By Andrew Nusca
Posting in Cities
Susan Leal, author of "Running Out of Water," explains why we're in the midst of a global water crisis, what we can do about it and why the U.S. needs a cabinet-level position for water.
If you're sitting near an ocean, lake, river or stream, you may not believe it to be true. Surely, if it hasn't impacted your morning shower, daily cup of coffee and weekly load of laundry, how could it?
Rest assured, the world's supply of drinkable freshwater is depleting -- fast. Why? What's happening, and where? Why? And for Pete's sake, what can we do about it?
Susan Leal has an answer. The former general manager of San Francisco's Public Utilities Commission, Leal was part of the group that facilitated an upgrade of the Bay Area's unsafe water system and San Francisco's outdated wastewater system.
Now, she's pounding the pavement to sound the alarm that it's time for cities and states to get real about H2O -- before it's too late.
That's why Leal co-authored a book with Harvard professor Peter Rogers called Running Out of Water: The Looming Crisis and Solutions to Conserve Our Most Precious Resource.
I spoke with her last month about the global water crisis, what can be done and the hurdles involved. Plus, Leal's argument for a cabinet-level position for water.
SmartPlanet: Why did you feel compelled to write this book?
We've had the same amount of water on our planet since the beginning of time. Even though 70 percent of the globe is covered in water, less than 1 percent is accessible to us.
But now there is 6.7 billion people using that water. We're on track to be up to 8 billion people in 15 years. With our current population, there is already water stress.
At least 30 states have had some type of water stress: in supply, or disposal....and then you add into that climate change, which on the West Coast is decreasing supply and on the East Coast is posing problems -- storms overwhelm wastewater systems, for example.
It's not just the amount of water you have, it's what you do with the water you do have, and how you dispose of it.
You have to think about the fact that there is no substitute for water. There are substitutes for energy and oil, whether it's for basic hygeine or in the food we eat.
It comes with affluence. Eight ounces of beef is 630 gallons of water. And the U.S. uses twice as much as anybody else. Everything we use has some part of water in it.
We wanted to put this book into everyday terms so that people would get it, and we felt we should and could scare them. But we didn't want doom and gloom, because people get excited and then they say "Oh, there's nothing I can do." We wanted to celebrate and highlight smarter use of water.
Where people come to the point of, "Oh hey, I hadn't thought of that."
SmartPlanet: Who uses the most water?
SL: Globally, agriculture is about 70 percent. In the U.S., it's about 50 percent -- closer to 60 percent.
When you go to that [concept of] "I hadn't thought of that" -- smarter use -- we're writing about the technologies available. The technology is there. We write about cases that people should and could replicate solutions.
It is very easy to have a 10 percent improvement to water use in agriculture. There are fairly low cost innovations using available technology that can have a significant improvement.
Unfortunately, it's business as usual. People don't get it until the water is gone. How we dispose of water will have a direct impact on our future supplies of water, the food we eat and our environment.
For every drop we use, we have to dispose of water. And often we pollute. With the exception of San Francisco, Boston and New York, almost all water is coming from a supply that's been used before. Take the Great Lakes -- wastewater goes back into the lakes eventually. It's sort of indirect recycling.
In Cape Cod, there are several towns, Barnstable, Salem, Orleans, who delayed on installing water treatment plants and relied on outdated and overwhelmed septic systems. The result was that surrounding ponds and bays were contaminated. We basically poisoned ourselves. And some areas are used by shellfishing.
It's the same amount of water [on Earth] since the beginning of time.
SmartPlanet: How do you create the leverage necessary to spur action?
SL: Without some incentives, people don't stop business-as-usual.
For example, one case we write about in Nebraska. The farmers came to a smarter use of water -- the large aquifer that runs from the Midwest to Texas -- and they made better use [decisions] when energy prices spiked. They just kept pumping down [into the ground for water], more than was recharged by nature by rain.
