Monday, January 10, 2011

The Result of Climate Change, Water and Risk

In July of 2010, the National Resources Defense Council (NRDC) wrote about the water shortages and cotton shortages that are to occur in the lower 48 states of the US. Researchers at Tetra Tech, a consulting firm used by the federal government and many major corporations, are trying to find what would happen to water supplies in 16 different climates. The result of this search was that the supplies will decrease and the need for the water will increase. This is an example of scarcity. Scarcity, as we have learned, is the result of not having enough goods and services to fill desires. In this case, water is the scarce resource because it is non-renewable and need on a global basis. With such a small amount of water, it is needed for a great amount of things. The primary uses of fresh water is agriculture, power plant cooling and domestic use. An opportunity cost, which is what is given up in order to have the next best option, would be giving up the water in order to save what is used. The water scarcity will cause many troubles such as the cotton production.

"Clearly much needs to be done to ensure we're using water wisely. Conservation methods need to improve, legislation to slow down, and reverser climate change is required, and we may have to decide if we want to grow cotton for t-shirts, or food for our tables."
It is obvious today that we are not careful with how we "waste" our resources. We must think of proper ways to conserve our non-renewable natural resources to keep them sustainable for future generations.


kern said...

Very nice analysis of scarcity in regards to water and its resulting impact on cotton.

How will the lack of cotton production affect me as I don't buy raw cotton?

Is water really a non-renewable resource? If so why do the lakes not disappear in the summer when it is so hot?

Brad said...

How are we wasting water? Is it wasteful for me to water my yard or the foundation of my house? What would be another alternative?

James said...

Interesting blog article on many levels! If there is a shortage of water, what should happen to water's price. What effect should this then have on the demand for water?

If the price of water rises, what are some of the natural reactions of cotton producers to a rise in cost of one of the main factors of production? What is then the end result for the consumers of cotton.

As the price of water rises, could we see a shift to demographics that offer a cheaper(more plentiful) alternative?

Nice example of potential scarcity!

Alissa said...

Without the raw cotton how do we as Amercians who wear clothing daily, get the clothing that we need? Will we in turn see a rise in the cost of clothing because of the shortage of raw cotton production? I too agree with Taylor that we waste water and the thought of having to decide between watering the cotton fields or watering the corn fields, is pretty scary. While we need corn and other crops of that nature to eat, we also need cotton in order to produce clothing that we need to wear. The thought that we may not have enough water to produce both is a topic of great concern. This scarcity is one that can greatly affect our economy as well. I agree with James' thinking that water will also see a price increase because the demand never goes down but the numbers will go down. The scarcity of water will in turn make it more expensive to consume. Because water helps many things that we need to grow, we will see scarcity in things such as food, cotton, plants, trees, and other very important things that we need in order to survive.

Garrett T. said...

This will be a devastating problem in the future if water begins to run dry. Not only because of the fact that its a need for all living things on this planet to live but to agriculture and what not as Taylor and Alissa have said. Besides trying to save water and be more reserved about using water because it may just be denying the inevitable, why not create water from oxygen and hydrogen or filter some sea water or something. I'm just throwing out ideas here. Lack of cotton in terms of clothing is definitely not something I'm really worried about. I don't need much as long as I'm clothed with something worth putting on. Personally food and other things we need to live are more important. Clothing can be made from animal hides or other resources, cotton isn't necessarily needed. Food, water and shelter are what is needed. Clothing aren't needed, it's really a cultural thing. Yes almost all the world is clothed but say for example nudists, they don't need clothes to survive. I'm not saying clothing isn't needed but compared to say water and food, I'm not worried about loss of cotton production.

taylor said...

I think that the price of water will increase because just as Mr. Smith said, we have to water our yard as well as using it for other household machinery. Most people waste water by having a pool, like myself, or running the water constantly while taking a bath. These things will add up to increase the scarcity of water.

As for the cotton side of the scarcity of water, as Garrett said, its not a necessity but I would much rather wear clothes than to go without, especially in this cold weather.

sarah said...

It is reasonable to choose to water the cotton fields instead of corn fields as Alissa mentioned. Especially since it is winter and cold weather is expected. But at some level clothes aren't a necessity, there are other ways to keep warm in certain situations like Garret said. In order to live we need water and food from the corn fields. So it is a necessity to water the corn fields in order for the corn to grow and for us to drink the water in order to stay alive.