The Watergy Nexus

Via Triple Pundit, a look at the watergy nexus:

Establishing a sustainable balance between energy and water is fundamental to the survival of humanity.  This energy-water crisis relates to nearly all of the present and future environmental problems confronting our planet – from climate change to fossil fuel dependence, from over-population to agricultural practices.  The complex interrelationships and resulting problems defy simple solutions.

Arguably, technology is no panacea and historically, it has created new and unforeseen problems.  For example, the present global unconventional natural gas boom spurred by technological innovations such as horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing, has opened vast non-renewable energy supplies at the expense of water quality, quantity, and availability.  Achieving sustainable (i.e. renewable) global energy solutions will not eliminate water insecurity, especially in water-poor nations, but it will remove one unnecessary stressor to our precious water resources.

​At what level of action and in what manner should we address the energy-water crisis? While water and energy policy are largely regarded as separate arenas, specifically in the U.S. context, they should be treated holistically within the same political debate.  Thus, redefining water and energy as inseparable is critical.  From the grassroots to the global political sphere, immediate problem redefinition and political action are prerequisites to stalling the energy-water crisis.  In the affluent world, individuals can eat less meat, pressure politicians, drive less, buy local food, direct consumerism to greener products, and form broad coalitions promoting social/political change.  Individual lifestyle changes and political action in the global north are insufficient and political institutional action at the municipal, state, regional, nation-state, and international level must follow.

Governmental policy solutions range from the one-size-fits-all, prescriptive command-and-control style regulations to market-based initiatives (MBIs) to more sustainable options. For example, renewable portfolio standard policies (RPSs) mandate that major energy providers produce a certain percentage of their energy from renewable supplies such as wind and solar by a certain date.  Not only will these state and national policies advance water conserving energy sources, it will create a business opportunity where technological advancements and economies of scale can reduce prices.  This, in turn, will enable the developed world to transfer this technology to the developing world, moving them up the energy ladder to renewables and effectively skipping the fossil fuel addiction completely.

What can individuals, businesses, the collective, and governments do to achieve energy sustainability and increase water security?  Enact RPSs, promote sustainable practices, transfer renewable energy technology to the global south, fundamentally redefine how energy relates to water, and replace the fossil fuel paradigm with a renewable, water-conserving paradigm.  This requires immediate action from the individual to the global level and with present policies, our energy and water are running out.

This entry was posted on Wednesday, January 9th, 2013 at 9:52 pm and is filed under Uncategorized.  You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.  You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site. 

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About This Blog And Its Author
As the scarcity of water and energy continues to grow, the linkage between these two critical resources will become more defined and even more acute in the months ahead.  This blog is committed to analyzing and referencing articles, reports, and interviews that can help unlock the nascent, complex and expanding linkages between water and energy -- The Watergy Nexus -- and will endeavor to provide a central clearinghouse for insightful articles and comments for all to consider.

Educated at Yale University (Bachelor of Arts - History) and Harvard (Master in Public Policy - International Development), Monty Simus has held a lifelong interest in environmental and conservation issues, primarily as they relate to freshwater scarcity, renewable energy, and national park policy.  Working from a water-scarce base in Las Vegas with his wife and son, he is the founder of Water Politics, an organization dedicated to the identification and analysis of geopolitical water issues arising from the world’s growing and vast water deficits, and is also a co-founder of SmartMarkets, an eco-preneurial venture that applies web 2.0 technology and online social networking innovations to motivate energy & water conservation.  He previously worked for an independent power producer in Central Asia; co-authored an article appearing in the Summer 2010 issue of the Tulane Environmental Law Journal, titled: “The Water Ethic: The Inexorable Birth Of A Certain Alienable Right”; and authored an article appearing in the inaugural issue of Johns Hopkins University's Global Water Magazine in July 2010 titled: “H2Own: The Water Ethic and an Equitable Market for the Exchange of Individual Water Efficiency Credits.”