For years, experts and pundits have predicted that conflicts will increase over an ever scarcer and more vulnerable commodity: water. The fear has been that as populations grow and development spreads, vicious battles will erupt between water-rich and water-poor nations, particularly in major river basins where upstream nations control the flow of water to those downstream. To the doomsayers, global warming will only make those battles worse by decreasing rainfall and increasing evaporation in critical areas.
The argument has certain logic and examples abound. Take the case of the Nile. Three days after the fall of Egypt's President Husni Mubarak, the then Ethiopian Prime Minister, Meles Zenawi, announced the start of the construction of a dam on the Nile's main tributary. The Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam will be the first Ethiopia has built on the river, despite more than three-quarters of the Nile's flow falling as rain within the highlands. The move is a direct challenge to downstream Egypt's 'hydro-hegemony', which had ensured that it and Sudan enjoy essentially exclusive use of the river, thanks to favourable colonial and post-colonial agreements.
Research Topics: Climate Change and the Environment