GreenRoots: Water vs Oil – Which One Will Be More Important?

( from Kos Blogger Asinus Asinum Fricat)

As a former chef I know too
well the importance of fresh, clean water: no water, no food, no life.
Water is far more vital for human life than oil as environmentalists,
corporations and governments increasingly recognize its unequal
distribution around the globe. A severe shortage will lead to
concomitant environmental degradation and intense conflicts in the
years ahead. Clean drinking water and free access to it will be as
important in global geopolitics and economics in the years ahead as oil
was in the post war period.

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I have observed first hand the gradual soil erosion and the
accompanying decimation of cattle in some parts of Australia during the
great drought of the seventies and it is no accident that I chose to
live in Ireland, a country blessed by generous rainfalls.

                                         

Less than 3 percent of the world’s water is
potable and climate change is already rapidly diminishing the vast
stores of freshwater stored in glaciers and polar ice. As a result vultures
venture capitalists are starting to take note since water’s
hot-commodity status has snared the attention of General Electric among
a host of others, like French-owned Suez and Aqua America, the largest US-based private water company.

Here is further food for thought: The Water Lords.

There are over ten major corporate players now delivering freshwater
services for profit. The two biggest are both from France Vivendi
Universal and Suez, considered to be the General Motors and Ford of the
global water industry. Between them, they deliver private water and
wastewater services to more than 200 million customers in 150 countries
and are in a race, along with others such as Bouygues Saur, RWE-Thames
Water and Bechtel-United Utilities, to expand to every corner of the
globe. In the United States, Vivendi operates through its subsidiary,
USFilter; Suez via its subsidiary, United Water; and RWE by way of
American Water Works.

They are aided by the World Bank and the IMF, which are increasingly
forcing Third World countries to abandon their public water delivery
systems and contract with the water giants in order to be eligible for
debt relief. The performance of these companies in Europe and the
developing world has been well documented: huge profits, higher prices
for water, cutoffs to Customers who cannot pay, no transparency in
their dealings, reduced water quality, bribery and corruption.

Water for profit takes a number of other forms. The bottled-water (my
personal pet hate: over $100 billion is spent annually on bottled
water, but it would cost only $30 billion to provide clean drinking
water to the entire world)
industry is one of the
fastest-growing and least regulated industries in the world, expanding
at an annual rate of 20 percent. Bottled-water companies like Nestlé,
Coca-Cola and Pepsi are engaged in a constant search for new water
supplies to feed the insatiable appetite of this business. In rural
communities all over the world, corporate interests are buying up
farmlands, indigenous lands, wilderness tracts and whole water systems,
then moving on when sources are depleted. Fierce disputes are being
waged in many places over these “water takings,” especially in the
developing world.  

California illustrates this hot issue right now: most of its rain
comes in the winter months and not much in the summer when agriculture
and people need it most. The vast majority falls in northern
California’s National Forests, yet the greatest demand is in southern
part of the state. That’s the main problem California faces today as
water privatization is becoming increasingly politicized, and expensive.

The folks at Public Citizen share my view:

A worldwide crisis over water is brewing. According to the United
Nations, 31 countries are now facing water scarcity and 1 billion
people lack access clean drinking water. Water consumption is doubling
every 20 years and yet at the same time, water sources are rapidly
being polluted, depleted, diverted and exploited by corporate interests
ranging from industrial agriculture and manufacturing to electricity
production and mining. The World Bank predicts that by 2025, two-thirds
of the world’s population will suffer from lack of clean and safe
drinking water.

However the bigger picture tells us that the population of the world is exploding.
According to the World Bank, eight out of ten children born in the next
20 years will be born in the developing world and of these, 88 per cent
will live most of their lives in a huge megalopolis such as Mexico
City, Lagos or Delhi. These cities will require fresh water. And food.

To be able to feed this population will demand that land across the
globe is irrigated more intensely. As things stand right now irrigation
is highly inefficient as it absorbs 70 per cent of the world’s water
supply. Where is that water going to come from? I don’t have the
answers, all I know is that if politicians world-wide don’t hurry with
legislating renewable energy policies, agricultural changes and water
conservation & replenishment among others, then we’re in deep
doo-doo.

Before I move on to some pertinent water news, I have collected
these links which can address how to save water via rain barrels, how
to use reverse osmosis membranes, and how you can collect water with
this clever gizmo.

First, this link will provide you with tons of other links to reverse osmosis products. Note that I have no interest in any of these companies, I’m merely linking for those who don’t have the time to do so.

How to build a water collector: Source

This energy-saving solar hot water system lets your electric or gas hot water heater: Source

How to Build a Rain Water Collector: Source

Building a Desert Rainwater Garden: Source

Solar water desalination and purification: Source

And finally, measure your water footprint here.

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Earth’s Most Prominent Rainfall Feature Creeping Northward:

Associate Professor Julian Sachs and colleagues at the University of
Washington in Seattle, Washington State, found that a rain band near
the equator that determines the supply of freshwater to nearly a
billion people has been moving north for more than 300 years. Source

Court Ruling Puts U.S. Waters At Risk:

The Supreme Court has made it necessary for Congress and the Obama
administration to protect America’s lakes from mining wastes. Last
month, the court ruled that a mining company can fill an Alaskan lake
with chemically treated mine waste, killing virtually all life forms.
Now, all U.S. lakes are vulnerable. The EPA should immediately rescind
a Bush administration memo and rule that redefined toxic mining wastes
as “fill material.” Congress should pass the Clean Water Protection
Act, which would make this change permanent and prevent mines and other
industries from using our rivers, lakes and streams as cheap dumping
grounds. Source

Not Great News as 60% of Chilean Soil is Eroded:

Loss of agricultural topsoil due to erosion is a major problem in
60% of Chile, reported Rodrigo Alvarez, director of the Center for
Information on Natural Resources (CIREN) in Santiago. Source (in Spanish)

Lack of Snowy flows called ‘tragic’:

Manager Juliette Le Feuvre of Environment Victoria’s Healthy Rivers
Campaign expressed the group’s disappointment with a seven-year-old
plan to recharge the Snowy River in New South Wales, Australia. I know
this river well, having paddled there in the seventies. Source

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Fluorine in the aquifer, not in the taps, in Italy:

Worries about the quality of drinking water in Treviglio, Bergamo
Province, Italy increased after the the Regional Environmental
Protection Agency (ARPA) found levels of fluorine above the legal
limit. Source (in Italian)

About effing time:

The American Water Works Association (AWWA) today urged members of
Congress to create a federal water infrastructure bank to help America
invest in its aging water systems. Source

Some results:

American Rivers applauded Representative Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) for
introducing legislation that establishes a Water Trust Fund to invest
in fixing the nation’s outdated drinking water and sewage treatment
systems. Source

BPA raises its ugly head again:

Safety fears over controversial chemical bisphenol A (BPA) and
environmental concerns have prompted one US beverage company to start
selling water in cartons. O.N.E World Enterprises has announced the
launch of O.N.E Water in a BPA-free Tetra Pak carton as a “sustainable
alternative to plastic bottled water.” Source

Desalinations News:

Nuno Oscar Branco, an industry analyst, who has been researching the
desalination market, said: “Spain is the largest desalination market in
the Mediterranean region, but countries such as Algeria, Morocco or
Libya, to name just a few, have joined the desalination bandwagon and
are investing heavily on this source of fresh drinking water.” Source

A ton of useful links here from UNESCO.

Seriously Good News Here: Drinking Water From Air Humidity. Source

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