Global environmental challenges
Amid the worry about water and food scarcity, some hints of good news: a five-year, 30-nation analysis suggests there might be enough water – and therefore enough food — for Earth’s hungriest and thirstiest as the human population heads toward the 9 billion mark sometime around mid-century.
Anxiety about food and water supplies stems in part from the effects of climate change, with its projected rise in droughts, wildfires, floods and other events that cut down on food production. Another factor is the increase in population, much of it grouped around water sources in the developing world. But water experts said at a conference this week in Brazil that there could be plenty of water over the coming decades if those upstream collaborate with those downstream and use water more efficiently.
The leader of the study, Simon Cook of the International Center for Tropical Agriculture, said this is actually possible. And he said it wouldn’t require the repeal of the more selfish impulses of human nature.
Citing an article in Harvard Business Review, Cook said, “It’s not necessarily human to be totally individualistic. There’s substantial evidence that people can collaborate.”
Andy Wales, head of sustainable development at global brewer SABMiller, maintains it can happen. The maker of Miller beer — and 20 other brands, from Aguila in Colombia to Zolotaya Bochka Klassicheskoye in Russia — likes the environmental angle, but the main impetus is to ensure production of their products in what is a highly variable business from location to location.
“Water is obviously a critical part of high quality beer,” Wales said by telephone from London. One important part of this equation is figuring out how to use less water and still make good beer.
from The Great Debate UK:
-Han Meyer is Professor of Urban Design at Delft University of Technology. He has been a principal organiser of the ‘Dutch Dialogues’ with New Orleans since 2005 and is Editor of ‘New Orleans-Netherlands: Common Challenges in Urbanised Deltas’. The opinions expressed are his own.-
In August 2005, Hurricanes Katrina and Rita devastated large swathes of the U.S. Gulf Coast and overwhelmed New Orleans causing what then-U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff described as “probably the worst catastrophe, or set of catastrophes" in U.S. history.
Treating water for human consumption is costly and energy intensive. Is there a more efficient way to do it?
Gunter Pauli thinks so.
In the first innovation explored by PhD, entrepreneur and eco-designer Pauli in the ZERI Foundation’s two-year essay and video project The Blue Economy, 100 Innovations, 100 Million Jobs, the self cleansing mechanism found in natural water sources is identified as a possible solution to treating water without the huge cost in chemicals and energy.
from The Great Debate UK:
- Dr. Ir. Jules B. van Lier is a professor at Delft University. The opinions expressed are his own. -
The international observance of World Water Day, this year on March 22, is an initiative that grew out of the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development in Rio de Janeiro. This year’s theme -- ‘Clean Water for a Healthy World’ -- reflects the fact that population and industrial growth are adding new sources of pollution and increased demand for clean water across the world.
from Russell Boyce:
One more picture that caught my eye during the 24 hours news cycle for the World Water Day is the image of hundreds of hoses providing drinking water to residents of a housing block in Jakarta. The grubby plastic pipes supplying a fragile lifeline to families seem to represent the desperation that people face when the water supply is cut off.
Hoses used to supply residences with water are seen hanging across a street at the Penjaringan subdistrict in Jakarta March 22, 2010. Residents in the area say that they have had to construct makeshift water supplies for their homes by attaching hoses to pumps bought with their own money, as the government has yet to repair the original water supply which was damaged. March 22 is World Water Day. REUTERS/Beawiharta
Chronically rainy Taiwan faces a rare water shortage as leaders ask that people on the dense, consumption-happy island of 23 million finally start changing habits as dry weather is forecast into early 2010.
Taiwan, a west Pacific island covered with rainforests and topical fruit orchards, is used to rain in all seasons, bringing as much as 3,800 mm (150 inches) on average in the first 10 months of every year. But reservoirs have slipped in 2009 due to a chain of regional weather pattern flukes giving Taiwan too much dry high pressure while other parts of Asia get more storms than normal, the Central Weather Bureau says.
The seven seas get a single U.S. approach in a draft federal plan for oceans released on Thursday (and dated Sept. 10, when it was given to the prez). The report is a response to President Obama’s request for a plan and says a new National Ocean Council should use ecosystem management to take on the task. Previous efforts have been focused on solving individual problems — saving fisheries, stopping water pollution — which did not always match.
“This is the first time they have declared their intention to adopt a new way of managing the oceans, one that puts a priority on the health of the marine ecosystem, from which all the other benefits flow,” said Chris Mann, director of the Pew Charitable Trust’s campaign for healthy oceans.
from Pakistan: Now or Never?:
Pakistan is running out of water so fast that the shortage will strangulate all water-based economic activity by 2015, a Pakistani thinktank says. And that pretty much covers 70 percent of the population who are involved in farming.
This is not a new warning. In recent months, as this blog itself has noted, experts have painted an increasingly bleak scenario of Pakistan's rivers drying up, the ground water polluted and over-exploited and the whole water infrastructure in a shambles.
from Global Investing:
A growing number of Investors, including state-owned funds, are looking to invest in water to benefit from efforts to tackle climate change.
According to multi-asset manager Armstrong Investment Managers, less than 0.01 percent of water is easily accessible freshwater and global water use has tripled since 1950 -- increasing faster than the world's population.