Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Science, Meet Logic

Everybody is talking about “Carbon Footprints.” The idea is: how much carbon are you creating and emitting into the atmosphere destroying the Earth as we know it. It has created a whole new brand of snake-oil salesmen promising to produce less carbon so people can continue to live guilt free for a fee.

Well, now there is a new footprint for everyone to worry about. However, in this case it is not what you produce, but what you use that you can worry about. Say hello to the “Water Footprint.” It is not just about how many liters of water you personally use. That is not guilt inducing enough. For example, did you know that it takes 8000 liters of water to produce one pound of Beef? The Us produced 28.1 billion pounds of beef in 2007. That is too many liters of water to even conceive of. That doesn’t include all the water used to produce all the other food we consume.

Why have we not run out of water yet? Two words: Water Cycle. Remember 4th grade science? Water is a renewable resource.

Logically though, how does conserving water in areas where water is over abundant make sense? Does using less water in Florida help farmers in West Texas? More energy needs to be spent in developing technologies to recover and increase supplies of fresh water than forcing everyone everywhere to reduce some water footprint. (Ever noticed how successful the government scheme of forcing everyone to use low flow toilets has been? How does flushing a smaller tanked toilet multiple times every use save water over one flush of the real deal?)

The lesson learned with Water Footprints is this: don’t sweat the water you use for washing and drinking. It doesn’t compare to what you use indirectly!

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