Future-Proof Design as a response to dramatic change. I picked up the current issue of Scientific American Earth 3.0 in the airport on the way here, a new magazine devoted to "Solutions for Sustainable Progress." It is full of important articles, but the cover story, "Energy vs. Water: Why Both Crises Must Be Solved Together"made me add another slide to my PowerPoint.
I was aware that one of the major energy bills for most cities is the one for pumping drinking water and sewage. What I had never thought much about is the amount of water used to produce that energy. The premise of the article, by Micheal E. Webber, is that as clean water or what he calls "liquid gold" gets more scarce it may cause us to rethink alternative energy sources that use huge amounts of clean water in their production. He points out, for example, that an ethanol vehicle that travels 100 miles also uses 130 to 6,200 gallons of water (depending on the source of the ethanol and whether it came from an irrigated field), while the same car using gasoline would use 7 to 14 gallons of water. An electric car would use 24 gallons of water to go the same distance, due to the water used in cooling the power plant. Power sources like wind or solar use virtually no water which could reverse that math.