“Our entire society runs on water. It doesn’t run on oil”

THE VIRTUAL WORLD OF WATER

A 9 minute talk about the ‘rhino in the room’ of water scarcity and developing “water vision” to see the hidden world of water that’s all around us.

Click here: Stephen Leahy – THE VIRTUAL WORLD OF WATER
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Daily Life Takes HOW Much Water?

Posted by Brian Clark Howard of National Geographic in Water Currents on April 9, 2015

YWF graphic -pizza

Did you know it takes 240 gallons of water to make a cell phone? Or 52 gallons to make an egg?

The concept of such “hidden water” may seem unfamiliar to some, but it’s an important part of our impact on the planet, argues author Stephen Leahy in the recent book Your Water Footprint: The Shocking Facts About How Much Water We Use to Make Everyday Products.

Leahy, who has written for National Geographic, spoke with Water Currents about how water is required for almost everything we do, and how we can reduce that impact.

What inspired you to write a book on hidden water?

When I was in Australia doing a piece on climate change and invasive species for National Geographic I took an extra week of vacation and hung out with some Aborigines in a remote part of Queensland. To get water I had to walk 200 yards to a stream. It was heavy to haul the water and when it got dark it felt risky because they have nasty snakes and spiders there. That made me appreciate water more.

Then I went to a sacred waterfall, where shamans are initiated. In one of the final stages a candidate grabs the biggest rock they can lift and jumps into the pool, where they lay down until they drown. If the spirit finds them worthy they are brought back alive and become an official shaman. It had been over 20 years since someone managed that, but hearing about it made me realize that these folks take water really seriously.

And then when I got home from that trip I saw an email from the publisher, Firefly, asking if I wanted to write a book about hidden water. I thought it sounded like a really interesting approach to an important subject.

What aspect of hidden water most surprised you?

I was surprised by just how much water it takes to make everything. We don’t really have any material things without water, from food to housing, furniture, electricity, transportation, and so much more.

I tried hard to find something that doesn’t need any water and I couldn’t, which showed how dependent we are on it. And yet we pay little attention to it. We have a lot of stubstites for oil, but we don’t have any water substitutes.

In your book you note that it takes eight bathtubs of water for a typical breakfast. So what should people do if they want to reduce that?

The easiest way to reduce the amount of water you consume is to cut back on meat, since raising meat is really water intensive. Beyond that, beef is much more water intensive than chicken, so you can substitute one for the other.

Next, if you can buy local food it’s easier to find out about how it was produced, including if the water used was managed sustainably. That’s important because it’s not just the amount of water that’s important, it’s also how it is managed. For example, is excess water returned to the local system?

Farming many water-intensive foods in a desert or semi-desert is not sustainable. California, for example, has a huge water deficit.

It’s also true that about 40% of all food in North America is wasted, which means a huge amount of water is wasted. So reducing food waste can really reduce the amount of water you are using, way more than a low-flow shower head, which is still important.

Meat-based diet VS VegetarianWhat else can people do to save water?

A lot of it is going back to the basics on reducing and reusing stuff. Reduce the number of times you swap our your cell phone for the latest model and you’ll save 240 gallons of water. Find a home for your phone if you really have to have a new one instead of tossing it in the landfill. Consumption of material goods means consumption of water.

Flat screen TVs are also very water intensive, requiring tens of thousands of gallons for each one. So ask yourself if you really need it. Use thrift stores to get your clothes, which are fortunately cool again.

shower

In your book you write that “peak water” is already here and yet few people know it. Can you explain what that means?

The amount of freshwater that’s available is limited, it’s a tiny fraction of all the water there is on the planet. But our demand is soaring. We’re growing in numbers and in our consumption of things, and each and everything requires water, and lots of it.

The Ogallala Aquifer [in the Great Plains] is declining about nine feet a year and within 20 years or so it’s going to be empty. It’s the same problem in California. Three in five people in the world will be experiencing water scarcity by 2025. At Davos world leaders recently said that the biggest challenge humanity faces in the next 10 years is water scarcity.

