Water is a Source of Life – or Not?

Water is a Source of Life – or Not?

Without water, we can only live for a couple of hours. This is taught at schools. Two-thirds of our body is water. It is extremely important to keep this balance in our lives. But some people tend to forget about it and start polluting or even manipulating life underwater, which eventually leads to biological disasters. Do we want to pollute the source of life? Or, do we want clean air and water everywhere?

My country lies in a basin, at the confluence of many rivers. The two most significant ones are the Danube and the Tisza. The Danube is shorter in length in Hungary, but it discharges more water. It is the second-longest river in Europe with a total length of 2850 km. The basin flows through Hungary and Romania, the two countries that are extremely dependent on the Danube. Hungary and Romania are home to environmental hazards, affecting both the Danube and the Tisza. Let’s begin with the Danube. On its right bank, there is a nuclear power plant (I will discuss the non-necessity of nuclear power in my next article) in the city of Paks, which employs thousands of people and is responsible for generating more than 50% of the Hungarian electricity supply. However, the problem is that nuclear waste flows dangerously close to the Danube. In case of a disaster, like Chernobyl, one cannot imagine how serious an effect it can have on the Danube. Moreover, Paks is close to a tectonic fault. Even though Chernobyl is not likely to take place again (as Paks automatically shuts down in case of breakdowns), imagine the damage done to the environment? More importantly, the fault line is close, what can we do in case of an earthquake? More recently, it has been agreed this nuclear power plant will be expanded with Russia contributing. What does that signify? The Danube will be more vulnerable to nuclear hazards as a nuclear power plant needs tons of water to cool itself. Now, the plan is to build two cooling towers, so even more water will be used. Everyone knows that this water will be heated in the plant. Last but not least, heated and contaminated water will be released into the river, which is harmful to the flora and fauna. On top of that, the weather in Hungary is becoming dryer and dryer due to climate change. Because of the nuclear plant, the temperature of the Danube is always higher near Paks than near Budapest. Where does it lead to? The flora and fauna will get dangerously close to extinction, as more heated water would be released into the Danube.

Let’s focus on the other major river of Hungary, the Tisza. It originates from Romania with two rivers (Black Tisa and White Tisa), which confluence in Ukraine near the city of Rakhiv. Eventually, it flows into the Danube at Titel, Serbia. The river used to be around 1,400 kilometres long, but it has been shortened to 1,000 kilometres to keep villages safe from flooding. Still, it is the longest river in Hungary. They are the two biggest gravity dams of Hungary, at Kisköre and Tiszalök. Originally, its purpose was not to provide electricity, rather to bloat the Tisza River and to create a reservoir. Therefore, its performance was not very high. There were plans to build hydraulic power plants on the Danube as well, but these had to be suspended due to environmental concerns. This issue is still facing a lot of controversies. Turning back to the Tisza, it has already gone through a serious environmental disaster, when cyanide spilt into the river following a dam burst near a gold mine in Romania. The mine was a joint venture between an Australian company and the Romanian government. One night, the dam, holding contaminated waters burst and at least 100 tons of cyanide spilled into the Somes River, and then into the Tisza. The spill caused extreme high cyanide concentration levels (700 times higher than the permissible level). This meant drinking supplies of more than 2 million Hungarian people had to be cut off. This also meant more than 50% of the wildlife was killed by the toxicity. Five weeks later, heavy metals (zinc, lead and copper) spilled into the river, and it caused further disaster. Both the company and the government blamed the disaster on extreme snowfall and the cold weather. According to the European Union, the mine was badly designed, with a complete lack of an emergency plan. Fishing businesses suffered extreme losses and around 15,000 people lost their jobs. This means the company is at fault for the incident. The wildlife was severely damaged, how come they cannot accept responsibility? Following the disaster, the Romanian government banned drinking tap water around the Danube, as well. Later on, they tried to ban cyanide in gold and silver mines, but they have not been successful yet. This dam failure was not the first one in Romanian history. In 1971, the Tailings Dam near Certej Mine burst. Almost 90 people were killed, as the flood destroyed apartments and dormitories as well. Similar dam failure took place in Hungary, in 2010, near Ajka. Ajka used to be the capital of Hungarian aluminium mining. The red mud (a byproduct of aluminium-oxide) burst the dam and flooded the area near Devecser and Kolontár. This highly alkaline product is very harmful to the soil and the rivers as well. The mud even contaminated the Danube. The government blamed the company and later nationalized it to gain more control.

