“If the wars of this century were fought over oil,” a vice president of the World Bank famously warned in 1995, “the wars of the next century will be fought over water—unless we change our approach to managing this precious and vital resource.” Water scarcity and its ability to create domestic unrest and international conflict has been a favorite prediction over the past few decades. Water wars were bound to erupt “imminently” between Pakistan and India over the Indus, or between Turkey and Syria over the Orontes and the Euphrates, or between Egypt and all of its neighbors over the Nile. A University of California academic even argued as recently as last weekend that water scarcity, which causes people to get “grumpy,” was prolonging the Syrian civil war.In East Africa, water scarcity has often been blamed for conflict. “In Ethiopia and Kenya,” a study by the Pulitzer Center warned in 2008, “dry seasons grow longer and tribal conflict over access to water is on the rise.” Kenyans will no doubt be pleased to learn that water scarcity may no longer play as big of a role in tribal conflict in the future: at least 66 trillion gallons of water (and possibly much more) lie in aquifers deep beneath Kenyan soil. The find “clearly demonstrates how science and technology can contribute to industrialization and economic growth, and to resolving real societal issues like access to water,” a UNESCO representative said in a statement, reports the New York Times.Quite right. Water wars that will bring the nations of the world to the edge of catastrophic conflict and nuclear war seem to exist mostly in the over-enthusiastic imaginations of academics and researchers of a neo-Malthusian bent. That’s not to say that water scarcity isn’t a serious issue in many places in the world, capable of generating conflict. It’s certainly true that in some areas water is a precious and especially scarce resource, that it is unevenly distributed around the world, and that wasteful practices are depleting once-plentiful aquifers, but with ingenuity and technology we are finding new sources of water all the time (under the Sahara desert no less!) and new ways of bringing it to parched lands, making the likelihood of catastrophic water wars seem like a distant fantasy.