3.4 million people—mainly children— die as a result of preventable water-related diseases every year. 1.2 billion people—nearly 20 percent of the world’s population—live in areas of physical water scarcity. What does that mean? Water withdrawals for agriculture, industry, and domestic purposes exceed 75 percent of river flows.
As during most droughts, discussions of how to allocate dwindling water supplies have intensified across California. One stirring piece of the debate has pivoted around using water to produce food that is exported outside of California.
In California, an estimated 19% of the state’s electricity use and 32% of all natural gas consumption are related to water. For perspective, consider that leaving the hot water running for five minutes uses as much energy as operating a 60-W light bulb for 14 hours.
In the last few months, as the severe California drought has garnered attention among scientists, policymakers, and media, there has been a growing debate about the links between the drought and climate change.
It is time to recognize the serious California drought for what it is: a bellwether of things to come; a harbinger of even more serious challenges to California water resources allocation, management, and use.
Over the past couple years, the Pacific Institute’s Corporate Sustainability Program, in its role with the UN Global Compact’s CEO Water Mandate, has been developing the Corporate Water Disclosure Guidelines, which provide a common framework for how companies can report water-related information to stakeholders in a meaningful manner.
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