Page last updated at 12:00 GMT, Tuesday, 18 August 2009 13:00 UK

Water policies suffer sinking feeling

Brian Richter (Image: TNC)
Brian Richter

Rising populations, improving lifestyles and changes to the global climate are all increasing the pressure on the planet's water resources, says conservation expert Brian Richter. In this week's Green Room, he explains why there is an urgent need for the world to embrace new ways in which it uses water.

Children waiting to fill buckets with water (Image: AP)
While most governments have proven themselves incapable or unwilling to manage water sustainably, a group of non-governmental and professional water organisations is stepping up to lead the way

More than one billion people lack access to safe, clean drinking water and more than half of the hospital beds in the world are occupied by people afflicted with water-borne diseases.

More than 800 million are malnourished, primarily because there isn't enough water to grow their food.

Fish and other freshwater species are among the most imperiled on the planet, in large part because of the ways that we have polluted and exploited their habitats.

The theme of this year's World Water Week, currently underway in Stockholm, is therefore quite fitting: Responding to Global Changes: Accessing Water for the Common Good.

What global changes, you might ask? Let us start with our global population, expected to rise from nearly seven billion to nine billion in just a few decades. That is why more than half the world's population will be living in areas of high water stress by 2030.

At the same time, in populous nations such as China and India, improvements in living standards and personal incomes are linked to greater consumption of clothing, meat, and water.

It takes 140 litres of water to produce one cup of coffee; 3,000 litres to make a hamburger; and 8,000 litres to create a pair of leather shoes. All of these processes require a vast amount of water to grow crops, feed cows, or produce leather.

On top of that, climate change will bring less rain to many regions, and cause it to evaporate more quickly almost everywhere.

Accordingly, the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has concluded that "the proportion of the planet in extreme drought at any time will likely increase".

These are the nightmares that keep me awake at night.

Just the tonic

These global forecasts wouldn't look so daunting if we were doing a great job of managing water today. But over-extraction of water for farms and cities is already causing even large rivers such as the Yellow, the Ganges and the Rio Grande to repeatedly run completely dry.

A man collects wastewater in a can (Image: IWMI)
More than 80% of cities do not treat their waste water, a study suggests

Remarkably, we also continue to foul our preciously scarce water supplies with too much human waste. More than 200 million tonnes of it each year go directly into our rivers and lakes without treatment.

So yes, the challenges we face are vast, but there's something brewing in Stockholm that is helping me sleep a little better.

While most governments have proven themselves incapable or unwilling to manage water sustainably, a group of non-governmental and professional water organisations is stepping up to lead the way.

You may have heard of the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) that certifies sustainably-harvested wood products, or the Fair Trade movement for consumer products, yet no such scheme yet exists for water.

At World Water Week, a group of leading business, social development and conservation organisations will gather as the "Alliance for Water Stewardship" to advance a new voluntary global water certification program that will recognize and reward responsible corporations, farming operations, cities, and other water users for their sustainable use of water resources.

By developing best practice standards for managing water in a way that enables economic development in an environmentally friendly and socially responsible manner, the Alliance aims to certify "water users" who are taking major steps to minimise their water footprint and protect healthy watersheds.

Participants, otherwise known as "water users", can range from large international companies to local water utilities to agricultural industries.

The Alliance will bring together the largest water players from around the world in Stockholm to launch a "global water roundtable", a two-year dialogue among global water interests to seek agreement about the problems created by unsustainable water use, and to build consensus around the best-practice standards that will underpin the certification programme.

Two children walking across parched soil (Getty Images)
Changes in rainfall patterns could affect our ability to grow food

It is a huge undertaking, but the water crisis is urgent, and we desperately need a new, transparent rulebook for managing our water resources more sustainably.

So why would a large company or city to want to play by these new rules? A rapidly growing number of consumers are buying goods from companies with environmental and social credentials, giving certified products ranging from produce to beverages to clothing a competitive edge in the marketplace.

In this increasingly water-scarce world, companies are also becoming painfully aware of their vulnerabilities to water shortages, not just in their own business operations but throughout their supply chains. If barley farmers in northern China run out of water, breweries and beer drinkers throughout Asia will feel the pain.

Many companies are realising that if they can save water in their manufacturing or growing processes, they can save a lot of money, making them more profitable.

Similarly, cities save costs for water treatment when the watersheds that supply their residents are maintained in a healthy condition.

