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Water supply key to outcome of conflicts in Iraq and Syria, experts warn

Refugee camp in Iraq's Kurdistan region.
Reuters

The outcome of the Iraq and Syrian conflicts may rest on who controls the region’s dwindling water supplies, say security analysts in London and Baghdad.

Rivers, canals, dams, sewage, and desalination plants are now all military targets in the semi-arid region that regularly experiences extreme water shortages, says Michael Stephen, deputy director of the Royal United Services Institute think tank in Qatar, speaking from Baghdad.

“Control of water supplies gives strategic control over both cities and countryside. We are seeing a battle for control of water. Water is now the major strategic objective of all groups in Iraq. It’s life or death. If you control water in Iraq, you have a grip on Baghdad, and you can cause major problems. Water is essential in this conflict,” he said.

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Is planet-cooling balloon full of hot air?

Cross-posted from The Guardian. It sounds audacious or sci-fi: a tethered balloon the size of Wembley stadium suspended 12 miles above Earth, linked to the ground by a giant garden hose, pumping hundreds of tons of minute chemical particles a day into the thin stratospheric air to reflect sunlight and cool the planet. But a team of British academics will next month formally announce the first step towards creating an artificial volcano by going ahead with the world's first major "geoengineering" field test in the next few months. The ultimate aim is to mimic the cooling effect that volcanoes have …