10 May 2020

What We Will Fight Over: WATER

Every war is waged for a reason. At times, wars are started to secure some political objective, for some economic gain, revenge, rights of succession, or even love. We tend to think of wars waged over the basic needs of survival are matters for post-Apocalypse films and our early ancestors. However, that is simply not true. There are wars, in both an armed conflict and legal sense, being waged that this very moment for one of the critical elements of life: water. Since the founding of military science fiction with H.G. Wells' War of the Worlds, we have seen water being a genesis for future conflicts here on Earth and among the stars. In the installment of What We Will Fight Over, we will be diving into exploring and explaining how water will be the spark of future wars both here and out there.

Why is Water so Important?
This maybe academic and a rather simple section, but, I wondered when working on this article, just why is water so important if Brawndo's got what plants crave. Water is one of the materials in nature that can exist as a solid, gas, and liquid and every living organism on this planet requires water to live.  Water is the universal solvent, allowing nearly all substances to be dissolves in water…save for baked on cheese. Nearly everything we buy as water somewhere in the manufacturing process.
Water is used as the vehicle of transport to waste products out of the organism and needed nutrient into the organism, crossing cell walls and membranes. Here in the ICU hospital environment, we call this “I’s and O’s” and when those are in-balance, the renal (or urinary) system can properly function eliminating wastes in the body via excretion. Not enough water going into the body means that toxicity can build up if the body cannot pull water from other parts of the body’s interior ocean. While water is the critical for life on Terra, it may not be on other exo-planet environments.  Both ammonia and methane have been looked as possible foundations for life on alien worlds if water is not available.

Some Statistics & Facts about Water
With Earth being a closed system for much of its geologic history, the majority of water that existed prior to the rise of man is still around. Some water has escaped the closed system of the atmosphere with the era of space exploration. These are drops in the bucket when compared to the total of water on Earth, which is 1,0260,000,000,000,000,000,000 liters. Out of the trillions of liters, about 97% is saltwater with the remaining 3% of fresh water being trapped in a frozen state…but not for long with climate change. All life on Earth uses waters to live and humans need water for their biological process and to rise the plants and animals we consume. The exchange is about 1 liter of water per 1 kilocalorie. It is much higher for cattle. 15,400 liters of water are need for every 2.2lbs of red meat.
With the rise in populations, the affects of Climate Change on global weather patterns and glaciers, and more demands on water sources; we can see a brewing storm. To this, the UN identified five major rivers that could be the flashpoint for future conflicts: The Colorado River, the Nile, Indus, Ganges, and the Tigris-Euphrates. One of the shocking numbers I learned was that there was 655 conflicts over water identified that more about access to a water source, like damming and diverting. There is some interesting connection between the 2006-2011 drought in Syria and the current civil war. That is what sources on water wars are saying…that water supply issues are one of the driving factors for social unrest and raising tensions that led to armed conflict. Will we see nukes being exchanged over cases of Fiji Water? No likely, but issues rising for water issues could drive other issues towards war.
When we examine the water accessible on other planets, asteroids, and moons of the solar system, we can see that there is indeed extraterrestrial liquid water for off-world colonization in our star system. Two of the first sites for off-world human habitations will be Luna and Mars. Only recently was it discovered that both have sources of extraterrestrial  water. Mars has much more water, that would equal out to be 14% of the Martian surface. While it is true the Moon does have water, it would take one ton of Lunar soil to fill a 32oz bottle of water. That could limit the size of any Lunar colony or outpost and even could fuel conflicts over Lunar water sources.
Further out beyond the belt, is Jovial moon of Europa. Covered in rock and ice, the interior likely has liquid water due to the distance from Jupiter and may have life down into there. Europa is a treasure of off-world water. Along with Europa, there is water on Ceres and a great deal of water on the Saturn moon of Enceladus. In addition to those sources, there is number of the asteroids in the Kuiper Belt and in the rings of the gas giants that bear ice.  When we look out beyond the Sol System, there are some exo-planets that may have liquid water.

