Tag Archives: Asia

Global ‘water war’ threat by 2030

Global ‘water war’ threat by 2030 – US intelligence

The Mekong river. One of the predicted sources of international conflict and site for controversial dam.

Nations will cut off rivers to prevent their enemies having access to water downstream, terrorists will blow up dams, and states that cannot provide water for their citizens will collapse. This is the future – as painted by a top US security report.

­The Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI), the organization that oversees US intelligence agencies such as the CIA and FBI, was commissioned by President Barack Obama to examine the impact of water scarcity worldwide on US security.

And while the prospect of “water wars” has been touted for decades, it may start to become reality within a decade. The ODNI predicts that by 2040 water demand will outstrip current supply by 40 per cent.

­Impoverished volatile states will be worst off

Water shortages “will hinder the ability of key countries to produce food and generate energy, posing a risk to global food markets and hobbling economic growth.” North Africa, the Middle East and South Asia will be hit the hardest, the report states.

And while the coming shortage is a manageable problem for richer countries, it is a deadly “destabilizing factor” in poorer ones. As a rule, economically disadvantaged countries are already prone to political, social and religious turmoil, and failure to provide water for farmers and city dwellers can be the spark for wider “state failure.”

Among those most vulnerable to this scenario are Sudan, Pakistan and Iraq, which are all locked in debilitating civil conflicts, and Somalia, which has effectively ceased to function as a state. ODNI envisages countries restricting water for its own citizens to “pressure populations and suppress separatist elements.” The report predicts many ordinary citizens will have to resort to the kind of purification tablets currently used by soldiers and hikers to obtain clean water.

Most dangerously, there are whole clusters of unstable countries fighting for the same waterways.

The report lists the Nile, which runs through Uganda, Ethiopia, Sudan and Egypt, the Jordan, which runs through Israel and several Arab countries, and the Indus, which is shared by Pakistan and India.

These areas are managed by special commissions, and the report states that “historically, water tensions have led to more water-sharing agreements than violent conflicts.” But once there is not enough water to go around, these fragile pacts may collapse, with “more powerful upstream nations impeding or cutting off downstream flow.”

Even without outright fighting, the ODNI says countries will use water as a tool of political leverage, similar to how gas and oil are used today.

Infrastructure projects will become increasingly politicized: “States will also use their inherent ability to construct and support major water projects to obtain regional influence or preserve their water interests,” the report claims.

Laos’ proposed $3.5 billion Mekong Dam has already been the subject of an international dispute with Cambodia and Vietnam, who say the dam will obliterate their fisheries and agriculture.

­Water terrorism threat

And even international compromise is not likely to be enough to ensure water safety.

“Physical infrastructure, including dams, has been used as a convenient and high-publicity target by extremists, terrorists, and rogue states, threatening substantial harm and this will become more likely beyond the next 10 years.”

The report states that an attack on a single point in a water supply, such as a canal or desalinization plant is sufficient to deprive hundreds of thousands of clean water. In return, governments will have to implement costly safety measures that are likely to be of limited use, due to the extensive length of rivers that have to be protected.

The ODNI says there is a decade to tackle the problems before they spiral out of control. It suggests revising international water treaties and investing in superior water purification technologies that will make the increasingly scarce resource plentiful again.

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A remarkable number of Japanese youths have turned their backs on sex and relationships

A startling number of Japanese youths have turned their backs on sex and relationships, a new survey has found.

The survey, conducted by the Japan Family Planning Association, found that 36% of males aged 16 to 19 said that they had ‘no interest’ in or even ‘despised’ sex. That’s almost a 19% increase since the survey was last conducted in 2008.

If that’s not bad enough, The Wall Street Journal reports that a whopping 59% of female respondents aged 16 to 19 said they were uninterested in or averse to sex, a near 12% increase since 2008.

The survey paints a bleak picture for Japan’s aging population. The Associated Press reports that the national population of 128 million will have shrunk by one-third by 2060 and seniors will account for 40 percent of people, placing a greater burden on the work force population to support the country’s social security and tax systems.

Many commentators in the Japanese and international media have laid the problem squarely at the feet of soshoku danshi — “herbivore men” — a term coined by pop culture columnist Maki Fukasawa in 2006. It refers to Japanese young men who have rejected their culture’s traditional definition of masculinity, and seemingly eschew relationships with the opposite sex as part.

CNN spoke to a Midori Saida, a 24-year-old Japanese woman who described “herbivore men” as “flaky and weak.”

“We like manly men,” she said. “We are not interested in those boys — at all.”

BBC News spoke to one such “herbivore” man (see video above). The man, Yusaki Yakahashi said: “Building a relationship seems like too much effort. To get her to like me and for me to like her… I’d have to give up everything I do at the weekend for her. I don’t want to do that.”

Another theory that seeks to explain Japan’s shrinking population is that Japanese youth spend too much time engaged with technology, living in virtual worlds or settling for virtual girlfriends rather than real ones.

Britain’s Daily Telegraph reports that Japan’s government has undertaken a series of campaigns to encourage couples to have more children — including making companies insist that their staff leave work at 6 pm to increase child allowances — but according to Dr. Kunio Kitamura, head of the Japan Family Planning Association, “none of that is gong to have an impact if people are not going to have sex.”


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