Posting in Aerospace
The Robin Hood of water argues why we should ship water from abundant places to areas that are thirsty -- and why some countries are using "water as a weapon."
Nearly 90 percent of the consumption of the world's fresh water supply is used for producing food and energy. In 20 years, water demand will exceed supply by 40 percent. Most water infrastructure is land-based and is tainted by manufacturing and agriculture.
What if water could be shipped from countries rich in water supply like Russia to areas that need water the most?
The man behind this idea: John Barbieri. The entrepreneur says he sees a business opportunity and wants to trade water in a similar way that oil is traded: transfer large volumes of the stuff from areas that have surplus to areas that have long-term water scarcity.
It's a radical idea, but in these times, it's just one of many appearing as leaders attempt to solve our global water crisis.
Barbieri spoke to SmartPlanet about his company, the Natural Resources Corporation.
SmartPlanet: Okay, what's your business model?
JB: There is no real model, other than tinkering with crude oil [vessels], loading and unloading offshore systems such as mooring systems, sub-sea pipelines and onshore storage and distribution. But of course there are vast differences in the cost of liability insurance, labor and even fuel costs.
SmartPlanet: So you want to use existing infrastructure for shipping water. What are the applications?
JB: The heartbreaking tragedy in Japan shows once again — and the Indian Ocean tsunami and the flooding in Pakistan last year — how important an up-and-running system can be for emergency preparedness and response. Whether delivering water for drinking or coolant for damaged nuclear reactors, only this type of system has the ability to rapidly deploy using off-the shelf technology.
SmartPlanet: How is it different than what is available today?
JB: Most water systems today are land-based, altering nature with mega-infrastructure projects and other water works to exploit renewable and non-renewable sources of water, often conveying the water long distances in pipelines and aqueducts.
While water is indeed a renewable resources, some areas draw their supply from fossilized aquifers that cannot be replenished naturally. One such area is the capital city of Yemen, Sana'a. It is estimated that the supply there could be exhausted in eight to 10 years, thereby forcing the relocation of the capital and its one million people. Yemen is a volatile area and a strategic hotspot. Such a calamity would exacerbate an already unstable situation.
Our approach is different in that we would transfer water from coastal areas having abundant resources to coastal areas facing long term scarcity. Over 70 percent of the global population is found within 50 miles of a coast or inland waterway. Think of the major cities in the United States.
SmartPlanet: Why is water security important?
JB: At the local level, economies depend on access to clean water for economic growth.
In many parts of the world it is necessary for human health and economic development. More people have been displaced by water famine in the past decade than by all the wars during this same period.
With climate change, there will be boundary disputes due to the changing course of rivers that establish national boundaries. There will be refugee problems.
SmartPlanet: Where are the abundant resources?
JB: Canada, Russia, Greenland, northern Europe, southern Argentina, Alaska, Malaysia and a few other places.
SmartPlanet: Why do some countries hoard their excess water?
JB: Some do it under the guise of environmental protection, though it is in reality more of a protectionist trade act.
For instance, Turkey has an abundant supply, which could alleviate a lot of suffering in the Arab and Muslim world and in the Mediterranean region, but they hoard it for a political advantage...for negotiating leverage on other economic and military issues.
Turkey’s recent exercise in using "water as a weapon” in a dispute with Israel was, in my opinion, cruel, inhumane and unworthy of a country seeking to gain acceptance in the European Union.
SmartPlanet: How does the water crisis compare to the world's energy crisis?
JB: We are over-dependent on fossil fuels such as oil, natural gas and coal. So much so, it is a detriment of our health, the environment and global peace. We need to diversify our energy mix with more renewables, nuclear, and domestic oil and gas production.
[Similarly] we are dependent on only a few ways to supply water.
In California, there's the State Water Project, the Colorado River and Owens Valley for the City of Los Angeles. There needs to be increased use of water transfers, both onshore and offshore, to more efficiently redistribute existing water resources. There should be even more water recycling and desalination.
The water crisis is becoming an energy crisis for much of California. As water levels fall at Lake Mead, which is behind the Hoover Dam, the water intake pumps that supply L.A. with 40 percent of its electricity could fail.
SmartPlanet: So we've established that places need water. How would you get it there?