We’ve covered hidden water at National Geographic before (and in our water footprint calculator) and people often tell us they struggle to understand the concept. They think of water as what comes out of their tap. Do you think it’s a hard message to get across?

It’s a hard message for adults but apparently not so hard for kids, who seem to grasp it right away. Our new book has a lot of infographics that try to break it down to help people understand it. We try to show, for example, that a car is like a giant bag of water, with another bag of water on top of that for fuel. Clothes are bags of water, so are books.

There also seems to be a widening gap between many people around the world who don’t have clean water and those of us who seem to be using more and more. How can this gap be bridged?

Ginormous rivers of virtual water are flowing from one country to another. A lot of it isn’t very smart.

For example, Egypt is a big exporter of oranges, mostly to Europe. But it’s a desert country. It takes roughly 20 gallons of water for each orange, but at the same time they don’t have enough water to grow the food they need. So they end up importing cheap food from other countries.

Australia is the biggest virtual exporter of water, through mining and agricultural products, but it’s also the driest continent, so that doesn’t make sense.

virtual water trade wfn smlSo what can people do?

Don’t use more water than you have. If you can grow crops that can be rain fed, that don’t require irrigation, that’s great. If it requires adding water drip irrigation is far more efficient than flood irrigation.

Stop and think before you do something if you really need it or if there is another way to get the service. Can you get those jeans at a thrift store? Can you take a train instead of drive [which saves on the amount of water needed for fuels]? Can you get your cell phone used?

Sierra Club Radio Asks: What’s the Big Deal About Water Footprints?

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100% Clean Energy, Water Footprints and Recycled Batteries

Starts at 11:55:  Stephen Leahy, author of Your Water Footprint: The Shocking Facts About How Much Water We Use to Make Everyday Products 

Original link

BOOK REVIEWS

“…a brilliant and shocking exposé on precisely how much water we use…” – Publishers Weekly

“This book is unique in its handling of a complex topic…the content is timely, important, and fascinating” — Library Journal

…exceptionally lucid narration with arresting, full-page info graphics”  — Booklist,  starred review

Your Water Footprint:  The Shocking Facts About How Much Water We Use To Make Everyday Products

October 2014 Firefly Books, 160 Pages, 125 Unique Infographics only $19.95 Paperback (Also avail in hardcover)

Our entire way of life is based on water; not oil

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Water, water everywhere, but too much is being exploited

BY PAUL WEINBERG | JANUARY 15, 2015

Oh dear, not another reason to worry about the planet! There’s already climate change, pollution, industrial agricultural practices and water and energy profligacy, to name just a few.

Now, veteran journalist, Green candidate for Parliament and first time author Stephen Leahy, in his recently published book, Your Water Footprint: The Shocking Facts About How Much Water We Use to Make Everyday Products, has come up with a new reason to worry about the planet: the worsening shortages of fresh water that are overexploited for industrial purposes.

“Our entire way of life is based on water; it is not based on oil as government tells us,” says Leahy, who is based in Uxbridge, just east of Toronto.

Leahy is referring specifically to “virtual water,” which involves non-recyclable fresh water that is consumed during the production of food, energy and manufactured goods, but is invisible to the consumer.

It is here that Leahy has concerns with regards to exponential growth. He argues that the tripling of fresh water usage in the past 50 years is not sustainable because this is a finite and irreplaceable resource.canada54

At the same time, he reports, there is insufficient fresh water in the world for human sustenance. Here, the resource is more likely to be recycled and re-used.

Nevertheless, about 1.2 billion people on the Earth live in areas with chronic water scarcity; while another two billion are affected by shortages every year. By 2025, three in five people may be living with water shortages.

To deliver this message, Your Water Footprint relies on a smart combination of graphics and text in its depiction of how virtual water is used in the economy.

It takes, for instance, more than 7,600 litres or 2,000 gallons of water to produce a pair of jeans; 2,460 litres or 650 gallons for a T-shirt; and 8,000 litres or 2,113 gallons for a single pair of leather shoes.

