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Water Footprint


Biggify here: http://awesome.goodmagazine.com/transparency/web/trans0309walkthisway.html

Forget carbon footprint. Long before the Earth will suffer from a climate catastrophe due to global warming, humanity may perish from another environmental disaster: the diminishing supply of fresh water (Don't believe it? Why, humans have been fighting wars over water for centuries)

In collaboration with Fogelson-Lubliner, GOOD Magazine has an eye-opening infographic of "water footprints", the amount of water an individual uses in the course of a day, as well as ways to save water by making simple changes in your habits.

I, for one, am surprised at the amount of water it takes to yield a pound of beef: Link - via swissmiss


Clean, drinkable water is a finite resource in some areas of the world. Globally though, we're probably not going to run out of water before we're screwed by something else.
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It's pretty ridiculous to compare nuclear to solar. Solar is a supplementary energy source, like wind, geothermal, etc. Nuclear is capable of replacing coal and oil. Try comparing nuclear to those two.
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Admit it: you state the chart to be "crap" because of its tip-of-the-iceberg implications concerning agricultural meat.

Nothing sends the public into frothing, red-faced hysteria so much as the slightest criticism of the wisdom of factory flesh farming.

The energy/resources/pesticide impact/habitat loss, etc. per lb. of protein from flesh vs. lb. protein from vegetable sources is so colossal as to end the argument. That is, except for one and only one irrefutable carno-argument: meat tastes better, dangit!

Whether you believe in global warming or not, the environment your kids live in matters, and the single greatest thing you can do to help it is to go vegetarian. If you must have meat, hunt it yourself! I'll buy the beer.
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"and the single greatest thing you can do to help it is to go vegetarian."

I wonder what a Neilburger tastes like.

If someone comes up with a vegetable equivalent to beef (nutrition, ease of digestion, flavor, etc) then I might consider going vegetarian... then again, such a product would likely cost just as much to produce as beef and initial releases would cost way too much for me to bother with.

So, by use of defeatist logic I've now refuted your suggestion into oblivion. I'm gonna go buy me some smokes ($4.99 for a bag of Kite now) and maybe a big bag of Doritos ($3.99) so I can be sicker, slower, weaker.
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Low flow shower = shower twice as long to wash soap off self because of crappy water pressure.

Low flow toilet (bad ones) = flushing twice occasionally (also because of crappy water.) ;)

First thing I do when I get a new shower head is remove the removable flow restrict piece of plastic and throw it away. That's right I'm a horrible, evil, no good, very bad bad person.

I wonder how much water you waste if you eat delicious delicious bacon with your environmentally damaging eggs.

Although, anything that advocates the drinking of beer I wholeheartedly agree with.
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I think Neil might have a bit of a chip on his shoulder about meat, given that a four-word comment having nothing to do with meat drew him into that anti-meat rant.

And this chart is most definitely crap. Water isn't like oil; it's not as though there's a gigantic reservoir of water somewhere, and when it runs out, will mean everyone's gonig to die of thirst. Water runs in a cycle, and there's no more or less of it now than there was a thousand years ago. Some is clean and some isn't, is all.
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A 16oz glass of water has a 16oz impact? Not likely, unless you're drinking straight out of the ground. If it's treated at all, it's about a 2-to-1 ratio of water used to get potable water. And if it's been purified by reverse osmosis (most bottled water, and many home water purifiers) it's more like 4-to-1.

And like others have said, water is used over and over and over again; it doesn't go away easily. I read once that the water flowing through the Thames has been drank many times over. Ewww.

Also, aren't we gaining a bunch of fresh water with the melting ice caps and glaciers? Global Warming Bonus!
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Our downstairs loo flushes with 2 ltrs on half flush, 4 on full. I don't recall ever having to flush it twice, which is lucky since it's fed from a 200 ltr rainwater barrel and it's been dry here in Shropshire for weeks.
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I'm not aiming to insult or condescend anyone, but meat does take more energy to produce than an equal amount of vegetables. Animals need to comsume water and vegetables (that humans could be eating and drinking). It is entirely possible, in fact it is easy, to obtain all the amino acids that meat provides with a combination of different vegetable/ plant-derived foods. Meat is an extremely convenient package of proteins/ amino acids, but with much more saturated fat.

