Unseen World of Water and the Water Crisis

world water supply

By Stephen Leahy

UXBRIDGE, Canada, Mar 22 2013 (IPS)

How much water does it take to turn on a light? It took 10,000 litres to make your jeans. Another three big bathtubs of water was needed for your two-eggs-toast-coffee breakfast this morning.

We are surrounded by an unseen world of water: furniture, houses, cars, roads, buildings – practically everything we use and make needs water.

“There is no way to generate energy without water,” said Zafar Adeel, co-chair of the UN-Water Task Force on Water Security and director of the Institute for Water, Environment and Health in Canada.

Even solar panels need regular washing to perform well. Wind energy might be an exception, Adeel told IPS from a water conference in Beijing being held during World Water Week.

There is growing recognition that peak oil is nowhere near as important as peak water because there is no substitute for water. The growing shortage of water — 1.2 to 1.7 billion people face scarcity — has alarmed many. Water has been identified as an “urgent security issue”, by a group that last year included both former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and the InterAction Council, an association of 37 former heads of state and government.

It’s important that “water security” be recognised by the U.N. Security Council as either as a trigger, a potential target, or a contributing factor to insecurity and potential conflict in many parts of the world, said Adeel.

Bike vs Car on a Hot Planet

Hanoi bike parade for climate action

E-cycles, bike highways and cutting government addiction to gas taxes

By Stephen Leahy

BERLIN, Jun 6, 2011 (IPS)

As global carbon emissions hit record-high levels last year, officials from leading Asian nations told the 2011 International Transport Forum in nearby Leipzig that their citizens want more cars.

At the same meeting, some Europeans urged a 21st century renaissance in bicycle transport, with electric and electric-assist bikes for personal health and the health of the climate.

“We in India need to provide more roads and rail,” said B.K. Chaturvedi, a member of India’s Planning Commission.

“Cycling is a miniscule thing. That’s not the future,” Chaturvedi told the nearly 800 attendees.

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“The bike is better to get around in Beijing, but bicycle use is dropping fast due to poor air quality and the danger from car traffic,” said Pan Haixiao, a professor at Tongji University in China.

Dar es Salaam, Tanzania's Moving Planet Cycle Caravan.

The number of cars and light trucks globally is projected to triple from the current 850 million to 2.5 billion by 2050, according to the International Transport Forum’s (ITF) Transport Outlook 2011. That growth is projected to be almost entirely in the developing world.

Richer countries are actually reducing the personal vehicle use in the last few years.

The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development’s ITF is an intergovernmental organisation for the transport sector involving 52 different nations.

Transport is the second leading source of carbon dioxide emissions, contributing about 7.5 gigatonnes to the 30.6 gigatonnes (Gt) emitted in total in 2010. The International Energy Agency (IEA) reported last week that humanity cannot exceed annual emissions of 32.0 Gt or it will be impossible to achieve the internationally-agreed target of below two degrees C of global warming to avoid very dangerous levels of global warming.  Continue reading