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April 03, 2008


Mark W. McElroy

Terrific piece, Joel. Well done. We've used data from the Pacific Institute in our own sustainability metrics to great effect. Good stuff.


Peter T. Knight

Another excellent piece Joel.

You ask if “water neutral” will be the next Big Thing. Much depends on how effective water campaigners are at communicating the business implications of water efficiency, through concepts such as virtual or embedded water. I remember a discussion on the subject I brokered with water experts – including Professor Allan - and a group of senior food executives. The frustrating conversation left the executives bemused and in desperate need of a drink.

Jeremy Walker

Again, a fine bit of analysis, Joel. Interestingly it appears that a new sector, "water efficiency" is at last starting to emerge in the cleantech VC space alongside energy efficiency, where there's a lot of very similar low hanging fruit to be plucked by startups.


Der lang anhaltende Machtkampf um das Gebiet Tibet, wobei es meiner Ansicht nach um die einseitige Macht Chinas geht und auf der anderen Seite ein repressionsfreies und anerkanntes Nebenherleben (lt. dem Dalai Lama), spitzt sich angesichts der bevorstehenden Olympischen Spiele weiter zu.

Dave Ohara

Thanks for taking the time to pull this piece together and make the connection of Carbon Neutral -> water neutral & carbon footprint -> water footprint. I blog on Green Data Centers and regularly post content on water to remind the IT crowd that water is their next issue after electricity. http://www.greenm3.com/2008/04/energy-concepts.html

Steve Salmony


Press release19-04-2008

Fisher people demand justice for climate refugees

South Indian fishing community conference on Climate change and
Fisherpeople's livelihood was held on 17th April 2008 at Rotary Community
hall,Nagercoil, Kanyakumari district. This event was organized by
TamilnaduFisher workers Union (TFU), Kerala Independent Fish workers
Federation(KSMTF) and Voices from the Margins (VFM).

Mr. T. Peter Dass, President,Tamilnadu Fish workers Union (TFU) delivered
welcome address and he pointed out that fisher people are facing sea erosion
as a result ofclimate change. This public event is recognized as the first
one organized by the affected community against Climate Change and fisher
people have decided to launch public protest for their sufferings as a
result ofclimate change.

Mr.M.Pakkirisamy, district revenue officer inaugurated this workshop and in
his Chief Guest address said that sea level is rising in the last pastdecade
at an unimaginable rate of increase. Sea level is expected raise 5 meters in
the next 50 years and it is going to affect the fisher people.There is a
need to change the consumption pattern to avoid the expansion of the hole in
ozone layer.

Mr. K.P. Sasi, activist film maker wondered what the government is doing to
stop the carbon emission? There is a need to change the production process
of the industries, agriculture and the energy systems. Nothing is done so
far to the people affected by climate change and marginalized people who are
becoming refugees as a result of ecological impacts thrustupon them.

Dr. A.D.Shobana Raj, ecological researcher highlighted the factthat the
coastal Kanyakumari district has 56 km long coast with apopulation density
of 1500 per sq.km; and the coast line is vanishing. 80% of the water
resources in the coastal area have become saline and peopleare facing water
crisis because of the intrusion of sea water. 132 coastal sea weeds have
disappeared in the last 10 years. If the global temperature rises 2 degree
Celsius then it will have impact on micro organisms leadingto several
contagious diseases affecting coastal people.

Dr. S.P.Udayakumar social activist demanded that our energy consumption
pattern should change. The solution for climate change lies in shifting our
energy sector from fossil fuel dependent sector to renewable energy. Our
transportation pattern should move towards effective and efficientpublic
transport system rather than promoting cars which will lead toincrease in
carbon emission and vehicular pollution.

Mr. Sathya Sivaraman,journalist & film maker stressed the need to pinpoint
who emits more carbon and who should pay for carbon credit. USA is
responsible for 25% ofcarbon emission and it should take the responsibility
in compensation to the victims of carbon emission and climate change. The
relationship of Human species to Earth should be the equivalent to child and
mother, but this species has taken up the role of the destroyer of the earth
and other species. Carbon emitting industries should be changed and if this
is not possible all such industries should be closed.

After the people's response, Mr. T.Peter president KSMTF demanded that
chemical farming practices, polluting industries and carbon emitting
lifestyle should be stopped since the fisher people are the most affected
bythe climate change. Today, this public event is organized with the
conviction that the affected communities can not remain in halls but there
is a need to launch mass public protest not just for their survival alonebut
for the entire humanity locally, nationally and internationally.

