International investor Jim Rogers warns that there will be wars over two precious commodities: oil and water.
“There are going to be wars in the Middle East over oil east of the Red Sea, but west of that there will be wars over water since there are serious water problems in that region,” Rogers told OctaFinance.
“We will also have problems in the western parts of the US with the depletion of a big aquifer, from what I read,” he said.
He said the water problems are found all over the globe. “China has got gigantic water problems. First they have the water in the wrong place and second the water is filthy, terribly polluted in many cases. So someone is going to make a lot of money in China helping them to solve their own water problems,” he said.
“That’s the opportunity right now. Figure out how to get the water from the wrong place to the right place, clean it up and you can get very rich,” he said.
Rogers paints a dire future for the world in general, with the lack of water as the cause of it all.
“Water is the single most important determination of civilization. People can survive recession and war, revolution and famine, plague, but they cannot survive without water. That ends the whole story, no matter how smart you think you are,” he said.
“Throughout history we have had economic slowdowns every four to seven years, every so often. Always have, and always will. Nobody has solved that problem, not even the central banks. We are going to have another one in the world. We are going to have more I should say, and they will get worse because the debt situation is higher and higher," he said.
"We hear all this talk about austerity and cutting back but every country in the world has higher debt now than it had last year and will have higher debt next year,” he said.
“The buildup of debt in the US alone is staggering; Japan is staggering, everywhere is staggering. So the next time we have an economic slowdown it is going to be much worse than the last time, and if the world survives that one, the one after that is going to be worse and worse.”
To be sure, Rogers isn't the first to warn about the world's water woes.
Junaid Kamal Ahmad, head of the World Bank's water global practice, recently offered a cogent analysis of the problem.
"Today, especially in the context of climate change, I see a three-pronged challenge: ensuring access to water and sanitation services, achieving water security and building resilience," he told Institutional Investor
"Demand is growing. With population growth, plus energy, plus industry, plus agriculture, the perfect storm is coming." Floods, droughts and global health crises, such as the Ebola outbreak, can represent major threats to water security.
More than 700 million people can't get safe drinking water and 2.5 billion don't have access to modern sanitation, such as toilets, Ahmad explains.
"The underlying challenge — especially in developing countries where the market is growing — is the debate as to whether water is an economic good or a social or political good," he notes.
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