Because they pumped lower and lower, it took more energy -- diesel for their pumps, whatever they used -- and that caused the light to go on for a few farmers to say "Gee, there are gadgets and devices I could use that would increase my productivity and markedly decrease my water use." They thought "Oh, I don't need to do that, to pump all that water."
That, to me, is the tough one: how do you get people to do that? How do you get people to flip that lever? Does that come from people speaking out about it? Maybe you need people to start coming up with a political will. Maybe you need more business leaders and captains of industry to say, "Gee, we're not making sense here." IBM has started discussions about this. There has to be some sort of incentive.
In Australia, the government said, "We will let you buy and sell water." Trading it is what saved them -- putting a monetary value on water. When you're able to properly value it...you're not going to just grow rice and flood the fields.
SmartPlanet: Captains of industry are calling for a price on carbon. Do we need a price on water?
SL: Yes, but you need to walk a very fine line, because if you raise it too high, the price of food will go up.
Food is still relatively cheap, and we want food to stay relatively cheap. If you really drive the price of water up...yes, you need to put a value on water, and there needs to be a price, but you have to be careful of driving up the cost of other goods.
For example, right now, you pay much less for water than your cable or cell phone or anything else -- yet it's the most essential. In Cape Cod, people didn't want to pay for a wastewater treatment plant. "Not in my backyard."
In Boston, that whole thing with the Boston Harbor was because they didn't make the improvements when they were supposed to when the Clean Water Act was passed 40 years ago, and then had to do it all at once in a short time without federal dollars, on their own ratepayers' nickel.
The result was the cost went up and the water use went down. It was this classic Econ 1A chart.
It needs to be a consciousness-raising. I know that sounds very '60s, but what we found is that where you have public involvement and your consumers, when those people were educated and involved, you could do almost anything. You could raise rates, people to accept things, contribute sweat equity -- and they're feeling good about it. Where you had public engagement, public involvement, the ball can be moved down the field.
Everybody's getting signals, but they're not connecting the dots. For people who have wells, they know they have to go deeper to get water. They're seeing it all over this country. We have a Secretary of Energy [Steven Chu --Ed.], but we don't have some high level position dealing with water, and water is a much more significant crisis.
The [American] West is in the grip of a really serious water crisis. But we're in la-la land.
SmartPlanet: How do you mobilize corporate leaders whose own products are impacted?
SL: Right now, some of these groups are coming together, but there has to be more of a connection between them. A lot of tech industry companies are coming up with different devices and things to solve the crisis. But they're all talking to each other.
How do we move this from talking to each other to actually talking to the broader public and some of the policy leaders to start policy change?
You need to connect the dots. You have to somehow get that farmer to connect with that person who says "Gosh, we use all this food and waste all this food and that's a lot of water wasted."
I don't even think it needs to be a tax. If you said to farmers, "I have a way for you to be more productive and use less water." That's where you need an economic incentive.
Water's still money. Even if it's cheap, it's still money. And it's not going to get cheaper.
You look at the GAO reports, and every year we fall short $20 billion in water and waste infrastructure that we're not making back. These things pile up.
SmartPlanet: Do you need to let it get bad to get people to take action?
SL: That's why we elect people. They should be pushing us. We're on a collision course. This is a crisis.
When that BP [Gulf of Mexico oil spill] disaster happened -- arguably the worst environmental and economic disaster that's happened in awhile -- one of the symbols of that were the "Beach Closed" signs all the way down the coast.
At the same time, there were "Beach Closed" signs all over this country -- in Rhode Island, New Jersey, the Great Lakes, California -- mainly because we were poisoning ourselves with wastewater.
We haven't kept pace with the infrastructure. The result is, both urban and rural, that you get to that point when it gets really bad and someone gets sick and people say, "Oh, I guess we have a problem."
This is a national problem.
