Wow, that strawberry shortcake you’re eating sure is delicious. But do you know how much water it took to get those ingredients into the delicacy on your fork? You don’t?
If you pay any attention to science news – or even if you don’t, you probably know at least the basics about climate change. We associate it with the upsurge in global temperature, the rising ocean levels and the escalation of both size and prevalence of extreme weather events. That said, one of the most immediate issues that is increasingly dire is the availability of fresh water for crops, livestock, drinking and myriad other daily uses.
One new system aims to keep better track of the water delegated to each task, raising awareness of just how much water we use for everything we interact with on a day-to-day basis. Virtual Water documents the so-called water footprint generated by everything from specific items (e.g. 33 gallons of water/1 apple or 1lb of strawberries, 2060.5 gallons/1lb of chocolate, 660.4 gallons/1 cotton t-shirt) to an individual’s direct and indirect usage (the average global water footprint of an individual is 48911ft³ per year) to an entire country.
The next step in that logic is to look into the way countries with more or less available fresh water buy/sell/trade items that require more water. In other words, is a water-poor country exporting water-heavy products? If so, how can the country maximize its efficiency without sacrificing its earnings?
Meanwhile, in addition to turning off the tap while we brush our teeth, we could all stand to be more conscious of how much of the precious resource we use. There are several apps available, for instance, that will let you know the information behind what you’re buying, eating, using, and throwing out.
Also, if you want to learn more about water as a commodity and how its shortages relate to climate change, you can read this excellent entry on Climate Change Fork, written by our client, Prof. Micha Tomkiewicz.