The Future Drought (JB)

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Júlíana Björnsdóttir's picture

Water makes the world go round. It is the inevitable truth that when the planet runs out of water, life on earth expires.

Water is not taken for granted in all parts of the world. Australia is among countries that have been directly affected by temporary water shortage.

The United Kingdom too has been affected by temporary water shortage. I first heard about the limited supply of water in the U.K. when I was living there in the early 2000s. If memory serves me right, the sum of the story was that in 2025, water would be in short supply in the U.K. It was a strange concept and unfortunately one that awoke the devil of denial in people, and yes, most definitely, government.

For Icelanders, this concept is nearly foreign. Too little rain has been a problem for farmers in the past but Icelanders themselves have never (as far as I know) really had to worry about not having access to drinking water. If one region runs low, another region is likely to be able to provide.

As fortunate as we are, this luck of ours does not prepare us for life in a world where water shortage is a problem as serious as pollution in England’s 19th century industrial cities. Instead of industrial dust, it is dry soil in the parts worst-affected by droughts.

The Financial Times recently published an article about a future without water, a future when drought is a way of life in the worst affected regions.

The article is mandatory reading for all of us who foresee a future into the era of permanent drought. The sum of the article is that corporations and governments have to work together to preserve water by recycling and managing resources.

The Icelandic media brought attention to this article and the focus of the story was the increased value of water as a resource and how Iceland might profit from it.

Now, I know that profit is vital to keeping the wheels running in this world of ours. But I worry the focus will be on profit and humanitarian views will be forgotten.

Sure, Iceland can sell bottles and tanks of water to all parts of the world in need, and Icelanders themselves are not likely to feel the direct effect in their daily life. Well, unless the Icelandic government at the time decides to export so much that there won’t be enough water for all Icelanders.

But it doesn’t give us the right to become a grand empire in water export.

In my mind, there is only one way to start fighting this inevitable problem. Governments across borders need to work together to both recycle and manage efficient water supplies for all of humanity.

It is of great urgency to not let money become a currency to buy privileges. Everybody must be entitled to equal access to water in all parts of the world. This will mean nations have to break out of the strong bonds of nationalism and patriotism.

Life on earth must be preserved through mutual efforts worldwide. It is not enough to think of one geographical zone as your primary concern. The whole world needs be our concern.

To the giants of the world, this may be a naive concept, a notion that is too utopian to put into action. It is an idea that changes the hierarchy in the world and makes all of us even on grounds of survival and a long future of life on earth.

But while my naivety brews in the consciousness of the extreme business-minded sectors, it is worth contemplating what Iceland can do at the moment.

To start with, I think we need to start teaching ourselves and the future generations to turn off the tap while brushing teeth, and turn off the shower after showering. I can’t count the times I’ve seen adults walk away from a running shower in the swimming pool.

There is more we can do.

But for now, the most important change to make is to change the way we think about water as a natural and vital-to-life resource for life on earth.

I just hope that people as a whole are able to fight this seemingly inevitable fate.

If not, we all need to worry about what this world is coming to.

Júlíana Björnsdóttir – julianabjornsdottir@gmail.com

Views expressed here are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Iceland Review.