Water Politics (David L. Feldman, 2017) – Linchpin of the New Energy World

I want to turn your attention to David L. Feldman, just for a while, so that we can see the world in a different light. We will enter water world. We gain a new appreciation how the world works. Reading his book, I am now able to see how water forms the basis for all complex processes on our planet. Water emerges  as one of the most critical issues for energy industry. David is predicting some of the key trends currently effecting us, his predictions aren’t rock-solid, but point us in the right direction. The poignant fact is that water issues could undermine further economic development of the West, particularily when it comes to droughts which in turn impacts on agricultural production.

The main point David makes is that energy, agriculture and water issues are all interconnected, although energy and water are probably the key components effecting agricultural production. I pointed that out in another article I have made on water issues and energy.

Water, energy and agriculture form a virtuous cycle, one affects the other

Water issues are not just a regional problem, they are a global problem because of population growth. As demand for water grows in sub-Saharan Africa because of population growth, as economic development spurs on, and as our climate becomes more volatile, we will likely feel its impact. Not addressing water issues on a global level leads to more refugees leaving these impoverished African nations. So water issues effect agricultural production levels, and this in turn determines what is the potential for social development in that region. Energy poverty and a lack of liquidity means that it is difficult for these societies to divert water from one region to another. As a consequence, there are regional hotspots where conflict is likel to arise.

Regional conflicts stemming from water supply issues

In the future, we will likely see state conflict related to water issues. Sudan and Egypt find themselves in a partnership of sorts, in terms of water availability. The Nile river springs forth from the Ethiopian highlands. Water levels vary greatly from season on to season, impacting agricultural production in Egypt. It is important to keep in mind that Egypt is one of the largest population centers in all of Africa.

Water issues are expected to heaten up in California too, where ground water dries up and plans are in the making to import more water from Western Canada. This brings us back to the criticality of energy issues. It requires enormous amounts of energy to transport water from Western Canada down to the metropolitan centers in California.


Feldman, D 2017, Water Politics, Polity Press, Cambridge.

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