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Water, Conflict, and Peace

An Essay by Peter Gleick in "Open Rivers" Issue 11, Summer 2018

· Water,Security
By Peter Gleick  (Image from Frantisek Duris)

We live on a water planet. As the writer Arthur C. Clark noted, if we didn’t happen to be land-dwelling creatures, we would call our planet Ocean, rather than Earth. And for humans, fresh water is critical for life, health, our economies, and vibrant ecosystems. The vast majority of water on the planet—more than 97 percent—is salt water, in our oceans. Most of the small fraction that is freshwater is locked away in ice caps, glaciers, and deep groundwater. Yet the little bit of water left over in the form of rain, flowing rivers, lakes, and accessible soil moisture is what grows our food; powers spinning turbines; feeds our industries, businesses, and homes; and provides for recreational, artistic, and spiritual support...