Now, many people say that water will be the new oil of the ２１st century, and to ensure food security and basic comforts, we need to preserve and use the water that we have sustainably. Professor Arjen Hoekstra is the professor in Water Management at the University of Twente in the Netherlands, and co-founder and scientific director of the Water Footprint Network, and he'll talk about his pioneering work in the water footprint of our daily consumer goods, including why meat is driving water scarcity.
Arjen Hoekstra (m): Thank you very much. Everybody knows carbon footprint but who does know water footprint？ I will try to explain in this talk what is water footprint and how it also relates to energy and our diet, our daily commodities. And I will put a bit of a focus on the UK, because we are now in the UK.
I come from the Netherlands, but actually, the numbers are often very similar in other western societies. I speak on behalf of the Water Footprint Network, which is a network of partners around the world from different sectors, including large companies, governments, international organizations, like UNESCO, FAO, and also large NGOs like the World Wildlife Fund and the Nature Conservancy, etc., etc. So, this is a very multi-sector international organization aiming at sustainable, equitable, and efficient water use throughout the world by awareness raising, by using the water footprints, and particularly in the end, by aiming at governments setting water footprint reduction goals, just like with carbon footprint.
And not just governments, but in the end, also companies, so that companies deliver products with low or even zero water footprint. First of all, I will say very briefly something about actually what is water scarcity, what is water pollution, for those who are not aware of that. I will explain the water footprint of a few daily commodities focused on meat and bio-energy, and finally, see what we can do. Signs of water scarcity are everywhere, although living in the UK you may imagine 『 what do I have to do with water scarcity？』 Actually, this is your water scarcity. This is in Spain, you import in the UK strawberries from this area in southern Spain, the Coto Doñana National Park.
This used to be a wetlands, a very nice area. Just upstream, the water is being used to irrigate strawberries, so the water doesn't end up in the wetlands; so this is the wetland today. This is also your area, this is in central Asia. This is where you get the cotton from. So what you see here is the former Aral Sea in Central Asia. There used to be rivers arriving in that sea, so that's why the sea is being fed by rivers. No more. The water is being used to irrigate cotton upstream, so the water doesn't end up in the sea, so the sea is drying. The chemicals that have entered the sea are now lying on the bottom, so we have huge human health problems there.
Then, this is Umit. It's in Brazil, in the Amazon forest. This is where your meat comes from, your meat comes from the UK, yes, but the animals, they have to eat, and they eat the soybeans from Brazil, partly. So the water footprint of your meat is over here. So the green water, the water that is coming from the rain, is being used here, not to sustain the rainforest but to sustain your meat consumption. It takes about ３０ million cubic meters of water per year to produce soybeans in Brazil for export to just only the UK, and this is about equivalent to half a million Olympic swimming pools.
So this is the amount of water being used over there to get you the meat you like, or maybe not you personally, but in the UK. Then, apart from water scarcity, we have water pollution. We have the water pollution from the industries, we have the water pollution from the households, but we also have the pollution from agriculture, which is often much more difficult to handle, because it is what we call 『 diffused pollution,』 and it ends up in the groundwater and the service water system, the pesticides, the fertilizers, the nitrogen, the phosphorous, and they cause huge water pollution problems in our water bodies, and in the end, they affect biodiversity, they affect human health.
The water footprint of the average consumer in the UK is not at home. So forget about this water saving-toilet, forget about this showerhead - it's not where you save the water. Don't believe that you somehow contribute to reducing your water footprint substantially, because the water footprint is in the supermarket. If you go to the supermarket, then it's where you determine what is your water footprint. Your water footprint is invisible. It's what you buy - the food you buy, the cotton you buy, etc., etc. ３４００ liters per day is the water footprint of the average UK citizens related to the consumption of agriculture products. It relates to １５０ liters per day, at home. So this is really small water use at home if you compare to the water use elsewhere.
But, actually, it's much more interesting because it's not just outside your home, it's outside your country. Because ６０ to ６５％ of your water footprint is not in the UK, it is elsewhere: it is in the Cota Doñana National Park in southern Spain; it is in central Asia, in Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan. It is in Thailand, for the rice; it's in Ghana for the chocolate; it's in Brazil because of the soybean for the meat.
