Assignment Four: Water Diary

When I measured my water consumption, I wasn’t sure what to expect for the outcome. My consumption turned out to be around average for an American. The most surprising aspect to me was that the vast majority of my water consumption came through virtual water eating meat.

Countries in North Africa use a lot less water on average than Americans, which didn’t surprise me. Some, like Algeria or Egypt use much less while countries like Tunisia are a little closer to the US. One economic implication I can think of is that meat would be produced and consumed less, unless there was an extremely reliable country to import it in. Also there may be more money and interest to invest in things like dams and water desalination plants than in countries with plenty of water access.

A few social implications I thought of were: an overall difference in the national attitude towards water, diet consisting of foods that require little water to grow, and  water not being as readily available as in other countries. A different attitude towards water might be that people in water-poor countries take shorter showers or take them less often, they don’t use machines that waste a lot of water often (washing machine, dishwashers, etc.), and they probably think much more about their water usage than Americans do. Diets consisting of foods that require little water to grow seems like an obvious and straight forward social implication. As an American, its hard not to imagine a restaurant giving free water or many stores selling bottled water or water taps virtually everywhere, but in water-poor countries I imagine water would not be as easy to find and it would only be given as needed because it is so scarce.

The effects of limited water might induce some cultural shifts to adapt to the short water supply as well as cause some political tension. As for sustainability of life, humans need water, and if there is not enough to support the people in a country then people are going to move elsewhere if they can or die. If water becomes scarcer and scarcer, then it could cause political upheaval if governments are seen as not doing enough to solve the problem. In North Africa and other areas of the Middle East, political upheaval often leads to the rise of terrorist organizations and other threats. All in all, since water is so vital for human life, access to it will have a vital impact on the future.