Environmental Outlook: Water & Global Security

Environmental Outlook: Water & Global Security

The American intelligence community recently released a report warning that problems with water could destabilize various regions of the world over the next decade. The earth's rising population, climate change, and poor water management...

The American intelligence community recently released a report warning that problems with water could destabilize various regions of the world over the next decade. The earth's rising population, climate change, and poor water management have put pressure on water supplies. On this month's Environmental Outlook, we look at global water security and water shortages in the U.S.

Guests

Geoff Dabelko

director of environmental change and security at the Woodrow Wilson Center.

Steve Fleischli

a senior attorney in the water program at the Natural Resources Defense Council, former President of Waterkeeper Alliance

Jessica Troell

Senior Attorney and Director of the International Water Program at the Environmental Law Institute

Major General Richard Engel

U.S. Air Force (Retired), director of the National Intelligence Council’s Environment and Natural Resources Program

Program Highlights

The U.S. Director of National Intelligence recently released a report on global water security. It warns that over the next decade conflicts over water could destabilize
several world regions. For this month's installment in our environmental outlook series, we consider how hard it may soon be to provide people around the world with a reliable
fresh water supply.

Water Is Not A Single-Sector Issue

Water security is connected to energy, food, health, economic development, and agriculture, Dabelko said. This seems obvious, but when the U.S. organizes a response to
water insecurity, it has a tendency to "respond in sector, and there's not nearly enough communication and cooperation," he said.

800 Million Without Access To Safe Drinking Water

In addition to the estimated 800 million people around the world without access to safe drinking water, an additional 2.5 billion don't have access to sanitation, Fleischli said. And even in the U.S., some studies have projected that by the year 2050 one third of the counties in the lower 48 states will be facing extreme to high water supply sustainability challenges, he said. "It's something we really need to think about here domestically as well," he said.

Water As A Weapon Of War

Water has not yet been used as a weapon of war, but some are concerned that it could be. Water situations could be used as leverage in existing conflicts. "One state would put pressure on another state to stop a construction project of one would put pressure on a state - maybe deny it lines of communication of other things to preserve its water interests," Engel said.

You can read the full transcript here.

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