Energy and Water, The ignored link, in ReFocus Magazine [2004 March/April]
"Water ranks high on the international environmental and development agenda. But international conferences treat questions regarding water as an isolated issue and tend to overlook the numerous links to energy production. While the fossil-nuclear energy system amplifies the global water crisis, most renewable energy (RE) technologies do not consume water.... Ole von Uexküll argues that the global water crisis cannot be solved without a complete shift of global energy production to RE.
"In 2001, the Executive Director of UNEP, Klaus Töpfer, opened the International Conference on Freshwater in Bonn with the words: "Indeed, there are only two issues that are so intensively inter-related and important for development and that is water and energy." While water and energy have, each in its own right, become well-established as top development priorities, this inter-relation between the two fields is very rarely mentioned.
"The global water crisis
"Water has always been earth's most valuable resource. All ecosystems and every field of human activity depend on water. In contrast to other resources, there is no substitute for water in most of its applications. The availability of this blue gold has determined the fate of empires, and wars have been fought over its access. Only 2.5% of the world's water is freshwater...
"The global energy crisis
"The world energy system depends largely on finite fossil and nuclear energy sources, which require long and complex resource chains - from mining and extraction over transportation and processing to conversion in the power plant and disposal of waste ... Along these chains the energy system causes adverse socio-economic as well as environmental effects such as armed conflict, economic dependencies and global inequality, poisoning of the environment and global climate change....
"While water and energy have, each in its own right, become well-established as top development priorities, this inter-relation between the two fields is very rarely mentioned. On the use of our global water resources, a series of international conferences has been held since the beginning of the 1990's...."
Blood and Water
Israel and Palestine struggle over water in an arid land
"Oil, namely the vast reserves in Iran, Iraq, and Saudi Arabia, is the cause of many of the broad geopolitical battles plaguing the Middle East. But it is access to water, a more fundamental resource, is at the root of much of the bitter conflict between Israel and Palestine. In fact, the Palestinians rejected a recent peace proposal from Israel in part because it didn't give them control of water resources within their territory. In Part I of a two-part series, writer Jessica McCallin assesses the water conflict and its role in the Middle East peace process...."
ON THE NET: Scientific American: Water Supply Series
The February 2001 issue of Scientific American offers a series "Tapped Out?" on our waning water supply and how to deal with it. Features articles, statistics, and subtopics.
Introduction: Safeguarding Our Water
"In the following pages, Peter H. Gleick of the Pacific Institute for Studies in Development, Environment and Security describes the magnitude of the world's pressing water problems in terms of skyrocketing usage and ominous limits to the known supplies. Sandra Postel of the Global Water Policy Project then narrows the discussion to irrigation, the single largest use for freshwater, and to the prospects for improving this vital agricultural technology. Lest anyone think that other options for staving off water shortages are lacking, we also consider a quartet of other approaches, including desalination, "bag and drag" transport, recycling and increased plumbing efficiency. A water crisis may be in the cards for some, but not if we act quickly to develop all the solutions at our disposal."
Making every drop count
"We drink it, we generate electricity with it, we soak our crops with it. And we're stretching our supplies to the breaking point. Will we have enough clean water to satisfy all the world's needs?"
Growing more food with less water
"If the world hopes to feed its burgeoning population, irrigation must become less wasteful and more widespread."
How we can do it
"A water-covered planet facing a water crisis seems paradoxical. And yet that is exactly the reality on planet Earth, where 97 percent of the water is too salty to quench human thirst or to irrigate crops."
From Scientific American