Interestingly, investors are increasingly screening loan requests from cities and companies on the basis of their sustainability scores, because behaving in an environmentally and socially responsible manner translates into reduced investment risk.

Perhaps most importantly, though, is the simple fact that we have no other choice but to move toward a new paradigm for water.

The maths simply do not add up any other way. We have only the same amount of water on this planet now as when life began. We cannot support seven billion, let alone nine billion, if we continue to waste and foul such a substantial portion of what we have.

Certification isn't likely to solve all the world's water problems, but it very well could set us onto a sustainability trajectory that could give my nightmare a happy ending.

Brian Richter is director of the Global Freshwater Program at The Nature Conservancy, a US non-governmental organisation

The Green Room is a series of opinion articles on environmental topics running weekly on the BBC News website

Do you agree with Brian Richter? Do we need a radical reform of how we use valuable water supplies? Are we facing a global shortfall that will leave billions of people at risk? Or can partnerships between the public and private sector deliver the changes needed to ensure universal access to water?

Brian, I so much agree with the certification concept but i feel we have a long way to go. From a holistic approach, the life of a person in a developed nation isn't sustainable with sewage systems which increases the household water usage by over 80percent when compare with our counterpart in developing nation not having sewage infrastructure. personally i question the current usage of the word "developed", due to its unsustainability, contamination, exploitation and more disasters it entails to out planet. Global cooperation is current being adopted in making policies and laws on usage, protection and conservation of the environment since it knows no boundary. It is high time to regulate the industries in developed nations that makes us developing by increasing our dependency on its resources,products and segregating our economies while valuing our productivity. As long as we continue and do not view ourselves as a whole, we still have a long way to go in conserving water, the environment and our survival at large.
Ali Grema, Abuja, Nigeria

Initially I agree with Brian Richter, however the problem of water scarcity is only a poduct of inadequate Birth Control.

If we alter the way we use water we will be allowing population growth to continue, but for how long? As this article acknowledges Water is a limited resource, if we support population growth for another 20 years what happens then when the Rivers run dry - which they will. Population growth will only level of when met by an environmental constraint. A new water ethic will only delay and amplify an even greater tragedy of millions having not enough water, unless supported by an emphasis on population control.
Stuart Pilkinson, Birmingham

The mathematics is a simple equate water = life on earth. Therefore the out come is simple no water, no life. Water each days becomes more and more of a precious commodity!

The world needs to make water more sustainable. This starts with governmenting bodies of each country. They need to put into practuice recycled water schemes, like some european countries. The sooner the better!
kyle, Leytonstone, London, England

Hm, I really think we need to put this into context. We do not consume water in the traditional sense, we just use then discard. The amount of water on our planet is not changing but what we are doing with the supply, and waste, does need to be discussed. In many cases we either waste water or pollute our supplies. It really is an interesting question with many interested lobbies who will be fighting "their corner".
Len Archer, Cambridge UK

Wasn't Barcelona shipping water in last year because of acute shortages .... Their answer to solve this problem was to build de-salination units.

What water shortage? Two thirds of the globe is covered in water!
Mick Mac, Chelmsford, England

Can we set up a system of water usage wherein the drain water from our toilets does not go waste. Could we use this water for our communal gardens and trees ?
Saleem, Coimbatore, India

We have water problems across the world but then the real issue is not that we have a shortage but there is just too many people drawing on what is a finite resource. Since no government, with perhaps the exception of the Chinese have any intention of limiting population growth then there is absolutely no likelyhood of this changing. Here in the UK even our resources are stretched. Given that there is no plan as yet to build a Thames barrage with hydro electric generation that could subsequently be used to put in de salination plants to fix the water issue here in a modern developed country what hope is there for thiose in third world areas? Little or none as I see it. Meanwhile the UK has shipped all its industry out of the country so we look like a green and pleasant CO2 neutral country to the detriment again of the rest of the world.
dave. Southeast UK, Chatham Kent UK

Unmanaged growth in the human population is indeed a problem. Idioacracy is happening...

I am seriously that scared.
Brian, Melbourne Florida

Following from Richelle's comment - China has tried that strategy, not entirely successfully and indeed it led to all sorts of other social problems. However, I do agree with the principal and have to say that I have had some "arguments" with friends who are having large families (i.e. >2 children) on the basis that they are contributing to future overcrowding on the planet.