JB: Ocean-going tankers and barges, offshore mooring systems and sub-sea pipelines have been in use by the marine transportation industry for over 50 years, mostly for the transport of hydrocarbons. Marine transport is today the medium that carries 95 percent of global trade. Existing tankers and barges can be retrofitted and off-the-shelf mooring systems and pipelines can be used to bring water from ships to existing onshore storage facilities, like reservoirs or lakes.
Supertankers can even be retrofitted to be used for storage. They are floating reservoirs. In the not-too-distant future, the aerospace and maritime communities can work together and commercialize advanced composite materials for ship construction, materials stronger than conventional steel, but half the weight. This will revolutionalize the shipping business by making ships more fuel efficient.
Also, a return to sail via wind power, solar electricity and advanced fuels will drive energy costs down. It is cheaper to move water by sea from north to south than it is to move it on land in California because of the huge costs associated with lifting water over the mountains from northern to southern California. If fact, water is the state’s highest energy consumer.
SmartPlanet: How does water quality -- in terms of drinking water, for example -- fit into this?
JB: One-third of China’s rivers are polluted beyond current technology’s ability to clean them up. So this is water that cannot be used for agriculture or urban purposes in a nation already struggling to meet its water needs.
Over-pumping of ground water in many agricultural basins in the United States, especially California, has allowed pesticides and salt water to intrude into the local water supply. In the Silicon Valley, a super high quality of water is needed for manufacturing.
Water delivered by marine transport from B.C. or Alaska is arguably the purest water in the world. Introducing even a small percent of into San Diego’s water supply would drive down water treatment costs and save energy.
SmartPlanet: You talk of an energy crisis, but shipping water around the world doesn't seem very sustainable. How do you respond?
JB: We have a continuing energy crisis, and this has to be measured against the alternatives vis-à-vis energy consumption.
For example, the largest energy user in California is the pumps used to lift water over the mountains from northern to southern California. A better question might be how are alternatives like the status quo -- conventional mega-water projects and desalination -- sustainable, given their reliance on energy.
Comparatively, marine transportation consumes less and costs less. And this efficiency will be improved with the introduction of alternative power down the road and with the introduction of lightweight composite for vessel construction, as I previously discussed.
The water crisis has become an energy crisis in many areas. Only marine transportation has the flexibility to move water around to where it is needed. This is particularly important for humanitarian purposes.
SmartPlanet: How is this supposed to make money? Who are the clients?
JB The same way other water projects make money, by selling to the people who need it, including municipalities and other governments. There might be some private institutional buyers.
Most of the water would be for governments for the people to use for drinking water and agriculture.
SmartPlanet: Can you name your clients?
JB: I cannot, nor the shipping companies with whom we are working. However, we floated the idea to California’s second largest city (San Diego. -Ed.) some time ago and they were interested enough to include it in their long-range water supply plan.
There are others we have dealt with in the U.S. and globally.
The typical water delivery contract in California is 30 years, though some have been signed for 50 and 75 years. This gives the operator a lot of options in terms of exploring more sustainable technologies. Existing tankers are only a bridge to the future. There might be something to say about the recycling of old oil tankers for cleaner uses.
Circumstances in California and globally cry out for new solutions. So we believe the world is now poised to move forward.
Mar 23, 2011
International trade [url=http://www.boyayapidekorasyon.com]dekorasyon[/url] in water could only be supported if the consumers had something we want in [url=http://www.boyaustasi.net]boya[/url] exchange for the water they want. Most places in need of water don't create anything in surplus of their needs that we cannot get elsewhere, cheaper. In addition, water intrinsic [url=http://www.boyacibadanaustasi.com]boyaci[/url] to natural life and beauty is not surplus nor for sale.
In Malta, a parched water-poor island in the Mediterranean, one man has come up with a workable system to take sewage water and recycle it purified to drinking water standards; water conservation at new heights. It's still embryonic in some ways, but Ing Marco Cremona was a finalist on CNBC's Good Entrepreneur awards with his innovation, and it's being trialled at least in one hotel on Malta. See maltainsideout.com for more on Marco and our situation - in Malta, we've less water per capita than in countries bordering the Sahara! But sadly we've lost our Ur-alt methods of time-honoured water collection, storage and management. A good dose of local housekeeping needs to be instilled, along with innovation like Marco's for instance. Certainly, ship water, but that's still using world resources spreading them more thinly. There's more to be done first, in our own patches, Japan aside.
