Friday, August 04, 2006

Hard Rain Journal 8-4-06: No Blood for Water? Are Lebanon & Tibet Being Robbed of The Most Vital Resource?

Hard Rain Journal 8-4-06: No Blood for Water? Are Lebanon & Tibet Being Robbed of The Most Vital Resource?

By Richard Power

Oil production has already peaked, and its consumption is accelerating the climate change that has already begun to degrade life on this planet. Launching wars to attain geopolitical hegemony over this resource, and the profits its yields, is both obscene and insane. But behind the oil wars there is something even more obscene, and even more insane, i.e., the geopolitical struggle for hegemony over water. Sustainability is the real issue. Sustainability cannot be achieved by military power or oppression -- anymore than love can be achieved through hate. The pursuit of sustainability demands a different world view. You cannot solve a problem in one place by creating a problem in another place. The planet is a oneness. What you do to your neighbor, you do to yourself. Unfortunately, people usually realize this too late. Water is life. But you cannot live by denying life to others; if you try it you have already died.

Here are three recent news items that shed light on environmental crimes and armed conflict related to water:

....increasingly, as the initial goal of a narrow strip of only a few kilometers has now been extended up to the Litani River deep in Lebanon, the real motives behind Israel's invasion are becoming crystal-clear. It's about (de facto) annexation, stupid. This is a war to annex a major chunk of Lebanese territory without necessarily saying so, under the pretext of security buffer and deterrence against future attacks on Israel....This would put Israel, assuming for a moment that the Israel Defense Forces' operations prove ultimately successful, in control of the Litani River....Consequently, contrary to the pro-Israel pundits' reassurances that this war is not about occupation, all the tangible signs indicate the exact opposite, ie, the distinct possibility of a "war of acreage" whereby Israel would expand its territory, acquire a new strategic depth, and simultaneously address its chronic water shortage by exploiting the Litani. Access to the Litani would translate into an annual increase of water supply by 800 million cubic meters. This in turn might allow Israel to bargain with Syria over the Golan Heights, source of a full one-third of Israel's fresh water. However, a more likely scenario is Israel's continued unwillingness to abide by United Nations Resolutions 242 and 338 calling for its withdrawal from the Syrian territories.
Kaveh L Afrasiabi, It's about annexation, stupid!, Asia Times, 8-2-06

China's quest to master its future through vast engineering feats could test new limits as Beijing prepares a controversial scheme to channel water from Tibet to the parched Yellow River in the country's west....Despite this year's unusually heavy rains, northern China has been prey to drought in recent decades, and underground water tables have been rapidly depleting....Construction could start as early as 2010, Liu said. It would involve harnessing rivers cascading from the Tibetan highlands to quench Qinghai province and other poor western areas....The completed project would cost 300 billion yuan (US$37.5 billion) at current prices, and the total cost of the whole South-North scheme is 500 billion yuan (US$62.5 billion), Li said....But the Western Route promises to be among the most controversial of Beijing's efforts to reshape the country's rivers. Environmentalists and advocates of Tibetan autonomy have said the plan threatens the region's ecology and culture. "It epitomizes this assumption that Tibet is the water tower of Asia," said Tashi Tsering, a Tibetan expert on the region's resources at the University of British Columbia in Canada. "Tibet's water availability is actually quite limited and these rivers depend on glaciers that are receding."
Chris Buckley, China to Divert Tibet's Waters to Parched West, Reuters, 8-2-06

Here are five flashpoints for potential "water wars" some experts say are looming:
- The six rivers of the Indus basin flow from Tibet into India and Pakistan via Kashmir's disputed mountains and valleys....
- The Brahmaputra, the sacred Hindu river the Ganges, and around 50 other rivers that flow from India to Bangladesh are blamed for regular floods that kill or displace thousands of Bangladeshis....
- Israel, the Palestinian territories and Jordan rely on the River Jordan, which is fed by 3 rivers on the Syria-Lebanon border....
- The Nile, the world's longest river, is the main source of water for nine countries in the Nile basin: Egypt, Sudan, Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda, Burundi and Congo....
- The Euphrates is formed by two major tributaries in eastern Turkey, flows southeast into Syria, meets the Euphrates in Iraq, and empties into the Persian Gulf. All three countries have dams on the rivers and dispute each others' water use....

Where are the world's looming water conflicts? Reuters, 8-1-06


Words of Power #25: Lost Symbols, Part II -- The Rainbow Serpent Hisses, Lessons about Sustainability & Survival from Darfur, Senegal and Ecuador

Words of Power #20: Cusco, Kyoto and The Yellow Sand Storm

Richard Power is the founder of GS(3) Intelligence and His work focuses on the inter-related issues of security, sustainability and spirit, and how to overcome the challenges of terrorism, cyber crime, global warming, health emergencies, natural disasters, etc. You can reach him via e-mail: For more information, go to

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