Natural Environments, Ecosystems, Conflict, and Wellbeing: Access to Water

Natural Environments, Ecosystems, Conflict, and Wellbeing: Access to Water

Fatih Bodzemir (RMIT University, Australia) and Jennifer M. Martin (Swinburne University, Australia)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-7402-6.ch013

Abstract

This chapter examines the correlation between environmental issues and wellbeing. A broad literature review illustrates that changing climate, increasing populations, and degrading natural environments have negative impacts on health and wellbeing. The focus of this chapter is on conflicts arising from the limited supply of natural resources and competing needs, interests, and demands. This can create high levels of tension and division within communities that erodes community spirit, support, and connectedness as people compete for limited resources. The conflict arising from such disputes has negative impacts on social cohesion and the high levels of stress experienced, without adequate supports, can trigger mental ill health. The example of basin level water conflict in Turkey is used to illustrate this.
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Background

Water is a precious commodity that we cannot afford to see depleted. Developing and developed nations are experiencing a high demand for water for different uses depending on the needs of the particular country (Hinrichsen & Tacio, 2011). Water has many uses ranging from agricultural purposes, manufacturing, fresh water for drinking and cooking, water for construction, water for washing clothes and many other uses (Wolf, Kramer, Carius & Dabelko, 2005). It is important to note that the earth is a watery place where approximately 71% of the earth’s surface is covered with water, with 96.5% of this in the oceans. Water can also be found in rivers and lakes, in the air as water vapour, in the soil as moisture, in glaciers and icecaps in addition to being found within human beings and animals. The vast majority of water in the surface of the earth, which is held in oceans, is saline, while fresh drinking water is sourced from rivers and lakes in addition to water that falls as rain.

All the sources of water in the world that produce fresh water account for only 2.5% of global water reserves, which makes fresh water unevenly distributed across the globe (Central Intelligence Agency, 2015). Approximately 1 billion people are not able to access clean, safe drinking water, while only 10 countries share 60% of the entire global renewable and natural water resources (FAO, 2011). It is estimated that the total volume of water on the Universe is 333 million cubic miles (Loucks & Beek, 2005).

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