He estimates that the clothes in his closet are the result of hundreds of thousands of litres of water applied during the production process.

Since many of our clothes in North America are imported, we are literally “sucking” up water from the developing countries in the making of inexpensive garments for the affluent north, his book reports.

cheeseburgerFurthermore, to produce one kilogram of beef, one needs 15,400 litres or 4,068 gallons of water, which is almost 1.5 times the volume of a concrete mixer truck. Animals, explains Leahy “have a much larger water footprint than crops,” in food production.

Also, a single smart phone uses 910 litres or 240 gallons of water in the manufacturing process.

Leahy says that the direct water usage by the average American (showers, toilet, washing, cooking and drinking) is around 378 litres or 100 gallons. In contrast, the virtual water used in what Americans eat, wear and use during the day averages 7,500 litres or 1,980 gallons.

“Humanity faces difficult choices about how best to use the limited amount of water that we have. This has become even more challenging with growing demands on water from a rising population that’s expected to add a billion more people by 2030,” the author says.

This is Leahy’s first book, having spent the past 20 years in daily reporting for a range of news outlets including the New Scientist, Earth Island Journal, the Toronto Star, Sunday Times, The Guardian, Aljazeera English and Vice. Until recently he was the science and environment correspondent for the Rome based non-profit news agency, Inter Press Service.

A veritable globe trotter, he has attended and covered major international scientific conferences, particularly in the area of climate change. His travelling costs have been assisted in part through crowd sourcing efforts online.

In order get his head around the matter of virtual water, Leahy says he had to get on top of related trends in climate, food and energy because all these issues are interrelated.

Human beings — and that includes environmental experts like himself — tend to get stuck in silos of specialized knowledge and lose sense of the bigger picture, he explains. “It is quite a shift to integrate holistically,” says Leahy.

As someone who has from his reporting became quite familiar with the environmental challenges facing the planet, the author still found the research on virtual water a bit of an eye opener. “I knew that [humans] used a lot of water, but I didn’t realize it was that much.”

Leahy says his book “would not have been possible,” without the assistance of the University of Twente in the Netherlands which has its own academic department on water resources and where the data and analysis is freely available for researchers.

Furthermore, he observes, there is less awareness of the water footprint issue in comparison to the better publicized climate change. “Very few governments have come to grips with virtual water,” notes Leahy.

One has to assume Leahy is including Canada’s government here because he has been busy talking about this issue and Your Water Footprint with teachers and students at schools.

Leahy also says he’s caught the research and writing bug and wants to write another book.

Initially, he found the first book hard to write because his journalism career has consisted of jumping from one subject to another all the time.

“Once I got into it and I had to really force myself to get into it, then I enjoyed being able to explore a subject in depth. I really had to think about how to present the information, make it accessible for people,” he notes.

Paul Weinberg is a Hamilton based freelance writer who can be reached at paulweinberg@bell.net 

Your Water Footprint: The Shocking Facts About How Much Water We Use to Make Everyday Products

by Stephen Leahy (Firefly Books, 2014; $19.95)

Order today

In US:  AmazonPowell’s Books; Barnes&NobleIndiebound

Canada:  Chapters-Indigo Signed copies avail at Blue Heron Books – Stephen’s home town bookstore; In Ottawa visit the legendary Octopus Books

UK:  WH SmithAmazonWaterstones

Australia: Angus & RobertsonBooktopia

New Zealand: Mighty Ape

8 Shocking Facts About Water Consumption

Average water footprint of a regular sized bottle of cola
Average water footprint of a regular sized bottle of cola

By Anastasia Pantsios for EcoWatch

Water is a finite resource. And its preciousness has been driven home by water wars in California, where record drought has agricultural users, fracking interests and home consumers vying for the same supply; in the southwest where the water levels in the rivers, aquifers and reservoirs that provide waters to major communities like Phoenix and Las Vegas are dropping; and in the battles being fought over withdrawing water from the Great Lakes. Reducing our water footprint is essential to conserving this life-giving substance.

