We warned you some time ago. Now, there’s some alarming news about the imminent water wars:
Dwindling water supplies are a greater risk to businesses than oil running out, a report for investors has warned.
Among the industries most at risk are high-tech companies, especially those using huge quantities of water to manufacture silicon chips; electricity suppliers who use vast amounts of water for cooling; and agriculture, which uses 70% of global freshwater, , says the study, commissioned by the powerful CERES group, whose members have $7tn under management. Other high-risk sectors are beverages, clothing, biotechnology and pharmaceuticals, forest products, and metals and mining, it says.
“Water is one of our most critical resources – even more important than oil,” says the report, published today . “The impact of water scarcity and declining water on businesses will be far-reaching. We’ve already seen decreases in companies’ water allotments, more stringent regulations [and] higher costs for water.”
Droughts “attributable in significant part to climate change” are already causing “acute water shortages” around the world, and pressure on supplies will increase with further global warming and a growing world population, says the report written by the US-based Pacific Institute.
The loss of gasoline sounds worse, but only the most primitive of stupid monkeys thought that resource was infinite. Water? We’ll always have our two liters a day.
Institutional investors are urging companies to measure, disclose and reduce their use of water to reduce long-term financial risks as supplies dry up from overuse and as higher temperatures melt glaciers away.
“Companies need to be analyzing their water risk … and to find ways to conserve water and minimize the opportunities for literally having their business shut down,” Mindy Lubber, the president of Ceres, a Boston-based coalition of investors. said in an interview.
We may not. Water is required in abundance for our industry and infrastructure, not just personal consumption. But that’s out of sight, so out of mind. Rage on, you crazed monkeys.
Flannery, who has written eloquently about global warming, drove through the fire belt, and reported:
“It was as if a great cremation had taken place… I was born in Victoria, and over five decades I’ve watched as the state has changed. The long, wet and cold winters that seemed insufferable to me as a boy vanished decades ago, and for the past 12 years a new, drier climate has established itself… I had not appreciated the difference a degree or two of extra heat and a dry soil can make to the ferocity of a fire. This fire was different from anything seen before.”
Meanwhile, central China is experiencing the worst drought in half a century. Temperatures have been unseasonably high and rainfall, in some areas, 80% below normal; more than half the country’s provinces have been affected by drought, leaving millions of Chinese and their livestock without adequate access to water. In the region which raises 95% of the country’s winter wheat, crop production has already been impaired and is in further danger without imminent rain.
In our own backyard, much of the state of Texas—97.4% to be exact—is now gripped by drought, and parts of it by the worst drought in almost a century. According to the New York Times, “Winter wheat crops have failed. Ponds have dried up. Ranchers are spending heavily on hay and feed pellets to get their cattle through the winter. Some wonder if they will have to slaughter their herds come summer. Farmers say the soil is too dry for seeds to germinate and are considering not planting.” Since 2004, in fact, the state has yoyo-ed between the extremities of flood and drought.
A good compilation of drought data there, although it lacks a global model to show that the water missing in these droughts is not just distributed elsewhere. However, common sense dictates: as temperature rises, there’s going to be less water around.