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Circle of Blue – Water News

At Standing Rock — Water, History, and Finance Converge

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By Keith Schneider, Circle of Blue

standing-rock

Photograph by Dark Sevier

Heavy snow and winter cold settled this month on thousands of Native Americans and their supporters encamped on the banks of the Cannonball River, some 30 miles south of Bismarck, North Dakota. Nearby, the Missouri River slipped past. The river’s clean waters serve as the wellspring in what has steadily become one of the storied confrontations over energy development, justice, finance, and human rights in the American West.

Viewed in one dimension, the standoff over construction of a 1,172-mile, $US 3.8 billion oil pipeline pits thousands of protesters massed on the prairie to safeguard a sole source of tribal drinking water from the fossil fuel industry and its allies in government and finance. But so many other dimensions of history, law, human rights, justice, finance, and climate change motivate the campaign to halt the Dakota Access pipeline. What has emerged on the wintry plains of North Dakota is a distinctive, if not unique event in the history of American environmentalism, and a seminal struggle over civil rights and Native American sovereignty.

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India and Pakistan’s Struggle Over Water

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kashmirAfter two consecutive years of weak monsoons, 330 million people in India, a quarter of the country’s population, are affected by a severe drought. More than 60 percent of agricultural land in India is not irrigated, so the failed rains are particularly devastating for farmers. The drought has destroyed crops and dried up wells already stressed by overuse, forcing rural families to move to cities like Mumbai and prompting hundreds of cash-strapped farmers to commit suicide. In urban areas, dry conditions are compounded by a heatwave that has sent temperatures soaring above 50 degrees Celsius, breaking national records. Low water levels have also forced operators to shut down or scale back electricity production at electrical plants, despite chronic blackouts in many cities. India, the world’s second most populous country, is also acutely aware that erratic monsoons could become worse in the future, calling climate change the biggest risk to its economy.

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HotSpots H2O: Water and the US Election, Syria’s Food Crisis, and the Salween River

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By Cody Pope, Circle of Blue

hot-spotsFrom the Syrian conflict, to protests in Zimbabwe, Tunisia and India, to a deep drought destabilizing South Africa, water is playing a significant role in global civil unrest.

HotSpots H2O from Circle of Blue’s award-winning team of journalists examines regions, populations, and countries that are most at risk from water-related unrest and conflict. It reveals the challenges individuals confront — and the solutions they discover — as they strive to build resilient communities.

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