Michael T. Klare is the Five College Professor of Peace and World Security Studies (a joint appointment at Amherst College, Hampshire College, Mount Holyoke College, Smith College, and the University of Massachusetts at Amherst), and Director of the Five College Program in Peace and World Security Studies (PAWSS), a position he has held since 1985. Before assuming his present post, he served as Director of the Program on Militarism and Disarmament at the Institute for Policy Studies in Washington, D.C. (1977-84).
Professor Klare has written widely on U.S. defense policy, the arms trade, and world security affairs. He is the author of Blood and Oil: The Dangers and Consequences of America’s Growing Dependency on Imported Petroleum (Metropolitan Books, 2004), along with many other books. He is also the defense correspondent of The Nation, a Contributing Editor of Current History, and has contrbuted to numerous publications.
Michael Klare serves on the board of directors of the Arms Control Association, and the advisory board of the Arms Division of Human Rights Watch; he is also a member of the Committee on International Security Studies of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
Question: Which will run out first: oil or water?
Michael Klare: We will always have a supply of water, the problem is that the demand for water is increasing very rapidly and we are not going to have enough to supply the amounts needed by a large part of the planets population. Also the problem with water is not that we are going to run out of it, that it is unevenly distributed on the planet, so there is always going to be enough water up in northern Canada, Alaska and Siberia where there aren’t many people, at least there aren’t many people now. Where as in North Africa and in Central Asia and in Middle East where population rates are the highest on the planet, water is very scarce and with global warming it is likely that water will become even more scarce. So, you have a collision between rising population rates and possibly diminishing supplies of water, that is the clash point as far as water goes. That is what worries me.
Question: Which problem is easier to fix?
Michael Klare: Oil is fixable if we move dramatically to adapt alternatives energy policies, but as I say oil is something that this country in particular is very addicted to using and we were very reluctant to make dramatic changes. When I say “we” the American people in general, now there are plenty of people who have made changes, they have traded in their gas cuslors for hybrid or they go to work on bicycles and so on. So, people are beginning to make changes, but many more will have to do so. What worries me about United States is that we have militarized our oil dependency and we are already engaged in these force to protect our supply of oil. So far countries around the world haven’t been quite so ready to militarize their water policy. So, we have to try to keep things that way. There is a connection between the two and its an unfortunate one, which is that the greater supply, potential supply of water on earth is the oceans, lot of water out there, but to convert saltwater into fresh water is very energy intensive and energy is the thing we are running out of. So, to make a technological shift, we have to find some new sources of energy that are not going to damage the environment and we haven’t solve that in one yet. So, actually the priority could be to develop environmentally friendly non-greenhouse gas submitting sources of energy, if we could do that then we might be able to solve the water problem as well. So, that in my mind is a priority, lot of people working on this in laboratory around the world, but not on a scale large enough to solve the problem in the next decade or so, in my mind that’s the greatest priority for all of us on the planet today.