Thursday, 20 December 2012

How is Your Water Footprint?

Not a reference to the human ability to maybe walk on water in times of flooding, but a concept currently being dreamed up by possibly unfunded academics looking for research grants.

This follows along the lines of our now familiar carbon footprint in that it seeks to expose how much water we use to produce our food and to include it in labelling at the supermarket.

From a Farm Online article in January 2011 by Colin Bettles: 

“If a leading a soil and environmental scientist gets his way, consumers will soon be able to identify how much water is involved in production of their favourite goods with ease at the point of sale and identify what region the water comes from.

Its all part of a push to bring about greater understanding and awareness of the water volumes used to make food and fibre products, especially on-farm and irrigated items, through the introduction of a new water labelling footprint”.
UWA Adjunct Professor, Dr Brent Clothier, urged the introduction of a water labelling footprint, while presenting at an agronomy conference in New Zealand in mid-November, titled “Food Security from Sustainable Agriculture”.

One commentator wondered how many millions of litres would be labelled on fish.

The link below provides and interesting insight into the scientific brain that believes that water is a finite resource and that as it is used up it goes POOF and disappears.

It completely overlooks the fact that there is a precipitation cycle.

The world’s total rain precipitation in a year is about one meter and about 200 metres have fallen on the Earth since the Industrial Revolution.

Since the Ice Age ended, enough rain has fallen to fill all the oceans four times.

Since the Dinosaurs died, rainfall has been sufficient to fill the oceans 20,000 times.

So one has to wonder, where the overflow runs to, and where is earths great spillway.

It seems the amount of water on Earth probably hasn’t changed significantly over geological time.


  1. "So one has to wonder, where the overflow runs to, and where is earths great spillway."

    The Ocean, you pompous moron. Once it arrives there, funnily enough, I think you'll find we can't drink it any more. Of course there's a precipitation cycle. However, it takes time to work its way back inland - we use too much too quickly, we have to do without until nature makes it magically appear again...

    1. Always great to see an experienced blogster show up "Nick", and comment bravely under his name.
      So who is the 'moron' here? The points which Greg quoted, in simple language so that everyone can understand them (oops, sorry, you couldn't :-( were made with the politeness which he then extended in his reply to you. Come out of your shadowy web, or move on.

      Cheers al (BSc App Geol).

  2. Thanks Nick - Glad to see the post encourages some debate. Maybe a fair bit of water goes back to Oxygen and Hyrogen via photosynthesis by plants. Is it also split back to it's original forms by other earth forces such as volcanic? Maybe you can enlighten me Nick. My point was simply, if the oceans have filled 4 times since the ice age, wouldn't our sea levels be much higher? The other point would be that farmers are mostly fairly water efficient in the production of food and there is much more water waste occuring with the urban consumers, who possibly include the NGO's who want to get involved in food production by providing labeling, as suggested above, and certification schemes, at a cost to producers. These NGO's are effectively extortionists looking for cash. Bit like WWF looking to provide a certification scheme to the the beef industry so you can read about on your McDonalds packs. WTF would WWF know about beef production?

  3. Hmmm. I see that comments only show up in the running RHS panel if they are general replies to the topic. Replies to a comment on a topic don't show. So I am now posting this, as I would feel sad if rude and uninformed "Nick" thought his petty prose would simply escape a response. So please nick, be my guest and have a peek. And Merry Christmas, old chap.
    Cheers al

  4. The concept of water not just vanishing, goes against the grain of the climate scare mongerers such as our chief climate commissioner Tim Flannery who seriously told us a few years ago that Brisbane's dams would never fill again and the Murray would never flow. I like the comment regarding the volume of water used to produce ocean seafood, Greg. Where would they draw the borders?


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