Gwynne Dyer on climate change geopolitics

Gwynne Dyer makes some good points about glacier/snowpack, river flow, and geopolitical stability in this video, at 39 minutes 18 seconds:

Author: Milan

In the spring of 2005, I graduated from the University of British Columbia with a degree in International Relations and a general focus in the area of environmental politics. In the fall of 2005, I began reading for an M.Phil in IR at Wadham College, Oxford. Outside school, I am very interested in photography, writing, and the outdoors. I am writing this blog to keep in touch with friends and family around the world, provide a more personal view of graduate student life in Oxford, and pass on some lessons I've learned here.

9 thoughts on “Gwynne Dyer on climate change geopolitics”

  1. Indus Waters Treaty

    The Indus Waters Treaty (English) or सिंधु जल – संधि (Hindi) is a water-distribution treaty between India and Pakistan, brokered by the World Bank (then the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development). The treaty was signed in Karachi on September 19, 1960 by Prime Minister of India Jawaharlal Nehru and President of Pakistan Ayub Khan.

    From the rivers flowing in India, India got nearly 33 million acre feet (MAF) from eastern rivers whereas Pakistan got nearly 125 MAF from western rivers. However India can use the western river waters for irrigation up to 701,000 acres with new water storage capacity not exceeding 1.25 MAF and use the rivers for run of river hydro power generation with storage not exceeding 1.6 MAF and nominal flood storage capacity of 0.75 MAF. These water allocations made to the J&K state of India are meagre to meet its irrigation water requirements whereas the treaty permitted enough water to irrigate 80% of the cultivated lands in the Indus river basin of Pakistan. The storage capacity permitted by the treaty for hydro power generation is less than the total annual silt that would accumulate in the reservoirs if the total hydro potential of the state was to be exploited fully. Pakistan is also losing additional benefits by not permitting moderate water storages in upstream J&K state whose water would be ultimately released to the Pakistan for its use and avoid few dams requirement in its territory. Ultimately, J&K state is bound to resort costly de-silting of its reservoirs to keep them operational. Whereas Pakistan is planning to build multi purpose water reservoirs with massive storage for impounding multi year inflows such as 4,500 MW Diamer-Bhasha Dam, 3,600 MW Kalabagh Dam, 600 MW Akhori Dam, Dasu Dam, Bunji Dam, Thakot dam, Patan dam, etc projects with huge population resettlement. In case of any dam break, downstream areas in Pakistan as well as Kutch region in India would face unprecedented water deluge or submergence as these dams are located in high seismically-active zones.

  2. Effects of climate change on the river

    The Tibetan Plateau contains the world’s third-largest store of ice. Qin Dahe, the former head of the China Meteorological Administration, said the recent fast pace of melting and warmer temperatures will be good for agriculture and tourism in the short term, but issued a strong warning:

    “Temperatures are rising four times faster than elsewhere in China, and the Tibetan glaciers are retreating at a higher speed than in any other part of the world… In the short term, this will cause lakes to expand and bring floods and mudflows.. In the long run, the glaciers are vital lifelines of the Indus River. Once they vanish, water supplies in Pakistan will be in peril.”

    “There is insufficient data to say what will happen to the Indus,” says David Grey, the World Bank’s senior water advisor in South Asia. “But we all have very nasty fears that the flows of the Indus could be severely, severely affected by glacier melt as a consequence of climate change,” and reduced by perhaps as much as 50 percent. “Now what does that mean to a population that lives in a desert [where], without the river, there would be no life? I don’t know the answer to that question,” he says. “But we need to be concerned about that. Deeply, deeply concerned.”

  3. For the past few years, a tide of optimistic thinking has held that conditions for human beings around the globe have been improving. Wars are scarcer, poverty and hunger are less severe, and there are better prospects for wide-scale literacy and education. But there are newer signs that human progress has begun to flag. In the face of our environmental deterioration, it’s now reasonable to ask whether the human game has begun to falter—perhaps even to play itself out. Late in 2017, a United Nations agency announced that the number of chronically malnourished people in the world, after a decade of decline, had started to grow again—by thirty-eight million, to a total of eight hundred and fifteen million, “largely due to the proliferation of violent conflicts and climate-related shocks.” In June, 2018, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the U.N. found that child labor, after years of falling, was growing, “driven in part by an increase in conflicts and climate-induced disasters.”