This EPA is, as I understand it, much more aggressive in making sure the Clean Water Act is met. But there's no way of knowing that those "Beach Closed" signs all over the country are from polluted water, pharmaceuticals and water.
But it's there, and we're actually getting worse. It may take business leaders, because I don't see a high-level policy focus on water, even though there is no substitute.
Every company is using lots of water. It's still money. They're concerned about cost and about availability. That's tourism. That's food.
Companies that are producing waste...take the largest chicken producer in California. They actually found a way to hook up with a water utility and turn that waste into energy. There are 150-some anaerobic digesters in California that could do that. Gee, why didn't I think of that?
SmartPlanet: Is that what it takes? Just letting it work its way through industry?
SL: But we don't have a lot of time.
Water security to me is more important than energy security. Where the public gets tuned in, they are extremely great advocates. And if you give people a way to solve it, they'll solve it.
Oct 26, 2010
Unexpected work you people do with this webpage. http://www.progait.co.uk/gait-analysis
Let's contrast water to oil: Water is abundant and easily found - Oil is much more scarce and underground Water recycles itself - oil is non-renewable and destroyed by using it. We've been running out of oil for 150 years - we just started running out of water We are dependent on foreign sources of oil - we are water independent ... and yet, we still have plenty of oil. Fresh water is constantly created in vast amounts evaporating off the oceans and raining back to earth - it's a relatively straight forward distribution issue, not a resource issue. If we're running out of one of the most abundant substances on the planet there can be only one explanation - the government is in charge of providing it.
I say take to problems and make a solution....,, Problem 1 the West is drying up Problem 2 we are having flooding issues to the east (EVERY YEAR) solution The Obama Cannal, water control for the flooding , water for the west, jobs created for the unemployed...
We should really start spreading out the message to not just leave this issue for future generations but to start making a change from the very start. I think that overpopulation is really affecting the planet and we should really start taking that in consideration, the rule of having one kid like they do in China should be all around the world and each child should be able to be aware the problems about our world. Our world isn't perfect but we don't have to destroy it, we should take care of our Earth. We should start saving water and being responsible for our planet. The people should come together and work together and not leave all the work for other people, we should all work together to avoid this issue. If the world works together, which I hope that it will be accomplished, then the world will finally be over of all these problems that spread out fear to peoples' minds. This problem is very scary so I am trying my best to solve this, I am a really big tree hugger and I am proud of it... even if people look at me weird I always spread out the message that it's not something that doesn't matter. And I've got people to actually take care of these issues. I take care of my home, my home is Earth and I love my home. And I am sure that if more people start taking care of the problem every will get better. I can assure people that. Peace and blessings to everyone.
Too many people and not just India and China. Humans need to reduce their reproductive rate and use proper conservation techniques. It is not and/or situation it is an and situation. In other words stop all this in vitro fertilization, restrictions on abortion, etc. I hate to say it, but some us are sterile in order to help the natural control of growth. Next time you think about having more than one child--adopt or think again.
I read a report a number of years ago by the Worldwatch Institute about the coming water crisis. Among the points I recall are (a) China currently uses more water than falls on the country, which is obviously unsustainable even with massive dams, (b) the Ogalala aquifer that runs under the great plains is being pumped out faster than it can recharge (as noted above), what is not noted, is that the land is subsiding along with the deficit - the aquifer is like a sponge filled with water, as you remove the water, the pressure from the land above compresses it. The result is that it can never recharge to the level it once contained, (c) that trade in wheat and beef are essentially trades in water - a country that does not have enough water to produce either can import the water in the form of its end product, and (d) that if it is not addressed, water could potentially spark wars just as it has caused conflicts in the west.
Next thing these libtards are going to want is to charge you for the oxygen you breath ... Oh no, we've got a global oxygen deprivation crisis!!
