Everyone’s favorite triennial conference on the future of humanity got kicked off once more this week when the 5th World Water Forum arrived in Istanbul, Turkey. The forum brings together activists, politicians, engineers, ecologists and businesses to discuss the future of water, and by extension, continued life on this here planet Earth. 

This year’s theme is Bridging The Water Divide, as attendees confront the fact that more than a billion people worldwide are without access to safe, clean drinking water. With an oft ignored humanitarian crisis lurking just around the corner, organizers including UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon have warned that if steps aren’t taken soon, the next generation of wars will be fought over access to water supplies, with nations doing battle over river basins and glaciers.

As with any international conference, the World Water Forum opening on Monday attracted scads of protesters, claiming that the forum is a front for giant corporations intent on continuing the privatization of water supplies, a practice itself often blamed for crippling public access to water resources. When the protest turned violent, though, riot police, apparently less concerned than attendees by the growing scarcity of our most precious natural resource, promptly turned fire hoses on the crowd.

Meanwhile, as the rest of the world ponders what will happen when they run out of water, residents of the Maldives are faced with an overabundance of H2O, as rising ocean level threaten to render dry land a thing of the past for the archipelago nation, which rise just six feet above sea level at their highest point. Intent on setting an example for the rest of the world, the country has pledged to become the first carbon neutral nation. While the plan certainly beats out the prior notion of purchasing a less flood prone area and making that The Maldives, one can’t help but think that the archipelago nation might need more drastic intervention sometime soon. It may, in point of fact, be time to send in The Mariner

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