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Friday, May 15, 2015

WATER, BEEF AND A GIANT STINGRAY

Last month I had three articles on water:
I was having my teeth cleaned yesterday, happened to read the May 2015 issue of National Geographic, and learned two more facts about water, which kind of surprised me.  But before sharing these tidbits, it occurred me as I was sitting there that, if I integrated all the pain I had suffered during the past year, more than half of this suffering occurred during my biannual dates with the dental hygienist.  As an aside, how many of you knew that biannual (or biennial) can mean BOTH twice a year and once every two years?  In my case, I do this twice a year.  Anyway, I've had a couple of hangnails, perhaps some leg cramps, minor hangovers and hurting knees, but this total of an hour and a half with her at least equals all the other pains I am subjected to during the year, although perhaps in a not totally uncomfortable masochistic way.

But back to water:
  • So searched further and found that, globally, agricultural production accounts for 92% of our water footprint.  
    • In the USA, meat consumption alone accounts for 30% of all the water we use.
      • Chicken--518 gallons of water/pound
      • Beef--1,847 gallons of water/pound
      • NOTE THAT MILK USES "ONLY" 122 GALLONS OF WATER/POUND
      • Eggs--395 gallons of water/pound
      • Butter--665 gallons of water/pound
    • Tea is a rather efficient 108 gallons of water per gallon of brewed tea.
    • One gallon of brewed coffee consumes 1,056 gallons of water.
    • One gallon of beer takes 296 gallons of water.
    • One gallon of wine equals 872 gallons of water
    • However, 28 gallons of water for your can of beer, versus 34 gallons of water for the standard 5 ounces of wine
    • Tofu:  302 gallons of water/pound
  • Another way of looking at this, in terms of gallons of water per gram of protein:
    • Beef  29.6 (but sheep is worse)
    • Chicken  9
    • Milk  8.2
    • Beans  5
Sometimes the numbers don't match up because they come from different sources.  Here is one compilation:


To summarize what we eat:

  • Average annual water footprint (gallons/capita/year):
    • USA  750,000
    • World average  375,000
    • China  290,000
  • Finally
    • 310,000 acre-feet of water used in the USA to grow alfalfa exported to China/year
    • 310,000 acre-feet of water used by 800,000 American families/year (mind you, there are 116 million households in the USA)
Okay, this has only a trivial link to water, but here is Jeff Corwin with, maybe, the largest freshwater fish in the world:


This giant stingray was photographed and released in the Mekong River of Thailand.  Note the tail being held, for  nearly a decade ago a barb on the tail of a stingray killed another Australian TV adventurer, Steve Irwin.

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Typhoon Dolphin rolled right over Guam, with severe conditions, but minimal actual damage.  There is every indication that Dolphin will attain Super Typhoon (150MPH+) status, head for Taiwan, but make a 90 degree turn, taking the track sufficiently east of Japan, then weakening in the colder waters:


We tend to be blasé about these distant storms.  However, the National Weather Service Climate Prediction Center yesterday indicated that the strengthening El Nino will most likely bring an even scarier hurricane season to Hawaii this year.  I try to minimize stress by reminding myself that Honolulu has NEVER in recorded history been struck by a hurricane.  Perhaps the tall volcanoes, maybe the jet stream, don't know, but we have been very lucky so far.  (I keep inserting this reminder, but if you actually want to read the details on any of these graphics, just click on them to expand the view.)

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