Overpopulation is just the scare tactic that world leaders are using to try and keep more for themselves. There is no "capacity" for this planet, and our limited life spans greatly limit our reproduction rate, no matter how frisky we all get. If you're so worried about those who have less than you, give them what you have. We have excess of everything in the United States while others in the world have next to nothing. That is not overpopulation speaking. It is actually the result of greed. On the other hand, I find it interesting that this entire article failed to outline how the corporations that are stealing and bottling water are contributing to the problem. They're taking water from this community and sending it across the nation, or across the globe. Moving it around is making water more and more difficult to access for certain areas. All the while they have nearly everyone convinced that the bottled water is somehow more pure than tap water, even though there hasn't been any positive difference. Nevermind the toxic chemicals that are in the plastic. Agriculture may play a large part, but so does this. This study stinks of bias.
Dukalion, I have no children. Overpopulation is NOT the problem. There is no problem. Tell the settlers moving west across the U.S. 100-200 years ago that there were no water shortage problems...
This is the next "global warming" scam. In 1952, Isaac Asimov wrote "The Martian Way" about a politician named Hilder who created an hysteria about Earth losing its precious water supply in order to rise to power. There are one and a quarter quintillion tons of water on the planet. One percent of that is 12.5 quadrillion tons of water. There are 6.8 billion people on the planet. That's roughly 2 million tons of *useable* water per person. And water recycles. We have virtually limitless energy for converting seawater to potable water coming from the sun; throw up some solar power satellites and use them to power desalinization plants. Or build some nuke plants to do so. L.A., in a scrub desert, needs water? Haul some icebergs into the harbor(s). I would guess that you are a progressive, Leal. What gives it away is your presumption that "SL: That?s why we elect people. They should be pushing us. We?re on a collision course. This is a crisis." Sorry, but that's not how things work in the U.S. The government is NOT our parent and has no business trying to steer us in the direction some wolf-criers want us to go. There's a lot of water on Earth. Making it potable and transporting it to where it is needed to me doesn't sound like a crisis, it sounds like a business opportunity. If there really is a shortage anywhere, some clever guy is going to figure out how to make a buck off of desalinating it and getting it there... provided some idiot bureaucrat doesn't get in the way. Man isn't the only thing that consumes water on this planet. Plants consume lots of water, animals consume lots of water. The fact that there are 6.8 billion humans rather than the equivalent in plant and animal life doesn't increase the consumption of water. Unfortunately, 3 generations of kids have been indoctrinated in this nonsense rather than educated, so that they'll swallow this bunk without question: it's an article of faith among the Earth Worshippers (like Leal) that Man is bad, Man is harmful, Man is unnatural. And that religious doctrine has been imposed upon countless school children over recent decades. This is not about ecology or conservation. This is another assault on capitalism. Her answer is an authoritarian socialist answer. If the environment is so fragile, and the crisis is so imminent, why are people like Leal not proposing a crash space program, to move industries into orbit, to design and build tankers to haul petrochemicals in from Titan, to begin Terraforming operations on Mars and Venus? Sure it will take a lot of resources and time, but if the survival of Mankind, and perhaps life itself is at stake, isn't it the moral imperative to ensure that, if that evil monster Man does manage to destroy the environment, life can survive elsewhere? No, this is not about big issues like the survival and advancement of Mankind. This is about combating capitalism and turning the world into an authoritarian socialist state, run, of course, by the Big Brains like Leal. Leal, do Mankind a favor and shut up.
