The 7th Generation Project

One of the things that gives a false impression about the true costs of things is that often the price of natural resources is not included in the bottom line. As an example, the use of water in producing a beef burger. Water is regarded as a free resource, which is just as well because it takes over 1000 litres of water to produce one beef burger by the time it has gone through the food chain. Imagine if you had to pay £1 for every litre of water within the food chain according to how much hidden water it contained? This isn’t that unreasonable when you think about it, because people pay nearly that amount of money to buy designer drinking water anyway.

That would mean a person wouldn’t be so keen to just jump in the car and go buy a takeaway burger because it would cost over £1000 to buy one burger and fries!

And it gets worse, because most of this ‘free’ water is largely taken from underground aquifers and so we are using up stored sources of fossil water far faster than they can be replaced. And yet because it’s there and largely (although increasingly less so) available we just take it because we can and we need it.

Well pretty soon at that rate of usage, a burger and chips might not cost £1000 but a litre of water might!

Are we really that blind that we are willing to delude ourselves into thinking that the best things in life (water and air for example) are free?

Well they are free because they are a gift from the Earth. They cease however to be free when we treat them like we own them and consume them faster than they can be replaced.

The law of diminishing returns is not something we need the Chicago Boys of the Milton Friedman school of economics to explain to us. No water coming out of the tap when you turn it on makes us all instant economists.

Let's face it, all the money in the world isn't worth as much as a glass of water if you are in the desert and dying of thirst. Why wait that long before valuing things for what they really are now?

Tony Kearney

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Comment by Tony Kearney on November 10, 2009 at 7:48
Good points to bear in mind that you make Michael.
At that rate of going all water will pretty soon be holy water regardless of whether or not it has been blessed or what faith a person is!
For some it already most certainly is.

I feel another blog coming on!

Comment by Michael Donnelly on November 9, 2009 at 4:19
Interesting points Tony and I totally agree. We are happily less prepared to pay for bottled water - seeing as it is the biggest con in history, and yet we have a problem with the Government asking us to pay for the treatment and delivery of drinking water to our houses, 90% of which we flush away or use to wash clothes and 1% gets drunk.

It is also good to remember the link between water and energy. Water is heavy (1litre weighs 1 kg) and we pump it all over the place - from the mountains to the resevoirs, to the treatment works, to the city, throughout the city, to the sewage works, and out to sea. Did you know that NI Water is NIE's biggest customer! So conserving water is also directly conserving energy.


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