The challenges of global water supply and demand

The U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) reinforced this notion when it identified environmental factors and resource scarcity as important features of the national security landscape.
Environmental security refers to a broad range of security issues exacerbated by environmental factors and suggests that environmental stress has the potential to destabilize states and trigger violent conflict (Galgano and Krakowka 2011).
This chapter suggests that continued peaceful resolution of interstate water conflicts is inconsistent with the realities of the emerging national security landscape.
First, climate change is already affecting the distribution of water in many critical water basins.
These factors combine to intensify latent ethnic/religious conflicts and decades of distrust and territorial disputes that persist throughout the region.
Barnett (2004) developed a national security paradigm that attempted to incorporate emerging post–Cold War dynamic — that is, economic competition, environmental stress and failing states.
Thus, water is fast becoming one of the seminal environmental security factors of the emergent national security landscape because it is an essential resource for which there is no substitute (Butts 1997).
Only 0.036 percent of the world’s supply is renewable freshwater; and by 2025, some three billion people (about 40 percent of the global population) will live in regions that are unable to provide sufficient freshwater to meet basic human needs.
However, the problem that looms is that we expect global population to approach nine billion by 2050, and to keep pace, economic output will have to quintuple, which will place greater demands on global freshwater resources (HomerDixon 1999).
Consequently, water may become an environmental tipping point that triggers violent conflict as greater economic aspirations and human population accelerates demands on the freshwater supply, while at the same time climate change makes supply more uncertain (Gleick 1993).

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