We actually have two water footprints: direct and indirect. Many of us are familiar with direct water-use footprint, and mat already be taking steps to reduce it: taking shorter showers, not letting the water run while we’re brushing our teeth, doing fewer loads of laundry, flushing the toilet less often or even installing low-flush toilets.

We probably don’t think of our indirect water footprint often if at all, which involved the water used to make the products and services we use. Author Stephen Leahy, an Ontario-based environmental journalist, wrote about some of them in his book Your Water Footprint published earlier this year.

“A ‘water footprint’ is the amount of fresh water used to produce the goods and services we consume, including growing, harvesting, packaging and shipping,” he says. “From the foods we eat to the clothes we wear to the books we read and the music we listen to, all of it costs more than what we pay at the checkout.”

Here are some things you can do to reduce your indirect water footprint.

1. Leahy reveals that 95 percent of our water footprint is hidden in our meals. While a pound of lettuce costs about 15 gallons of freshwater and a slice of bread only 10 gallons, chocolate can cost an astronomical 2,847 gallons a pound and beef can run us 2,500 gallons. Given that raising livestock is particularly water-intensive, eating vegetarian is one good way to reduce your water footprint. Better yet, go vegan: all animal products, including cheese, eggs, butter and milk take a lot of water to produce. Chicken has a much lower water footprint than beef though, so even giving up red meat can help.

arjen quote2. Think about what you drink. Tell people you’re passing on the soft drink and going for a beer because its water footprint is lower. And it is. A beer takes about 20 gallons of water to create, while soft drinks can be close to 50, depending on packaging and what sugars are used. And drink tea instead of coffee. Coffee consumes about 37 gallons of water in the production process, tea takes only 9 gallons.

3. The clothes we wear also consume vast amounts of freshwater to produce with cotton T-shirts and denim jeans exceptionally high in water use. One pound of cotton requires 700 gallons of water. Shop secondhand, thrift and vintage stores, or buy well-made clothes intended to last.

4. Actually, buying to last is a good way to reduce water consumption in general. Virtually all manufactured products consume a lot of water in the process. To manufacture a smartphone requires 240 gallons of water. Do you really need to trade in your phone every time a new model comes out?

5. Take public transportation (or better yet walk.) Not only do cars consume tens of thousands of gallons of water during manufacturing, but the gas required to run them uses more than a gallon of water for each gallon of gas.

6. Don’t install or use a garbage disposal. It’s water intensive. Compost instead.

7. Cut your plastic use! Making one pound of plastic requires 24 gallons of water. Use less and recycle what you can. Look for items with less packaging.

8. If you have a garden, install rain barrels to conserve water instead using that hose. Rain barrels hook up to your downspouts and collect rain water to reuse. You can make one from a 55-gallon drums (more recycling) and a easy-to-find little hardware. There’s a big movement among artists to paint rain barrels so that you can also have a distinctive and colorful work of art outside your house.

“The saying that ‘nothing is free’ applies more to water than anything else we consume, considering just three percent of the world’s water is drinkable and that we are using more of it than ever before,” says Leahy. “Many experts predict dire water shortages if we continue on our current path. Factor in climate change, population growth and pollution and we have an unsustainable situation.”

There’s lots more information about your water footprint and what you can do to reduce it at WaterFootprint.org. They even have a calculator so you can figure out your own water footprint.

Link to original article

Your Water Footprint:  The Shocking Facts About How Much Water We Use To Make Everyday Products

only  $19.95  large format paperback 

October 2014 Firefly Books, 160 Pages, 125 Unique Infographics (Also in hardcover) 

Order today

In US:  AmazonPowell’s Books; Barnes&NobleIndiebound

Canada:  Chapters-Indigo Signed copies avail at Blue Heron Books – Stephen’s home town bookstore; In Ottawa visit the legendary Octopus Books

UK:  WH SmithAmazonWaterstones

Australia: Angus & RobertsonBooktopia

New Zealand: Mighty Ape

Aside

Screen Shot 2014-12-11 at 10.51.45 PMWater is far more valuable and useful than oil

The water footprint of a half-litre bottle of water is 5.5 litres – yet well over a billion people live in areas with chronic scarcity