The only downside with this plan is that you will end up with an oversized older generation without the volume of younger generations there to assist in looking after the pensioners!
Mark, Jersey

As the population increases and each human is made up of 80 odd % of water. It seem to me more important to restrict human numbers as well as improving managment of all resources.If water becomes the new Oil then more wars will follow
Chris, Durham

How do those above, who have stipulated population growth as the main problem rather than water waste, propose to deal with the 'actual' problem then? The West condemned China for enforcing the 'one child per' policy...

We should actively seek to manage and maintain EVERY valuble resource that the planet has to offer, water is yet another great step in that direction - we cannot carry on in this way for much longer; like he said, the maths dont add up.
Jonathan Kasstan, Canterbury

The earth can support 900 million people ok. It comes down to less people are needed. Our kids are going to face some bad problems, if not death before there time. 93 % of people are not need in today world base on oil is only thing which support them now. Each person needs 8 units of land for food, we down to 3 units of land. People should watch Jared Diamond on TED to understand why here in Hastings in New Zealand if one takes key point and feed it into computer model the out come we are on death road; just most people don't see it here. New Zealand has more sheep than people (People 6 Million) Water is going be problem for us too in longer term than now.People will not face the real problems. People here will give a dollar for sports not dollar to save the future.
Geoffrey BruceGordon, Hastings/ New Zealand

Why they never mention the water shortage within the developed countries? Places like the recent weather disruptions in Montana-US and droughts in US [California had a terrible water shortage this year and many farms will lose their crops like avocatos ]. n 2007, Po River in Italy had its volume decrease intoa point where was not possible to navigate it anymore. Also the complete collapse within the Dead Sea Region between Jordan and Israelm, compromising a vast region due erosion and underground collapse. ... and why not mention Australia with their waste of irrigation to produce on 80% of the water resources are used to produce a profit from only 0.85 of its agricultural land.

As mentioned above, problems are linked to the unmanaged growth, stupidity (look for shor term profitable instead to long term action). Recovery of the forests within regions like Iceland, US, UK, Australia would help a lot. A complete ban with world scale logging would help to balance the erosion, water retention and decrease the salinization of the soil.

Of course, more intelligent agriculture with driping irrigation and more adequate crops would help...

The profit driven society will create its own doom. Fishery stocks being destroyed all around, the relation of Forests and logging/plantations and profit at all costs, exporting the ecological problems to other countries.

Policies is not the solution but a complete review os how our society is driven should be the answer. Money and profit is not everything in a long run.
Carlos Frohlich, London

The planet is covered by water, so we do not have a water shortage, we have a logistics issue.

If your far from water, build a pipeline.

If it is salt(sea) water, remove the salt.

Dont think of cost of doing these, just do it.
Chris, spalding

The water problem stems from the fact we don't reuse water in the industrialized nations and we use it frivolously on things like watering lawns. We have the capability to flush our toilets and then turn this water into potable drinking water at the treatment plant. We instead dump that water into lakes and rivers where it is contaminated again and then has to be treated by the next city down the river.

As for the rest of the population of the world that is actually growing much of their water crises is due lack of infrastructure (pipes, treatment plants, etc) and civil strife. In many cases they have less density than places like the Netherlands. Progress about using what you have more efficiently not draconian methods of population control.
Ronald, Fort Worth TX United States

What we really need is a 'sustainable population programme'. I won't apologise for being born in the UK - parts of which are under water stress though not on the scale of some developing nations - but all nations need to address population growth. Even if we could solve the water problem now, will the solution hold true when the global population doubles again? And what of the other shortages that will begin to impact everywhere, food, fuel, clean air?
Ironspider, Airstrip One

Richard Casselle has hit the nail on the head. We are the only speicies on this entire planet that is now controlling the natural resource rather than vice versa. Take any other species and the natural resource rules the numbers.

We on the other hand are above that. The key cause of Climate Change is not air travel, 4x4s in Cities, or 'stuff' that we all must have - its people an unchecked growth in the all consuming species that is the Human Being.

Conequently we are heading for a whole heap of trouble. And whilst we try and stop 4x4s in Cities, or ban runway 3 the population continues to grow.

