Are oil and water inextricably linked?
Maude Barlow is the National Chairperson of the Council of Canadians and Senior Advisor on Water to the President of the United Nations General Assembly. She also chairs the board of Washington-based Food and Water Watch and is a Councillor with the Hamburg-based World Future Council. Maude is the recipient of seven honorary doctorates as well as many awards, including the 2005 Right Livelihood Award (known as the “Alternative Nobel”), and the 2008 Canadian Environment Award. She is also the best selling author or co-author of 16 books, including the recently released Blue Covenant: The Global Water Crisis and The Coming Battle for the Right to Water.
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.
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