All in all, water is the source of life, so we should look after it, rather than polluting it or devastating wildlife by releasing radioactive water into the rivers. Our rivers have been widely cherished by our poets. Why should we pollute them as well? Who said it is a good idea to place environmental hazards like gold mines and nuclear power plants near our main rivers?

– Gergely Lázár

  1. Paks Nuclear Power Plant
  2. The Danube
  3. The Tisza
  4. 2000 Baia Mare Cyanide Spill
  5. Ajka Alumina Plant Accident

The opinions expressed by the author and those providing comments are theirs alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of #WAYSWF.

Water War on the Door

Water War on the Door

In a few articles, I have already talked about how humankind is, and why 17 Sustainable Development Goals have emerged. But we see that problems are still similar. Also, I have already talked about water wars, which will occur in the future. As a person who is interested in politics, history, and wars, I would like to focus on water wars again.

Mother Nature endowed us with lakes, oceans, drinkable water, sun, stars, trees, and lands—all for free—but afterwards, the idiocy of humankind takes the stage… Fighting against nature itself, conquering its scarce resources, and competing against each other to reach them. It’s like an endless vicious circle with no end in sight. What’s more, water wars will intensify sooner than you think.

The Nile-Euphrates-Tigris (Turkey, Iraq, Syria, Egypt, Sudan), the Brahmaputra-Ganges (India, Bangladesh), the Indus (Pakistan), and the Colorado (USA) areas host critical water sources (1). As we know, climate change and global warming are leading country politics. States must adapt because we are sharing the same world, and these water sources will become even more significant.

Humankind! You do not stop damaging. You do not stop killing, polluting, enslaving. And you do not care how our world is! Is everything for you?

We are tired of seeing dead people every day (at least on the news). If we are fighting for peace, we can tolerate it, but this fight only benefits a few while innocent people are dying.

As you know, if something is scarce, it’s more valuable, and history teaches us that if something is in short supply and valuable, there is a war for it—without a doubt! Gory and wild wars are awaiting us if we are complacent. Year by year we are getting close to them.

Read, one more time, the article Where Will the “Water Wars” of the Future Be Fought?, and tell me which area is safe, even now? Turkey or the Middle East? Egypt or Sudan? India or Pakistan? We can only say that the Colorado is, but we should remember that the USA has never been faced with even WW1-2 on its lands. So, for now, the Colorado is safe for humanity but we cannot be sure about the rest.

So, shall we say that the Water Wars have already begun? Yes, or No?—it doesn’t matter! Another big catastrophe is waiting for us around the corner, and, alas, another time we can point the finger at humankind itself. How poor! How pitiful! How pathetic!

– Oğuz Yılmazlar

  1. Where Will the “Water Wars” of the Future Be Fought? Also, please check Here’s Where the Post-Apocalyptic Water Wars Will Be Fought for more.

The opinions expressed by the author and those providing comments are theirs alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of #WAYSWF.

Are Water and Food the Next Housing Bubble?

Are Water and Food the Next Housing Bubble?

As AIESEC members, we often started off our Conferences, Meetings, and Conversations honing in on The State Of The World and what relevance impact AIESEC could accomplish in that context. As Alumni, we still have that opportunity to focus on the megatrends facing the world. What will the next ones be, and what influence and impact are you seeking when you decide to say yes to a project?

Drafted by Chris Gassman


Image by: Jiri Foltyn

Ending Open Defecation

Is it possible to put a stop to open defecation when nature calls worldwide by 2030? In a recent article, the New York Times reported: “nearly half the [Indian] population still relieve themselves in the open, spreading disease and causing other health problems(1).” The shortage of clean toilets has led the country to pledge the installation of up to 100 million new toilets. The issue has spurred the local community to develop a mobile application used to help detect nearby toilets, which is an interesting way to support the project as well.

It turns out this is not just a health and sanitation issue; the problem is also linked to many issues of women’s rights—where open defecation means exposure to violence, even sexual assault. On the international scale, the world still has 1.1 billion people who must relieve themselves in public(2). The next time you travel to India or anywhere with such an issue, you ought to consider reporting any shortages via technological means.

Now, it’s my pleasure to introduce you all to a new Bollywood movie relating to the toilet issue in India. Enjoy!

Drafted by Colina Tran

(1) https://www.nytimes.com/2017/09/03/world/asia/india-toilet-movie.html

(2) http://unicef.in/Whatwedo/11/Eliminate-Open-Defecation