World War 3 Might Be Closer Than We Think & It Will Be Fought Over Water (Video)

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On his iconic Black on Both Sides, Mos Def prophetically rapped about droughts and the commercialization of water on “New World Water.” More than 15 years before climate change became a household name and the state of California announced its historic drought restrictions, the song serves as just one in a long line of examples when Hip-Hop gave voice to pressing issues not often addressed in mainstream media. Now that things like the Academy Award-winning documentary An Inconvenient Truth and the Flint water crisis have entered the discourse, the words of social critics and political activists like Noam Chomsky – whose voices are often muted despite having been very active for decades – are being amplified more, thanks in part to social media. Chomsky, a celebrated expert who has authored dozens of titles on global politics, has never shied away from expressing concern over the current state of the climate, but he is not the only one. Around the world are countless people working to address the threat of global warming, many of whom are choosing to focus their initiatives on what is likely our most valuable resource: water.

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In India, more than one-billion people live in a place where resources are severely limited. While not the only place on earth where drought and famine are daily threats, in sheer numbers alone the country is a leading example in why water management must become a focal point for all of us. In an interview with Policy Innovations, a leading publication in examining global challenges, a man who has devoted his life’s work to combating India’s water shortage is asked to explain just how serious the global drought is and why India is such an important part of the movement to reverse the effects of global warming. Rajendra Singh is the founder of Tarun Bharat Sangh (Young India Organization), an NGO focusing on “community-based water harvesting and water management initiatives in the Alwar district of Rajasthan, an arid, semi-desert state in the northwest of India.” According to Singh, much of the problem lies with government action – or perhaps more fittingly, the lack thereof. “Governments usually don’t support community initiatives—they only support contractors, not communities. The government always likes big projects in the name of combating desertification or rejuvenating the landscape: big dams, big canals, centralized irrigation water systems, pipeline drinking water systems,” he says. “It is a contractor-driven democracy, not a people-driven democracy. The Constitution says democracy is by the people, for the people, and of the people, but now everything is by the contractor, for the contractor, of the contractor. Companies care about the profit they make, not about a better future for the people or the nation.”

However, getting the powers that be to care will likely require more incendiary (yet justified) rhetoric. “The third world war is at our gate, and it will be about water, if we don’t do something about this crisis,” Singh argues. And Chomsky seems to agree. In an interview published today (May 16) with Democracy Now!, he expresses grave concern over the current political climate and its apparent deaf ear when it comes to climate change. “Right now already, about 300 million people in India are on the edge of starvation from drought, which has been going on for years. The groundwater is depleted as the Himalayan glaciers melt, as they’re doing. It will undermine the water supply for huge areas in South Asia. If people think there’s a migration crisis now, they haven’t seen anything,” he says.

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And the issues aren’t all so far away for Americans, he argues. “[I]t’s pretty remarkable to see how the worst threats that the human species has ever faced, the most important decisions it must make—and soon—are virtually absent from the discussions and debates. On the Democratic side, there’s a couple of comments about it here and there, not much. On the Republican side, it’s much worse. Every single candidate either denies global warming altogether or, in one case, Kasich, admits that it’s taking place but says we shouldn’t do anything about it, which is even worse….Sixty-five million years ago, when an asteroid hit the Earth, devastating consequences ended the age of the dinosaurs, opened the way for small mammals to develop, ultimately evolve, finally evolve into Homo sapiens, which now is acting the same way the asteroid did. That’s the fifth extinction. It’s going to get worse.”

What will it take for the global water shortage to become a topic as hotly discussed as – say, political corruption – in the United States?