river water
Photo courtesy of unsplash.com

Water (period). In one word so goes the world. Lack of it means famine and thirst. Flooding means destruction. Pollution means death. Clean means life. Plenty means “economy” and “lack of” means war (possibly).

I happen to live in the vicinity of Lake Michigan. We receive our drinking water from Lake Michigan. The whole issue of “economics” is nothing without water. Here’s an article from The Atlantic  which discusses access to the Great Lakes water supply. Not only are several states within the United States concerned with policing use of the Great Lakes but the issue crosses International borders and includes the country of Canada, and specifically two provinces, Ontario and Quebec.

To quote the article’s author, “Water has become the 21st-century equivalent of oil…” and this is serious stuff because the Great Lakes are the “largest source of surface fresh water in the world.” I never knew that until now. Exactly what does that mean? Here’s a Wikipedia® article which can be used as one reference to exploring that question: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Lakes

One fascinating fact from the Atlantic article is that  in the 1990s  an enterprising business man in Canada wanted to sell Great Lakes water to customers in Asia by shipping the water over there in tankers. Fortunately, that scheme never happened!

Maybe I should have entitled this blog article Ownership instead of Water.  After all, haven’t the Chinese recently “claimed” part of the South China Sea as their “property?”  Here’s an article about that conflict: http://www.cfr.org/global/global-conflict-tracker/p32137#!/conflict/territorial-disputes-in-the-south-china-sea

The New York Times ®  has written an article about the “reclaimed land” situation in the South China Sea:  http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2015/07/30/world/asia/what-china-has-been-building-in-the-south-china-sea.html?_r=1

Actually I can bring this whole “who owns the water” and “reclaiming land” situation down to a very local and perhaps a bit humorous period in Chicago’s history. You see, we had a gentleman called “Cap Streeter” claim an island right in the downtown area of Chicago back in 1886. Here’s a little history about it: http://www.encyclopedia.chicagohistory.org/pages/1208.html. “Cap” Streeter is not the country of China, and the South China Sea is not Lake Michigan but ironically the issues are the same: ownership (if appropriate), access, legality and perhaps even ethics.

Now, I’m not trying to “make light” about an extremely serious subject and natural resource, water, which we abuse daily through waste, pollution and bad water management. But, looking at the subject of economics in general, there is no economy without natural resources such as water is there?


2 thoughts on “Water

  1. China is doing something even worse with water than trying to lay claim to the valuable shipping lanes and oil in the South China Sea, it is befouling and damming the Mekong River destroying the life’s blood of South East Asia. The international nature of water sources is going to make the world very interesting very soon.



  2. Thanks, CalicoJack. Since we live near Lake Michigan, I think about Lake Michigan and the Des Plaines River, and the Chicago River. I wasn’t aware of Waukesha WI wanting access to Lake Michigan water until the “news” over the last few days. One does not go beyond the water “tap” very often. Yes, you are right, the international nature of water sources is making the definition of “international” a case for the Supreme Court. But then again, with only 8 of the needed 9 judges, can we trust any decision to be made anyway?


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