Water Wars – in the US and the Middle East

I highly recommend that you read the two main articles cited in this post.  Both regard water, conflict, and societal impact on a potentially broad scale, and both come at it from very different but complimentary perspectives.

The first of the articles is from the New York Times and details some of the impacts currently being felt by the steady drying of the Ogalalla aquifer, which underlies eight states in the US and has underpinned almost all agricultural activities in the area.  Total depletion of the aquifer (which is forecast to happen some 20 years from now) will result in a significant reduction in grain production. The article goes far beyond agricultural impacts, and looks into mitigation techniques that are currently going on, and also looks at societal impacts.  This is the second major article the NYT has done on the Ogalalla Aquifer in the past three years and it is well worth reading.

The import of the article goes well beyond the western US and impact on the US’s agricultural production.  The article can in many ways be used to describe what is happening all over the world as critical aquifers are depleted.  Adaptation, innovation, reduced employment and reduced outputs result.  The individual effect is significant.  The cumulative impact will be much more significant, steadily increasing pressure on food prices (which will have a devastating and destabilizing impact in poor countries) while at the same time increasing the incidence of conflict between nations over dwindling water and productive land resources.

The second article also deals with water shortages and, by inference, potential conflicts and societal impacts.  The second article deals with the country of Israel.

The Water Authority in Israel has issued a prediction for a long-term drought that will manifest in a “dramatic, severe, and even exceptional manner.  The Authority expects the drought to last through 2035.

Lets be clear here:  this is unprecedented.  Here we have a important part of the of government of Israel predicting a profound drought running through 2035 – more than 20 years into the future.  Israel is now implementing plans to assure its water supply into the future and, with their technical and financial resources, they will probably do it using desalination plants (costly industrial facilities that use heat to remove salt from sea water).  Since the article deals exclusively with Israel, it leaves un-addressed a critical question:  what will the rest of the Middle East do?  Lebanon, Syria, Egypt and many others do not have the resources Israel do.  What will they do if the expected drought occurs?

It is already well established that a long-term regional drought was at the root of the conflict in Syria and, ultimately, at the root of the “Arab Spring” (see this article for a detailed analysis along these lines).  Thus, if long-term drought kicks off a chain of events that involves profound human suffering and ends in war, what will happen in the Middle East?  This article from the Times of Israel addresses that very question, and its not pretty.

What is even more worrying about the announcement by the Israel Water Authority is that it validates the model developed by NOAA.  Take a close look at the illustration below.  It is what the US’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration – the most sophisticated weather researcher in the world – projects will happen in the world between now and 2039.

NOAA 2039 Projection


This is a very important graph.  It shows the Middle East and the Mediterranean Basin in profound drought.  But here is the thing:  It also shows part of Asia, most of Africa, Australia, and South America in severe drought, and the US in extreme drought (except for Maine, where I live…).  Bear in mind that NOAA’s prediction places the US in far, far worse shape that it ever was during the “dust bowl” era in the 1930’s.

NOAA’s map, if it comes to fruition, essentially means extraordinary human suffering, profound food price spikes, profound conflict between nations, and unprecedented famine in poor countries around the world.  Since this prediction was published, world precipitation trends have provided significant validation – so far.  To have Israel provide further significant and long-term validation of the model is very, very sobering.

It is not just advancing droughts that imperil the world:  all of the systems that God created to sustain life on this planet are in steep and accelerating decline.  When Jesus was on the earth, He told his disciples what the condition of the earth would be right before He returned.  And then He told them, emphatically (and, by extension, He told us) to diligently watch for the signs of His coming.  You can read everything He said in the book of Matthew, chapters 24 and the first 13 verses of chapter 25.  But a key text is from chapter 24, verses 6-8 – read it.

We are seeing prophecy fulfilled before our eyes.  We are seeing the steady decay of the world exert immense pressure on human society, which then leads to the fulfillment of prophecy in our day.  If you are not a regular reader and would like a further explanation of what is going on, and a detailed understanding of what is affecting the earth and how it will end, read this post from last year.

Scott Christiansen