Thursday, September 04, 2008

Water runs dry

So goes the saying. Take it seriously.

The Economist publishes an article called "Running Dry" on its August 23rd, 2008 edition that gives shocking statistics about the problem.

Global water consumption is estimated to be growing at 100% every 20 years. This means, every 20 years there is twice the demand for the precious liquid.

Unlike oil, water has no substitute. And yet, the global economy pretty much runs on water, perhaps more than oil. Think about agriculture. Industrial production. Even high technology runs on water too. Did you know that it takes 13 cubic meters of water (1300 liters) to produce a single electronic wafer that will lead to the production of a few dozen computer microchips?

Think again if you think oil is the conflict of the future. In ten years, oil will be dispensable. Water still will not.

Five big food and beverage giants -Nestle, Unilever, Coca Cola, Anheuser-Busch and Danone- consume almost 575 billion liters of water every year, which is the same amount required to satisfy all basic needs of every person in the planet for a year. Nestle uses four liters of water to produce one liter of product. But it takes 3000 liters of water to grow the agricultural products that goes inside it. And who pays this environmental cost? So far, nobody.

Einstein said we cannot solve problems thinking in the same way we created them. We have to move forward. Further. Farther.

Beijing has a new strict rule for "zero-liquid discharge", which forbid companies from discarding residue waters into the environment. Is your country, state or community doing this already? Perhaps you are lagging the Asian giant's environmental measures.

Does this sound like the diagnosis of a future global conflict in the making?

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