  4. Under the leadership of Hon’ble PM Sri @narendramodi ji, Our Govt. has decided to stop our share of water which used to flow to Pakistan. We will divert water from Eastern rivers and supply it to our people in Jammu and Kashmir and Punjab.

    Minister of Road Transport & Highways, Shipping and Water Resources, River Development & Ganga Rejuvenation, Government of India.

  5. But the water remains polluted and dangerous to health, and the Ganges’ flow is weakening, in part because of the hydroelectric dams on its upper reaches. A study in 2018 found its flow in some stretches may have fallen by 50% since the 1970s. Climate change has actually encouraged the damming of the river. By one reckoning about 70% of the Ganges’ flow is contributed by meltwater from the Himalayan glaciers from where it springs. Engineers had assumed that, as temperatures rise, more ice would melt, increasing the river’s flow and hence its hydroelectric potential. In fact, it has declined in the past few years, because the aquifers supplying Himalayan rivers have been shrinking as winter precipitation drops. In the long run, however, the fate of the glaciers might doom the great rivers. A study published in February by the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development, a think-tank in Nepal, warned that even on relatively benign forecasts of global warming, more than a third of Himalayan glaciers will have melted by 2100, with river flows declining from the 2060s.

  6. Water is far more likely to induce co-operation than conflict between countries. As I note in “Subnational Hydropolitics”, out of the 6,500 international interactions involving water from 1948 to 2008, none involved warfare, fewer than 30 involved any sort of violence, but over 200 co-operative agreements were concluded. This ought to put to rest the idea that water is a significant source of conflict between countries.

    But at the subnational level, as you noted, it is a different story. Unless we use our water more sustainably and manage it more inclusively, we may indeed see more water-related conflict within countries than between them.

    Scott Moore
    Senior fellow
    Water Centre
    University of Pennsylvania

  7. Heating up
    How climate change can fuel wars
    Droughts are already making conflict more likely. As the world gets hotter, mayhem could spread

    Mr Ibrahim is not the only one to see a link between climate and war. Globally, the proportion of people who die violently has been falling for decades, as poverty has tumbled and wars between states have become rarer. But many fret that climate change will be so disruptive that it will make future conflicts more likely. Some fear that as the Arctic sea-ice melts, Russia, China and America will scramble for the sea lanes that will open up and the minerals that may lie beneath. Others worry that, as temperatures rise, thirsty countries such as India and Pakistan or Egypt and Ethiopia will fight over rivers they share with their neighbours.

    The headlines were too simplistic, as headlines often are. Climate modelling led by Colin Kelley, then at the University of California in Santa Barbara, estimated that greenhouse-gas emissions made the drought twice as likely. That is significant, but need not mean that in the absence of climate change, there would have been no drought and no war. Syrians had many reasons to revolt against their ruler, Bashar al-Assad, a despot from a religious minority who enforced his rule with mass torture.

    Aaron Wolf of Oregon State University and his collaborators have catalogued 2,606 instances of international conflict and co-operation over water between 1948 and 2008. In 70% of cases, countries co-operate. The biggest risk of conflict comes when an upstream country builds infrastructure, such as a dam, without an agreement on how to soften the downstream impact. Many of these dams are built because climate change is making water scarcer, or because of a move away from fossil fuels towards hydropower—ie, a secondary link to climate change.

  8. Punjab province irrigation spokesperson Adnan Hassan said the Indus river – Pakistan’s key waterway – had shrunk by 65 percent “due to a lack of rains and snow” this year.

    Sheep have reportedly died from heatstroke and dehydration in the Cholistan Desert of Punjab, Pakistan’s most populous province which also serves as the national breadbasket.

    “There is a real danger of a shortfall in food and crop supply this year in the country should the water shortage persist,” Hassan said.

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