Sunday, 22 August 2010

Carbon footprint? What about water footprint?

We have long argued that population growth is a much overlooked contributor to environmental damage and climate change. You can have all the carbon reduction measures in the world but they simply won’t be effective so long as the global population goes on increasing.

Rising populations are also making the world a thirsty planet. Conversations about carbon footprints are now turning towards water footprints. The reason? Growing populations require more food, and this can only be created from more water. The inevitable consequence is greater water scarcity.

Today, one-third of the world's population has to contend with water scarcity, and there are worrying signs that this proportion is set to increase rapidly. Some projections suggests that up to twice as much water will be required to provide enough food to eliminate hunger and feed the additional 2.5 billion people that are expected to join the current population.

Worse still, wealthier, urbanised populations tend to consumer a diet higher in meat, which is very water intensive. Given the escalating water demands, it seems unlikely that we will be able to provide water for producers to grow enough food and sustain a healthy environment.

The only solution is to learn how to live with less water by making much better use of what we have.

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