Water resources aren't finite, but reliable clean water sources are a problem for a large segment of the global population. To ask those who are well-off in America to comsume or waste a bit less shouldn't be interpreted as an insult.
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I'm on well/septic, so all of my water gets recycled. Round and round it goes. Doesn't stop the gov't from trying to charge me for it though (they want to add well meters, claiming they own the water.) Maybe I can charge them for replacing it via the septic field.
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c r labombard - why does it have to be a replacement? there is a countless amount of recipes and dishes in the world, nobody who would stop eating beaf or any other kind of meat would have to starve, eat tasteless food or be forced to eat things he does not like. why limit yourself to a very small variety on a planet that is so full of culinary options?
soy for example is a substance very much like flower, it can be made into a great variety of products with many different flavours. it does not have to be your run-off-the-mill tasteless tofu.

in my many years of being a vegetarian (out of ethical reasons, that is) i have encountered a huge number of people that "defend" their meat-eating in no way different to how smokers defend their smoking, alcoholics their booze.
hold your horses, i am by now way claiming that human carnivores are addicts, but it strikes me odd to see how important meat is to many people, as if every incentive or motivation to reduce their consumption were a direct threat to their personality or freedom.

and to still claim that all statistics which prove that meat-consumption with all its consequences (energy/resources/pesticide impact/habitat loss, like you said, neil) cause many problems on this planet, social to environmental, are crap, is like claiming the world is flat and in the center of the universe. go to the amazon, see the endless monocultures of soy (being shipped to europe to feed cattle) and the cattleranches as large as small countries, and all this where lush green tropical rainforest used to live. zoom to "rondonia" on google earth, and you can see the impact from the comfort of your own home.
(http://maps.google.de/maps?ie=UTF8&ll=-10.930405,-61.891479&spn=3.985065,7.141113&t=h&z=8)

nobody is asking anybody to stop eating meat. but be conscious about it, please.
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Water is -not- a finite resource. In some areas it can be scarce and needs to be conserved, but overall Earth is a closed system. Most of the Earth's water is not drinkable (saltwater), but through the miracle of evaporation only fresh water rains/snows down from the sky to refill lakes and rivers. Water is not going anywhere, nor is it being changed into anything else because of it's use.
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How are they going to grow all of those vegetables without the fertilizer that the cattle give them? When you think about it, the water we give the cattle feeds the earth with minerals and makes it possible for the plants to grow. The plants...well, they just take and take. (selfish b*****ds)

Also, isn't that the water footprint for the WHOLE COW? Are they assuming that our hamburger contains an entire side of beef? Using the same logic shouldn't our salad water footprint be the entirety of the irrigation of the lettuce field?
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>How are they going to grow all of those vegetables without the fertilizer that the cattle give them?

You've got the wrong century. Cow dung is not used on a wide scale in this country.

>Also, isn’t that the water footprint for the WHOLE COW

No. It is for a pound of beef just like it says though that estimate is, in fact, arguably low. It is well established that meat takes far, far more water to produce per pound than do vegetables. The beef industries estimates of what it takes are predictable lower than an environmentalist but even those put the figure at least 500 gallons per pound. At least the beef industry admits it takes more water, it is funny that beef eaters appear to be upset about it.

One of the reasons beef takes so much water is because most of the cattle are grain fed in this country so they get fat quick. That means that most of the farm acreage in the country is used to produce feed for cows. Something around 3-5 pounds per pound of meat. So by the time you've grown that the water consumption is already close to that of many vegetables, including, let's say, lettuce. This is before the cow has even been slaughtered. (Let alone that 5 pounds of grain can create a lot less resource intensive food than beef.)
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I suspect that many of these figures vary so widely that its impossible to show on a chart like this.

Since my wife and I haul our water to our rural cabin (with composting toilet), I can tell you that our direct use of water is FAR lower than one would expect from this chart. We work at home, and spend most of our time here, and its still FAR lower. Like our dishes take less than a gallon a day and showers only take about 3 gallons each, this is sometimes rainwater or melted snow too.

Likewise, we prefer free range or free grazing meat or better yet wild game when we can get some. Grass fed pastured cattle would take a lot less water than the corn fed ones.
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This was one of the reasons I quit eating meat as an Environmental Studies major in college 15 years ago. Since then I've conserved about 400,000 gallons per year, for a total of about 6 million gallons so far. This is serious. The Ogallala (sp?) Aquifer is goung to be virtually empty in 20 to 30 years, and then we're going to be in trouble. It's not cool to leave your kids without enough water to grow food because you wanted to eat meat every day. Eating vegetarian foods is the easiest and most effective way to conserve many other resources as well, and also to reduce greenhouse gas production.
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Wow, I just read the comments, and can't help but wonder about people who pretend to understand the topic but actually don't have a clue.

Yes, we know there is rain, but to produce so much beef requires more than rain. Do some reading about the Ogallala Aquifer, think about it a while, then come back here and admit that everyone who eats meat needs to cut back a lot, at least, or deal with the guilt of trading our children's food security for your meat addiction.
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