  • In the Gliese 581 system that lays 20.22 LYS away from Sol, there are two worlds with the possibility of liquid water: Gliese 581D and Gliese 581G. 
  • In the Gliese 667 system that lays 20.8 LYS away from Sol, there is one world with the possibility of liquid water: Gliese 661Cc
  • In the HD 28185  system that lays 128.6 LYS away from Sol, there is one world with the possibility of liquid water: HD 28185B
  • In the HD 85512 system that lays 36 LYS away from Sol, there is one world with the possibility of liquid water: HD 85512B
  • In the MOA-2007-BLG-192L system that lays 3,000 LYS away from Sol, there is one world with the possibility of  liquid water: MOA-2007-BLG-192LB
  • In the Kapteyn system that lays 12.8 LYS away from Sol, there is one world with the possibility of liquid water: Kapteyn b
  • In the Kapler-62 system that lays 13 LYS away from Sol, there are two world with the possibility of liquid water: Kapler-62e and Kapler-62f
  • In the Kapler-69 system that lays 13 LYS away from Sol, there is one world with the possibility of liquid water: Kapler-69c
  • In the closet star system, Alpha Centauri, that lays 4.3 LYS away, there is a possibility that Proxima Centauri b has liquid water. 
The Difference between a "Water Conflict" and a "War over Water Access"
There are two kinds of wars over water: out-and-out wars over water sources for the most basic of needs, including watering crops and livestock and then there are conflicts over water access. In the past and in some post-apocalypse wasteland, humans will fight wars over water to prevent themselves from dying from dehydration or their crops/livestock. These are rare and are often more raids and small unit actions than large battles. Now, humans have fought wars, mounted invasions, and engaged in legal battlers over water access. This takes the forms of someone building a dam on a critical river that feeds many nations, taking of a warm-water port to allow for year around access to the seas for their navies and shipping interests, and it also takes the form of secure water ways for strategic purposes. We have seen both of these unfold in recent history and it will happen again.

Will  Aliens Really Come Across the Cosmos for our Water?
Since the beginning of our species, we have fought one another for sources of drinkable water and this was just limited to humans, but other members of the animal kingdom fight one another for water sources. Does this mean that aliens will mount a planetary invasion for our great planetary water reserves? No. While we will kill one another for water on this planet and planetary pioneer colonial expeditions could fight one another sources on exoplanets, spacefaring aliens will not look at the heavily populated and nuclear armed Earth as a oasis in the desert of outer space. Simply put, there are other sources of water within our own star system that are easier to access and  do not involve full-scale planetary invasion. Even if the engineering undertaking to extract these extraterrial water sources is complex, it still does not involve armed conflict even if the aliens possess more advanced technology.
Hell, if the aliens were crafty and stealthy enough, they could simply extract seawater from completely unpopulated and un-monitored areas of our global without bothering the locals. This could account for the UFO sightings over and under the oceans. That is not to say that some ancient alien theories of primitive Earth being an alien watering hole are also not correct. At this junction in our human history, any alien invasion force would face stiff resistance from billion of pissed off Terrans just for water these aliens could mine from Europa or Enceladus or Ceres.
The only way I can see that aliens would engage in offensive combat operations to take water from us would be if future humans controlled every interstellar water supply in the solar system and the aliens could not locate an asteroid or comet that met their needs. I think the best example is this: imagine there are two gas stations on the same street. One is heavily defended, like the refiner compound in Road Warrior and the other is a normal gas station where you fill up without mounting a full-scale assault. Which one would you chose? That is simply why the alien invasion of Earth will not be completely about stealing our water.

