By Dennis Renner
A solution to the water crisis would also solve the issues of global warming and our health care crisis in America. As strange as it may seem these three issues are intertwined and inseparable. As global warming accelerates the loss of our glaciers, our supplies of fresh water are reduced on a global scale. In this proposal we shall examine how the fresh water shortage, America’s health crisis, and global warming are all a result of human choices. There is no argument on this issue, only arguments on how to provoke a change in our choices. Choices, now devastating to our planet and all of humanity.
Lets take a look at water usage and conservation practices. We hear a lot about being careful when we brush our teeth not to leave the tap running. Go to natural desert landscaping instead of lawns. We all know that to install water saver shower heads and toilets would help to conserve and not waste this precious resource. All these ideas are good and should be implemented into our daily lives.
As individual human beings we each use hundreds of gallons to thousands of gallons of fresh water everyday in a way that most people never think about. It is not our sinks, showers, toilets, dishwashers, washing machines, lawns or even our swimming pools. What is it that uses so much fresh water you ask? It is the water we use to grow and produce our food. In America we have a population of 303,824,650 citizens according to the 2008 estimate. For our purposes here we will call it 304 million. Out of that 304 million Americans there is a group of 6 million that use 300 gallons a day for every single person in order to produce their food intake. This group uses one billion eight hundred million gallons of fresh water everyday.
Sounds like a lot of water per person doesn’t it. Lets not get to hasty in our judgments just yet for there is a group of 12 million Americans that use a whopping 1,200 gallons of water a day per person to produce their daily food intake. This group uses fourteen billion four hundred millions gallons of fresh water everyday.
You might think with how glutinous these two groups above us are on water usage that it is no wonder we have a water shortage. Its would seem amazing that their would be any water left for the last group.
So here we are at the last group, 286 million Americans. So how many gallons of water a day per person do you think this group uses? Well on average this group uses an unbelievable 4000 gallons of fresh water per person to produce their daily food intake. This group of Americans uses one trillion, one hundred and forty four billion gallons of fresh water a day to produce their daily food intake.
If you add up all the fresh water that these three groups of Americans use every single day for food production you began to get a picture of why there is a fresh water crisis. We are using it up at a rate far beyond what nature can provide. At current usage we are going to run out. Oh by the way our combined daily water use for all three groups is.
One trillion, two hundred and eighty nine billion, eight hundred million gallons of fresh water used to feed America for one day.
Well we all have to eat don’t we? Of course we do, but just think about it, how come some American individuals can get by on 300 gallons a day while other are using 4000 gallons of fresh water a day. Why the difference? Here is another question. If you take a five-person family that is using 20,000 gallons of water a day to produce their food, how can they afford that much water to produce their food at current water prices. The answer is they can’t afford it.
So why is there such a difference between these groups of Americans and their water usage for food production? The answer is in the foods that they choose to eat. Our first groups of 6 million Americans are Vegan. They choose to not eat any meat or animal products of any kind; they eat only a plant-based diet. The second groups of 12 million Americans are Vegetarians. They choose to eat eggs, dairy and a plant based diet. The eggs and dairy account for the extra 900 gallons of fresh water used. The third and largest group with 286 million Americans chooses to eat a diet containing meat, dairy and eggs.
Lets reiterate this so it is easy to understand.
The individual vegan uses an average of 300 hundred gallons of fresh water per day for their food production.
The individual ovo-lacto vegetarian uses an average of 1200 gallons of fresh water per day for their food production.
The individual meat eater uses an average of 4000 gallons of fresh water per day for their food production.
So you might ask; “How can this be? “ Why does a diet containing animal foods use so much more water? Here is a quick explanation. To produce one pound of beef it requires 2,500 gallons of fresh water. A hundred times the amount of water it takes to grow a pound of wheat. The production of meat, dairy and eggs uses an exorbitant amount of water compared to any plant crop. The sad part of this is that the animal food industries receive huge water subsidies from the state and federal governments. If consumers had to pay the true cost of water at the store a pound of hamburger would be $35.00. If you add all energy costs associated with beef production a pound of beef would cost $90 dollars. With all the enviromental costs added in, a pound of beef would cost over $800 dollars.
So let’s have some more fun with the math, I will use Lake Mead as an example. Lake Mead is the largest man made reservoir in the United States. It is a 110 miles long with 247 sq. miles of surface area. It can hold 28.5 million-acre feet of water. That is 9.2 trillion gallons of water when it is full. At current levels it is somewhere around 4.6 trillion gallons. Half empty or half full depending on how you look at things. One thing for sure is that the water level is continually dropping.
Let’s imagine for a moment that all 286 million Americans from the third group made a choice to go vegan. In one day that would save one trillion, fifty eight billion, two hundred million gallons of fresh water. If they continued their vegan diet for a month (31 days) they would save thirty two trillion, eight hundred and four billion, two hundred million gallons of fresh water. That would be enough water to fill Lake Mead three and a half times. Just imagine if Americans chose to go vegan in little of no time all our reservoirs would be full again.