So these places that we know from the news, the water scarcity, water pollution, they are in your places. This is where your products come from and where your footprint lies. Technically, we distinguish three components: we have a green water footprint, relates to the volume of rainwater evaporated; we have the blue water footprint, which relates to the volume of surface or ground water consumed; and we have the grey water footprint, which refers to the volume of water being polluted. So we have eveloped very strict mechanisms to calculate those footprints, so that there is no confusion about precisely what it means if we say the water footprint is １００ liters per day.
The water footprint of the UK citizen can be shown on a global map, as shown here. So the intensity of the blue color shows the amount of water used in those different places in the world, the amount of water used for making products that are being consumed in the UK. So we did this kind of analysis for all countries in the world, based on models, to estimate the water use in agriculture, but also in industries and households, and based on trade statistics, of course. And here, you immediately see where are the hot spots of the UK water consumption.
If we just look at this slice of bread, which is a typical Dutch slice of bread, it's ４０ liters of water to make that. So you can hardly imagine it, but it's a lot of water. But it's continuous, if we look at other products, like tomato - it's １８０ liters of water. And we know tomatoes do have a carbon footprint, like in the Netherlands where they are grown in greenhouses, it costs a lot of energy to warm these greenhouses, so tomatoes have a carbon footprint, but they also have a water footprint. In the Netherlands, they have a high carbon footprint, not so big water footprint actually. But if you go to Spain, it's exactly the reverse, because we don't have this huge energy import in tomatoes as we have in the Netherlands.
We have a high water footprint in Spain because there is no water, so it needs to be pumped from the ground to the surface. So this also shows that sometimes there is to be made a trade-off between carbon and energy, because sometimes the carbon footprint of a product is really a concern, other times it's the water footprint, and even one tomato from Spain cannot be compared to one tomato from the Netherlands in this respect.
We need to know, in fact, what are we eating, and what is the underlying water footprint. If you look at the cow, there is ３ million, and this is a global average. I have to emphasize, ３ million liters of water to make this cow, and this is not because the cow drinks such a lot of water, no, actually, ９９％ of the total water footprint of the cow refers to the water needed to make the feed of the cow. And if you then look at what it means for one piece of beef, then we have nearly １６,０００ liters of water, global average, that is needed to make this piece of beef. And if you then translate it to your favorite hamburger, it comes down to ２,４００ liters of water for one hamburger - and this is the total, it includes also the water for the bread, for the lettuce, etc., but most of the water footprint that you show is really for the beef that is there, nicely sitting in between.
If we look at a vegetarian diet in industrialized countries, we see that most of the calories that you get are from vegetable origin, not from animal origin. However, the water footprint, if you look at the liters required per kilocalorie, animal origin calories, they cost much more water than vegetable origin calories, about five times more. So that means that if you look at the total water footprint related to your food consumption, most of the water footprint related to your food is because of the ingredients of your diet which are of animal origin.
If you look at the vegetarian diet - we compare a diet with the same calories, however, now we have much less animal origin - still some dairy product, but no meat anymore - then you see a switch in terms of the total water footprint from ３,６００ liters per day to ２,３００, so a very substantial difference. If you look then in developing countries, you see in general the water footprints are less because the people eat less; they eat less calories. These are the global average values taken from FAO and our own statistics.
But what is now happening is a move from bottom right to the left, top left, so you see an inevitable increase of this water footprint in the coming future, since developing countries get more developed, eat more meat. And this statistic has been shown before: meat consumption worldwide is increasing rapidly still. I have to emphasize, however, that one piece of beef is not the other piece of beef. You don't see the difference here, but they are very different, because it depends on where they come from. If you have grazing systems, the water footprint is mostly green water, rainwater. It's mostly local. The other extreme, from industrial system-based beef, the water footprint is not only green but partly blue. This is water taken from surface water, so this leads to groundwater levels decline. This leads to rivers becoming empty, and often it's not local but far off in water scarce areas.
This was about meat, but let's look at bio-energy. It's very interesting to see that, in knowledge, we are fragmented, so there are people knowing about energy and there are people knowing about water. The same in our policy, there are people responsible for water policy, there are people responsible for energy policy, and these people somehow never talk, and definitely they don't understand each other. So what you see is that, in the water sector, the developments are such that every liter of water being supplied is becoming more and more energy intensive.
