Food & Drink » Glenda Bartosh on Food

Sure wish it would rain so I could git me a sausage

Or: seven billion reasons to think twice about water



In our zone, where running the tap endlessly as we rinse a plate or brush our teeth is as natural as what seems like our endlessly running rivers, it's pretty hard to wrap our heads around the scary idea of water scarcity.

But while here in the coastal rainforest it seems at times like we are drowning in water, movers and shakers around the world are wrestling with a water crisis.

Like how about the exquisitely beautiful city of Sana'a in Yemen, home to 1.7 million people — that's half a million more than the Greater Vancouver area. It's on its way to the unthinkable, at least unthinkable in modern times when we pride ourselves on being able to solve anything — the first capital city in the world to run out of water.

Many of its neighbouring cities aren't far behind. Likewise Kansas City, which, like Sana'a, depends on a fast draining but slowly replenishing — ever more slowly as rainfall patterns and snow packs change — "fossil" aquifer for water.

It all comes down to a wild double-whammy of a nexus, starting with the ever-increasing and increasingly urbanized bunch of us humans demanding more and more stuff.

Then there's the climate change we've induced, exacerbating weather extremes and shifting typical rainfall patterns. Like how about those brush fires in tinder-dry southern Alberta this January? Brush fires? In Canada? in January?

And, just this week on the last day of winter, which your average weather-watching Canuck would typically expect to be a tender spring day, Winnipeg busts 100-year records and hits a scorching 20+ C, when 0 C is more normal, while here on the coast we face record snowfalls and slushy blizzards screaming "winter" when it should be spring.

On top of all this sits our lovely blue water, toiling quietly away as supporter of all life on Earth, including sitting at the intersection of the two vital production systems we humans have come to depend on.

Sure, you probably thought of food production and water. But how many of us with our iSomethings think about energy and water? And I'm not talking about your basic hydroelectricity here.

You can't move water without energy and you can't create energy without water. So never mind your gold, your platinum, your rare earths like tantalum and yttrium used in today's "vitals" like computer chips, capacitors and solar cells.

"Water is fast becoming the world's most precious resource in terms of energy supply and food security," said Samir Brikho at the recent GLOBE 2012 conference in Vancouver, a hub of business and sustainability.

Brikho is the chief executive with AMEC, one of the world's largest engineering and project management companies with something like $50 billion worth of projects annually in everything from nuclear power to wind for customers like BP and Shell. In 2006 the company decided to focus on water.

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