Is World War III Going to be About Water?

It was a casual Thursday night that me and my three best friends decided to go out and get a few drinks to unwind from a very long week. Once we settled down  at the restaraunt and got to talking, one of my friends, Sarah, started talking about her political science classes. The topic quickly shifted to her theory that World War III is going to be about water. Now, given the circumstance, we all thought she was being absurd so our reaction was to laugh it off; there was no way that there was any truth to this.

After our last lecture in Green World, in which we looked at the environmental issues surrounding clean water, I’m starting to wonder if my friend Sarah was right all along. While the theory seems absurd, all the facts that support it are horrifyingly that: facts. Fact: The earth if made up of 70% water, but only 2.5% of that water is clean, and even worse, only 1% is easily accessible. Fact: the rivers in poorer cities and towns barely move due to the insurmountable litter that is thrown into them. Fact: Melting ice is flowing down moulins at a speed faster than ever, decreasing sea ice at both Poles and affecting the global energy balance. In short, water is becoming a commodity. And what, in the past, have nations done to secure commodities? They fight.

I lived in Dhaka, Bangladesh for about 6 months in my junior year of high school and I remember doing a science project in which we put seeds into the lake and those same seeds in fresh water to see which batch would grow quicker. After a month, we noticed that the seeds in the lake had not grown at all due to the extreme pH levels of the water. Being an eye witness to something so grave really affected the way I saw the situation. I wasn’t just reading about it from the comfort of my own classroom. I was seeing it with my own eyes. Poorer countries are at an even greater disadvantage because they have not organized proper filtering, recycling or garbage systems and so pollution is at all time high. As the amount of drinkable water dwindles, I fear that is the developing countries that are going to suffer the most.

 (This image is free to use or share and is linked back to its original source)

While it is important to recognize that World War III could very well end up being about water: it is also important to recognize that war is not our only option. The solutions are clear and they are simple. Solution: developed nations can rally together to help developing nations create proper disposable systems to decrease pollution. Solution: developed nations can start using renewable energy sources more commonly to avoid dirtying large bodies of water with oil and nuclear waste. Solution: we need to all stop pretending that someone else will come up with the solution for us because before we know it, what seemed like a silly conversation between four college friends will become a horrifying reality.

One thought on “Is World War III Going to be About Water?

  1. “… a growing number of experts are coming to realize that the most potent effects of climate change will be experienced by humans directly through the impairment or wholesale destruction of habitats upon which we rely for food production, industrial activities, or simply to live. Essentially, climate change will wreak its havoc on us by constraining our access to the basics of life: vital resources that include food, water, land, and energy. This will be devastating to human life, even as it significantly increases the danger of resource conflicts of all sorts erupting.” — Salon,

    Great post, Ramzi; thank you for sharing your experience, reflections, and link to the Salon article.