Will We Fight Over Water in the Near Future?
In the lost history of our species, our ancestors fought over oasis, rivers, and ponds that were the the source of water for miles...and if we are to believe everything being turned out on the subject, we will fight over water in the coming century. Some of this future can be seen anytime when a hurricane is coming or during the recent crisis with COVID-19 with the empty shelves and the fear of the water supply being cut off. It can be best summed up by the World Bank VP Ismail Serageldin said this about water wars in 1995: "If the wars of this century were fought over oil, the wars of the next century will be fought over water."
Why? After all, for many of us reading this article, we can just turn on the tap, or open a bottle of water, or hot a button on their refrigerator and there is magically water. Many of us, including myself, have pools at their homes in Dallas, and water seems like a given for us. Sadly, that is going to change. That likelihood of water being a source of conflict has been placed at 95% by the 2119 due to over 700 million people being displaced due to 2/3rd of the global population being in regions with water supply issues. Even Goldman Sachs called water "the petroleum for the next century". Let us examine several reasons for the coming water wars.
One of the factors that could led to water wars has already been shown in some sci-fi works like Tank Girl and Solarbabies, is with corporations having control over water resources. One source I read called "A World without Water" by Ginger Otis discussed the evils of privatizing the water supply and the current state where 70% of the global water source is controlled by just two companies and they do set prices. Part of the issue with access to clean water is that many that cannot get water is because they cannot pay for it.
In the book "Water: the epic struggle for wealth, power, and civilization", author Steven Solomon says this: "That control and manipulation of water should be a pivotal axis of power and human achievement throughout history is hardly surprising. Water has always been man's most indispensable natural resource, and one endowed with special, seemingly magical powers of physical transformation derived from its unique molecular properties and extraordinary roles in Earth's geological and biological processes. Through the centuries, societies have struggled politically, militarily, and economically to control the world's water wealth: to erect cities around it, to transport goods upon it, to harness its latent energy in various forms, to utilize it as a vital input of agriculture and industry, and to extract political advantage from it. Today, there is hardly an accessible freshwater resource on the planet that is not being engineered, often monumentally, by man." Several articles I read concluded that there is enough water for everyone, but economic factors prevent water from being accessed.
Another issue was raised in the UN World Water Development Report of 2019 is that demand for water use increases by 1% per year and that billions experience water stress leading to death, political turmoil, economic downturn, and sickness. This demand leads to stresses on sanitation of that water. According to the UN report, 6 out of 10 people on Terra do not have sanitation services in their region. This directly leads to sickness and death. These also led to reasons for armed conflict. If you have no power, you will attempt to gain some, even by the barrel of an AK...especially, if you are thirsty. Lastly, we currently live in a world in flux due to climate change, and that alone with cause havoc in rainfall and glacial levels. This is will trigger water issues across the globe and force conflict to secure water supplies.

Water Wars and Off-World Colonies
As the Expanse as taught us, water will be one of the important elements to founding a successful colony out in the black as it was for overseas colonies in the Americas. However, water imported from mother Earth will be too expensive and difficult to ship over the vast distances of deep space. There would also be environmental impacts as well with removing thousands of gallons of water off-planet. Instead, any colony, space station, or off-world installation will have to have a source of extraterrestrial liquid water or ice to supply the needs of the site and to resupply some of the space traffic that comes to the site. These sources of interstellar water could be mined from asteroids, piped from underground sources on the planetary body where the settlement is, or even taken from moons or rings.
This would make these sources of water natural targets for space water pirates and hostile forces looking to dehydrate a colony or outpost. This would be a type of siege warfare in a way, but with much more critical time period. After all, the oxygen they breath could be partly sourced from water or even to re-hydrate freeze-dried space food. Any enemy force that has cut-off the water supply to our space colony could see surrender in short order. Of course, all of these scenarios is depend on technology. If you can reclaim much of your water from waste recycling and out of the air along with the creation/recycling of breathable air via other means, than the importance of regular fresh water resupply somewhat less critical.
If we look at the more near future of space settlement, those water sources will be critical in establish viable colonies and they could be a rest for armed conflicts amount the stars. Various colonial powers could come to blows over both attempting to tap the same underground Martian water source or that pipelines are hijacked. Those acts may result in the death of colonists or a prelude to war. We could see settlers arranging raiding parties and taking back the water well before any nation-states or corporations have time to approve the hostile action. It would be that critical for the settlers on off-world colonies.     

Sci-Fi and the Wars over Water
The connection between wars over water and the genre of military science fiction spring from a single common source: H.G. Wells’ 1898 novel War of the Worlds. This novel founded the genre of military sci-fi along with the trope of “Mars needs Water” due to the time that Wells lived in. The empires of Europe and America where using the developing nations as raw resources colonies to fuel the modern industrial revolution societies of Europe and America. This, coupled with the theory of canals on the surface of Mars pushed by Percival Lowell, fostered a rich inspiration for invaders from Mars looking at the Earth as a raw resource colony with a greedy cold eye. From that point on, one of the reasons for interstellar conflict was given as needing access to water. These struggles for water were between aliens and man and man vs. man among the heavens; and they run through the gambit and all media types. Often creators play up the richness of the Earth and how special it is and how the aliens are from worlds that are dying or used up.
When it comes to water being the trigger for a war between human factions, it is often due to limited water resources on off-world colonies or in post-apocalypse scenarios were control of clean water means life or death. At times, this can mean finding and securing the “water chip” or the right filter, or fixing the filtration system. Securing these water items can and does mean combat. Like all science fiction, it swings wildly between being a hard science POV to a soft-serve science POV, from DUNE to the replicators of Trek

