Kazakhstan, China, Lake Balkhash, And Moral Will

The more I read about this crucial issue the more incensed I become about this global crisis that is totally unnecessary because we have all we need to mitigate it. I also feel disillusioned about a global community that for the most part is not treating this with the urgency it deserves...Again, the URGENCY it deserves.

Do we have to see corpses of children who died as a result of our human behavior before we act? Do we have to actually suffer the consequences before we realize we waited too long? Even though we were warned and have what we need to fix it? If we completely waste the finite freshwater resource we have on this planet we will destroy our own species. The idea that we could actually continue to destroy ourselves by behavior we know is detrimental to our survival is to me the most frightening thought I have now.

Case in point.

In An Inconvenient Truth, Al Gore makes reference to the Aral Sea (also noted in the first chapter of his bestseller, Earth In The Balance.) The Aral Sea began shrinking in the 60's when the Soviet Union diverted the Ana Darya and Syr Darya rivers for irrigation, which was not even successful. Today the Aral Sea has shrunk 60% in surface area, and 80% in volume. It is polluted beyond recognition because of weapons testing, fertilizer runoff, and other industrial projects that have left it a bowl of toxic dust... And HUMANS did this.

This is becoming a common tale around our world as our rapacious and wasteful behavior regarding this liquid of life is bringing us to the brink of global war over this "blue gold." There is no doubt if you look across Kenya, Niger, Somalia, Sudan, and other parts of Africa, Asia, South and Central America, the Middle East (particularly Jordan, Syria, Iran, and including disputes over rights between Israel and the Palestinian territories) Mexico, and even between the U.S. and Canada and in our own country, that unless we become SERIOUS about facing this crisis which doesn't have to be a crisis, we will pass the point of no return. And regarding water we cannot and MUST not allow that to happen.

In my many entries on this issue, statistics regarding the current crisis, diseases suffered because of lack of sanitation or proper sanitation, desalinization, corporate privatization and its effects, and the need to declare water a human right globally without allowing it to become a commodity at the expense of the poor and sick have been discussed. I believe this issue goes to the core of who we are as human beings but so far I see that while many struggle to give hope, humanity as a whole is suffering in the moral will department and that baffles and saddens me.

The climate crisis is also contributing to the shortage of water in Africa as droughts are becoming more severe and prolonged with disease, famine, and war the repercussions. And this is just the beginning of something that the world has been getting warnings about for over twenty years. WHERE HAS OUR MORAL WILL GONE TO STOP IT? Or for that matter, to even CARE about it? Again, much like the truth Mr. Gore has been trying to get out all of these years regarding our rapacious consumption of fossil fuels that is bringing us to the brink and the concentration of CO2 and other gases that are exacerbating the droughts and other effects we are now seeing by own hand, so too have the warnings about what we will reap regarding a global water shortage by our own hand been viritually ignored by many governments and people who never believe it will reach the point where we will have to care. Well, we are THERE.

Most recently, the UN held a World Urban Forum in Vancouver, Canada from June 19-23 of last year. One of the predominant issues discussed was in regards to water, especially in urban areas where the population is expected to increase as it is projected that in the next fifty years two-thirds of the Earth's population will be living in towns and cities. TWO-THIRDS OF THE WORLD POPULATION. That is absolutely staggering based on current population trends. The question then is: how do we control population growth (regarding informing people in underdeveloped countries about birth control and family planning) in these areas and provide sustainable solutions to the water crisis in the future if our moral will is already gone?

Are efforts like desalinization truly then the answer? Or is it a bandaid rather than a solution? Desalinization is expensive and expends much in the way of greenhouse gases. Is it then a self defeating process only to once again be abused for profit? And what happens regarding the desalinization of ocean water that has a higher acidity level due to the consumption of higher amounts of CO2 and other gases that will be brought on by the very process we believe is saving us? The point to this then is, why can't anyone see the answer staring us all in the face? THE ANSWER IS US. It is the same answer regarding this global water crisis as it is regarding the climate crisis. It will not be solved by desalinization or any other process if we continue to waste any resource we turn to. It HAS to start with us.

