Defining the Geopolitics of a Thirsty WorldSM
Water – The Oil of the 21st Century

An interesting article in today’s Wall Street Journal, noting that the chief executives of Coca-Cola Co., Nestlé SA and others will warn the World Economic Forum in Davos this week that the world is running out of water, threatening conflict, higher prices and lost production.  While this dilemma is certainly not new for Water Politics readers nor is the premise of the report (the impact of snow making activities in the Alps upon water resources) one that we contemplate often,  the article does offer some interesting notes:

“…Based on current usage patterns, about 30 countries will be short of water by 2025, according to the Sri Lanka-based International Water Management Institute, a nonprofit supported by 60 governments. That is mainly because most irrigation for agriculture is inefficient, while demand for meat, wheat and other high-protein foods that require a lot of water is growing rapidly as people in China and India become wealthier and more urban.

But the battle against climate change is sucking up water, too, creating what analysts in the field call an accelerator effect. Take biofuels, produced to cut use of fossil fuels such as gasoline that spew the carbon dioxide that causes global warming. Biofuels are mostly made from crops that have to be grown, which puts pressure on land and food prices, as well as on water resources. It takes on average 1,000 liters (260 gallons) of water to make one liter of ethanol-based biofuel, according to the IWMI. For gasoline, it takes 2.5 liters.

The same goes for some of the alternatives to coal-fired power plants that produce less carbon dioxide. Hydroelectric power requires large quantities of water. So do the cooling systems in nuclear-power plants. Clean-coal technologies, too, use more water than regular coal. Overall, industry accounts for around 23% of global fresh water use, compared with around 70% for agriculture and 7% for residential use. Demand is rising in all three areas.

Some people call water the oil of the 21st century. Whether you like that description or not, one thing is clear, availability of water will be a key driver in the development of the world’s economy and government policies in the next decade,” said Andrew N. Liveris, chairman and chief executive of Dow Chemical, in a statement.”



This entry was posted on Wednesday, January 23rd, 2008 at 12:04 pm and is filed under News.  You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.  Both comments and pings are currently closed. 

Comments are closed.


 
© 2022 Water Politics LLC.  'Water Politics', 'water. politics. life', and 'Defining the Geopolitics of a Thirsty World' are service marks of Water Politics LLC.