Thanks for this post, Andrew! This is such and important issue, I am glad that it is getting more visibility. It is great to hear from from your readers that so many people are engaged by this subject. The solutions are available to avoid this impending crisis. What we need now is action! Thanks again! Susan Leal Senior Fellow, Harvard University Author, Running Out of Water http://www.SusanLeal.com
Oh! Boy. Another CHRISI!! Don't worry. The water vapor put out by the Democrats will soon condense and we'll have all the water we need! Now, to get a dose of reality. The 70's; Oil is finite and we will be out of oil in 20 years. The 80's; Oil is finite and we will be out in 20 years. The 90's; Oil is running out and we will be out in 20 years. And NOW; Oils is running out and we will be out in 20 years. Gees, new OIL is found everyday. New deposits of useful materials is FOUND every DAY! I cannot believe, you people, the one's who assuage us with this type of Scaremongering and arrogance you use to make your points. Do you REALLY think that you know how much water is on/in the earth? LOLOLOLOLOL> Is there nothing in your lives but CRISIS? Go home talk with your families and profess your Love for each other. Man is nowhere near the BRINK! (Please, don't give me that the EASY WATER is being used up!) To those that are professing the over population "CRISIS", realize this. The world is about Living comfortably. At least for most of us. Profess how too many people will destroy the earth? Have we NOT come all this way in history? Have we NOT bettered our Environment? Are we NOT healthier? Are we NOT living longer? China's one child policy has done a great injustice for itself. THEY decided that there were too many people being born. NOW after 40 years or so, they realize, like us, that there are NOT enough YOUNG to keep the economy viable. Not enough workers to replace the OLDER outgoing generation. The Same for EUROPE. OH, yeah! It's a CRISIS! The most overused word in our modern frustration.
I agree wth over-population being the real issue... real problem is that the only ones willing to do self-controlled population growth are usually the intelligent ones. We continue to support the growth of populations of people that are unwilling to help themselves
Stop subsidizing it. Most of our resource allocation problems are the result of subsidies. When I first started researching this issue 25 years ago, farmers in California were growing rice in the desert! Probably 98% of it was lost to evaporation. Why? Because water was so cheap to them that it didn't matter how wastefully it was deployed.
It seems to me that a real disaster will occur when the aquifers run dry and energy is too dear for desalination. How can aquifer water ever be replaced?
no, the article never said water gets used up. The article did say that clean water that is where it is needed is limited. The gallons that are "used" in making a pound of beef, are turned into wastewater and water vapor. Much of the water vapor falls into the ocean, the waste tends to pollute other fresh water. Desalination will be the ultimate solution to having unlimited fresh water, but currently it is hugely expensive. It takes so much energy to remove the salt from seawater it's hard to believe. The most efficient ways, involve prefiltering, then forcing the water through expensive reverse osmosis filters at hundreds of psi. It takes a lot of electricity to get that pressure, and a byproduct is the high salt brine that then has to be diluted with more salt water, and pumped out into the ocean to a distance that it will not have a noticeable effect on wildlife. If fusion power is ever developed on a scale that has been promised for many years, the issue will be over, along with the energy problems etc. The problem is it seems to always be X years in the future, where X never gets smaller.
Lots of talk about "we" can do this and "we" can do that. No, "we" can't, because "we" people in the developed countries who have money give it to the poor starving masses in the less developed countries, which is a "nice" thing to do, but there's a catch-22. Among the world's billion-plus-in-population-and-growing-astronomically-Islamic-culture/religion/law-countries, "our" foreign aid goes to governments who pay their families to have AS MANY CHILDREN AS POSSIBLE. Demographics overrules democracies. So cheap immigrant labor is sent to democratic countries who use the BC pill because those countries on the pill can't function with just their own population. Our social security payments will be paid by future foreign immigrants who may turn around and abolish soc sec for non-Moslems, democratically of course. Sharia law for all is the agenda of Islam and all Moslems have no right to question it once it is in power, and at this (birth)rate it will be.
The population explosion is a big problem, but this idea of water being 'used' is an outright lie. It seems to me that those people behind this idea want to get everyone, not just bought into, but actively seeking for a price to be put on water, the same way we are now going to face taxes on carbon. There is no good reason to tax carbon, we all already pay a high price for our energy use, but that's life - isn't it? The only water that can be classed as 'used', is the water we have shot into space. Apart from that the water is still here. Perhaps the next book will be titled 'Running Out of Air'? If it is I want royalties.
