Wendy Barnaby has an excellent piece in last week’s Nature (free for now, behind the paywall soon) challenging the conventional wisdom that wars of scarce water supplies are a likely result of the collision between population growth, aridity and climate change.
Barnaby had set out to write a book about water wars. But the more research she did, the more she realized they didn’t happen. Why is that? Her answer seems straightforward and persuasive: Water shortages show up in their most extreme form as a shortage of water needed to grow food. Nations that cannot grow all their own food import it from elsewhere. Conflict over a lack of water, she found, is routinely addressed by nations through food imports rather than going to war