Thursday, December 03, 2009

Water, energy and the environment

Water and energy. 2 high profile environmental issues. Both are very important to the proper functioning of society. Yet we seldom link one with the other. In many discussions on climate change, energy alone always steals the limelight since its generation invariably produces CO2, a major greenhouse gas. Has it ever occurred to you that water and energy are more intricately linked to the environment than you think?

I came across this thought provoking article from a Wayne Patterson of Atreides Capital posted in the Water Forum. It is reproduced here in its complete form. It is slightly lengthy so make sure you have some spare time before opening it up, say during working hours. Link

To spare you the agony of going through the full article (or perhaps to entice you to complete reading it), here are its highlights.

  1. Generation of energy requires water. Transportation, treatment, disposal of water requires energy
  2. Lack of energy means no cars, no computers, no internet, no factories. Lack of water means death.
  3. Fossil fuels are finite and so is water yet few people talk about water running out.
  4. (Best of all) In the race to mitigate the effects of climate change caused by the use of fossil fuels, much R&D, resources and brain power are focused on alternative forms of energy. Another consequence is the world's fixation on carbon footprint and carbon credits. But have you wondered about the water costs of alternative forms of energy? For example, solar panels and biofuels require vast amounts of water to produce, outpacing the water requirements of traditional power plants (which by the way are already water hogs). Perhaps we should come up with water footprint and water credits to reflect the true costs of different human activities and technologies.

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