It’s been 4,500 years since the Mesopotamian cities of Lagash and
Umma battled over irrigation rights. That was the world’s first — and
so far only — full-fledged water war. But UN secretary-general Ban
Ki-moon warned last year that water shortages were creating “tensions
in conflict-prone regions” across Africa and Asia. With up to 3 billion
people due to face severe water shortages by 2025 (thanks to the
dastardly triumvirate of pollution, mismanagement, and rising
population), the disputes could boil over. So the UN
will do what it does best: try to cool the quarrels … with a special
and widely disregarded theme day. This year’s water day focuses on
nurturing cooperation among countries that tap lakes, rivers, and
aquifers — which would be pretty much all of us. Let’s hope the
message sinks in. — TB
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