Living in a country like Belgium, the idea that water is a scarce resource can be hard to swallow; scarce things don’t fall from the sky every other day. But globally, the situation is quite different:
- Only 3 percent of the Earth’s water is freshwater, and at least two thirds of that is held beyond human use in glaciers, ice caps, permafrost, or deep underground wells.
- That last 1 percent? It’s not evenly distributed. In 2006, one billion people (one sixth of the world’s population) were living on less than the bare minimum of four liters of water a day needed for survival.
- For the future, the situation only looks more precarious. Rising population means more pressure on existing resources, while global warming may put much of the freshwater supply at risk of disappearing, both from melting ice caps and glaciers and from decreased rainfall in much of the world.
The Bond Beter Leefmilieu (the Flemish umbrella association for a better environment) has an excellent campaign called "klimaatwijken" for citizens to act themselves and meet the European Kyoto goal. Starting each year on 1 November, households can commit themselves to cut 8% of their energy consumption in 6 months time. Participants can get advice of energy masters. For more info have a look at www.klimaatwijken.eu/be
In general, the biggest electricity consumers are the water boiler, air-conditioning, aquarium, oven, tumble dryer, halogen spots, TV, and - if they do not have energy saving labels - your fridge, freezer, or dish-washing machine. In Belgium alone, 79 million of electrical equipment is sold every year, or on average 17 products per family a year.
All products also have a hidden consumption of energy. There are two kinds of hidden energy: the energy needed to produce a product and the energy your product consumes without you noticing it.