Tuesday 26 July 2011


By Mohammed Sa’id Berigari, Senior Soil and Environmental Scientist-USA
Water is fundamental to all living systems yet often not appreciated in many so called developed countries. Benjamin Franklin once said that when the well runs dry, we know the worth of water. Today, not only are the wells running dry, but also streams, wetlands, and big rivers, like the Colorado, Euphrates, Ganges, Indus, Nile, Yellow and even Tigris- and this is having enormous impacts on ecosystems.
Drought in many countries of the world had caused drastic hungers such is the case now in Somalia. Unfortunately many more hungers are expected to occur unless concerted world efforts bring about major positive changes in the hydrological cycle. Conflicts among many nations are likely to occur due to increased demand for water with the increase of human population in such countries where limited clean water resources are available for human, animal and industrial uses.
Diseases from water contamination also pose serious threats for many. One billion people worldwide do not have access to safe drinking water and 2.5 billion lack adequate sanitation services according to Peter Gleik, cofounder and president of the Pacific Institute, USA. He said that for too long we have failed to adequately consider how our water use affects ecosystems and how human activities affect water quality. Eighteen years ago, Milwaukee, Wisconsin experienced the largest documented water-borne disease outbreak in the US history when approximately 400,000 people became sick and 100 people died from water contamination with Cryptosporidium. There are many other cases of water contamination all over the world including sea water contamination with radioactive materials from nuclear plants like the one caused by the earthquake of this summer in Japan.
The problem of water quality and quantity is likely to intensify worldwide since it is more likely to get worse before it gets better because the population of the world is increasing and it is fastest in areas where water problems are most severe. Considerable delays also, have taken place in dealing with climate change within the scientific community, and it has largely become a matter of when, not if it will affect the hydrologic cycle. There is very clear and compelling evidence that humans are changing the climate of our planet. The hydrological cycle is the climate cycle according to Gleik and as we change the climate we will change the hydrology of the planet. Climate change will affect rainfall patterns, drought frequency, and soil conditions especially soil erosion which will in turn affect food production and the availability of water.
Even very slight changes in water availability from climate change are likely to tip the balance between having enough water and not having enough water in many places on our planet that are currently on the edge toward acute shortage.
It is time for serious debates about climate to take place worldwide, not about science but about technology, the policy, the economics, and the social responses that will be needed to address the unavoidable impacts of climate change. We can no longer wait for policy makers who hide behind scientific uncertainty or ignorance to delay taking actions.
Every country of our world today is under moral, social, and political obligation to adequately safeguard water resources from pollutants and the Kurdistan Regional Government as well as the Federal Iraqi Government should fulfill such obligation. Furthermore, the legislative body of both governments must engage in forming laws for up- to -date standards for drinking water and other safe domestic and industrial uses of water. That is in addition to drafting necessary laws for governing use of water and the means for preventing environmental pollution.
Moreover, every attempt should be made to harness clean water from rain, snow, and hails through construction of dams in the Kurdistan Region where its topography allows for such large and small scale projects. A parallel campaign is urgently needed toward reforestation to combat drought. The two campaigns will reinforce each other and will ultimately increase humidity in the atmosphere, thus increase the rate and frequency of rain and snow falls in the region that will supply enough water for intensive agriculture to flourish and combat drought. Eventually the climate of the entire region would be modified and dust storms and other types of soil erosions would be controlled significantly. Consequently a green revolution will become a reality not a dream.


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