We consider ourselves the smartest and resourceful of all animal species - we are actually the dumbest.
Ian Thynne, London

I agree with Brian and would like to add that the government has a larger role to play in developing nations for water management. In developing nations, the government has failed in checking the industrialisation which dump the effluents in sea/river/flowing water etc. The govt. has become utter corrupt and has forgotten the core issues like population explosion. On the contrary, we as global citizens have also become materialistic and are welcoming each & every technology with open arms. We should draw some limits and be nature friendly like taking a walk/bicycle rather to use car, reduce AC consumption etc. which would definitely bring down the earth temperature on long run if practised by many.
Sudarshan, Ahmedabad, India

Richard Casselle is absolutely right. If mankind doesn't manage it's own population growth then Nature will - with dehydration, starvation and disease!
Roger Chubb, Chelmsford, Essex, England

I think it would be far beter to stop being scared to say there are too many people in the world and we need to stop the rise in population. In Britan we are still encouraged to have as many childern a we like by scheems such as child benefit. The simple answer water supply and to many of the world problems is to stop the increase in population and if posible to reduce the population, but this subject continues to be taboo in the press with advocates being acused of being radical.
Peter Evans, Birmingham, England

He does make a very important observation. There is the same amount of water on the planet as there always hes been (not the start of time as he has erroniously indicated). But the fact remains that after all this time, the water you drink is almost certain to contain water that passed through people from thousands of years ago.

Take money out of the equation. It is the exchange of paper and metal. There is enough water to give to everyone on the planet 100 times over and still not deplete it as a resource. You take the water from it's source, you clean it and give it to people to drink. Not impossible, not even difficult.

Just do it.
Simon Stewart, Cupar, Scotland

In the late 60's I lived with my parents on an army base in Dhekelia, Cyprus. There had been no rain for 7 months.The ground was parched, and to cool off we spent alot of time in the sea. My primary school teacher at the time said that in our future (refering to the schoolchildren) that world wars would be fought over water. We had a visit from an Army scientist who discussed with us the feasibility of desalinating the sea. I can remember going home and telling my parents who just laughed and ridiculed what had we had been told.I have lived in many countries where it does not rain very often, Indonesia,Philippines and Sierra leone. Water is valued as a precious resource. People shower, do not take baths, the loo is only flushed for solids, and washing up was done once a day, not throughout the day. So much water could be saved if we introduced those water saving restrictions here. Since returning to the uk we do not have baths, we shower. Also we do not waste water!

by washing out rubbish for the recycling bin. We water our plants at night. Our water bills are low. Children should be taught from an early age the true value of water.
Gayle Olsen, Cambridge

The problem is with population growth and world poverty. If we keep supplying all the resources needed for population growth, the population will keep on growing. If we address the needs of the worlds poorest, history of human development shows us that families tend to have less children when they are not in fear of losing them through poverty/starvation. The chinese have been addresing this problem in their country for decades, where they have had to take population growth seriousley for some time. Maybe we should look at the policies they have tried and try to make some informed decisions on our own policies.
Sean, manchester

Water is available every where in plastic bottles while riding cars, traveling in planes, cinema halls, school bottles etc. We consume RO, UV and mixed variety of properly proportioned water, exactly as per the requirement of our body and to restrict water borne diseases. We require water for many other things like concrete, electricity, irrigation, sewage disposal, denim jeans, meat, fire demand and alike. We are crying for the water because we are already 6.7 billion and soon we are going to touch the nine billion figures. We have to save water not for the other creatures of the planet but for the requirement of growing human population. Though, we can avoid any minor hiccup in our throat by a gulp of 'isolated water' pumped from 700 feet depth but we do not have enough 'common water' in the rivers, aquifers, wells, streams, lakes and ponds. More we tighten our 'Grip' on the water, more we realize that the 'Gap' between human and water has increased.

While generating ideas, we always forget that water is required equally for all the creatures including trees and plants of the planet, particularly those which are being severely suffered by the 'pseudo human dominance'. The need is to redefine the development with adaptation of nature friendly life styles and most important is to design a smooth 'U' turn to stabilize human population at appropriate level. If we do that, water will automatically flow at our doorstep and all of us including Mr. Brian can get sound sleeps without any nightmares.
Sanjay Singh Thakur, Indore,India

I cannot understand why most of the developed world purifies water to drinking standard only to then use it to flush toilets, water crops, wash cars and in thousands of other domestic, agricultural and industrial processes where collected and stored rainwater would do just as well.

Surely it's about time we thought seriously about the way we waste drinking water and the energy needed to produce it?
Mango, Canterbury Kent

The water issue could follow the same path as social responsibility has:

ISO - Intl. Standards Organization is now working on Standard 26.000 with best practice recommendations.

It will not be certifiable but it will work as a guideline which already is a step forward.

