Energy use sucking up a precious resource

SMH - Paul Sheehan - 9.1.2012

“The largest single water user in the industrialised world is the energy industry. Prodigious amounts are needed to produce nearly every type of electricity and transport fuel across the energy value chain . . ”
The link between energy and water is rarely discussed, yet is of huge consequence. It is strange, strange, strange that when it comes to the most important subject on the planet, the basis of all life – water – governments, international agencies, economists, scientists and businesses have consistently underestimated the growth in global demand, and the growing stress on supply.

It’s the biggest story in the world, yet mostly what we talk about is money: debt, growth, superannuation, savings, stockmarkets, gross national product, housing prices, wages.

”Pumping, conveying, and treating water is extremely energy-intensive. Water is very heavy – 20 per cent more than oil – and massive volumes are required to sustain modern society . . . each day every person living in an industrialised nation personally consumes about [US]1000 gallons [3785 litres] embedded in the food we eat . . . ”

Solomon continues: ”While the 13-fold increase in energy use in the 20th century is often heralded as the signature factor in the unprecedented prosperity of a world population that has quadrupled to over 6 billion, it has been accompanied and also leveraged by a nine-fold increase in freshwater use . . .”

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