OMG! Everything is a global crisis! I'm so glad I don't have to live under the constant stress caused by yet another arrogant delusion. Doolittle, you're the chief idiot. Start living in reality and check the facts.
First off, water has always been a critical issue for all living things. Without it, stuff dies, plain and simple. We DON'T need another cabinet member or organization to deal with water. We already have programs/rules/laws in place and if they are not working, fix that rather than adding another broken cog to the wheel. Through natural availability and technology, those of us in 1st and 2nd world nations typically have access to useable water sources and outside of disasters, spikes in the prices of certain agricultural products due to drought, or not being able to keep our yards green because of local laws, we rarely face noticeable shortages in our day to day lives. So yes, based on that, there is a lack of public awareness when it comes to the long term availability of that water. Make sure to add water awareness in the school curriculum. Educate our youth to how much water they use, what a water table is, and the estimated levels of those water tables. Expose them to sustainability projects like those of Pepsi Co. Basically get them involved and you'll start to see change. Absolutely agree that lack of investment in infrastructure is one of the biggest issues we have. Elected leaders would rather have their name on a park than a new sewage facility. Infrastructure has largely been ignored for the past half a century in the U.S. and that is now biting us in the butt. People need to demand that their local government concentrate on those less glamorous but more important endeavors, that they were established to take care of in the first place. I live in Hawaii and we're a prime example of these issues. We are surrounded by sun, water, and wind, but we are dealing with water and energy shortages, not to mention excessive costs for those resources, but instead of stronger solar incentives, desalinization plants, or large wind and water turbine farms, we are going to build a multibillion dollar commuter train. As for the ZPG proponents, if you don't like kids, don't have any. If you want to hand out condoms, please put your money where your mouth is and do so. Reproduction is natural and needed and I feel saddened that your lives have been so tainted that you wish to take the most fundamental aspect of humanity away from others. Anyhow, industrialized nations aren't able to maintain their populations as is, so we don't need a Chinese one child policy. The problem lies more in the welfare state of the entire world. We tend to want to help our fellow humans by giving them the basic resources that allow for life, such as food and water, which then promotes population growth in areas that already cannot sustain that level of life. In industrialized nations, welfare is creating new and larger generations of welfare recipients that are displacing the more affluent portions of the population. There needs to be a refocusing of our efforts through education and enabling people to be self reliant. A recent example is rather than sending mosquito nets to Malaria infested countries, charities are helping those impacted establish that industry within their own nations. That in turn creates jobs, better education, less reliance on large families, etc. That will lead to smarter usage of resources such as water. Bit off topic here, but maximum supportable population keeps coming up in this forum. As for what population the world could sustain, based off of currently available technology (assuming it was evenly distributed around the world and fully incorporated), I would be willing to surmise that the Earth could support three to four times more people than we have now with a quality of life that second world countries currently have. Not saying it would be pretty, or that I would want a world covered in human hives, but it is in the realm of possibilities. Sorry that was all over the place, but I was trying to cover the broad responses that I was reading above. Anyhow, these are just my opinions and my intention isn't to anger anyone else on here but to further discussion of what I think we believe are important issues.
Ok, I do have a disagreement with her stating that "It?s the same amount of water [on Earth] since the beginning of time." While every drop of water on earth has been through an animal or plant via the biosphere recycling it (yes, both salt and fresh water as where do you think the fresh water ends up at eventually?? The Oceans of course). There is a continuous amount of water being brought into the atmosphere by comet dust/out gassing that the earth travels through and other items from space such as meteorites coming into the atmosphere. While it is minuscule, it does count toward the overall water being added to our planet.
It rains plenty in the ocean, what a waste of fresh water. Put a large, many square miles, tarp over the ocean with flotation around the edges. Catch rain water and pump it into tankers for on shore use. It would be easy to catch billions of gallons of fresh water on the oceans from storm water.