So, solving the water problems is possible but it will cost more energy per unit of water, because the water is spent deeper, it's taken from further away. Large infrastructure projects to supply water are being installed, desalination is being promoted; it costs a lot of energy. So the water sector is becoming more energy intensive. The energy sector, on the other hand, is becoming more and more water intensive, because the energy sector tries to become more sustainable, and what is now a nice
solution is bio-energy. And bio-energy is precisely that type of energy that is going to create a large water problem in the future, and this is what you see here: the water footprint of bio-energy is huge. There is no way to ever replace, in a substantial way, fuels, fossil fuels, by bio-fuels. Just forget about it. It's impossible to think about the amount of land and water we need to make all that bio-fuel. And having said that, I have to say there is much difference, of course, because the sugar beet differs usually from the Atropha, which is another crop on the right.
So there are big differences still. If we go into bio-fuel, then have a careful look, and what kind of source we use, and how water efficient is that. Yeah. So, what we see here is an interesting picture that if we are going to drive on bio-energy, we use a lot of liters of water per kilometer, passenger kilometer, always much more than if we walk or if we bike. And, of course, we should invent certain forms of transport that are more efficient than walking and biking, not less efficient. If you look at wind energy, if you look at solar energy, then the amount of energy per kilometer is much less. So this is the direction we should take. So what can we do？ Companies can at least adhere to certain share terminology and calculation standards.
In ２０１１, February, there will be the new global standard on water footprint assessment, and what is very important is that companies give product transparency so that we know at least what we are buying, that we have benchmarks so that we know what direction we can go. And, finally, quantitative footprint reduction targets throughout the supply chain. Governments, they can, of course, look at their own organization of water footprint. And, as I said before, we need that current between water policy and energy policy, but also obviously agriculture policy, and even trade policy, etc., etc.
So to kind of summarize: to stop the waste of blue water, we can simply go to zero blue water footprint in industries by recycling; we can by using irrigation techniques better than before, reduce the blue water footprint easily globally by ５０％; make better use of green water so we don't need to have the blue water anymore; and reduce the grey water footprint globally to zero by organic farming and in industries by just no-pollution, recycling. I would like you to refer for more information to the Water Footprint Network website, which is waterfootprint.org. You can download all kind of publications over there. And, finally, I would like to invite you to go there to calculate your own water footprint. Thank you very much.
MC (m): Our next speaker is Toivo Jokkala, a former co-editor of an award winning Swedish Journal on social matters, and co-author of the paper 『 Climate Change and Livestock,』 along with Jens Holm, a former Swedish member of the European Parliament. He will now talk about how huge subsidies and demand for animal products are a cause of food insecurity and hunger in developing countries. Please put your hands together.
Mr. Jokkala (m): Yeah, And here you have the web address to the report, and as you can see, it has been translated into several different languages. Jens, member of the Swedish Parliament, former member of the European Parliament, and I, we co-wrote this report in ２００６. And, of course, a lot of things have happened since then, both on an international scale and when it comes to EU policies, but the main patterns are still there.
This report isn't only on the EU subsidies to the livestock industry; it also covers some graphics and some information about things that we have been told about earlier today, so I don't intend to repeat what Ester van der Voet and Hsien Hui Khoo and Arjen Hoekstra have said. But, what can be said is that meat consumption - or livestock production and consumption as a whole, including dairy products and so forth - has a huge impact both on climate change, on water scarcity, on deforestation, and even hunger issues.
What's actually happening is that the EU, within its common agricultural policy, still supports livestock production with enormous amounts of money every year. Jens and I calculated that in ２００６, the total figure was ３.５ billion euros that year in support to livestock production. Then, if you include fodder crops and stuff like that, the figure is of course going to be much higher; but it's hard to separate those support figures or subsidies figures from the ones that go directly to animal industry.
What can be said is that there are two basic kinds of subsidies from the European Union to livestock agriculture. First of all, direct subsidies - support money that is paid out to farmers who have a certain kind of animal product that they produce, basically - they get their share of extra money for producing what they're producing. And apart from that there's a category called 『 interventions,』 and this is a very special one.
I don't know if you've heard of it before, but the basic idea behind that is that the EU gives money to farmers for storing the surplus of a given product at a guaranteed price. And this takes place independently of if it's an animal product or not of course. But, given the devastating effects of the increasing livestock production, it's quite remarkable that billions are paid every year to this.