Sustainable water usage could have its equivalent ISO standard.
Maria Queiroz, São Paulo, Brazil

We are now in an era where water is longer taken for granted. We have been building dams and aqueducts for the last 50 years in order to provide for a growing population. We are nearing the end of such projects, but much can be done in changing manufacturing and farming practices to be more efficient with water.

World population can then continue to rise for a short while. All such efforts for more efficient use of water, however, are bound to be temporary. In the end, the world population will, by necessity, be limited; either by our own birth control or by natures death control. The choice is ours!
Roger Bates, Beaverton, Oregon, USA

Read Thomas Malthus. Exponential Population growth is exceeding recources. This is not a belief or a religion, it is simple math. Read about the reindeer population on ST Matthews Island. Peak oil. The Club Of Rome. The smartest minds are working on a solution and they have none. Woe is me. Gloom, gloom, nothing but gloom...
Colin , Milton Florida

Water is one of the worlds most precious recsourses,next to children. Humanity for far to long as exploited everything precious on Planet Earth. We have to stop polluting pottable water with human waste first and foremost. We the Human Race as that is the only race on the Planet along with the Animal Kingdom needs to open our eyes to the horrors we humans are doing to our home world. Its the only one we have. I am a man only in my 48th year of living, but feel that I have a lot to contribute, most of it is in my head as I am allways thinking on how to make the world a better place for tomorrow! In my part of the world we have lots of fresh water, but most of it is wasted for profit, like most things in the accountibility, no responability, only excuses....Exploitation and profiteering is what this sad world is about, I could go on forever, but I digrest...Have a good day!!:)p.s. if anyone wishes to contact me, feel free to do so.
Wade, St. John's, Canada

I think the certification program will do good in ways more than one. But simultaneously, I think, the way in which the water crisis is taking shape, governments of all countries should start thinking seriously about it and decide some 'cap' on water usage mainly by corporate giants. It is true that individuals do not consume water sensibly all the time and they do waste in more ways than one. But it is also true that the highest amount of water goes for manufacturing and production units of big corporates around the world that has resulted in drying down of some of the biggest rivers of the earth. This is what happens when so called consumerism exceeds its limits. I think a strict usage restriction announced by governments all over the world can bring in some relief to water shortage. But easier said than done, it needs a long array of discussions, town hall meetings and so on. Individuals like us on the other hand can save water considerably just by remembering certain simple steps like turning the tap off while brushing or washing, not wasting water unnecessarily while bathing and so on. I guess we all know these but forget to follow in actual times. Brian Richter said it right that the water is same as it was at the beginning. Just that we humans have multiplied in such proportions that even the rivers and lakes of the earth fall short of our ever increasing demand. Indeed humans have power to destroy the nature but at the end of the day nature has the last laugh and we humans have forgotten this fact quite conveniently.
Kathakoli, Los Angeles

It's not just about water. It's about the energy required to make the water available. Worldwide, 7% of total world energy consumption is used to pump and treat water and that energy is mainly derived from fossil fuels. The 'easy', cheap water is almost all used; additional water will be more and more expensive.

When politicians talk of the need to increase food production to meet unlimited population growth, we need to bear these facts in mind.
John Russell, Devon, UK

Soylent Green was a movie that had a great impact on me, but we cannot simply say that overpopulation is the problem. The way we deal with our resources is simply irresponsible and would bring to our downfall even if we were only 1 billion. It would be only a matter of time. We cannot simply buy time by becoming less on this planet, it's the excuse of those who don't have the guts to change their lifestyle. I have by becoming vegetarian and buying less and repairing more. Let us all start by doing a little step and not wait for some solution from above.
Alessandro, Cairo

I'm afraid Brian Richter is just moving the deckchairs on the Titanic. James Lovelock and Gaia Vince predict the world population will be down to 1 billion by 2100. We've left dealing with the water problem 100 years too late. God help us, we can't.
John Palmer, Poole, UK

"A rapidly growing number of consumers are buying goods from companies with environmental and social credentials.." Question: Will the Alliance be able to recognize real environmental credentials to properly certify? The recent expose of Fiji Water nails the business response on the head - get more sophisticated in spinning your creds - the general public won't know the difference. This will be no answer.

"Many companies are realising that if they can save water in their manufacturing or growing processes, they can save a lot of money.." Yeah, but without other constraints this is most likely to result in someone else starting to use the saved water for economic benefit - gaining society nothing but a transfer of resources and economic influence.

