The term Peak Water has been put forward as a concept to help understand growing constraints on the availability, quality, and use of freshwater resources. The clearest definitions of the term were laid out in a 2010 peer-reviewed article in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences by Peter Gleick and Meena Palaniappan.
Water is more vital for human life than oil – and environmentalists, corporations, communities and governments increasingly recognize its unequal distribution around the globe could lead to severe environmental degradation and intense conflicts in the years ahead. Anyone who cares about water should observe the management of oil during the past century and not repeat the mistakes, argues Rohini Nilekani. Less than 3 percent of the world’s water is potable – and climate change is already rapidly diminishing the vast stores of freshwater stored in glaciers and polar ice. Nilekani, who founded and chairs a non-governmental organization focused on creating a safe and sustainable global water supply, suggests that individual awareness combined with some global leadership must focus on sustaining life on the planet rather than modern lifestyles – and could reduce waste, overpopulation and unsustainable practices. Otherwise, warns Nilekani, the conflicts over water will make the oil crisis “seem like the trailer of some horrible disaster movie.” With water already in short supply for more than 20 percent of the world’s people, no person can afford to take freshwater for granted. – YaleGlobal
California is quickly reaching the point where each unit of water used to raise crops costs more in ecological damage than it provides benefits of crops, said Peter Gleick, president of the Pacific Institute, during the Stanford Graduate School of Business annual environmental lecture.
Politicians and engineers have grappled for years with solutions to California’s water shortages. It’s unlikely more dams or huge infrastructure projects will be built, so what’s the alternative?
Gleick called for looking to other kinds of water supply, such as treated wastewater, desalination, or rainwater harvesting. Maintaining the infrastructure we already have is important, as well as growing crops that take less water. And he called for proper pricing mechanisms and markets to limit cheap water.
Gleick spoke at the 2010 Conradin von Gugelberg Memorial Lecture on the Environment.
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Graphic Source: Wired.com