Not a drop to drink?

It's World Water Week. You've heard it before, but if oil dominated the 20th century, water will dominate the 21st. The folks at the International Water Management Institute have put out a new report, and while they stress that the world isn't running out of water, they do want to alarm you. In case you didn't know, there is a world water crisis. And it's largely because our diets are changing.

Check out these stats:

Imagine a channel of water a meter deep, a kilometre wide, and 7 million kilometres long—long enough to encircle the globe 180 times. That's the prodigious amount of water it takes each year to produce 3,000 calories of food a day for each of the world's 6.1 billion people.

Broken down into smaller quantities, a calorie of food takes a liter of water to produce. A kilo of grain takes 500-4,000 liters, a kilo of industrially produced meat 10,000 liters. Surprising numbers, indeed. Add 2-3 billion people by 2050 and accommodate their changing diets from cereals to more meat, and that will add another 5 million kilometres to the channel of water needed to feed the world's people. Where will that water come from?

And they've put together this map of water scarcity. FP noted some of the countries highlighted here when we put together a List of impending water crises.


Water map



Morning Brief, Wednesday, August 23

Iran's nuclear response

Let's review: UN Security Council countries plus Germany told Iran in June that they'd hold talks on the country's nuclear future if Iran agreed to suspend its uranium enrichment program first. Cut to two months and one war later, and Iran replies that sure, it would love to hold talks, but it'll have to pass on that suspension proposal

Already, the chips are falling - predictably - this way:

The United States, Britain, France and Germany planned to meet Wednesday to discuss the Iranian proposal and the prospect of drawing up a sanctions resolution. But it is notable that the meeting will not include Russia and China.

A new report from Britain's Chatham House says the war on terror and the war in Lebanon have left Iran in a position of considerable strength.

France steps up first to insist that any talks will be preceded by an enrichment suspension by Iran. 


At least France is stepping up first on Iran, because it's still dawdling after talking the talk on leading the UN force to Lebanon. Jonathan Freedland argues today that EU reluctance to walk the walk just confirms the American right's stereotypes. UN rules of engagement for Lebanon would "permit soldiers to shoot in self-defense, use force to protect civilians and resist armed attempts to interfere with their duties," according to the FT after a copy of the rules was obtained by Reuters yesterday. 

Amnesty International accuses Israel of war crimes in a new report

Egyptian democracy activist Saad Eddin Ibrahim writes that Washington's "cold war on Muslim democrats" has produced an Islamist backlash across the Middle East.


Zalmay Khalilzad takes to the pages of the WSJ to present a plan for securing Baghdad. It all sounds well and good - more troops on the streets, economic development, targeting militias. Will it work?