Are oil and water inextricably linked?

Question: Are oil and water inextricably linked?

Maude Barlow: They really are linked in a whole bunch of ways. We need a great deal of water to produce energy, hydroelectricity of course, and then through that the dams, the major dams that we use, of course, are one of the big issues we have around water.

We are destroying water to get at new sources of energy like in the Tar Sands in Northern Alberta [Canada]. Or coal methane gas mining, which uses a huge amount of water, but it also takes a lot of water to produce energy.

If you are turning to nuclear power because you want to save money on-board, cut down on fossil fuels [Inaudible] then you are destroying a lot of water to produce the energy through nuclear power.

Biofuels is a perfect example of the combination. Here we are trying to cut down on fossil fuel production, so we don’t need to use so much in our cars, right. So, we grow industrial biofuels that destroy huge amounts of water. And it is almost like the part of government that is giving subsidies for biofuels isn't talking to the part of the government that is putting out the stats on the declining water sources. [Inaudible] talk to each other man. You think you can somehow solve a problem by destroying something else?

And we are going to have to live differently a little bit.

I was at a conference yesterday [March 16, 2008] and heard a 91-year-old activist talking about that we are going to have to live more simply so that others can simply live, which I felt was a lovely term.

But this notion of continued growth, which one, environmentalist in the US has said has the same DNA as the cancer cell, that it has to turn on itself in order to survive, it is not sustainable.

We are going to have to import less and buy less and eat more sustainably, grow our food differently.

And we are going to have to ask the question, everything we do, everything we grow, everything we produce, everything, what is the impact on water? How much water was used for that? Can we afford that? Who should be paying for that if you are using more than your share? How do we do that?

So far, water has been a free for all. We have got tons of it. It comes out of the sky. What the heck? We got to stop that thinking and when we do, we will design our cities and our food production and our lives quite differently .

Recorded On: March 17, 2008

It takes water to produce energy, and vice versa.

Related Articles

Human skeletal stem cells isolated in breakthrough discovery

It's a development that could one day lead to much better treatments for osteoporosis, joint damage, and bone fractures.

Image: Nissim Benvenisty
Surprising Science
  • Scientists have isolated skeletal stem cells in adult and fetal bones for the first time.
  • These cells could one day help treat damaged bone and cartilage.
  • The team was able to grow skeletal stem cells from cells found within liposuctioned fat.
Keep reading Show less

How exercise helps your gut bacteria

Gut bacteria play an important role in how you feel and think and how well your body fights off disease. New research shows that exercise can give your gut bacteria a boost.

National Institutes of Health
Surprising Science
  • Two studies from the University of Illinois show that gut bacteria can be changed by exercise alone.
  • Our understanding of how gut bacteria impacts our overall health is an emerging field, and this research sheds light on the many different ways exercise affects your body.
  • Exercising to improve your gut bacteria will prevent diseases and encourage brain health.
Keep reading Show less

Giving octopuses ecstasy reveals surprising link to humans

A groundbreaking new study shows that octopuses seemed to exhibit uncharacteristically social behavior when given MDMA, the psychedelic drug commonly known as ecstasy.

Image: damn_unique via Flickr
Surprising Science
  • Octopuses, like humans, have genes that seem to code for serotonin transporters.
  • Scientists gave MDMA to octopuses to see whether those genes translated into a binding site for serotonin, which regulates emotions and behavior in humans
  • Octopuses, which are typically asocial creatures, seem to get friendlier while on MDMA, suggesting humans have more in common with the strange invertebrates than previously thought
Keep reading Show less