Examples of Water Wars in Sci-Fi:

The Water Crisis from The Expanse
One of the issues that face much of the inhabitants of the Sol System settlements is water. Due to many needs that water fulfills for the off-world settlements, especially Ceres, water is the most precious commodity in the system. Water is used for all the familiar things we know, but it is also used for oxygen production and propulsion. While there are sources of interstellar water, it still must be shipped around the system and there is labor to mine it and move it. There are companies, like Pur'n'Kleen Water Company, that capitalizes on this need…but with massive risk to lives and capital. All of this entails cost and opportunities for piracy. Some of the ice haulers in the series were intercepted and destroyed.  One of the reasons for the intra-system conflicts.

The Visitors from NBC's V Series
While sci-fi on the big screen was hot and many classics of the genre were cracked out due to the massive popularity of Star Wars, the smaller screen took more time. One of the highlights was NBC’s bold 1983 alien invasion story that was told over two nights. Being successful, another miniseries was ordered along with short-lived TV series. While the lizard aliens of V were inspired by the Nazis, their ultimate goal was very standard: enslave some, eat most. However, it was not just the humans the Visitors desired for the dinner table or for slave-soldiers for their wars against the Zedti, they need Earth’s water.
Their homeworld was the 4th from Sirius and the Visitors abuse of the environment had caused their world to be running out of natural resources. It was hoped that Earth’s resource could restore their homeworld or that Earth would be their second homeworld. This theme of water stealing was reinforced by the short-lived ABC miniseries as well.

The Martian Invasion of the Earth from War of the Worlds
Mars has held the minds and the dreams of man for generations, with the 19th century being an banner year for Mars in the popular imagination. Men like Percival Lowell saw canals on Mars and imagined a dry world with a desperate alien population attempting to channel the remains of water to their population centers. These visions of digging aliens and flowing canals lit a fire of creativity in the minds of H.G. Wells, Edgar Rice Burroughs, Alexander Bogdanov, and Ray Bradbury. It also gave a reason for invasion and war as in the founding work of military science fiction: 1898's War of the Worlds. With the resources of the red planet drying up and the green-and-blue world looking rich and fat with a low-tech population that the Martians believe their tripods will win the day against them. The goal of securing resources for a more advanced population from a less advanced population was something that H.G. Wells witnessed with his own eyes as the British Empire and other European powers torn through the developing world for raw materials with superior technology. While Britain was not running through India and Africa for water, but the concept is the same. This may have started the trend of aliens coming to Earth for water.

The Battle for the water source in 2001: A Space Odyssey
We all remember the first time we watch this 1968 sci-fi classic and how  it starts off with our distant more ape-like ancestors in Africa battling over a source of water. While this represents a time very long ago, the struggle is the same…we will fight to gain access to water. This eternity struggle to secure resources to allow your group to survive is shown here and how a superior weapon can lead to that security, even if it is a bone.

The Changing of water to sand in The Objective
One of my favorite sci-fi films of the 2000s has to be 2008’s The Objective that was directed by  Daniel Myrick. This very cool blend of horror, UFO lore, and a Special Operations mission to the wilds of Afghanistan is a pure joy. In the film, a small US Army ODA team is tasked by the CIA to go to seek out a holyman for approval of the US-led mission against the Taliban. In actuality, CIA agent has been secretly tasked with identifying a radiological sign in the northern mountains that could be a rumor AQ nuclear device or even a UFO. During the misadventures of the ODA team, they grow sick and their water supply is turned into sand. This use of water as a weapon by the UFOs is interesting take on wiped out the team. By the end, the lack of water is the least of their concerns.

The Destruction of the Water Tanks on the Galactica from "Water (1x2)"
In the second episode of the groundbreaking reimagined series, the sleeper agent "Boomer" Sharon Valerii planted timed plastic explosive, called "G-4", in the main water holding tanks. The aftermath of the explosion caused 60% of the total Galactica water reservoirs to bleed out into space and creating a massive issue with the fleet. Unlike the majority of the ships within the civilian fleet, the Galactica could recycle nearly 100% of their water onboard allowing for the old battlestar to go years without retanking. This made the old grand gray lady the portable water source for the 16,000 out of the 47,000 people.
With the Cylon sabotage, there was only days of water left and a Raptor FLT shuttle was sent out to scout for interstellar water sources on six star systems with planetary bodies within range. While water, in one form or another, is available in outer space, the Galactica was running out of time to locate a water sources. Then Boomer finds an interstellar source in a nearby source. The issue with the water sabotage now is mining the ice from the moon which would take a estimated 1,000 people and the manpower issue is tackled in the next episode. This made water a weapon to put the Colonials in a deadly situation. 

