As a fan of Frank Herbert’s ‘Dune’ and the many books that followed, I immediately think of Arrakis when reading the words “Water is life“. I’m currently reading one of those books, so that may influence the associations my mind makes. But water is, of course, essential to all life – life on earth started in water, and we simply can’t go without.
The term “we” includes the refugees from the Middle-East, who have been so prominent in the news headlines in 2015. According to Scientific American, water also plays an important role in what happened (and is happening) in Syria.
Climatologists say Syria is a grim preview of what could be in store for the larger Middle East, the Mediterranean and other parts of the world. The drought, they maintain, was exacerbated by climate change. The Fertile Crescent—the birthplace of agriculture some 12,000 years ago—is drying out. Syria’s drought has destroyed crops, killed livestock and displaced as many as 1.5 million Syrian farmers. In the process, it touched off the social turmoil that burst into civil war, according to a study published in March in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA.
Climate change is still seen by many as a point of discussion among scientist, but far away from our daily lives. The article “The Ominous Story of Syria’s Climate Refugees” illustrates how that is not the case: it shows how it can be an (uncontrolled) part of conditions that give rise to political and societal upheaval.
What will happen when sea levels start to rise harder in the coming decades? What if the consequences are not just limited to a few far-away islands in the Pacific or Indian Ocean, but as close to the USA as Tangier Island (in Virginia, USA) ? The local population sees the changes: the water takes over the island, slowly but … inevitably?
Water is life, in science text books as well as in many religious texts. Water can kill too.