10-209 Global Water War

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Water on our Blue Marble
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  Global Water War   A consequence of the lack of Water  Kanook – Oct, 2009 Water is the essence of life, sustaining every species on this planet. Take itaway, there would be no plants, no animals, and no humanity. Scientiststoday tell us the global water supply isn’t marching toward a preordained risk,we’re already there.If you cruise the Internet in your quest to find out how much or this BlueMarble is covered with in H 2 O your find a varying amount of values, rangingfrom 70% to 80%, no matter the answer there is more water than land. Thiswater remains pretty constant from one year to the next as it circulatesbetween oceans, the land and the atmosphere due to evaporation andprecipitation. The last is very critical to life on this planet, and due to the largeamount has a great deal to do with our changing climate from region to region.Consider, nearly 98% of our world’s water is in the oceans, and fresh watermakes up less than 3% of all water on earth, with 66% of this locked up inpolar ice caps and glaciers. Fresh water lakes and rivers make upapproximately 0.009% of the fresh water and ground water approximately0.28%, which in my opinion is a difficult number to estimate based on thesimple fact that underground aquifers are a little hard to measure. The “Water Wars” vision is not one of countries attacking other countries,today these wars consist of countries with rivers flowing through them cuttingoff the supply of other countries downstream, they also consist of bottledwater companies, like Fiji Water 1 telling the world their drinking 4000contaminants when they drink tap-water, unlike their “living water”. By theway they are the biggest supplier of bottled water in the USA.In July, 2009 the Michigan Citizens for Water Conservation stopped NestleWaters North America Incorporated’s attempt to pump more water from a“stressed stream” and “lake” for its Ice Mountain bottled water in Mecosta,Michigan on Monday July 6 th . Under a modified injunction order Nestle cannotpump for water from “Dead Stream” or “Thompson Lake” with the new ordersaying they must “reduce” its pumping earlier in the spring and continue itslow pumping rates during the summer – I wonder how many people realize thewater their drinking from Ice Mountain are srcinating in a place called “DeadStream”.Del Posto, a restaurant chain backed by Mario Batali and Joseph Bastianichnow is shunning bottle water, along with the city of San Francisco and New York State. The argument being the cost of transporting, packaging and the 1  http://www.alternet.org/water/141937/the_fiji_phenomenon%3A_it%27s_a_human_rights_and_environmental_nightmare%2C_so_why_is_it_the_ %231_imported_bottled_water_in_the_us/?page=entire   absurd idea of moving water all over the world in plastic bottle is finally takingeffect.As environmental concerns are kicking in, thanks to those Global Warmingadvocates, companies like Coca-Cola, Pepsi Co, Nestle and SABMillier arebecoming more attuned to the risk of negative consumer environmentalperceptions. As water is becoming scarcer there is a fear developing that theso-far manageable price increases will spike and leading drink companies willhave to take action to maintain their access to water, along with fighting theirimage as water hogs. There is no doubt in the minds of some that “water is the new oil”, as climatechange and population growth drive its demand, while over 33% of the world’spopulation live in water “stressed’ areas, with raising predictions that by 2025over 66% of the world will live in water “stressed” areas.Water is still cheap, but all over the world this is changing – whereas today itdoesn’t dig too deep into your pocketbook, but what will water cost tomorrow? You beer drinkers, it takes on average of 4.5 liters [1.06 gallons] to make aliter of beer [less than a ¼ of a gallon].Countries are now imposing high taxes on water use, hopefully to teach theirpopulation to be efficient in using it and sustain its availability. 70% of thefresh water today is said to be in use for agriculture, while another 20% is usedfor industry, large industry users of water are calculating their “waterfootprint” and doing so are finding out that through the supply chain theysometimes are using more than 14-times what they might use in theirmanufacturing plants. They are finding out, as with SABMiller that to produce 1 liter of beer incentral Europe they are using 40 liters of water, while their plant in SouthAfrica is using 155 liters of water to make 1 liter of beer – they calculated thatcounting in their “water footprint” they used 8.4 trillion liters of water lastyear, more than double what Iceland used in 2004.In California Jim Metropulos, a senior advocate at the Sierra Club’s CaliforniaChapter remarked on the statement made by Steven Chu Ph.D our newSecretary of Energy, “I don’t think the American public has gripped in its gutwhat could happen. We’re looking at a scenario where there’s no moreagriculture in California. I don’t actually see how they can keep their citiesgoing, I’m hoping the American people will wake up.” Jim’s comments to this,“Obviously, he’s versed on it, but he’s taking an apocalyptic view. I think it’snot sustainable in its current form. We rely on imported water to grow high-value crops, but maybe the agriculture we have today may not be theagriculture we have decades from now.” That is a big “maybe”!Look at the facts: California’s agricultural sector grows approximately 33% of the nation’s food supply, and is nourished by diverted rivers and streams filledyearly by runoff from its Sierra Nevada snowpack, along with groundwaterpumping and other less-reliable methods. This snowpack, which caused the  last water war 2 in California, albeit not the last, was the war that transformed asemi-arid LA into an “unsustainable” oasis less populous than only New YorkCity.A drought that is into its 3 rd year is causing California’s central valley, hometo a majority of the state’s agriculture output, to dry up where hundreds of thousands of acres lay fallow (unused), and the resultant economic depressionis having a domino effect, and the once one-time powerhouse of the foodindustry is seeing its citizens go hungry.Like other locations in the world sustained by an uninterrupted supply of water, the coming climate changes, man-made or not, will leave California,and parts of Oregon and Washington dry, and all the water conservation in theworld might not change that fact just as shoving our excess CO 2 into theground won’t – and you think there is a water battle going on now, just wait!Based on the exceedingly high projected carbon emissions, NOAA ispredicting that the southwestern United States will experience by 2050permanent drought conditions, in other words the desert will stretch to thePacific Ocean, just as the Sahara does in western Africa to the Atlantic.It is important to remember all the future pictures of California turning intothe Sahara are done by super-duper computers running at top speed crankingout predictions on an event(s) that the weatherman gets wrong every otherday, except in Hawaii.Benjamin Franklin said in 1774, “When the well’s dry, we know the worth of water!” I, along with a few others, think he was wrong. The people here in thegood-old-US-of-A, seem to not appreciated the value of water, even as someareas get a spurt of rust once-in-a-while when they turn on the tap, but thenagain we are little more than spoiled, were we’re hooked on the water beingthere when we want it. And we get that unlimited amount of water for a basicmonthly charge that is pennies compared to our cell phone service or ourCATV bill.Growing up in Southeast Alaska in a small town that averaged over 80” of rainfall every year, we even ran out of water in the 50s, but for a far differentreason than today, our mud reservoir was too small and when the winter hitand we got a dry run of weather it pumped mud. So it was shut down and thewater mains in town had saltwater pumped through them to fight fire, ourdrinking water was from a large wooden barrel that was filled by the watertruck every other day.Since that time, here in this country water has become an invisible resource,we only miss it when it is not there and until it’s gone we’re mostly ignorant toits value. In other words, American’s treat water about like everything elsethey have today, “it is our God-given right to have it, and it will be oursforever.” I remember traveling overseas and getting into discussions aboutour overuse of all of the our resources, whereas my standard reply was, “well 2  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/California_Water_Wars   we have worked hard and furious, generating wealth for our country and if wechoose to drive vehicles that only get 11 mpg that is our RIGHT!” Tell me, where are we going to import water? Canada? You might get agallon or two from our neighbors up north, but I’ll guarantee you’ll pay throughthe nose and will not be able to do much about it!Well there is always war!
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