And another kind of intervention support that is perhaps even more remarkable is that money is given out as export subsidies, that European farmers or the European livestock industry is paid to export their products to countries outside the European Union. And this constitutes part of a quite remarkable negative trade spiral. If we take the country of Brazil for instance, as it was mentioned before, Brazil is one of the world's largest importers of dairy products, and huge amounts of money are given out every year to support the export of, for instance, milk powder from the European Union to Brazil. And that makes, of course, these products cheaper than they otherwise would be.
So it puts a downward pressure on market prices in Brazil and make it relatively more favorable for the producers in Brazil to produce for the world market than producing for the local market. You get the logic in that？ And, at the same time, as we've heard about huge amounts of soybeans are produced in Brazil. Production levels between １９６５ and １９９７ increased by ５０ times in that country, and a lot of this is exported as animal feed to the European countries. So, this is like the quintessence of a devastating trade spiral.
What can be said is, of course, is that once upon a time there was a logic behind these subsidies to European farmers. It's basically some kind of post World War II phenomenon where farmers got money in order to secure that there wouldn't be any food shortage in the near future. But this system has survived, and there is no tendency of removing it. Although a number politicians and officials, even ones that we interviewed in our report, say that these subsidies are going to be removed, but it seems to be a very long-term project.
Some subsidies have decreased since we wrote the report in ２００６, especially direct subsidies. The total figure was ３.５ billion euros for all kinds of subsidies in ２００６, all kinds of livestock subsidies, and in ２０１０, the figure seems to be ２.８３ billion euros. But at the same time, as the direct subsidies decrease, there are also increases in interventions, export subsidies and so forth. It goes down on some animal products, but for instance, it goes up on dairy products. I guess it's based on the economic situation basically, it adjusts to world market prices. But the basic thing is that this destructive trend survives. The basic conclusion is that this extremely destructive thing must be stopped, of course, and it also has been demanded very recently in the UN meeting in Nagoya back in October. The meeting agreed that it's important to phase out environmentally destructive subsidies. So we'll see if that has any deeper influence on this.
MC(m): Thank you very much. Okay, it's two minutes to １２, so if we've got one quick question that perhaps somebody would like to ask.
Neville Grant (m): Thank you. Neville Grant, United Nations Association. Beef has been given a pretty bad press today. What about fish？
Arjen Hoekstra (m): It very much depends on what kind of fish, whether it comes from the sea or from the fresh water system, whether it is natural fish or from an artificial fish production system. Essentially, once we start going into really intensive fish production systems, we generally see the new problems popping up again.
Because also, fish, they need to eat, and fish in artificial systems on land, they need to be refreshed with fresh water. So very preliminary research, I have to emphasize that, shows that it definitely will not to be the solution to meat. There are similar and other types of problems attached to that again.
MC (m): Welcome back. We've got great pleasure to have the esteemed physician, Dr. Joel Fuhrman here. He's on the board of directors of the American College of Lifestyle Medicine, and a director of research for the Nutritional Research Project of the National Health Association in the US. He is a board certified family physician and a best-selling author. He specializes in preventing and reversing disease through nutritional methods and will now talk to us on how plant-based diets can prevent and even reverse some of the most prevalent chronic diseases. I think this is going to be another wonderful keynote speech. So thank you very much.
Q(m): Thank you.
Dr. Joel Fuhrman (m): Well, exciting to be here, and exciting that the World Preservation Foundation invited me for this event. And the theme of this presentation is that the diseases that afflict the modern world are preventable and people do not have to have heart attacks, they don't have to have strokes, they don't have to be demented when they get older, and we can win the war on cancer.
Nutritional science has advanced to the point today, especially in the last ２０ to ２５ years. We actually have a complete new revolution in the history of nutrition where we actually can find out what are the causes of these chronic conditions that afflict most of the modern world. And right now, these diseases of nutritional ignorance are overwhelming the healthcare systems all over the world, and not just effecting human tragedy, but laying down economic stress and putting the economies in trouble, due to the growing amount of people that are overweight, diabetic, and with heart disease. So that is an introduction.
