‘Available water is a closed system – what we have is what we’ve got. Only a tiny 2.5% of the world’s water is not salty and some two thirds of that 2.5% is in fact semi-permanently frozen at the poles and in glaciers. Of this meagre quantity you have to factor out the quantity that is usually falling or lying in the wrong place, either in remote areas or coming too unhelpfully as monsoons and floods’
‘…groundwater doesn’t offer us a solution either, because it is already being used at an unsustainable rate by most cities around the world. During the 90s the water table in northern China was dropping by one and a half metres each year. Places like Libya have taken so much out of their coastal aquifers that they are now too heavily salty to be useful’ ’Mexico City is actually sinking because of the amount being pumped out from beneath it’
‘…Those sharing a river are called ‘riparian’ states. They might face each other with the river’s course as their international boundary or perhaps they are located up or downstream from each other. If one country upstream seeks to dam the river or draw too much from it then their downstream riparian neighbour will clearly suffer. About 10% of these river basins have more than five or more riparian states, the Danube has eighteen of them!’
‘…the US Pacific Institute calculated that their domestic use of bottled water was pretty damaging. First, the process of making the plastic for the water bottles consumed some 17 million barrels of oil per year and emitted 2.5 million tonnes of CO². Then, depending on where you stop counting, the process consumes three to five litres of water for each litre bottle produced, x 90% of the bottles were then not recycled x one imported litre bottle of water had a water footprint of 6.74 litres.’ ’The ‘sell-by-date’ is not the confidence trick that it is with many foodstuffs. Leave your pure water in its plastic container and it becomes contaminated’.
‘…in just the last 50 years the world population grew from 2.5bn to 6bn – just that fact means mathematically that the renewable water supply per person has fallen by almost 60%! At least oil, gas and coal do have some substitutes but water does not! Within 10 years, some 40% of the by-then world population will live in locations where it is at least difficult, and in some cases impossible, to mobilise enough water to satisfy the food, industrial and health needs of that region. So what will they do? Sit back and let that happen to them?’
It is Professor Groves, advisor to the UKs new Foreign Secretary, who punctuates the action by setting out the issues with some clarity:
General Goncharenko, a retired KGB man, explains how the still water can be applied as a weapon:
Sir Joseph Maudlin, head of the UK Secret Service, admires the potential too.