The California drought has grabbed America’s attention, but our water problems — and the coming scarcity — stem from a lot more than a few years of diminished rain and snow. The U.S. government’s National Intelligence Council predicts that, in less than 10 years, many large countries will be at risk of “state failure,” directly due to the global water crisis.

To explain what caused this problem, check out this infographic.


The causes of the water crisis are global, as are its effects, which will only become more commonplace for Americans. It affects everyone from farms in the American Great Plains to crowded cities in South Africa. Even now, much of the western United States is already at tipping point, as we saw in 2015 with the water crisis in California.

But there is no need for paralyzing fear. New technologies, smart agricultural practices and a determination to tackle the water crisis have enabled many governments and private organizations to find innovative ways to blunt the worst of it. Israel, among others, is a model of efficient, sustainable water use. We must encourage leaders to adopt these methods here and around the world.

It is not too late…

Seth M. Siegel is a businessman, activist and writer. His new book Let There Be Water: Israel’s Solution for a Water-Starved World is a New York Times bestseller. Seth regularly appears on television and radio, and his essays have appeared in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and the Los Angeles Times. He is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations. Learn more about Let There Be Water at and follow Seth @SethMSiegel. Copyright © 2016 Seth M. Siegel. All rights reserved.