With its successful bid to purchase the U.S. pork giant Smithfield, which is pending U.S. governmental approval, China has revealed its major vulnerability—that of feeding its own people. Its race to get to the top of global manufacturing has extracted the heavy cost of fouling its water, land and air so that it must look outside its boundaries to keep its increasingly unsustainable growth on track.
In a stunning piece, Bloomberg details China's predicament as a coal/water dilemma. In order to continue its manufacturing miracle unabated, China must rely on the use of coal, its number one energy source. Coal requires a massive use of water both in mining and in burning. Coal industries and power stations use as much as 17 percent of China’s water.
About half of China’s rivers have dried up since 1990 and those that remain are mostly contaminated. Without enough water, coal can’t be mined, new power stations can’t run and the economy can’t grow. At least 80 percent of the nation’s coal comes from regions where the United Nations says water supplies are either “stressed” or in “absolute scarcity.”More, including video, below the fold.
China has about 1,730 cubic meters of fresh water per person, close to the 1,700 cubic meter-level the UN deems “stressed.” The situation is worse in the north, where half China’s people, most of its coal and only 20 percent of its water are located.
Severe water pollution affects 75 percent of China’s rivers and lakes and 28 percent are unsuitable even for agricultural use, according to the 2012 book “China’s Environmental Challenges,” by Judith Shapiro, director of the Masters program in Natural Resources and Sustainable Development at the School of International Service at American University in Washington.With the now readily available information on the unsustainablity of livestock production especially as pertains to water use, it seems the height of lunacy to continue to double down on the pork chops.
Nearly half of all the water used in the United States goes to raising animals for food.The U.S. has its own problems with its water supply, which is being exacerbated by the recurring and more severe droughts brought on by climate change.
It takes more than 2,400 gallons of water to produce 1 pound of meat, while growing 1 pound of wheat only requires 25 gallons. You save more water by not eating a pound of meat than you do by not showering for six months!
So is the U.S. willing to be a CAFO (Confined Animal Feeding Operation) to China?