The Eco-Protectorate from Solarbabies
While the 1980’s is enjoying a healthy dose of nostalgia, there are a ton of bad movies that populate the 1980’s sci-fi film landscape and one of them is roller-hockey post-apocalypse film Solarbabies from 1986. In a familiar bleak future, the world’s water is controlled by the Eco-Protectorate and forces the orphans to fight in gladiatorial games that is just beyond Thunderdome. Fighting against the Eco-Protectorate are the Eco-Waters. One of the orphan rolling-hockey teams is the “Solarbabies” and they discover an alien orb that has the promise of water coming back to the land. I’ve seen this movie once and I was not sober and yet it still haunts me…

The Water & Power Corporate from Tank Girl
In the Tank Girl 1995 film, the land down under is setting for our tale of the apocalypse. This time, water is the critical need, not the gasoline. The reason for that was a comet strike in 2021 (something to look forward to) and this fueled a drought. Much of the water in Australia, is controlled by the Water & Power Corporation, which allows them to control the population.  One of the only free water wells not continued by the W&P Corporation is the site of a battle that directly involves Tank Girl. For much of the movie, there is a battle between Tank Girl and the W&P Corporation for control of water.  Water & Power is also in the original comic series as well.

The Society of the Fremen from the DUNE Universe
There is never one drop of rain on Arrakis and the people that live on that hellish world are devoted to preserving every drop of moisture with fanatic methods. Water was harvested from the dead (Freman or killed enemies), their own bodies via Stillsuits, wind collectors/dew collectors, and even stolen from outsiders. Everything in their lives was framed through water conversation and that filtered down into their language. Children raised on Dune, could not imagine what Paul said when he discussed the waters of his homeworld, including rain and oceans. Due to the extreme environmental conditions, all matters boiled down to water, including warfare until the Maud’Did liberated the Freman to the stars and began changing the face of Arrakis. 

The Tet from Oblivion
One of the films of the last few years I’ve enjoyed is Tom Cruise’s Oblivion and beside the painful plot-holes and such, I thought it was overall an enjoyable and beautiful sci-fi film. One element that was shown in dramatic and beautiful fashion was the sucking up of seawater via the Hydro-Rigs. While a cover story was told to the Jack Harpers and Victoria Olsons, the Tet was an alien machine entity that was involved in the systematic exploitation of planetary resources. The seawater was being used for the Tet’s power requirements by hydrogen isotopes extracted from the seawater. When the Tet entered the Sol system, it used one of the astronauts of the interception mission to form a cloned army to attack Earth with help from killer AI robots to secure the water on Earth. By 2077, the human resistance managed to destroy on of the Hydro-Rigs and then managed to destroy the Tet using Tech 49 and a nuclear bomb. There was no word on how much of the Earth’s ocean water was taken by the alien space station.

The Galactic Water Storage from the film Ice Pirates! 
This 1984 semi-comedy was centered a galactic water storage and was a production plagued with many issues and a lower budget than planned. The result of the half-baked story and the limited budget is a total B movie that is terrible. I’ve seen this and I was I could unseen it. The story is that the Templars of the planet Mithra (the Indo-Iranian god of light?) control the galaxy’s water supply by destroying sources and controlling others. In this future, ice cubes are the currency and the ice pirates raid Templar armed cargo vessels for the booty. Deeply unfunny film that could have been interesting is a wasted effort.

Water Shortages on Elaaden and Karada from Mass Effect: Andromeda
Mass Effect is one of the finest experiences I’ve had that makes me feel that I’ve been teleported to a different reality that I very enjoy being in. That also stands with the much-maligned Mass Effect: Andromeda. While about 75% good and 25% bad, I enjoyed my time with the Andromeda Initiative. Most of the “Golden Worlds” that Pathfinder Ryder & Company visit to fix to allow colonization by the Nexus suffer from water issues. On the Arrakis-like Elaaden, is a simple lack of water and on Karada, is tainted and toxic. This causes conflicts over water on both Elaaden and Karada until the Pathfinder unleashes the Vaults and sets the environment back to right.

