13 January 2011

Is Water the Next Carbon? from Harvard Business Review

Andrew Winston and Will Sarni ask Is Water the Next Carbon? in last week's Harvard Business Review blog.  Here's how they opened their post:
We all take water for granted. Even though water is critical for human life, ecosystems and as a major process or product input for industry, it's a resource that very few of us think actively about managing. And of all environmental issues, it's the least debatable; when there's no more water in a region, you don't need scientists to tell you.

Companies need to develop strategies for managing this important resource as water stress becomes the norm in many regions of the world. As a starting point, some organizations are now conducting "water footprints" to figure out where in the value chain their businesses are vulnerable.

Doesn't this sound familiar? Haven't we been down this road before with energy and carbon emissions? It's very easy to describe water as 'the next carbon', and many have, but it's not really the same.

It's worth reading both for what the authors point out as the differences between carbon and water, and for the opportunities inherent in the increasing constraints on this most valuable resource.

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