Economist concedes on water

In: Uncategorized

21 May 2010

The Economist often has useful material for use against the growth sceptics’ case but it tends to concede many of their fundamental assumptions.

For example, in the comment related to this week’s special report on water it accepts the premise that “nature has decreed that the supply of water is fixed”. It also endorses the notion that water shortages could in themselves lead to wars.

In contrast my recent Fund Strategy comment and cover story on the subject showed that the total amount of water in the world is equivalent to 300,000 times our annual use. Even if only usable freshwater is countered there is still a huge amount of water per person in the world.

In addition, water can in principle be used and reused. Once it is consumed, by individuals or for other uses, it does not disappear from the planet. For practical purposes it is therefore infinite.

There are problems of local scarcity – not enough water in particular areas – but these can be solved by the application of resources, technology and ingenuity.