Tuesday, October 1, 2013

The Thin Blue Line: More on Bottled Water

Apparently, it takes 1.5 million barrels a year of oil to manufacture the plastic water bottles Americans use.
That's right; you heard me:
Of Oil.
For water bottles.
Of course, it doesn't end there, because you still gotta extract, bottle, refrigerate and transport the stuff around. Which bumps the total to 50 million barrels of oil a year.  So it seems that, not only are there serious questions about the economics and health ramifications of drinking a largely un-regulated consumer product, but doing so actually has other destructive characteristics, such as promoting the social injustice associated with extractive imperialism in oil rich nations, increasing GHG emissions (all that CO2 from drilling, pumping, shipping, and burning 50 million barrels of OPEC Ooze has to go somewhere), and adding a whole lotta junk to the global waste stream. (But hey, why shouldn't we expand the Great Pacific Garbage Patch?)  And let's not forget: numbers proffered here are for Uncle Sam only.  Europe and Asia spend their share of Euros or Yuan to answer the orgiastic call of mass marketing half-truths pimping a product that is free and of equal or better quality.  Unless you live here:

(See the full series of fun, happenin' Chinese Environmental Disaster Photos here)

But hey, don't take my word that there's trouble bubblin' up from the world's fresh water bottling wells.  Go see Tapped, coming to DVD player near you.

Oh, and one other thing: the trouble with fresh water isn't limited to the bottled kind:  Regions that destroy native eco-systems in order to grow agricultural products (such as Brazil, razing rain forests to create grazing lands for McDonalds'-grade beef) are in some ways trading short-term financial gains for long-term water pain. While they appear to be swapping beef for hard-currency, their real import may be drought: as rain forests disappear, so does their rain-making capacity. This not only impacts regional bio-dynamics, but also local water supplies. Reduced rain capture undermines surface supplies, but also down-rates water table re-charge.