World Running Dry: An examination of the concept of “virtual water” in relation to the impending global water crisis

“The lectures during the A3 module showed how water is becoming scarcer even in maritime climates such as the UK. Examples were given on how to adapt both buildings and our own habits to reduce the 148 litres per day (OFWAT 2007) that each person uses. However as important as conservation of domestic supplies is, in actual fact the vast majority of our personal “water footprint” comes from the water used to grow the food we eat. (Waterwise 2007)

Globally one billion people lack a basic supply of clean drinking water and by 2025 two-thirds of the planet will be living in water scarce areas (Waterwise 2007). In developing countries, as people migrate to urban environments, diets are becoming more meat based which places even more stress on domestic and agricultural water demands. Given that a growing population is using the same finite water supplies, it is possible that we will be unable to produce enough food to feed everyone.

As virtual water is a way of quantifying the water used to produce a given product, I am going to look the origins of this method, how trading in this commodity might work and examine how changing diets can affect the consumption of water”

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