In the concluding session Mr. S.M.Prithiviraj, Convener, Voices from the
Margins explained how the marginalized farmers of the Tamilnadu are affected
by climate change in recent heavy rains as a result unusual low pressure in
Arabian Sea. Fisher people are affected by changes in pattern of fish catch,
reduction in fish wealth, and loss of working days as a result of climate
change and tidal waves and their houses are washed away by intruding sea in
many places of South India. Why should the fisherpeople pay for the impacts
of climate change entirely created by other vested interests? The conference
ended with a resolution questioning the polluting industries, chemical
farming practices, non-renewable energy sectors,carbon emitting life style
and the need for taxing the polluters to paythe price for ecologically
affected fisher people and other marginalized communities.

Press release issued byTamilnadu Fisher workers Union (TFU)
Kerala Independent Fish workers Federation (KSMTF)
Voices from the Margins

Steven Earl Salmony
AWAREness Campaign on The Human Population,
established 2001


Many thanks Joel!

As a MS student in conflict resolution who cited Tony Allan in her thesis, I hope that the concept of virtual water catches on for its implications in conflict resolution as well.

For example, in India's Narmada River Basin, the need was for electricity and flood control, not necessarily a complex of dams and irrigation canals will their tremendous impact on indigenous and poorer people. In the conflict between the Palestinians and Israelis, the need is for food and economic development, not necessarily water per se and VW could allow Israel to release more water to the Palestinians with relatively little economic harm to its own well being.

Scott Boutwell

I would agree that the water sector of 'cleantech' has not gained much market awareness, especially in the US, and compared to other cleantech sectors.

We are seeing new awareness of water efficiency in the buildings market, especially around facility management and operations. It could be that the market drivers in this industry (i.e. BIM, virtual modeling, integrated workflow) may also accelerate the adoption of embedded water issues.


Where I live I am charged a little more than $10 per 1000 gallons of water (split between delivery and sewerage charges). Applying that price to the hamburger in your post would make the water content alone cost about $6.50. Perhaps we are charging agriculture too little for water and not sending an appropriate price signal?

Prof Dr. E Mario Mendiondo

The next comments are supported by experiences gained and lessons learned through 17 years working with water decisionmakers, stakeholders and water-vulnerable communities. People living in emerging economies or developing countries, thereby perceiving they will cope with water scarcity scenarios until year 2020 or 2050, accept very well concepts such as "business water footprint" and "water neutral". Concepts introduced by Prof Allan and followed by Prof Hoekstra and coworkers are a very good chance to provoke a transparent dialogue among water sectors. Our experience demonstrates that as a bottom up process, the "hydrosolidarity" is foreseen in relation to Business for Social Responsability (BSR). BSR is viewed as a midterm yardstick to encourage offsets and to keep corners between the Gross Net Product (GNP) and the Payment of Environmental Services (PES), at the LOCAL scale. For example, a medium-size Brazilian's Municipality GNP has the same order of magnitude to the equivalent liability of Municipality's water services computed through PES. That says, my GNP per capita is close to my liabilities per capita of services from water cycle: the better my economy, the faster my water liability. This local effect is, indirectly, GLOBAL-connected through trade and made other people receive those impacts through the increasing prices of commodities, where water is usually incorporated at the processes of goods and services. And produced in my Municipality scale! Conversely, many stakeholders, either public or private, are very worried about PES assessment as a phantom of a potential water trade. As the time goes by, commodities are going to increase in the period 2008-2013 globally, confirming these local-global connections. For that reason some criticisms are brainstorming whether "hydrosolidarity" is either a paradigm, and a new opportunity, or a paradox, farcing biofuels and scaring poverty communities worldwide at most.


Joel, excellent post. I followed up at TreeHugger: http://www.treehugger.com/files/2008/11/the-next-greenwash-water-neutrality.php. Coca Cola is planning to clarify some points of its scheme in the coming days. Stay tuned.


Where I live I am charged a little more than $10 per 1000 gallons of water (split between delivery and sewerage charges). Applying that price to the hamburger in your post would make the water content alone cost about $6.50. Perhaps we are charging agriculture too little for water and not sending an appropriate price signal?

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