Until someone places an absolute cap on water use for every user in every region, there will be no meaningful conservation possible. Water will always flow toward money and influence.

You are correct that a new paradigm is needed, but those suggested thus far are way to insignificant. I'm not normally a pessimist, but water is no normal subject.
Anon, Middle America, USA

Perhaps instead of selling guns, tanks and war planes to emerging foreign nations we could sell them water treatment plants instead.
Robert Graeme, Llanfairfechan

The following quote says it all:

'We never know the worth of water til the well is dry'-Thomas Fuller 1732
Ron, Glasgow

I completely agree with Brian Richter and am happy to be a supporter of the Nature Conservancy. We need to start conserving now before our resources are too low to even try. We all have a part to play and with the right leaders we can be successful.
Amanda, Jackson,NJ USA

Writing from the Northwest Rain Forest which has had less rain than usual this year unlike most of the UK, I think Brian Richter is full of codswollop. The problem is too many people and too much poverty. As Bjorn Lomborg points out in his book "Keep It Cool" water quality is the bigger problem today and the result of a little global warming could make changes for the better with more land being available for habitation.

As the oceans warm they will add more water vapour to the atmosphere which in turn will repeat a cycle that has been recorded on earth before. The cycle includes greater rainfall in the great desert belt of the Sahara and possibly the Arabian Peninsular. It may include a change back to to a time of wide spread natural savannah as was previous indicated in the Amazon Basin about 10-15,000 years before present.

What is needed is more common sense and not taxbleeders like Mr Richter trying to place yet more expensive Global bureacracy into unnecessary governing of our lives.
Ben Ainsworth, Vancouver, Canada

I agree - water is too valuable to waste. There are too many people. If we are not careful 'Soylent Green' will come true.
Heather Hobson, Alnwick

I think that climate change has caused ice-melting which may affect the coastal-area countries. Water resources will increase rapidly. The problem is clean water is getting lesser because of wasting water and water pollution. It is true that shortage of clean water will leave many people at risk. It may trigger war in the future because of clean water. So, we partnerships between public and private sector is a must to achieve win-win solution.
Vincent Chew, Johor, Malaysia

It's interesting the water and goods connection, and to understand why industries need to examine their own usage for their own survival. I would like to see money spent on bottled water instead be put on the world's supply and sanitation systems. And getting free contraceptives out to all corners of the world. For the sake of all living species including us, a one child per woman guideline could level populations. It only makes sense.
richelle duckwall, Parkdale, Oregon USA

Thank you, Brian,for reporting on this development. Here in the water-rich Eastern USA we have had a dry Summer which followed a remarkably dry Winter. While we entered the Summer months with water reservoirs at low levels, no local government saw fit to lead the way on water conservation. And as people focus on their dwindling monetary resources of late, they are apt to not pay attention to water. I have believed for a long time that our next crisis will be lack of water. The development of certification standards will only have an effect as long as consumers make it their priority. They will need to be convinced that the standard is in their best interest.
Kevin Gilson, Columbia, MD, USA

I entirely agree . . .

only one thing is puzzling me; what's he going to do as the 9 billion people think "yipeee, that's the water problem solved"; and start heading for 12billion ?

Not technology, not stewardship, not even a fancy logo on the back of the bottle

We need one word; "stop"


Steven Walker, Penzance

I think Brian Richter is right, we are facing a water shortage and its scary. One of the problems here at home (UK) is most of us take water for granted and its a way of life, we don't question it- there is always clean water in the tap!

Hopefully people will begin to work together to make sure we have enough water to live in years to come. Its about awareness and education.

I don't eat a lot of meat- when people ask why I tell them its because of the cost to the environment. Don't get me wrong, we need grazing animals for many things such as helping to manage our areas of nature conservation for example. But the more mouths that need feeding and the increasing amount of meat thats being produced in more intensive ways is putting pressure on our environment - especially water.
Hannah Mintram, Southampton

Fundamentally, we don't have a water problem, nor an energy or a food supply problem. We have a problem of unmanaged growth in the human population.
Richard Casselle, Hoddesdon, Herts, England

We definitely need a globalized strategy for sustainable water use. I've read about a number of water recycling proposals for commercial buildings, and like with next-gen solar power, these water treatment systems are a hefty investment that will have a great payoff for individuals, companies and the environment.
adam fram, brooklyn, ny, usa

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