The Desert Society seen in Dark Horse Comics Race of the Scorpions
Dark Horse Presents was a groundbreaking anthology series for me personally. While I bought the issues associated with Predator and/or ALIENS, there were other gems in those black-and-white pages…and one was Race of the Scorpions. While the series by Argentine talent Leo Duranona was reprinted in other formats, it would see its first release in DHP#23 on October 01, 1988. I came into the Race of the Scorpions with DHP issue number 24, due to the prequel story for the upcoming Dark Horse ALIENS comicbook series. I’ve always like the little I knew about Race of the Scorpions, and I wanted to include it on this list. In the distant future, an ecological disaster transforms the oceans into a soupy nightmare with a hard crust that makes much of the world into a desert. Fresh water is the most precious item and worth killing and dying over. In the story, a gang sets out to find a water source under the crusty layer of the desert sand seas. This was a fortune waiting and the power to change the hostile world. This was a excellent comic and something different from the standard superhero comics or characters/settings pulled from films.

The Aliens from Battle Los Angeles
On of the bolder, and interesting takes on the military science fiction trope of fighting over water is the 2011 film Battle: Los Angeles. Here, an actual alien military force invades 20 of the world’s largest coastal cities from the sea with the goal of securing our water and possibly other natural resources. The nearly 30,000 strong alien force themselves are very interesting and according to some background information, these aliens, nicknamed “the ants”, likely come from an aquatic species that is losing a war for their homeworld and they are seeking out new colony sites. The water they are using is hinted at being used for their fuel and maintaining their biological system. FWS will be discussing this movie in more detail soon.

The need for water in "the Caretaker" Episode of ST: Voyager
The first episode of Star Trek Voyager has an entire plot point circling about water and the rarity of it for…reasons? In the show, the newly transported USS Voyager finds Neelix’s ship and he asks for water for information on the whereabouts of some of the crew. Neelix uses the Voyager crew and their able to magically bamf! water into existence to bargain for the release of Kes. When that goes south, he uses his DE pistol to burn holes into the massive water containers beamed down from Voyager to distract the Kazon-Ogla.  While this plot point is quickly forgotten as the pilot episode move forward, the oddity of this scenario as always troubled me from 1995 onward. We know that the Kazon-Ogla have FTL starships that can leave the system and hunt down sources of interstellar water. We know that the Kazon-Ogla are on Ocampa for the rich Cormaline deposts that are, according to Neelix, “very much in demand”. These riches could have allowed for a trade arrangement to be set up to allow for the importation of water from an out-of-system source. While this plot point was used to demonstrate the power of the Federation replicator technology and the desire for the Kazon to control this technology. 

The Buying up of Water Rights by Quantum from Quantum of Solace 
The director of the 2008 Quantum of Solace, Marc Forster said in interviews that the world is heading for a water crisis. During the film, Dominic Greene says this to the Quantum organization: “This is the world's most precious resource, and we have to control as much of it as we can." Quantum was involved in actions of assassination, political engineering, and bribery to secure water rights around the globe, including in Bolivia. It is heavily hinted that when the world arrives at a water crisis, Quantum would be there with drinking water for the price of submission to the will of the organization. I know that this is not science fiction, but it was too good of an example not to use.

The Combine Draining of the Oceans from the Half Life Universe
When the Combine won against the Earth forces during the 7 Hour War. The Earth became a source for the Combine needs. Horrific changes were made to the Earth and the human race with Stalkers and the draining of the oceans as key examples. While the basic reason for the draining of the oceans was to transport the water from the Earth to needed areas of the Combine empire…there was never any concrete reason laid out. There is some mention of a teleporter in the oceans acting as a drain. The true toll of the Combine rape of the Earth is seen in heartbreaking clarity in HL2 “the Coast” section.

Fresh Water from Waterworld
One of the oddest post-apocalyptic films of all time came out in 1995 in the form of “Mad Max on Water”: Waterworld. Despite being incredibly well-funded, much talent in front and behind the camera, the film was a mess despite an interesting premise. It could only wish to Road Warrior and the passage of time still has no given Waterworld its due. Waterworld is set in 2500AD in a world of water due to climate change melting the polar ice caps and drowning all of dryland (which could not happen). Two of the most important items for trade and were used as money in the various floating Atoll communities is soil and drinkable water. Given the rarity of the Atolls, people between these communities could be trapped would a drinkable water source and die a bad death. Naturally, dirt and drinkable water are items worth attacking and killing over by groups like the Smokers.