Let's get started. I'm going to give you a basic understanding of the major concepts in human nutrition today, and that is food gives us macronutrients and micronutrients. And macronutrients are those nutrients that contain calories - fat, carbohydrate and protein. And in the history of nutritional science, it's been proven - and I use the word 『 proven』 in a scientific sense, to mean reproducible in hundreds of different studies - it's been essentially proven that the less calories we consume, and the reduction in calories, can dramatically extend lifespan.
That means that one of the most largest contributors to disease in the modern world is the excess consumption of calories. That's the excess consumption of fat, the excess consumption of carbohydrate, and the excess consumption of protein. Now, given that, we also require a certain amount of micronutrients. The micronutrients are those nutritional factors that do not contain calories, those micronutrient factors that are calorie-free, like vitamins and minerals, and of course phytochemicals, which are a major part of the non-caloric load in food, critical for human health.
In １９３０, scientists discovered １４ vitamins and １６ minerals, and people thought, "Wow, this is great！" Right？ We could prevent people from getting cancer, we can have people be healthier and live longer. But it didn't work out that way. By １９３５, the vitamin supplement industry was already a billion dollar industry. They were already adding thymine and riboflavin, other factors to processed foods, like "Coco Puffs." People were taking vitamin pills. Between １９３５ and ２００５, during that ７０-year stretch, cancer rates went up for ７０ years in a row, unabated, and accompanied by a dramatic increase in obesity and autoimmune conditions and, of course, heart disease and diabetes. But the most striking and fascinating event was the incredible epidemic and explosion of cancer rates all over the world since, we could say, the micronutrient revolution.
And it wasn't until about ２０ years ago, where scientists first recognized that vitamins and minerals were not the major micronutrient load that was in food, that phytonutrients were, or phytochemicals were. What I'm saying here now is that this third class of newly discovered micronutrients, now called phytochemicals, overwhelm vitamins and minerals. And they're where all the science is at lately, because we're actually finding out that these antioxidants and these newly discovered phytonutrients have a broad spectrum of effects on the human immune system, and the ability to repair broken DNA cross-links that could lead to cancer, and prevent cells from being damaged by cancer-causing agents.
In other words, we're designed to function on a full spectrum of nutrients that are found in whole, natural foods. When we process foods, we destroy those delicate nutrients that are in natural foods. And we don't get them, and our bodies can't function normally, laying yourself exposed to diseases that are afflicting the modern world. So, keep in mind the simple health equation, H = N／C - means a person's health, their healthy life expectancy. And the words 『 healthy life expectancy,』 as defined by the World Health Organization, is not just how long you're going to live, but the quality of your life in the last １０ to １５ years of life, whether you have your full mental faculties intact, right？ whether you are in pain, undergoing uncomfortable medical procedures, whether you have your full physical abilities. In other words, you want to live your life not just longer, but better, with better enjoyment, and with pleasure.
And that age, that the healthy life expectancy score, is affected most by the micronutrient per calorie density of your diet. That means: are you getting the micronutrients you need in the fewest amount of calories？ Are you getting the micronutrients you need to have a normal immune system so you don't get cancer, so you don't get demented, and so you don't develop heart disease or have a stroke？ So, what I'm saying here, to start out, is that your health is dependent on the micronutrient bang per caloric buck. You have to eat less calories, but you have to make sure when you do so, you achieve micronutrient adequacy, especially the adequacy of antioxidants and phytochemicals. To do that, you have to eat more foods that are higher in micronutrients and less foods that are low in micronutrients, right？
You have to eat a diet with micronutrient adequacy. You have to eat the right foods. Now look at the way the UK is eating. It's not much different than the way they're eating in the United States today. Actually, in the UK, I think it says they're eating ５８％ of calories from processed foods today, but that may have been １０％ a hundred years ago. Now, it's ５８％. The processed foods are things like white flour products, like cupcakes and bagels and crackers and cookies and pretzels, and soft drinks, and processed food and bars and rice cakes, and breakfast cereals, oils, and sugars.
