Why care about your water footprint?
© “Your water footprint” by Stephen Leahy. Groundwater comes from aquifers that take thousands of years to fill. Globally, aquifers are being drained faster than then can refill.
We learn in elementary school that water is in a constant cycle of evaporation and precipitation, making our crops grow and flowing from rivers into oceans. While the amount of water on Earth remains fairly stable, its distribution around the globe is changing, and this change is being accelerated by human activities.
A new book, “Your Water Footprint,” by environmental reporter Stephen Leahy, takes a close look at the “virtual water” that surrounds us in everyday life. This isn’t just the water we use to boil pasta or take a shower, it’s the water that’s used to grow our coffee beans and power the local energy plant. As the demand for this kind of water increases, the more threatened our access to fresh water becomes. At the same time, pollution makes vast amounts of water unusable.
I had the opportunity to catch up with Leahy over Skype.
TreeHugger: What were your goals for writing this book?
Stephen Leahy: To help people understand this other aspect of water that we use, that we don’t see. This virtual water concept: the water it takes to make things, the water it takes to grow our food, to make our products, to make our clothing. This is that unseen water that we don’t think about, and because we don’t see it, we’re not really aware of it.
It’s an enormous amount of water that we end up consuming every day without realizing it.