Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Zero-Sum

Zero-Sum appears to be the equation of Energy vs. Water as depicted by an excellent article in Scientific American.

Water and energy are the two most fundamental ingredients of modern civilization. Without water, people die. Without energy, we cannot grow food, run computers, or power homes, schools or offices. As the world’s population grows in number and affluence, the demands for both resources are increasing faster than ever.

Woefully underappreciated, however, is the reality that each of these precious commodities might soon cripple our use of the other. We consume massive quantities of water to generate energy, and we consume massive quantities of energy to deliver clean water. Many people are concerned about the perils of peak oil—running out of cheap oil. A few are voicing concerns about peak water. But almost no one is addressing the tension between the two: water restrictions are hampering solutions for generating more energy, and energy problems, particularly rising prices, are curtailing efforts to supply more clean water.

To compound the felony is the fact water will become another driving engine of conflict as seen by Water Wars, a devastating account of what happens when privatization, pollution and profit impact the availability of this most precious resource.


Shiva believes strongly in the sacred nature of water. She argues that while some may call for the commodification of water, the Oxford English Dictionary defines value as “that amount of some commodity, medium of exchange etc, which is considered to be an equivalent for something else; a fair or adequate equivalent or return” (Shiva 2002). There is no equivalent for water; there is no substitute. All life on this planet is dependant upon water.

It's time for man to get his act together before it's too late because the question to ask ourselves now is, What is the survivability rate or our civilization? A more than viable place to look is the New Civilization Game, an astute analysis by Bill Robinson on what it will take for man to succeed as we move further into the 21st century.

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