I 100% agree with this poster and would like to add this may delay the inevitable--re the article on the water deficit of 2050. But what we really need is a behavior change NOT movement of a finite resource. Have less people and at the same time decrease your consumption--that is how to solve the problem. Give up this fascination with more humans--we have plenty
The interviewer asked about countries (like Canada) who are hoarding water. This very biased question implies that their water should be "shared" . If not by trade, by force?? Two points : 1) I'm all for REAL humanitarianism - but this scheme is all about profits 2) As sovereign states, countries have the right to manage their own water. They are the best ones to understand how mass removal of water would affect the ecosystem, something a "smart" story would have included in it's coverage of water exports/trading. Pthhhhhp
International trade in water could only be supported if the consumers had something we want in exchange for the water they want. Most places in need of water don't create anything in surplus of their needs that we cannot get elsewhere, cheaper. In addition, water intrinsic to natural life and beauty is not surplus nor for sale.
Water is used in such large quantities that it's economically unfeasible to ship it under ordinary circumstances without technologies that Mr. Barbieri himself admits don't exist yet. Systems such as the California State Water Project are already in place. So even if ships were more energy efficient than the Aqueduct, the savings would have to justify building the ships in the 1st place.
But the oceans will rise! If it's going to melt anyway, why not get some use out of it first? Someone will complain no matter what solution, if any, is found.
They made oil and gas tradable commodities and look at what happened to the prices. They are through the roof just on speculation. The prices do not accurately reflect supply and demand. Does anyone really think the likes of George Soros will build a tanker to move water incase of a disaster? They want money. It starts off as a way to move water for emergencies then it becomes a commodity.
But the oceans will rise! How would shipping ice globally so it can be melted and eventually end up in an ocean be any different than letting it melt in place? The oceans will rise and nations will fall as the global warming crowd predicts. So now they will blame you when the ice pack shrinks.
And if the shipper of this water decides that when he has a thousand ships full of water ready for drinking....well, can we say he'll set his own price? Of course a commodity. Please, another police action on the hoarder! After all, it can KILL the economy!
To bad we can't mine and ship the miles deep Antarctic ice. Antarctic ice is fairly pure, but the environmentalist and politicians can't even agree on most of the scientific studies that are proposed for Antarctica. God forbid we actually start using it for practical use!
Reminds me of the famous Sam Kinison quote "This is sand. You know what it's gonna be 100 years from now? Sand." The solution? Either stop breeding or move to where the water is. I'm for curbing breeding. Yes for the naysayers I am already doing my share. V is for victory on the war on overpopulation.
What's the point of constantly debating "sustainability" when at the same time, we're constantly talking of subsidizing unsustainability? Other than justifying people with jobs in those industries, little really gets solved, does it?
People on this site are constantly talking about the world being over populated, but articles like this propagate the questionable decision making that has led to us artificially supporting population in parts of the world where Mother Nature says large amounts of people should not be. Take the hint people. Maybe starvation is Mother Natures means of population control. You think you are being humanitarians by sending food and water to these people, but all you are doing is condemning the world to over population. The buddle will burst and then we are all in trouble.
To follow up on the previous comment by alex4law - there is now an urgent need for uncontaminated water for use with babies and toddlers - drinks and cooking for them ie Miso soup. I just watched an orphanage desperately trying to locate bottled water without any iodine in it through the internet. The poor woman could not make an order online because there are so many worried parents trying to order safe water for their babies, clogging up the site... This man's idea is absolutely needed. Whether he can afford to keep tankers full of water waiting for the moments when urgent shortage strikes in one part of the world or another I cannot guess. But if he can work out the logistics so that it is profitable to ship water that is totally clean around the world for emergency use, that sounds like a great and timely idea. I wish he could show up next week in Japan to prove his idea.
Mr. Barbieri's innovative idea could possibly find immediate humanitarian use in bringing fresh water to Japan for drinking as well as for assisting in the cooling and replenishing of lost coolant in the damaged nuclear reactors, since bringing a ship/tanker right up close to the power plants would seem to be just a matter of harbor/mooring depth and establishing a pipeline from the ship to the shore and up to the pumping station for the power plants. The use of salt-ocean water has a deleteriously corrosive effect on electrical and hydraulic equipment, causing long-term and expensive damage to the plant structure and machinery. If the powerplants were ever to be brought back on-line, they would have to be thoroughly flushed with fresh, clean water, such as Mr. Barbieri's ships would be supplying.