The Water Wars from Mad Max: Fury Road
In 2015, we finally got to see the long promised 4th Mad Max film with Fury Road. The villain of the film was Immortal Joe and he controlled a source of fresh water from his citadel. While the Mad Max timeline has never been canonized to the point of Trek or Wars, causing for adjustment from film to film. With Fury Road, there is much made of the Water Wars and the Oil War. The nuclear war that ended the world was fought over the remaining resources and this extends into the 4th film with the control of the aquifer by Immortal Joe. With that control, he doles out the water when he sees fit...holding court over life and death.

The Soames Tablets from DC Comics Hex 2050 Universe
One of the most oddball of the post-nuclear war apocalypse comics is DC Comics' Hex that ran from 1985 to 1987. For decades after the 2nd World War, the Western genre reigned supreme over much of American media with the legions of books, comics, movies, and television to prove it. Then cracks started to appear in the mid-1960's and by the the time the 1980's rolled around, the Western was in massive decline. One of the products of the Western-era was the DC Comic book series and character Jonah Hex. First appearing in 1971 and gaining his own series in 1977 showing the Old West adventures of a scarred ex-Confederate soldier-turned-gunslinger Jonah Hex. His skills with his dual .44 Colt Dragoons become legendary in the Old West along with his scar given to him by a Native American tribe chief for dishonorable combat. For 92 issues, it was all Old West settings and events...then he disappears in summer of 1878 in a ray of light. That light was Jonah Hex being teleported to the year 2050 by a warlord collector Reinhold Borsten. He escapes into the wasteland that this post-nuclear war America trying to find a way back to 1878. This Mad Max ripoff ran for eighteen issues until cancelled by DC Comics for low sales, taking the character along with it, ending one of the last comic book Western heroes.
In issue number #4, Stiletta, who  is Borsten's daughter that is also an armed biker chick that has taken up with Hex, explains how the world came to be in the shit state it is in. Reinhold was a national security liaison assigned to a US government time machine project in the year 2042. After they send the first time traveler several years into the future, 2045, he returns one night covered in radiation burns and near death. He tells Reinhold that a global nuclear war erupts in 2045 and the world is gone. Seeing an opportunity for true power, Reinhold gathers supplies and technology, travels to 2047 to become a great leader in the wasteland leaving his wife to die in a nuclear impact and his daughter to be raised by her grandparents in the world after. With clean water being the most precious commodity in the post-apocalyptic world, Reinhold's company makes the new currency, the "soames"water purification tablet.

The Monogatron Plot from "The Old Man and the Seat" Episode from Rick & Morty
In the first installment of the fourth season of Rick & Morty, we see an alien race called the Monogatrons use a internet date app developed by Jerry and Rick's alien intern Glootie called "LoveFinderrz" as a pathway for alien invasion. The leader of the Monogatrons states his evil plan plainly is to take control of Earth's water while the Terrans are too busy seeking their new soulmates...one after another that does indeed led to a complete breakdown of society, as we saw with the many "soulmates" of Summer.

Next Time on FWS...
It is time to go back again to the 1980's and dig up yet another lost, unloved, and forgotten toyline of the decade that was about the money and the material goods. In 1987, Mattel and Landmark Entertainment gifted the 11 year old me with a post-robot-apocalypse military SF TV show: Captain Power and the Soldiers of the Future. Given that was the 80's, Mattel developed and sold a line of interactive toys for this oddball show about soldier wearing gold armor in the rubble of the 22nd century. In the next installment of Military Sci-Fi Toys, FWS will be going to the Metal Wars and attempt to explain the Mattel 1987 Captain Power toyline! 


  1. Great post, hope u can talk about the recent body armor with combat helmets during the War on Terror u think are pretty well received in real life and compare them with sci-fi counterparts. Such as Star Wars. Please?

    And hope u can talk about what u think of the Tom Clancy's universe (AKA Clancyverse) conflicts, fiction places, characters, etc. Plus what u think about the drones(include Titan drones on Golem Island) from Skell Technology in Ghost Recon Breakpoint.

  2. Hell real life water wars are already happening or about to kick off. Look out China's daming up the rivers that lead to Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam.
    Or the back and forth Egypt and Sudan are haveing about a proposed hydroelectric Dam. That the Sudanese want to build.

