Saturday, February 28, 2009

Water Water Everywhere But Not A Drop To Drink


The old rhyme of "The Old Mariner" has become an excellent description of the state of fresh water scarcity in the world. The UN and other international organizations have predicted that water will become one of the most sought after assets during the twenty first century. Actually geopolitical conflicts about water are not uncommon and with the approaching climate change and increased demand for water the conditions can only intensify.

Calculating carbon and ecological footprints has been common , at least in some circles, for a while. But now an organization has been attempting to highlight what it calls the water footprint per capita per year. As you look at the figures in the accompanying table you must resist the temptation of treating water as a non renewable resource. Water is not oil although the increase in demand makes it more scare.

A selective list of cubic meters of water used annually per capita:

Nation.................Cu. Meters/cap/annum

USA...........................2500

Italy.........................2300

France........................1900

Australia.....................1400

China..........................700

Furthermore it has been estimated that to produce a liter of milk requires 1000 liters of water , a kilogram of wheat 1350 liters of water and for each cup of coffee 1120 liters of water!!!!

Note: Does this mean that the Prius drivers should not stop at Starbucks any longer? :-)

11 comments:

Anonymous said...

Water is in my opinion, what the next large scale war in our century will be over. Fiji water ships a whole f*#$@&% lot of water all over the world, why do over half the inhabitants of the island not have clean water to drink? That is crazy. The killings in Darfur are all about water. Africa's water table is falling to where some wells have to be drilled over 1000 meters to get a drop. The Ogallala aquifer under a bunch of our south mid western states is a fossil aqifer, this means it is not replenishable once it is drained their is no more. Water is becoming a large problem for much of the world even here at home. Climate change is increasing our water scarcity problem. Moving out west and urban sprall is a bad thing, there are no grassy fields in arizona because there is no rain to keep them green. The Earth knows where to grow and where to leave alone, why dont we?

Anonymous said...

I agree, water will become our next environmental conflict. While there are those countries and places not receiving an adequate supply of water, there are also places where the water supply is not clean enough to drink let alone use and riddled with water-born diseases. I don't see why it is so complicated to get more water to people who need it, even at the most basic level with or without installing new pipes and plumbing etc. Providing water in some places would revitalize whole communities, especially those based in agriculture. It seems when it comes to water and a few other issues of supply and demand, lifeboat ethics is the standard.

--Emily O.

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