Blog Action Day: Climate change and Iraq
On Blog Action Day ’09: Climate Change Flesh and Stone wishes to draw attention to the water crisis in Iraq and how climate change is adding to worries over Iraq’s future water supplies.
In a column headed Iraq and Climate Change Michael T. Klare, professor of peace and world-security studies at Hampshire College and the author of “Rising Powers, Shrinking Planet: The New Geopolitics of Energy,” wrote that “the war itself is producing enormous amounts of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases.”
Many argue that America’s preoccupation with Iraq has always been about that nation’s ample oil reserves and America’s future energy security.
What’s that have to do with Iraq’s future water security?
Recently a 14-member delegation of civic and educational leaders from Iraq was in Minnesota for a two-week visit to promote a community powered project called “Water for Peace.”
As physics professor Dr. Najm Askouri of the University of Kufa in Najaf explained at a public forum, many events have conspired to destroy Iraq’s water supply and threaten its future.
The water infrastructure supplied by the British in the 1970s is substandard and crumbling, said Askouri.
Economic sanctions throughout the 1990s ended with the U.S. invasion but were followed by years of bombings and military occupation.
Chemicals, such as chlorine needed to kill E.coli, amoebiasis and other bacteria that travel throughout the untreated water supply and seep into ground water, are in short supply.
Scrap metals from deserted tanks and other weaponry containing radioactive uranium are routinely salvaged and recycled into pipes and other tools for transporting water.
The Euphrates and Tigris Rivers – the waters that gave birth to Mesopotamia and our civilization – have been diverted out of Iraq into the neighboring countries of Turkey, Iran and Syria. Through a series of dams, Turkey controls much of the water supply of the region.
Climate change has also dealt a blow in Iraq and can be seen in declining water supplies. “If climate change continues, water depletion in the Mesopotamia geographic region will be changed dramatically. The marshlands will turn into desert,” said Askouri. These are the same marshes that have supported farmers and fishermen for 5,000 years.
Michael Klare has, like many others, offered a warning that we hope new leaders will heed so as to bring about a more positive future.
“Long after this war is over, its legacy will live on in terms of this nation’s abject failure to address the climate change challenge during the early years of the twenty-first century, when it was still possible to avert global warming’s most horrendous effects,” wrote Klare. “When these effects became more widely apparent, in the decades ahead, humanity will no doubt take vigorous action to deal with the problem – but by then it will be too late to prevent some of its most damaging consequences, such as dramatic sea-level rise, widespread drought and desertification, increased severe storm activity, and the collapse of vulnerable societies.”