  3. To the Sudan/Egypt war you can add the Sudanese Islamic government in Khartoum cutting off water supplies to the Christian and animist populations in their own country.

    For a real-life example of the situation in Solarbabies, consider the water-control conflict in California. On the one side, you have the farmers in the Central Valley who need water for irrigation to feed the state.

    On the other, you have deep-ecology types in the coastal enclaves and Sacramento who are determined to dump every liter of water they can out of reservoirs into streams and out into the Pacific for reasons of eco-faith dogmas. Such as "making rivers wild again", and their dream of "reverting the world to Nature", starting with the Central Valley. Their philosophy is "Starve those Evil Farmers Despoiling Mother Gaia of water, they'll pack up and leave".

    It might almost be amusing to come back in 2070 or so and watch them riding their high-speed choo-choo. running back and forth across the desert that was formerly the richest farm land in the state, oohing and aaaing at the "magnificent desolation" they've created in the name of their Goddess.

    While munching their Soylent Green biscuits.

    clear ether


  4. Great article William

    Although I have to largely agree with eon about this, the current and future water shortages and conflicts are mostly humanity own failure.
    There shouldn't be any water shortage on a planet 70% of its land surface is water and the alchemistic process of turning salt-water into fresh one, desalination, isn't a secret.

    The shortage humanity is facing is the shortage of energy, with abundant energy source most of the other possible shortages fly off the window… or airlock.
    That why any future scenarios, especially outer space once, were people are dying out of thirst don't well… hold water. The energy required to run the engines of interplanetary, let along interstellar, spacecraft makes the life support energy budget (including any water reclamation needs) a rounding error. And anyone who venture to build space colonies, space stations and spaceships ought to be very-very good at managing his resources or he is in the wrong line of work.


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  6. Oh yeah, I remember those types when I lived in the Bay area. My wife is one of them. Lol
    But yeah Nevada is or was in talks with California to see if they could reliquash somebody their Colorado River water rights. If Nevada foot the bill for some salt water desalination plants for California. I'll see if I can find anything more on that.

  7. Ice Pirates (known in Spain as Guerreros del Espacio)!!! I remember watching this movie with my friends at the house of one of them, in Cartagena. One hour and a half of my life lost forever but the FTL travel scene has no price.

    Good post, as always. I know what is the use of water for political interests because I live in one of the most dry regions of Spain.

  8. Forty nine countries currently land locked. So many have coastal regions which could be used to desalinate water if they wished. Not a problem for the average country then

  9. Interplanetary Water Wars could really be a real thing even if the infrastructure around it make water pirates a difficult and low profit, if only because it's a resource that's not exactly what one would call "wild" i.e. it needs to be ferried from one part of the system to another, something that can be intercepted. And would probably be like that for a very long time even if humanity discovers the secrets to interstellar travel that are certain velocities lower than relativity, let alone superliminal. Though to be honest, I don't hear too many stories centered around nitrates and phosphates since, well, not only are they VERY useful to grow food, but ensures that there's a population growth within a human's lifespan.

    As for Eon and Commissarmoody's comments, well that's one theory but there's another theory that all of that water is ultimately going down to cities like Los Angeles and San Diego. Heck, my Environmental Science teacher one said that he'd love to go to one of those aqueducts and just piss into it. I'd join, but I got family down south.

    And on a similar note, there were plans for LA to build a desalination plant before "Miracle March" happened and those plans were scrapped before it even opened for business. They could bring it up to speed, but considering all the 90's tech they need to replace with contemporary computer systems, the funds needed would scare most people. Though desalination is a relatively high energy process if one wanted speed and quantity, something that not all countries have the technological know-how or finances to even consider the alternative. Then again, desalination plants being the new oil rigs might make for even more interesting military stories, especially if someone had the bright idea of putting them out in the middle of the ocean.

    Wouldn't know how they'd get rid of the excess salinity way out there without wrecking the environment beyond, well, piping it inland and letting it be the land's problem.

    1. Israel is already sinking money into this problem. Give them a look, and see what they do with the waste.

  10. Nowadays we can see several disputes on water everywhere. We face water shortage due to low rainfall,high population growth etc. But we don't need to use water in limits.

  11. Water is the most important necessity of life. One can survive without food for whole day but cannot survive without water for whole day.

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