Ringfencing the Roof of the World's Waters
July 26, 2020 3:11 AM   Subscribe

Asia's vital rivers - "The headwaters of 10 major rivers originate near some of Earth's highest points. Known as the world's 'third pole', the land of Mount Everest and other peaks holds the largest concentration of perennial ice outside of the polar regions. Along with snow and rain from the mountains, this ice helps supply the river basins below that support the water, food, and energy needs of almost two billion people."

from natgeo: more...
  • Tibet's Rivers Will Determine Asia's Future - "At the dawn of a new era of building dams on the Yarlung Tsangpo, countless lives and ecosystems are being risked in the name of 'development' and geopolitics."
  • China Leverages Tibetan Plateau's Water Wealth - "China, by building giant dams and other diversion structures on international rivers that start in Tibet, is becoming Asia's upstream water controller. This action is arming Beijing with increasing leverage over the countries critically dependent on river flows from the Tibetan Plateau."[1,2]
  • China Limited the Mekong's Flow. Other Countries Suffered a Drought. - "New research show that Beijing's engineers appear to have directly caused the record low levels of water in Thailand, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam."[3,4]
  • The Mekong River, Water Wars, and Information Wars - "The accusation made by the cartoons is more specific: It is that China used its dams deliberately to choke off the water supply to those downstream... But is the study true? At best, that remains to be seen."
  • China-India border dispute: is Pakistan about to enter the fray? - "The disputed Himalayan territory also houses the glaciers that feed the River Indus and its tributaries, providing water for the world's biggest irrigation system on which 270 million people in India and Pakistan depend. However, multiple climate change studies have found that most of the glaciers there are melting at an alarming rate, and could reach 'peak water' flow anytime from 2050 onwards, before going into decline. Meanwhile, population growth in India and Pakistan will increase both demand and competition for the increasingly scarce shared natural resource. ... The World Bank-mediated 1960 Indus Waters Treaty (IWT), which stipulates how India and Pakistan manage their shared water resource, was already 'under growing pressure from both sides, which believe it is unfair and outdated', Kugelman said. In response to India building a dam on the River Jhelum, a tributary allocated to Pakistan under the IWT which acts as the LOC boundary in western Kashmir, Islamabad has reasserted its water rights with Beijing's help."[5,6]
  • Battle in the Himalayas - "China and India are locked in a tense, deadly struggle for advantage on their disputed mountain border."
also btw...
  • Egypt, Sudan, Ethiopia deadlocked on Nile dam in new talks - "The dam is the centrepiece in Ethiopia's bid to become Africa's biggest power exporter, but has sparked concerns in Cairo that Egypt's already scarce supplies of Nile waters, on which its population of more than 100 million people is almost entirely dependent, would be further restricted."
  • Sudan says Ethiopia denies filling the Renaissance dam reservoir - "Sudan and Egypt both fear the $4 billion hydroelectric dam could lead to water shortages in their own nations."
  • On Point: A Framework for Ending The Egypt-Ethiopia Nile Water War - "What is to be done? A war between east Africa's two most powerful nations would be a disaster for both but especially Sudan, which lies between them. In late January 2020, the Trump administration, acting as an 'external mediator', tried to hammer out a 'joint responsibility agreement' for managing drought crises. The U.S. has good relations with Egypt and Ethiopia. The deal didn't gel -- but the idea of guaranteeing Egypt water during a drought is a rational approach." (via)
posted by kliuless (6 comments total) 19 users marked this as a favorite
The idea of "the water wars" has been a thing that has been lurking in the future for a while now. I wish there were better management of this, but that suggests a functioning global management structure which does not exist.

The coming decades are going to be a challenge.
posted by hippybear at 3:50 AM on July 26, 2020 [5 favorites]

Water wars have long been known to be a problem, in India.
posted by infini at 4:13 AM on July 26, 2020 [3 favorites]

you are knocking it out of the park with these posts, kliuless!
posted by supermedusa at 10:44 AM on July 26, 2020 [1 favorite]

The battle in the Himalayas went on with sticks and rocks on high ridgelines, with soldiers from both sides falling to their deaths off the sides of steep mountains.
posted by Oyéah at 3:38 PM on July 27, 2020

The next US-China battleground: Chinese dams on the Mekong River? - "China has 11 dams upriver and is proposing to build many more."
posted by kliuless at 10:45 PM on August 6, 2020

Dam it: Fighting over Nile water - "But this trilateral dispute is about more than just water — and even the US and China are getting involved. Why is the this dam such a big deal, and what happens next?"
The threat of conflict has outside players worried. A US-brokered deal to end the dispute collapsed in February because Ethiopia found it one-sided in favor of Egypt, a longtime US ally. Washington may now use foreign aid to coax Ethiopia into a more flexible bargaining position. Beijing also has a stake because it wants to protect multiple Chinese infrastructure investments in the region — including several that depend on the dam itself (which Ethiopia has paid for on its own, by the way).

For now, a war over this dam is unlikely. But water will only become a more precious resource in years to come, and future governments in these three countries may exercise much less restraint. The bigger picture is that almost two-thirds of the world's rivers cross the borders of countries that are home to 40 percent of the global population.
posted by kliuless at 12:24 AM on August 7, 2020 [1 favorite]

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