In reality this would only work once animals were no longer being raised for food and their numbers came down to a sustainable level.
Okay that solves the water crisis but how does that fix global warming and America’s health crisis. Well it’s a nasty big secret that the meat industry rather you not know. Raising so many millions of animals for slaughter has a nasty side effect. Millions of animals raised for slaughter produce massive amounts of methane gas. The worlds cattle population emit into the atmosphere 100 million tonnes of methane each year, significant enough levels to heat up the planet. Methane is a green house gas that holds 25 times the heat that Co2 holds. It is estimated that half of all the global warming is caused by methane produced by animals being raised for food. Methane from animals being raised for food is responsible for more global warming than all the cars and industry combined. Not only that, all these animals produce tons and tons of sewage wastes. A lot of that waste is polluting our rivers streams and aquifers, further damaging our fresh water resources.
If the insanity of raising all these animals ended so would their production of methane. Methane cycles out of the earth’s atmosphere much quicker than Co2; in as little as 8 years we could be turning global warming around. I wish this was the end of this issue but raising meat adds to global warming in another way. Animal production has a huge carbon footprint. When you add up all the petroleum products it uses for farming the hay and grain. Trucking the animals and running the feed lot operations. Trucking them to the slaughterhouses processing the meat, refrigeration, and shipping to your local stores. By the time you add this all together, every pound of meat produced used a gallon of petroleum. Every gallon of petroleum produces 20 pounds of Co2 that ends up in our atmosphere.
Look at it this way. A thousand pound steer uses 1000 gallons of petroleum. That is enough fuel to power the average car for more than a year. Every quarter pound hamburger sold for .99 cents uses $8.50 in water and another .50 cents in petroleum. That doesn’t cover the energy to cook it or the labor to prepare it or packaging. I think by now you can see how heavily our government with your money subsidizes the meat industry.
Okay we have solved the water crisis and global warming but what about America’s health crisis? Okay here is my proposal. I would not want to see legislation dictating what Americans can and cannot eat. I propose that we let the free market system work. Let’s pull all the government subsidies off of, beef, pork, chicken, fish and the eggs industries and while we are at it we should include the alcohol, and tobacco industries. Now let’s divert all that money into a universal health care system for all Americans. This will in time produce a huge dividend to solving our health care crisis. By removing the subsidies off of meat most Americans would eat far less of it. It is simple economics. If Americans had to pay $90.00 a pound; eating meat would go out style. A hamburger costing $24 dollars might not have the appeal that it does now. An affordable veggie burger might look far more appetizing.
Eating meat is just as healthy as smoking cigarettes. Just like the tobacco industry will never admit their products cause lung cancer. The animal food producers will never admit that their products can cause, colon, breast, prostate, pancreatic, esophageal, and many other cancers. They will never admit that eating their products leads to diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity, osteoporosis, arterial sclerosis, and heart attacks. The fact is that eating meat is directly related to all these maladies. The science is in; if you want to increase your odds on a long and healthy life, cut the animal products out of your diet. A whole foods plant based diet is the proven way to avoid the diseases listed above. ( Read the "China Study" by T.Colin Campbell, PHD)
There is another component to this story. While we are feeding eighty to ninety percent of our grains to produce obese animals for food; approximately sixty million people will starve to death on this planet this year. Forty million of those will be children. This can only be described as a crime against humanity and another cost of our meat eating diet.
How severe is this problem?
You might be walking down the isles of your favorite store today thinking everything looks fine. All the shelves are full. I see no problem because of fresh water shortages here. Well let’s look a little further. At current water usage water experts claim that by 2017 the water level in Lake Mead will drop to the point that hydroelectric production will end. By 2021 Lake Mead will run dry. The ramifications from this will be disastrous. Electrical power shortages through out the southwest. Water for irrigating crops in Arizona and Southern California will be severely impaired. The ripple effect will be felt across this nation.
The next domino to fall will be the Olagala reservoir; it once contained more water than all five great lakes combined. It is the lifeblood of the Midwestern United States. At the rate we are pumping it dry it will be gone in another 10 to 20 years leaving the central region of United States a giant dust bowl.
As you can see by now we have to make a change in the ways we deal with our fresh water supplies. Change is coming whether we like it or not. It is up to us to decide what those changes will look like. In the end all the water saving devices we can use in and out of our homes will only slow down the inevitable disaster. The only real answer to these problems is addressing the issue of the biggest waster of fresh water, the production of animal based foods. Choosing a diet low in animal products will secure Americas water needs for generations to come.
Think one person cannot make a difference. If one American changes from a meat eater to a vegan, in one year that person alone will have saved, one million, three hundred and fifty thousand, eight hundred gallons of water.
That is why my family and I choose to be vegan. It is our way of helping humanity deal with the issues of a Global Water Crisis, Global Warming and Americas Health Crisis.
Please join with us in demanding that the subsidies for alcohol, tobacco, and all animal food products be stopped. Government subsidies should never be used to harm Americans or destroy their children’s future.