It has to start with us getting in the face of these governments that refuse to give what people need to survive and collude to profit from their misery. It has to start with us standing up to corporations that would commoditize this resource that ALL must have as a human right. It has to start with us in our own lives becoming more responsible for what we use and how we use it. It has to come from our MORAL WILL to do our part in preserving the finite freshwater resources we have left on this Earth so that other drastic measures can be avoided. The cost of us continuing to think otherwise is far too great. The answer is simple. If we won't take it upon ourselves to care for our planet, we betray it. If we don't do all we can globally to face this water crisis, we will cease to exist. Drastic you say? Perhaps to some. But then, that is what they said about Mr. Gore's first book, and look where we are.

Wars over oil have already done enough to bring us to the point of nuclear conflagration. Wars over water will most certainly be the point in my view that tips that scale the longer we wait to allow our humanity to shine through.

The coming crisis: Water not oil

Potential for Water Wars

Water, Conflict and Cooperation

H2Ouse-Water Saver Tips

Water Partners International
A good site doing good things to help those who need this life sustaining force.

And this is but another example to prove that human behavior and the lack of moral will is what is also wasting a precious resource that we can no longer afford to dismiss.

Kazakhstan and China Deadlocked Over Depleted Major Lake Balkhash

Kazakhstan and China Deadlock Over Depletion of a Major Lake

Published: March 8, 2007

ALMATY, Kazakhstan, March 7 — A conference that convened here this week to address the fate of an ecologically threatened Central Asian basin the size of California has ended in stalemate between Kazakhstan and China, the two countries most reliant on its waters.

Lake Balkhash is imperiled after decades of water diversion.

The heart of the basin is Lake Balkhash, the third-largest freshwater lake on earth, tucked in the southeastern corner of Kazakhstan. More than 20 percent of the country’s population draws on the lake for its drinking water. Lumbering rivers flowing through neighboring Kyrgyzstan and China replenish the lake and adjacent wetlands.

After decades of water diversion to nearby factories and farms, Lake Balkhash is threatened with “the same fate as the notorious Aral Sea,” according to conference documents.

The Aral, in Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan, is widely considered one of the worst human-created ecological disasters in history. Rivers feeding the lake were diverted over decades for water-intensive cotton cultivation across Central Asia. That caused the sea to shrink drastically and eventually split into two anemic parts, devastating a once thriving fishing industry and causing deadly cancer clusters in nearby villages.

Progress at this week’s conference, convened to introduce an environmentally sound economic development plan, stalled when China spurned Kazakhstan’s proposal to send China large stocks of free or heavily subsidized food for 10 years in exchange for a commitment from China to allow an unimpeded flow of river water into Lake Balkhash.

“The Chinese were cautious and wary, but they also were listening,” said Anna Bramwell, chief of operations for the European Union’s political office in Kazakhstan, who attended the meeting.

As part of its “Go West” policy, China has offered incentives to people to move to its resource-rich Xinjiang territory, which includes part of the basin area. Chinese authorities have said the now sparsely populated region may eventually have as many as 40 million new inhabitants.

On top of population pressures, the water system is fast draining into nearby rice and sugar farms that consume twice the water that European and American operations require, according to representatives of the European Commission.

According to several participants in the conference, Kazakhstan’s president, Nulsultan A Nazarbayev, strongly lobbied the other conference parties to urgently adopt preservation strategies.

But Mr. Nazarbayev has angered environmentalists in the past by appearing to endorse the building of a nuclear power plant in the basin, which yields more than 30,000 tons of fish a year and contains vast amounts of coal and building materials like marble.

Dr. Bramwell said, “We’re trying to move away from the classical environmental approach to a more win-win scenario where everyone has to pay for water and take responsibility for the damage” they create.

Lake Balkhash
Excerpt from Wikipedia:

As the population and degree of industrialisation in western China increase, and with traditionally poor political relations between Kazakhstan and the People's Republic, it is likely that conflict over the fate of the limited waters of the Ili will intensify. Similar international disputes over water use in the arid region led to the desiccation of the Aral Sea, and Balkhash appears to be following a similar path.

The water pollution of Balkhash is intensified as urbanisation and industrialisation in the area grow rapidly. Extinctions of species in the lake due to its decreasing area, as well as overfishing activities, are cause for alarm among conservationist organisations worldwide
The second largest freshwater lake the size of California in Central Asia after the Aral Sea that has already been dessimated, and STILL we have not learned from the past. Just what will it take?