Motorbike rider with boy young passenger carrying huge number of plastic water storage pots
 Plastic pots, used to store water, being transported in Hyderabad, India. Photograph: Mahesh Kumar/AP

Even after 20 years of covering environmental issues in two dozen countries I had no idea of the incredible amounts of water needed to grow food or make things. Now, after two years working on my book Your Water Footprint: the shocking facts about how much water we use to make everyday products, I’m still amazed that the t-shirt I’m wearing needed 3,000 litres to grow and process the cotton; or that 140 litres went into my morning cup of coffee. The rest of my breakfast swallowed 1,012 litres: small orange juice (200 litres); two slices of toast (112 litres); two strips of bacon (300 litres); and two eggs (400 litres).

Water more valuable and useful than oil

Researching all this I soon realised that we’re surrounded by a hidden world of water. Litres and litres of it are consumed by everything we eat, and everything we use and buy. Cars, furniture, books, dishes, TVs, highways, buildings, jewellery, toys and even electricity would not exist without water. It’s no exaggeration to say that water is far more valuable and useful than oil.

A water footprint adds up the amount of water consumed to make, grow or produce something. I use the term consumed to make it clear that this is water that can no longer be used for anything else. Often water can be cleaned or reused so those amounts of water are not included in the water footprints in the book. The water footprint of 500ml of bottled water is 5.5 litres: 0.5 for the water in the bottle and another five contaminated in the process of making the plastic bottle from oil. The five litres consumed in making the bottle are as real water as the 500ml you might drink but hardly anyone in business or government accounts for it.

The incredible amounts of water documented in Your Water Footprint are based primarily on research done at the University of Twente in the Netherlands, where Arjen Hoekstra originated the concept of water footprints. The amount consumed to make something varies enormously depending on where the raw materials come from and how they are processed. Wheat grown in dry desert air of Morocco needs a lot more water than wheat grown in soggy Britain. For simplicity, the amounts in the book are global averages.

One of the biggest surprises was learning how small direct use of water for drinking, cooking and showering is by comparison. Each day the average North American uses 300 to 400 litres. (Flushing toilets is the biggest water daily use, not showers.) 400 litres is not a trivial amount; however, the virtual water that’s in the things we eat, wear and use each day averages 7,500 litres in North America, resulting in a daily water footprint of almost 8,000 litres. That’s more than twice the size of the global average. Think of running shoes side by side: the global shoe is a size 8; the North American a size 18. By contrast, the average water footprint of an individual living in China or India is size 6.

Peak water is here

Water scarcity is a reality in much of the world. About 1.2 billion people live in areas with chronic scarcity, while 2 billion are affected by shortages every year. And as the ongoing drought in California proves, water scarcity is an increasing reality for the US and Canada. Water experts estimate that by 2025 three in five people may be living with water shortages.

While low-flow shower heads and toilets are great water savers, the water footprint concept can lead to even bigger reductions in water consumption. For example green fuels may not be so green from a water consumption perspective. Biodiesel made from soybeans has an enormous water footprint, averaging more than 11,000 litres per litre of biodiesel. And this doesn’t include the large amounts of water needed for processing. Why so much water? Green plants aren’t “energy-dense,” so it takes a lot of soy to make the fuel.

Beef also has a big footprint, over 11,000 litres for a kilo. If a family of four served chicken instead of beef they’d reduce their water use by an astonishing 900,000 litres a year. That’s enough to fill an Olympic size pool to a depth of two feet. If this same family of opted for Meatless Mondays, they’d save another 400,000 litres. Now they could fill that pool halfway.

We can do nearly everything using less water. It’s all about smart substitutions and changes, rather than sacrifice and self-denial, but we can’t make the right choices unless we begin to see and understand the invisible ways in which we rely on water.

