangered species threatened including Critically Endangered Long tailed batThe dam would threaten 16 endangered bird species, including the blue duck or whio, as well as at least two unique species of giant land snails and the critically endangered long-tailed bat.

A dam would disrupt the breeding migration of an estimated quarter of a million endangered longfin eels and destroy important habitat for other native fish, including the giant and short-jawed kokopu.

Forest & Bird, the Department of Conservation and others are appealing the resource consent Meridian received last year. But the company also requires the permission of DOC as landowner to drown public conservation land, or to privatise the gorge by swapping it for other land.

Documents obtained under the Official Information Act have revealed that DOC intended to decline Meridian. After receiving the draft responses from DOC, the company withdrew its applications but it remains committed to the dam and presumably intends to reapply.

"Forest & Bird urges Meridian to accept DOC's decision that this dam is completely unacceptable, and focus on environmentally-friendly projects," Quentin Duthie said.


  1. The thing that astounds me in current times is how so many issues that are really important, issues that can be addressed are left on the sidelines and considered of less interest to the public than say, the X factor or David Beckam, house prices, fashion and holidays etc. Of course anyone who goes beyond the headline and looks at the real issues then applies sober logic to all that we face would hopefully come to the stark conclusion that we are at the end of an era, but that truth is not a vote winner! Some say Tar sand will keep the oil age going, humm what about the water? Same goes for getting more out of conventional oil fields. We have many technologies that will be used but there is nothing I can think of that can keep the current BAU plan of non stop economic growth going a pace. We can be more efficeint, there are huge amounts of waste that can be rained in, tones of cheap plastic tat we don't need, but the bottom line is that we will never reach 9 billion because in 10-20 years the world will only be able to generate energy and water on par with the 1950s, Population growth goes hand in hand with economic growth as nation expand consume and develop. We are being fed an impossible dream of continued economic expansion in a time when the planets resources are half gone, the future is unknown but it sure can't be based on the last 2 decades of history, they were indeed the good old days.

  2. Hi Lisa : How right you are - humans think they're in charge but as we all know, nature will win

    Hi James, thanks for the comment, your ending summed that up lovely "they were indeed the good old days"... someone once used this phrase in another context related to the Titanic but I loved it, and possibly apt for this posting

    "keep polishing the brasses while the ship goes down"