Overcrowding IS the problem. There were no problems with water availability 200 years ago. Anyone who claims overcrowding is not the problem probably have 4-5 children of their own. Shame on You for making the world uninhabitable for others. The "one child" policy of China is something all countries should follow. "Free condoms for everyone" could be another. We can cut down the earths population by 50% in fifty years if we want to. Or we can complain about "EPA regulations" and die of thirst.
Overcrowding is not the problem. In fact population models illustrate a huge disparity between the elderly on Social Security and young workers who feed the system. And lack of resource is not the problem. It is more like the lack of access and availability of the resource. The problem lies in EPA regulations. For over a decade our City has been attempting to get approval from the State Division of Water and the Army Corps of Engineers to expand the local water reservoir. At every hoop and turn they have shut down our project and we do not know where to turn. This time it is because of 'bug larvae' at the downstream.
I hope the book is better written than this article. The grammar and content were so atrocious and convoluted I had trouble following what she had to say. It seems to me all she is doing is crying the sky is falling. How about some research and discussion on effective and long term solutions. Don't bore me old had descriptions of chicken farms recycling waste. The big corporate farms figured this out years ago. Tha't why there is cheap food! Vertical integration in the industry has change livestock farming forever. It occurs to me that if everyone believes Al Gore's contention that the ocean is rising, than we need to channel the water inland, and de-salinate it. John Childress, Linden, In.
I'm all for recycling water. What I don't understand is why she allowed the water supply in San Francisco to be fluoridated??? Why add chemicals that are NOT NECESSARY!! Hydroelectric projects adds water storage which would allow better management for ourselves AND nature. What happens to fish when a long drought takes away their habitat by drastically raising temps of the smaller flow?? Lotsa dead fish.
Leal mentioned agriculture as a major user of water. While it's true, agriculture is among the most efficient users of water. Because water is so scarce, and yet such a big part of agricultural production, farmers in the US learned decades ago how to minimize its use. The one way agriculture can greatly reduce its water use is by not producing meat. And because the world population growth will increase by about 50% by 2050, that's the only way we will be able to feed them all. Instead of feeding four pounds of grain to produce one pound of meat, we will need to use that four pounds of grain to feed four people, and that will decrease overall water use by agriculture significantly. But even in the US get used to having meat only two or three times a week. Also, there's no way the world can survive unless we come up with much cheaper energy. Wind and solar won't cut it without some new major technological improvement. Probably it will take developing fusion. So if we survive, we will have cheap enough energy to make desalination economically feasible.
Overcrowding is not the problem. In fact population models illustrate a huge disparity between the elderly on Social Security and young workers who feed the system. And lack of resource is not the problem. It is more like the lack of access and availability of the resource. Specifically, our problem lies in EPA regulations. For over a decade our City has been attempting to get approval from the State Division of Water and the Army Corps of Engineers to expand the local water reservoir. At every hoop and turn they have shut down our project and we do not know where to turn. This time it is because of 'bug larvae' at the downstream.
What a load of errors. Just where are San Francisco, Boston and New York getting this water that hasn't been used before anyway? Soda straws to nearby comets? While beef production does indeed "use" water, that water doesn't go away. Tree's "use" water too and so do the oceans, if you look at it that way. Anyone want to reduce the number of trees or oceans? But the water is still there for reuse. Yes, it may need some energy and effort to reuse that water but it doesn't go away, it is still useful. And iIt may fall on your roof tomorrow for free. If the government allows you to use it, (sorry Colorado you can't). We are running short of CHEAP, clean water, yes. But that is much different from the alarmist tone and misleading message given here. Reading the other posts, is anyone in favor of humans anymore? Lots of humans mean lots of smart humans, who make stuff that make life a lot more comfortable, and healthy. Who wants to reduce inovation that comes from future smart humans? All these folks who complain about overpopulation are still eating food and using energy, they just don't want others to have those same blessings. I've been and worked on water projects in developing countries, so I know there are costs to getting clean water. But it is worth it.
