Similar of drought in California, public advisements

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Similar to
popular belief, especially in California, I assumed the water crisis was the
result of water consumption around the house and in daily life. During times of
drought in California, public advisements are sent out to influence individuals
to be more conscious of their water use at home. For example, people are advised
to take shorter showers, not wash their cars at home, and restrict the amount
of water that can be used for domestic landscaping purposes. Much to my surprise,
after reading “The hidden water resource used behind meat and dairy” and listening
to our discussions in class, I realized that humanity’s water crisis is more so
the result of animal products and irrigation for agriculture than household
consumption. The article helps readers to explore a reality that is relatively
hidden today and that reality is that our consumption of animal products has a
greater impact on humanity’s water footprint than many realize. At the end of
the article we realize that our water crisis is far more complex than just our
water use at home or our diet; our water crisis is entangled in a global web of
trade, economics, and governments.

            The article opens with an
introduction of the impact that animal products and the process of producing
animal feed has on today’s water crisis. In order to meet the increasing demand
of animal products, the trade of meat and feed products has become increasingly
important in today’s economy. As a result of all the steps that are required to
produce consumer goods, water has become a global resource that is not only
being relocated through agricultural irrigation, but also the trade of consumer
goods that require water. This concept was briefly discussed on the first day
of class when Professor Sedano discussed how China is our factory and how the
process of manufacturing products requires vast amounts of water, which impacts
the local water resources and in essence, the global water footprint. Following
the introduction, the author explains water footprint as all the water that is
required in the process of producing animal goods. The significant water
footprint left by animal products is primarily due to the amount of water that
is required to produce the crops for animal feed. An animals water footprint
can vary based on what kind of farming system they are raised in, along with
the quality of their feed. Feed with poor conversion efficiency and high levels
of concentrates will have a larger water footprint than feed with high
conversion efficiency and low amounts of concentrates. According to big idea
#6, which discusses the increasing demands for water use and consumption, our municipal
use of water is increasing, but most people are unaware of the rapid increase
of demand for water in agriculture. This is the result of today’s consumer
society and since the consumers are so far removed from production of animal
goods, the issue does not directly impact them.

            The article goes on to discuss how
the water footprint of animal products is less than that of crops with similar
nutritional value. Throughout the article, the author emphasizes the fact that the
water footprint of animal feed makes up almost all of the water footprint of
animal production. Similar to the discussion in class, the article discusses
how diet can impact our water footprint, but as we discussed in class it still
requires water to produce crops and we would have to produce more crops in
order to replace animal products. With a rapidly growing population and less
land, it would become increasingly difficult to grow vast amounts of crops and
would require vast amounts of water that would continue to increase our water
footprint. Since water scarcity is now a global issue due to trade, it would
require every country to come together to work toward decreasing their water
footprint and finding a solution. The article concludes with discussing the
importance of transparency with sizable food companies, which would include
packaging that discloses the water footprints of their products. This would
require governments to implement and enforce laws on water footprints in order to
move towards a society that operates on sustainable consumption.

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            The realization that our water
crisis is by and large the result of producing consumer goods is terrifying, especially
when we realize the impact that concretization, agriculture, and modern water
systems have on our access to fresh water. With ground water decreasing and
glacier melting, our ability to obtain freshwater is becoming increasingly
challenging. Because water is necessary to survival, I am surprised that
society is not more aware of the issue at hand. Instead of coming together and
working towards solutions, people are arguing about whether global warming does
or does not exist. However, there is no arguing that our water sources are depleting
and something needs to be done. The idea that governments will come together and
companies will admit to their water footprints and negative impact on the environment
is not likely. The web that the water crisis has been weaved into includes
governments, big corporations, and the economy. Numerous jobs are created
during the extensive process of producing animal products and I would imagine
that to most people their jobs are more important than a water footprint. The
reason being, that for generations the thought process was to let the next
generation deal with it. Unfortunately, it appears as though the water crisis
is no different, but eventually there will be nothing that can be done. 

Categories: Trade


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