There's a new war in town. We're all familiar with the old 'oil wars' of our youth. The middle east, and how tempting it was with all its oil fields. But, things have changed; oil and fossil fuels in general are now, rightfully so, the new pariahs.
The resource that is getting our attention now is water. There's not enough fresh water to sustain our unsustainable lifestyles. Our extreme, reckless use of water is about to hit the fan. Watching California's drought advance has been a frightening harbinger of our future.
This water crisis is something that will require not only changes in government policies; it will require the participation of all of us. So what to do?
As we learn more about the water intensity of our food choices, it seems a no-brainer to start making some simple changes which can have a huge impact on our water supply.
The most water intensive food is meat and dairy; so some Californians have come up with a new campaign that makes it possible for you to have what you love, in this case meat, by trading off one water resource overuse for another.
Their brilliant idea is Skip Showers for Beef and their new spokesman is grammy winning and noted vegan Moby. Think Progress/Climate brings us this message from Moby to explain how it works:
The California cattle industry is the fifth largest in the state’s agricultural sector, bringing in $3.3 billion in revenue in 2012. In a country that consumed 24.1 billion pounds of beef in 2014, ranchers in California sent 177 million pounds of beef to commercial slaughter just in the month of April. According to a UC Davis study cited by the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, it takes about 441 gallons of water to produce a pound of beef. In a slightly higher estimate, the Water Footprint Network puts the amount of water needed to produce a pound of beef to closer to 1,845 gallons. By the beef industry’s estimates, California used more than 78 billion gallons of water to produce the beef slaughtered in April of 2014 — by the Water Footprint Network’s, it used over 326 billion gallons.
We’re not saying people should eat beef, we’re just saying people can eat beef, and here’s how…
California also grows a huge amount of alfalfa as food for cows — which, though highly nutritious, is also extremely water-hungry. As California’s highest acreage crop, alfalfa is also its thirstiest — just 160 acres uses 240 million gallons of water per year. Part of that alfalfa goes to California’s dairy industry, which is the largest in the country. But in some parts of California, as much as 50 percent of the alfalfa that is grown is shipped overseas to land-poor countries like China. Researchers have calculated that when all the water required to grow the exported alfalfa is taken into account, California ships one hundred billion gallons worth of water overseas.
So we can't go through life as reckless piranhas using up all the resources in our path. We have to make some choices. Does this work for you?
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