Water Wars: Climate Change and It’s Effect on International Security

Source: Flickr/DVIDSHUB

Source: Flickr/DVIDSHUB

As our natural resources become less and less abundant, the completion for these supplies will grow. In the report the Environmental Justice Foundation’s authors say that the problem of climate change will not only be a problem for the general health of our planet, but also an issue of human rights (Yeo).  One of the biggest problems in this lack of resources is the lack of water. Some countries naturally have access to more water supplies, and as rainfall decreases and water bodies dry up, the countries with larger bodies of fresh water will end up in a better place. In many cases water may become a weapon in war, and the side who has access to the most water will be the most successful (Yeo). For many

This map shows what water supplies may be like in our world in the future.

Source: http://blogs-images.forbes.com/williampentland/files/2011/03/drought_map1_h1-1.jpg

countries their boundaries are drawn on the natural boundaries of water bodies, and as this water begins to disappear the border countries will fight for control of this source. And this issue of water supplies is not only  a problem of our future, it has occurred before. When the Soviet Union fell, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Afghanistan and Tajikistan all began competing for control of the Amu Darya river basin (Yeo). There is lots of tension between these four countries over the water issue. The governments of these countries often accuse each other of extracting more water than is allowed from the river basin and Uzbekistan took control of Turkmenistan water sources because of it (Yeo). However world leaders still ignore climate change as only an “environmental” problem even when they have evidence of how the lack of natural resources effects four countries- imagine the entire world fighting over water.

“Governments and international organizations must break the confines of the current debate and act now to mitigate climate change, create effective strategies for adaptation and apply new protections for those who are already affected and who will be affected in the future,” said Steve Trent, head of the EJF (Yeo). The UN Security Council has begun to debate climate security, however China say that this council is not the correct place to discuss this because they feel that climate change has no effect of the potential security of the world (Yeo).

Source: http://sprinterlife.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/01/Water-Wars-Logo.jpg

Military experts continue to state that the climate change may become a threat to national security. One report published from the Pentagon says that global warming will cause pressure on many internal governments (Yeo). This report declared that, “The pressures caused by climate change will influence resource competition while placing additional burdens on economies, societies, and governance institutions around the world,” it said. “These effects are threat multipliers that will aggravate stressors abroad such as poverty, environmental degradation, political instability, and social tensions.” (Yeo). US Brigadier General Chris King said that climate change will be like a “100 year war”, there will be no apparent or easy solutions to the problem (Yeo). Many times we do not think about the effect natural resources and the general health of our planet has on our life, but as natural resources continue to disappear rapidly, countries will become competitive for the remaining supplies, like water, and our entire world may be plunged into world.

I don’t write any of this to scare you guys or make you upset. I just bring up this topic because I find it interesting and one we need to think about more often. Some people don’t care about the environment because it’s not “important”, but maybe once people begin to see the effect global climate change has on our security and safety they will begin to care more.

Work Citation:

Yeo, Sophie. “Climate Change Is World’s ‘gravest Security Threat’ – Report.” RTCC Climate Change Is Worlds Gravest Security Threat Report Comments. Responding to Climate Change, 27 Mar. 2014. Web. 27 Mar. 2014. <http://www.rtcc.org/2014/03/27/climate-change-is-worlds-gravest-security-threat/>.


  1. This is a really scary idea. Already, some countries in Africa are experiencing the harshest droughts on record and, what happens when it keeps getting worse? I think China is terribly wrong when they say climate change will not impact national security (climate refugees?) and they need to recognize that. I like that you brought this up because it is really important to talk about these things that are happening right now.

  2. Emily Isaacs says:

    You bring up a very important topic here. Water is something that is necessary to life, and it is going to be very difficult to keep desperate people from fighting for it when we run into shortages. Water is something that can’t really be “split” or compromised on, because nobody will survive without it. I fear for when we reach this stage of things because I really don’t see a way out.

  3. I never thought of water as a weapon but it makes perfect sense that certain countries would be able to control less developed countries through water access by starving them out. This is a serious problem and it should be taken into consideration. I also like your point about how climate change affects international politics and can put strain on certain countries to declare war on others.


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