Tuesday, 2 June 2009

The future history water #1

I took a shine to this graphic.  However, it is from the USA.
Can anyone point me, please, to an Aussie version?

That good friend of The Network, Yellow, has directed me to these two pieces on our Water Footprint.

I don't know what it is or why it is but water does not seem to be mobilising the populace in quite the same way as climate change does.  "Carbon footprint" seems to trip off many tongues and yet, while the water footprint concept has been around for a while, it doesn't get much of a mention.  There are occasional allusions to the fact that there will be decisions about more efficient uses of water. However, because of the people who talk about this, I am sc ared stiff.

I tell the story of a farmer who lived near me when I lived just north of Townsville.  The farmer grew pawpaws for export to Paris.  Then last year on 4 Corners there were the old codgers of Italian origin in North Queensland who were growing pumpkins and felt squeezed by Woolworths who were paying them 29 cents a kilo.  

I use these stories to make a contrast because eventually I wonder if someone will decide that the farmer who was most efficient and putting his water pumped out of an apparently dry river to best use was the pawpaw exporter.  And if my suspicion is borne out in reality, what does that mean?  It means that Australian water is used for Parisian food that Australians won't eat unless they have travelled to France.  Pumpkin might not be readily available to produce the roast beef and three veg which so many Australians still reverence as a national cuisine.  What will be our diet?  What will we serve when the family comes to visit?  What will be on the table for Christmas dinner?

The AFN article speaks of rationing.  I guess what I talk about in the previous paragraph could be called rationing.  But rationing could mean something even more scary.  It could mean that bureaucrats will be deciding, planning our diet - working out caloric intake and water content so that they can get sufficient energy out of the workforce with a minimum of water input.  I don't think Aldous Huxley examined this prospect nor did George Orwell.

In case you thinks this sounds a bit over the odds, it's not.  Water is at the centre of our lives, our spirituality, the rituals of our daily lives like bathing, washing and sanitation.  We have given water into the hands of profiteers.  As a community, we have little say in water any more.  The Victorian government looks set to announce the successful bidder for a desalination plant which will mean that a significant proportion of Victorian water will not be in Australian control.  Victorian water will be in the hands of French companies whose reported track records on human rights across the world is poor.  And that water will be expensive.  The production of that water will impact the marine life - whales, dolpins, penguins to name a few of the species - of our ocean because it leaves a trail of pollution and desertified ocean behind it.  

What is happening to our water is the deprivation of our sustenance.  
Below is food for thought.  
What is a necessity in your life?  Beer? Milk? Leather shoes? A meal at McDonald's?

Product
Virtual water content (litres) 
 1 glass of beer (250 ml)
 75
 
 1 glass of milk (200 ml)
200
 
 1 cup of coffee (125 ml)
140
 
 1 cup of tea (250 ml)
35
 
 1 slice of bread (30g)
40
 
 1 slice of bread (30g) with cheese (10 g)
90
 
 1 potato (100 g)
25
 
 1 apple (100 g)
70
 
 1 cotton T-shirt (250 g)
2000
 
 1 sheet of A4 paper (80 gsm)
10
 
 1 glass of wine (125 ml)
120
 
 1 glass of apple juice (200 ml)
190
 
 1 glass of orange juice (200 ml) 
170
 
 1 bag of potato crisps (200 g)
185
 
 1 egg (40 g)
135
 
 1 hamburger (150 g)
2400
 
 1 tomato (70 g)
13
 
 1 orange (100 g)
50
 
 1 pair of shoes (bovine leather)
8000
 
 1 microchip (2 g)
32
 

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