California has several different industries that need lots of water. The farms call for more available water and when they get it the rivers don't have enough water for salmon to breed. I heard that a lot of the big farms get a quota of water for their crops. The problem with the quota system is that if the farmer does not use all the water in his quota then his next year's quota is reduced. The suggestion was to make the quota system more flexible so that the farmers could cut back on water use without being forced to have a smaller quota the next year. The unused farm water would be redirected to the breeding streams for salmon. This is a simplified version of the water usage but it shows the politics as well as the lack of incentives.
The horny human animal is on a self-destruct course that today is irreversible. We will not get to 8 billion as we are already underfeeding around 1.1 billion of these very dumb animals. In the book "True Freedom - The Road to the First Real Democracy" the new approach necessary to deal with the horny human animal is laid out and unfortunately even if this is followed it is going to be very difficult for the human animal to seemingly move into a better world for some time. We on all on a course of overconsumption of that which is needed for us to survive, at least when dealing with the better life styles most of us are now experiencing and there is little doubt that Mother Nature is going to come calling soon. She has put the writing on the wall of the Planet Earth itself but we being such a poorly educated animal seem to think that Her competitors, you know all of those other gods which are supposedly out there somewhere, will be the real winners and they will come back to save us. However, based upon human history none of these gods have ever appeared to deal with the very basic animal instincts which have driven us to overproduce that which will most likely kill us off sooner. And you thought that another comet would be the next thing to once again reorganize that which is known as life on this planet.
A huge problem with all population reduction schemes is that everyone wants OTHER people to reduce THEIR population. You can't keep cheaters from benefiting at everyone else's expense unless you've got a despotic government willing to engage in forced abortions and forced sterilization. You have to see famines, epidemics, wars, and disasters as wonderful opportunities to cull the herd. And, let's face it, the human race would be better off in the long term if some people weren't allowed to breed at all. Genetically, we're not all created equal. These are issues that ZPG proponents need to address, and not just at the surface level.
The point is clear that water is a major issue. However, this interview was terrible! Does the interviewee really speak that way? Her responses were very poorly composed, as though she was highly distracted. If she communicates that way all the time, she may not get the reception she's looking for. I hope the book does a more clear job of conveying the message.
Much of the problem is people living in areas where they've got no business being. And that's not just with water. Large cities or farms in deserts, relying on aquifers. Cities built below sea level, in known hurricane areas. Housing developments built on flood plains, on barrier islands, on steep hills, etc. Governments need to stop subsidizing bad risks.
There are no such independent events as pollution, water shortage, over fishing, mass extinction. They are the consequences of over breeding. All we do when we reduce consumption is make it lower the cost of people elsewhere (and who often despise us) to breed beyond the planet's productive capacity. It looks by the numbers that 1B is a very nice and tidy number of human beings for a planet this size. It looks like 8 or 12 Billion means that cities are destined to become vast urban slums - large ghettos of corruption poverty, disease, and lawlessness. And there is no evidence to the contrary. Jarred Diamond is wrong. The reason civilizations die, is because they breed beyond the environment's capacity, not because people destroy the environment. Mathus wasn't entirely incorrect. We can overpopulate and starve the world quite easily even if technology has given us a temporary respite from the vicissitudes of nature. The problem is over breeding. If there is a place for government, that place is mandating one-woman-one-child policy.
(a) China currently uses more water than falls on the country, which is obviously unsustainable even with massive dams. Wrong. You would have to take into account the rate at which water is cycled through it's use - farming takes all year, but a shower sends the water right back - you can take 365, 50 gallon showers in a year without reducing the availability of water on drop. Plus - the water that falls back onto China is not the same water that was used the previous year - it is part of a global cycle of ocean evaporation and raining back to earth. Unless you are worried about lowering the level of the oceans, your analysis is badly flawed.