Wednesday, April 08, 2015

The drought and hamburgers

From the above video:

KIP ANDERSEN: I found out that one quarter pound hamburger requires over 660 gallons of water to produce. Here I’ve been taking the short showers trying to save water and to find out just eating one hamburger is equivalent of showering two entire months. So much attention is given to lowering our home water use, yet domestic water use is only 5% of what is consumed in the U.S. versus 55 percent for animal agriculture. That’s because it takes upwards of 2500 gallons of water to produce one pound of beef. I went on the government’s Department of water resources save our water campaign where it outlines behavior changes to help conserve our water like using low flow shower heads, efficient toilets, water saving appliances, and fix leaky faucets and sprinkler heads, but nothing about animal agriculture. When added up, all of the government’s recommendations, I was saving 47 gallons a day but still that is not even close to the 660 gallons of water for just one burger.

From Alternet

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At 3:26 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

are you vegetarian?

At 3:32 PM, Anonymous Vince said...


To make one hamburger it takes 635 gallons of water
One printed Sunday newspaper uses 80 gallons of water
One slice of bread needs 10 gallons of water
That morning cup of coffee requires 35 gallons of water to make
One egg needs 400 gallons of water
A pound of chicken needs 500 gallons of water to process
A single potato? 100 gallons of water
One orange requires 13 gallons of water
That cotton shirt you’re wearing? 700 gallons of water
A full set of tires for your Prius requires 2,072 gallons of water
The dishwasher uses between 9-12 gallons of water each time you run it
One barrel of crude oil needs 1,851 gallons of water to refine

Yes, civilization takes water. Fortunately, there's plenty to go around if you don't put artificial limits on science and technology.

At 3:36 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

"are you vegetarian?"

No, but that's not relevant to the facts about how we use our water.

At 5:50 PM, Blogger Mark Kaepplein said...

Vegan vs. vegetarian: From the film: 1,000 gallons of water to produce 1 gallon of (cow) milk.

The lesson is to cut back on cow. Other animals are far more efficient food sources and produce less methane to warm the planet. Look to the developing world to see which ones: poultry, sheep, goats, and pigs.

The story about how home water conservation efforts are swamped by a hamburger are the same story as how efforts to cut all fossil fuel use are also minor in terms of climate change to the impact of land use change - from cutting down of forests for wood, grazing, and farming to building housing for unchecked population growth.

At 9:36 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

No, but that's not relevant to the facts about how we use our water.

I see. What's relevant is that you use a lot of water, and vegetarians use less. Got it.

At 9:38 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Desalination - the answer!

Powered by waste heat! Awesome!

Please to tell us how we will get that desalinated water from the ocean to Phoenix?

At 11:15 AM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

"What's relevant is that you use a lot of water, and vegetarians use less. Got it."

That's undeniably true. What we should do is make the price of meat include the environmental costs of producing it, also including how animals are treated before they are slaughtered.

At 12:15 PM, Blogger Mark Kaepplein said...

Rob, get the EPA to put a pollution tax on methane produced by livestock like they do for power plant pollution, along with truer pricing for grower's water (cow feed uses a lot) and farmers will complain about being globally uncompetitive with Canada, Australia, S. America etc. Oh, and ethanol use in gasoline will look even worse when water growing needs are factored in.

At 12:46 PM, Anonymous Vince said...

"Please to tell us how we will get that desalinated water from the ocean to Phoenix?"

If you actually open the web page, you will see that the portion on "waste heat" is part of a larger article on desalination. Scroll down and you might find the entry on Arizona illuminating.

At 2:12 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Doesn't matter. We are not efficient in water usage, but the problem now is that the climate is changing due to fossil fuel usage.

It would be impossible to desalinate and pump enough water to irrigate the croplands in the midwest which are solely reliant on rainwater. There is no way to irrigate pastureland for cattle. The economic dislocation caused by deciding to rely on desal water would be ridiculous.

Trying to desalinate billions of gallons of water is a complicated solution to a simpler problem - use less water, use less fossil fuel

At 4:12 PM, Anonymous Vince said...

"Doesn't matter."

Alas, another faith-based solution.

At 9:18 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Use less water" - faith based solution

"Hope that we can build plants to scale with unproven technology and pump it hundreds of miles to where it's needed, including building mainline distribution pipes and local irrigation pipelines to places with no infrastructure in place - pasture land, farmland currently irrigated from wells not on the grid, homes currently on wells and not connected to city water, and get this all done in under 3 years" - rational solution.

At 12:32 PM, Anonymous Vince said...

" 'Use less water' - faith based solution."

If that's your only solution, it is. You're wishing for the drought to go away and not get any worse. Ask yourself how much water austerity you would want.

Also, if you refuse to read the articles, fine, but your own quote could also a citation.


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