Short summary: It is bad. And it’s going to get a LOT worse.
(Image from thehindu.com)
Time to spend money and attention on adaptation
Price water. Please. We do not have the luxury to waste water on growing low-yielding rice varieties and sustaining 300 million cows & buffaloes.
However, the current machinery extracts significant rent from crises. Emergencies give procedural checks and balances a go-bye making an already leaky system entirely porous.
Speaking for myself, living in 40C + weather daily. This is how it feels.
Morning walks are impossible unless one starts before 7 am. Stepping outside in the day, the first assault is of hot dry air on one’s cheeks. Then the sun hits the head. Even with head covered, tiresomeness sets in after a few minutes. Forget irritability, there is no energy to be angry. One feels parched. The fortunate have access to water.
What a hellish existence is it when in this heat, with no option but to work out in the sun people have little access to water.
Climate Change is a classic case of “Tragedy of the commons“. Briefly, when a group of individuals (persons, companies, countries) have shared access to a common resource (think “air”), each person will behave in a manner that maximizes his return at the cost of the groups. In climate change, there’s a twist. Developed nations who have contribute more to the change in climate, may stand to benefit with the change that is occurring. So why change their behaviour?
How do they benefit:
(2) Lower heating costs in the winter
Which would be offset by
(1) Higher cooling requirements in the summer
(3) Increased health costs as vectors (mosquitoes) begin to move north and the incidence of extreme events increases
(4) Increased incidence of drought
Curbing emissions and transitioning to a lower Carbon economy in developed nations (particularly the US), would require investments in alternate energy and re-skilling its workforce to work in a different kind of economy. It would also require its populace to believe that climate change is harmful for them.
The very positive thing is that some of this is happening.
Many scientists are also changing their behaviour substantially: not taking flights at all or not heating their house. While this will grab headlines, this is akin to binge dieting. It’s not sustainable. More on sustainable solutions soon.
the business of water: http://www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/2/8e42bdc8-0838-11e4-9afc-00144feab7de.html#slide0
Some quotes from the article:
- Since 2011 companies have spent more than $84bn worldwide to improve the way they conserve, manage or obtain water, according to data from Global Water Intelligence, regulatory disclosures and executive interviews with the Financial Times.
- The $550bn global water market – which covers everything from water treatment plants to pipelines – is expanding at about 3.5 per cent a year, says Martin Stuchtey of McKinsey.
- Agriculture accounts for 70 per cent of all water use compared with 22 per cent for industry and just 8 per cent for domestic users, says the UN.
- Just over 97 per cent of the world’s water is in its oceans. Of the 2.5 per cent that is fresh water, almost 70 per cent is locked away in glaciers and ice caps and about 1 per cent is in lakes, rivers and other surface water sources. The remaining 30 per cent is groundwater, some of it so ancient and hard to replace it is known as fossil water.
- India accounts for over 30% of increase in global water withdrawals over the past 15 years.
- By 2030, the global population is expected to have increased from today’s 7bn to 8bn. The global middle class, meanwhile, is likely to have surged from nearly 2bn to 5bn, according to the OECD, largely in fast-growing Asian economies. Like their predecessors in developed countries, they are likely to want a hamburger, not just a bowl of vegetables, and the UN has calculated it takes 2,400 litres of water to produce a hamburger compared with less than 30 litres for a potato or a tomato.
- Energy is a big consumer of water with each shale oil well consuming 2 million gallons of water or more.
- Desalination growing, with 17200 plants today.
- Water use and recycling action critical with Israel (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Water_supply_and_sanitation_in_Israel) and Singapore (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Water_supply_and_sanitation_in_Singapore) having great solutions