Part 13: Water, meat and fish
If you look at California today, you see more filtered water outlets than anywhere in the world. More people buy bottled water than anywhere else in the USA. However, water diminishes with the addition of 1,700 people added 24/7. At 38 million, California expects to add close to 20 million within 30 years. At 1,700 added net gain per day, that equals 620,000 a year. In three decades, well, work the math!
California may be the first state that introduces ‘toilet to the tap’ water for all its citizens in major cities. That means, dear reader, they expect to purify toilet water and rotate it back to your kitchen sink. Now, that’s an exciting thought!
In his brilliantly written book, Too Many People, Lindsey Grant addresses such things as our energy depletion, food crisis and much more. You may find his book at www.sevenlockspress.com and www.amazon.com . Grant is a former Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Environment and Population Affairs.
“A growing world population has been fed in part by the expansion of irrigation, but irrigation is encountering its limits, because the world is outrunning a limited supply of water,” said Grant. “Irrigation is mankind’s major use of water. Worldwide, it represents 70 percent or more. Irrigation results in salinization. Salts build up in the soil if it cannot be flushed regularly, until crops cannot grow in it.”
For a sobering look at America’s future by adding 100 million people, water will prove our most drastic problem. Ironically, we continue using vast quantities of water as if we enjoyed an endless supply. We do not!
“By one estimate, humankind is already using 54 percent of “accessible runoff,” said Grant. “It will need much more to provide for expanding population. If rivers are drying up and groundwater tables are falling, where will it come from on a finite Earth? Recycling and conservation can only go so far…Canada has already taken steps to insure that it is not pumped south to the United States.”
HOW CAN WE LESSEN THE NEED FOR WATER?
“Can we even imagine how much less tense life would be and how much less deadly droughts would be, if particularly in arid areas there were one-third the population and therefore three times as much water per capita as now, coupled with modern capabilities to manage it,” said Grant.
MEAT AND FISH
Most Americans do not have a clue as to the environmental price of raising beef for their dinner tables. For each pound of beef, a cow must eat 16 pounds of grain and drink—“To date, probably the most reliable and widely-accepted water estimate to produce a pound of beef is the figure of 2,500 gallons per pound. Newsweek once put it another way: “The water that goes into a 1,000 pound steer would float a destroyer.”
Additionally, one 1,000 pound beef cow creates 80 pounds of manure per day. (Source: www.answers.com) With 33 million cows in the USA, the pollution alone reaches into the millions of tons of manure draining into ground water and rivers. If you take pig farms and chicken farms, good grief, what a mess!
When it comes to fish, we don’t raise much of them, but we hunt them. “To feed a hungry world, the marine catch quadrupled to around 70 million tons in the 1980s—where it stalled. To make up the gap, nations like China turned to aqua-culture, which now produces 20 million tons a year,” said Grant.
Can we sustain current fishing practices that ‘rape’ the ocean floor with 20 to 30 mile long drift nets that ‘grab’ everything in sight? Can we keep poisoning the oceans and expect eat those fish?
· The breeding grounds for ocean fish are heavily concentrated in bays and estuaries, which are suffering from eutrophication driven by agriculture and sewage outflows and from multiple industrial pollutants. I have cited the plight of the Chesapeake and the “dead zone” off the Mississippi River estuary.
· Anadromous fish, principally salmon, are disappearing stock by stock, because of dammed rivers, muddied breeding shoals and pollution.
· Human activity is affecting the sea in multiple ways that we barely understand. We do not know the tolerance levels of different fish for our environmental insults.
Grant finished, “If world population were two billion, one-third its present size, 50 million tons of fish would mean half again as much, per capita, as the present take from all fishery, including aquaculture, without running down the stocks. We would not be putting nearly so many pollutants into the sea because we would be using less fertilizer, fewer chemicals, and less energy, and this would mitigate our impact on the ocean. If the 50 million-ton catch is unsustainable, perhaps that suggests an even smaller population would be desirable.”
Instead, we expect to add 100 million people to the USA within 25 years!
Denver Post April 6, 2010 ##