Tuesday, November 04, 2008

The Coming Water Shortage, And We're In Denial

Conservationists at the British Nihilist Underground Society bring us another gem, this time on the coming water shortage, and why people just aren't thinking about it:


Most of us at times have had to cut back on our water use, perhaps installing a toilet that has a half-flush function, using a shower rather than bath, or throwing out water used for washing dishes into the garden, careful to avoid hitting grandma in the deckchair, when it hasn't rained in a while. But it was a shock to me when I realised how much water goes into making so many things, from food to clothes, and all objects resulting from industry. The little we conserve from our personal attempts is as insignificant to the environment as a nation turning to eco lightbulbs while building a new runway at Stanstead Airport. In other words: spitting into the wind.

It is remarkable to learn that it takes 13 litres to grow just one tomato, and 1000 litres to produce a litre of milk. 8000 litres are needed to produce a pair of leather shoes, and clothes manufacturing is particularly wasteful with one cotton t-shirt requiring 2000 litres of water (and heck knows how many thousands of litres of toxic chemicals).

Many of these products are produced in countries that suffer from worse water shortages than westerners do, so we are effectively using up their water supplies. You may dryly dismiss that as being just their problem, and not worth crying a river over, but it has implications for manufacturing in the long-term because something has got to give. Producing goods at such a price cannot continue much longer. As water's cost rises so will the cost of nearly everything else.

BNUS


People have this insane linear mindset: if I don't see it as the step immediately before what I need, it isn't necessary.

Shoes require a factory, but ultimately, our thinking is that they require $40. We assume that money, like God, transcends the need to interact with the multiple forces that create our world.

It is this mindset that explains not only our ignorance, but our arrogance, in denying that we must address these issues: we think we have in our wallets a new God which saves us from the tedium of having to address reality as a whole, so now we can only look at the good parts.

Smart. Very smart.

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