Stephen Leahy is an environmental journalist based in Ontario, Canada

Link to Guardian article

Your Water Footprint:  The Shocking Facts About How Much Water We Use To Make Everyday Products

only  $19.95  large format paperback 

October 2014 Firefly Books, 160 Pages, 125 Unique Infographics (Also avail in hardcover) 

Order today

In US:  AmazonPowell’s Books; Barnes&NobleIndiebound

Canada:  Chapters-Indigo Signed copies avail at Blue Heron Books – Stephen’s home town bookstore; In Ottawa visit the legendary Octopus Books

UK:  WH SmithAmazonWaterstones

Australia: Angus & RobertsonBooktopia

New Zealand: Mighty Ape

“Your Water Footprint” – “Tu Huella Hídrica”

Por Dirk Hoffmann, 17 de Noviembre de 2014

Acaba de salir el nuevo libro “Your Water Footprint” (“Tu Huella Hídrica”) del periodista ambiental canadiense Stephen Leahy, tematizando el uso “invisible” de cantidades sorprendentes de agua en la producción de bienes de uso cotidiano.

Para mostrar el agua “escondida” en los diferentes procesos de producción y en los mismos productos, Leahy ha producido un libro de alto valor didáctico, ampliamente ilustrado con imágenes y gráficos. Ojalá que pueda ser traducido pronto para un mayor público latinoamericano.

El agua es un recurso natural renovable, que está siendo impactado tanto por el cambio climático, como por su uso insostenible en muchas partes del mundo. Sin embargo, la escasez de recursos hídricos todavía no está recibiendo la atención debida, en relación a su importancia para toda forma de vida en el planeta.

Por un lado, podemos constatar que el principal impacto del calentamiento global es sobre el ciclo hídrico, lo que resulta en cambios en los patrones de precipitaciones, mayores episodios de sequías, lluvias intensas e inundaciones en muchas partes del mundo.

Por otro lado, hay todavía poca conciencia sobre las cantidades significativas de agua que son necesarias para los diferentes procesos de producción industrial.

Es en este contexto, que Leahy nos hace las siguientes preguntas: “¿Sabías que tu café de la mañana requirió 140 litros de agua? ¿Y que estas portando agua? – Para producir un solo par de jeans se necesita 7.600 litros de agua, y otros 2.460 para fabricar la polera” (ver gráfico abajo).

Otro ejemplo es la producción de papel, que también requiere grandes cantidades de agua para su producción. Stephen Leahy ha calculado que la producción de cada uno de sus libros ha requerido 980 litros de agua.

YWF smartphonePor la producción de un celular inteligente son necesarios 910 litros de agua; la producción de una polera de algodón requiere de 2.500 litros, mientras que una polera de polyester solo requiere de 350 litros. Fuente: Infográficos de Stephen Leahy.

A nivel global, es la producción de alimentos la que mayor cantidad de agua consume. En segundo lugar se encuentra la producción de electricidad, sea de fuentes fósiles o nucleares.

Cambio climático y recursos hídricos

Como ya he comentado en su momento en el Klimablog, entre los principales hallazgos del Grupo de Trabajo II del Quinto Informe (AR5) del Panel Intergubernamental de Expertos sobre Cambio Climático (IPCC) de las Naciones Unidas, encontramos varias menciones sobre los recursos hídricos.

El IPCC constata de forma clara: “Se proyecta que el cambio climático va a reducir de forma significativa fuentes renovables de agua superficial y de acuíferos en la mayoría de las regiones secas subtropicales. Esto intensificará la competencia por el agua entre agricultores, ecosistemas, asentamientos, industria y la producción de energía, impactando sobre la seguridad hídrica, energética y alimenticia regional”. Luego, se agrega lo siguiente:

•En muchas regiones, precipitaciones cambiantes o el derretimiento de nieve y hielo están cambiando los sistemas hidrológicos, afectando los recursos de agua en términos de cantidad y calidad.

•La fracción de la población global que experimentará escasez de agua y la fracción que será afectada por inundaciones fluviales aumentará con el nivel del calentamiento durante el siglo XXI.

Esto tiene impactos directos sobre los medios de vida de las poblaciones pobres y marginadas:

•Riesgos relacionados al clima agravan otros factores de estrés, muchas veces con impactos negativos sobre los medios de vida, especialmente de las personas viviendo en pobreza.

