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Water flows through California Aqueduct near Palmdale
Water from the Sierra Mountains flows through the California Aqueduct near Palmdale, destined for the 20 million residents of the greater Los Angeles area. Climate models suggest that flow will become more erratic with ever-earlier Spring melting due to a warming climate. Photo credit: Getty Images.

Our Man-made Water Crisis

Exclusive EV World video from Toyota Sustainable Mobility Seminar September 23, 2008

By EV World

You might be wondering why EV World -- and Toyota -- would be interested in water issues.

It's a fair question, the answer to which should be fairly obvious. Water, even more than petroleum, is the stuff of life, clean water especially. A primitive society can do without petroleum; it can't do without water.

But the story of the American West's water crisis has many implications that directly relate to the development of sustainable transportation, whicgh will become apparent as we make available more of the presentations from Toyota's Sustainable Mobility Seminar in Portland last month.

Dr. Tim Barnett's presentation in Portland is largely a repeat of his address at the Meeting of the Minds conference earlier this summer. [See also: Water Shortages in the West]. Toyota executives felt it was of sufficient import to invite him to give the same talk again to invited journalists. This time EV World captured it in widescreen video.


Download Accompanying Slide Presentation [8.1MB PDF].

Dr. Barnett is one of the co-recipients of the 2007 Nobel Prize awarded to former Vice President Al Gore and the IPCC for their work on global warming. And make no mistake, Dr. Barnett is firmly convinced the problem is of man's doing based on all the available data.

In a private conversation with EV World's publisher following his talk, Dr. Barnett added two points not addressed in the above video. When asked about water projections beyond the West, he pointed out a slide in his presentation that he didn't show that effectively draws a line across the region that can be extended across half the American continent. Below that line precipitation will decline; above that line, it will increase. The diagram below is that slide. This has long term ramifications for populations on both sides of the line.

Lastly, he commented that as an oceanographer he is very concerned about the acidification of the oceans and its impact on micro marine life that not only is the beginning of the ocean food chain but a major source of the oxygen that makes life possible on this planet. That acidification is a direct result of the ocean's absorption of excess carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. The more sequestered carbon -- coal and petroleum -- society exhumes and burns, creating CO2, the more the acidic the ocean becomes.

Plainly, we have to quickly come up energy and transportation solutions that don't exacerbate the problem further. Electric drive powered by sustainable sources of electricity is an important part of the solution.

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