Say you live in a city of eight million people that is in the middle of the worst drought the area has seen in decades. Not only has it been record-shatteringly dry, but it’s also been the warmest year on record. Oh, and your main reservoir of water is down to 3% of capacity and it has been reported that it will run out by mid-November. What do you do? I’m leaning heavily towards panic.
Such is the situation that Sao Paulo, Brazil, the 12th largest city in the world, finds itself in. What is amazing is how poor the government response has been to this disaster waiting to happen. They’ve basically just buried their heads in the sand up until this point and have pretended nothing is wrong. No pleas to ration water, no mandatory rationing of water, just life as usual. Now they are finally limiting water usage, but it may be way too late unless rain starts to fall and that seems unlikely since November is traditionally the warmest month for the city and its rainy season doesn’t start until January.
The water wars may soon be upon us. Think of all the wars that are fought for natural resources whose sole purpose is a better economy. Now think of what those wars would be like if they were fought over something essential to life. We’re not just talking country vs country wars but city vs city and Hatfield vs McCoy. Countries with weak governments will dissolve and even countries with strong governments will have a hard time keeping it together if a severe water shortage hits them.
2014 is likely to go down as the warmest on record for the entire planet. Severe droughts are everywhere and wild weather is becoming more common. A recent survey of California residents asked them to name the most important issue facing the state today and, for the first time ever, water/drought lead the list along with the perennial concern of the economy. “Water, water everywhere and not a drop to drink” may soon be a reality in many major metropolitan centers.