Technically, water is not a fuel in the same way that petroleum and coal are fuels. The latter substances are so valuable to our way of life that we put prices on them–dollar amounts that are destined to rise as the fixed stock of them dwindles and as the extraction and other externalized costs inevitably climb. Water, on the other hand, we see as an entitlement from our “commons” and put little or no value on it.
We don’t extract energy from water (although that possibility looms ever in the fantasy realms of possibilities). But with regard to its importance to global plant and animal existence, water is the elixir of life. We can live, as humanity did for thousands of years, without petrol in our lives, but not more than days without water.
We may persist as an organized, tool-using species long enough to find replacement energy sources, but there will be no substitute for water. Where water goes, food follows. Where food goes, human health and the stability of nations follow. Securing the future of water will, in the end, be more crucial to the survival of nations than squeezing the last drops of fossil fuels out of the last deep, depleted wells.
I was thinking about this the other day as I drove through the strip mall-shopping center district in the new county during a hard rain storm. Scores of acres of asphalt channeled hundreds of thousands of gallons of a sporadic and all-too-rare storm running into ditches, culverts, creeks and the New River, away from possible storage in soils and aquifers where it would otherwise percolate. We have to do better regarding water as a limited and precious resource,Â especially in Floyd County where our water storage is limited and its susceptibility to contamination is high.
Such are my ruminations of late, attempting to bring myself face to face with the hard truths of our present. If you don’t know exactly where you are, you’ll have a hard time charting a course to a place you want to be. If we allow ourselves to be deceived–by our own myopia or wrong ideas others plant in our thinking for their own purposes–then we’ll take Â wrong turns, wait too long to act, or head for destinations that will turn out to be dangerous dead ends.
“If consumers could reuse gasoline over and over again, the infrastructure and technology would be built to achieve this, because gasoline is a valued fuel. Like oil and its refined products, water is a fuel. It fuels our bodies, our businesses, our food sources and industries. But unlike oil and gas, there are no alternative fuels to water; therefore we must make the most of every drop.”Â Water Is A Fuel With No Alternatives | Fast Company