In other words, we're living on foods that have no nutrients, that have no antioxidants. And then in America, that percent is up to ６３％, already, of a percent of total caloric intake. Just １０ years ago, it was below ５０％. Now the animal product intake in the UK is even greater than in the America, because that's ２６％ in America; it's ２７.５％ in the UK today. But here's the thing - I'm saying that an animal product, like chicken or meat, is just like a bagel or a piece of white bread. Why am I saying that？ Why am I saying a piece of chicken is like a piece of white bread？ How come？ Anybody know？
Because they both don't contain many micronutrients, they're both grossly deficient in micronutrients, and neither one has phytochemicals. Let me say that one more time, okay？ Because what I'm saying here is that a strawberry doesn't have ３１ nutrients, a strawberry has over ７００ different nutrients. A piece of broccoli has over about １０００ important nutrients for your health, right？ But processed foods do not contain those antioxidants, vitamins and minerals, like vitamin C and vitamin E and vitamin K, and the carotenoid family, like lutein and lycopene and cryptoxanthin and the lignins and the bioflavonoids and the phytochemicals that prevent cancer, are not found in the processed foods. And you know what？ They're not in animal products, either.
These plant-derived nutrients, that we're finding in modern science that give us the ability to control our health destiny, they're giving us the ability to have a unique and unprecedented opportunity in human history to live longer and better than ever before in the history of the human race. But we have to take advantage of this recent science. Years ago, we thought nutritional science just meant taking some vitamin C so we didn't get scurvy, or vitamin D so we didn't get rickets, if we'd tried to figure out what things we were missing, would create deficiencies. And now, nutritional science has advanced to a completely different realm.
Now, we're finding out what nutrients we should consume, not just to prevent disease, but to extend human life and to prevent the development of the diseases of aging that people are suffering from.
So, in UK, this is showing that the produce consumption is about １１％, comes from natural unrefined plant foods, and about half of that is white potato - and white potato including consumed as French fries and chips and mash potatoes. In other words, white potato is the lowest micronutrient density of any vegetable. And if we remove that, the rest of the nuts and the seeds and the beans and the mushrooms and the onions, and the green vegetables and the sweet potatoes, all the other fresh fruits and all the other natural plant foods, would be less than ５％ of total intake in the UK and in America. Now, １００ years ago, to say that we could win the war on heart disease？ To say to you, how much is that worth to you if you don't ever have to have a heart attack or a stroke or get demented. Is that worth a million pounds？ Is that worth １０ million？
But the point here is, this is an opportunity that everyone has to avail themselves of - right？ - that you all have to take advantage of. And this is not something radical to think that people can protect themselves against these diseases that afflict almost all people in the modern world. If we saw a hundred years ago, right？ A hundred years ago these diseases hardly even existed. Early man did not get cancer. That's a recent disease. They actually do studies on mummies and people who are unearthed, you know, that died thousands of years ago - there were none of these diseases that afflicted people today. So it's not a big stretch here to say that people don't have to have heart disease.
And we're finding out, when we apply modern nutritional science to give people diets that are very micronutrient rich, their weight melts away, the fat on their body melts away, and their heart disease and diabetes and high blood pressure and high cholesterol go away as well. If they were having chest pains, if they have blockages in their heart, they don't have to have angioplasty and bypass surgery. They can be free of pain in a few months, just from adopting a diet of nutritional excellence.
From line １０４５４ ~ １０４８６ original table. CAPTIONTracy WorcesterMarchioness of WorcesterBritish Filmmaker and Environmental CampaignerTW(f): I think that the way that we treat the animals that we eat, is a very terrifying reflection of actually how we're capable of extreme cruelty to human beings as well. And if we start recognizing each and every one of us, what is actually the impact of the food on our plate, we would actually be able to live far more peacefully within ourselves. I think if we were all more aware of the impact of the food that we're eating every day has on our health, on the planet, on the animals, and on the ability for this planet to sustain human life, then we would be a far more informed planetary being and, therefore, we might prevent the crises which we're seeing that are imminent.
Organic Vegan: The Planet-Cooling Solution
According to the latest reports, more than ５１％ of the greenhouse gases that heat up the planet are from the animal industry. So if we stop it, the planet cools off by at least more than half.
By using all the world's tillable land to cultivate organic vegetables and fruits instead, we eliminate a further ４０％ of the CO２.
That's a total ９１％ elimination of harmful heat-producing greenhouse gases.
Plus… Save US$３２ trillion in climate mitigation costs. Restore the health of the world's citizens. Save the planet for us and future generations.
What are we waiting for？
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