Es por ende urgente enfocarse en el acceso al agua y su buen manejo, cuando hablamos de adaptación al cambio climático. Aquí la publicación de Leahy es de gran utilidad, mostrando de una forma clara y didáctica dónde y cómo estamos utilizando agua, mismo si no lo vemos de forma directa.

 

YWF graphic -YWF electricityLa generación de 1 kilovatio hora requiere de 180 litros de agua de refrigeración (izq.). Un kilovatio hora es suficiente para a) prender un foco de 100 W durante 10 horas, b) navegar el internet por 5 horas, c) secar el cabello tres veces o d) hornear una torta de cumpleaños. Fuente: Infográficos de Stephen Leahy.

El objetivo principal que persigue Stephen Leahy con su libro “Your Water Footprint” es, en sus propias palabras, el de “informar a la gente sobre las cantidades enormes de agua ´escondida´ que consumimos todos los días”.

“El agua escondida está en todo alrededor de nosotros. Esta agua que no se ve se llama ´agua virtual´ o ´agua incorporada´. Mismo si no podemos ver el agua que ha sido necesaria para producir una polera, un sofá o una televisión, es igualmente real que el agua que tomamos o con la cual nos duchamos”, explica el autor en la introducción de su libro. “Cada uno de nosotros usa cantidades de agua virtual mucho más grandes que el agua ´normal´ que podemos ver, sentir y probar”.

Una publicación altamente informativa e ilustrativa, cuyo limitante principal para Bolivia consiste en su idioma (inglés). Sería altamente deseable que alguna editorial en América Latina se pueda animar a producir una traducción para poder llegar a un público mucho mayor en nuestra región.

Your Water Footprint:  The Shocking Facts About How Much Water We Use To Make Everyday Products

October 2014 Firefly Books, 160 Pages, 125 Unique Infographics only $19.95 Paperback (Also avail in hardcover) Order today

In US:  AmazonPowell’s Books; Barnes&NobleIndiebound

Canada:  Chapters-Indigo Signed copies avail at Blue Heron Books – Stephen’s home town bookstore; In Ottawa visit the legendary Octopus Books

UK:  WH SmithAmazonWaterstones

Australia: Angus & RobertsonBooktopia

New Zealand: Mighty Ape

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Award-winning environmental journalist launches book that will change the way you drink

by Lisha Van Nieuwenhove

Did you know that the average North American lifestyle is kept afloat by about 7,600 litres of water a day? We’re not talking trying to cram in more than the eight glasses recommended for our health – we’re talking about how much water it takes to propel our lives.

A new book written by Uxbridge resident and award-winning environmental journalist Stephen Leahy gives shocking insight into the “water footprint” that we use each day. We’re all familiar with the term “carbon footprint”, and this new term can be jarring when first learned, as it’s not likely something you’ve heard about before.

Open up Your Water Footprint: The Shocking Facts About How Much Water We Use to Make Everyday Products and you’ll quickly learn that the world’s most abundant resource is also the world’s most abused.

“Our supply of water is limited,” explains Stephen. “It doesn’t go away. We’re using the same water the dinosaurs drank. The problem is, we’re creating a cycle of demand that our world cannot keep up with. It’s simply not sustainable. We undervalue water.”

The book was originally commissioned by Firefly Books after a publisher there read “A Cup of Coffee with Stephen Leahy” in The Cosmos about two years ago. Your Water Footprint is easy to read, with lots of what Stephen calls “info graphics”. There is lots of reading to be done, but each picture does an excellent job of telling a story, and although the facts each chapter pours out (pun semi-intended) can be overwhelming, they are captivating and eye-opening. Take a pair of jeans, for example. One pair of jeans takes 7,600 litres of water to make. Much of the cotton from which jeans are made grows in India. Water is needed to irrigate the cotton crops, and it comes from nearby rivers. Once the raw cotton is harvested, it must be washed. More water use. It is then shipped to Bangladesh – the fuel used in the vehicle(s) that transport it requires water, as do the vehicles themselves. The cotton is processed further, being spun and dyed (more water in the dye), and the now-contaminated water often lands back in the rivers it came from. Eventually the finished garment gets a couple more washes, and the jeans get packaged up and shipped off to retailers – more fuel, more transport, more water. 7,600 litres doesn’t seem so unreasonable.

“The book doesn’t say that us using water is bad,” says Stephen. “It’s more about helping us all to understand where we’re doing things wrong and how they can be fixed. We need to be conscious of what we purchase, because there’s always a price to pay in water. Remember the three r’s – reduce, reuse and recycle. That helps. Eating vegetarian once in awhile – that helps, because it uses way more water to eat a diet high in beef. Even chicken uses less water.”

Stephen says he learned a great deal writing the book, as he had been more involved in other environmental issues.

“I didn’t know the extent to which water is involved in everything. ALL forms of energy require water. It’s amazing.”

The book is already starting to be used in some schools, in classes as young as grade six.

As a freelancer, Stephen writes mainly for Inter Press Service, a news agency that claims to be the world’s leading provider of news and analysis on sustainable development. Stephen covers topics ranging from climate change, energy, water, biodiversity, development, to native peoples, and his work often takes him all over the world.

He will be at Blue Heron Books this Saturday, November 8, from 1 – 4 p.m., to officially launch Your Water Footprint: The Shocking Facts About How Much Water We Use to Make Everyday Products, as well as answer any questions that readers may have.

Your Water Footprint will definitely change the way you look at every day life – from the food you eat to the way you consume household products.

–Lisha Van Nieuwenhove “The Uxbridge Cosmos” (11/06/2014)

Your Water Footprint:  The Shocking Facts About How Much Water We Use To Make Everyday Products

October 2014 Firefly Books, 160 Pages, 125 Unique Infographics only $19.95Paperback (Also avail in hardcover) Order today

In US:  AmazonPowell’s Books; Barnes&NobleIndiebound

Canada:  Chapters-Indigo Signed copies avail at Blue Heron Books – Stephen’s home town bookstore; In Ottawa visit the legendary Octopus Books

UK:  WH SmithAmazonWaterstones

Australia: Angus & RobertsonBooktopia

New Zealand: Mighty Ape

Screen Shot 2014-11-26 at 2.01.21 PM“a brilliant and shocking exposé”   — Publishers Weekly

 

Environmental journalist Leahy delivers a brilliant and shocking exposé on precisely how much water we use, not just for personal hygiene but to create the products we wear and consume.

Who knew, for example, that it takes 7,600 gallons of water to make one pair of jeans, 56.6 gallons to produce 1kg of tomatoes and 449 gallons to make a single chocolate bar? Leahy’s text is illustrated with graphics depicting the quantity of water required to produce each item discussed, from sugar beets to leather shoes to iPhones to meat consumption. A meat-based diet, he says, consumes the equivalent of 15 large bathtubs of water daily. A vegetarian diet by contrast consumes just eight.

Filled with color pictures, statistics writ large and easily comprehensible comparisons, Leahy warns that the future, in terms of our water usage, looks dire. “The success and prosperity of many parts of the world are directly linked to overdrawing of their water resources,” he writes. “This can’t continue.”

He concludes with water-saving tips in the bathroom, kitchen, laundry and our general lifestyle, and iterates not to “worry if the savings are minimal. Every drop counts.”

Publishers Weekly Nov 29 2014 (pay-walled)

Your Water Footprint:  The Shocking Facts About How Much Water We Use To Make Everyday Products

October 2014 Firefly Books, 160 Pages, 125 Unique Infographics only $19.95Paperback (Also avail in hardcover) Order today

In US:  AmazonPowell’s Books; Barnes&NobleIndiebound

Canada:  Chapters-Indigo Signed copies avail at Blue Heron Books – Stephen’s home town bookstore; In Ottawa visit the legendary Octopus Books

UK:  WH SmithAmazonWaterstones

Australia: Angus & RobertsonBooktopia

New Zealand: Mighty Ape