Michael Zacka, President and CEO of Tetra Pak, United States and Canada
No commodity seems to be more top-of-mind in the American consciousness than fuel. The media reports its price swings so frequently that I know the numbers by heart–today gas is $4.27 per gallon today in greater Chicago, where I work and reside, and crude oil just hit a nine-month peak of $106.11.
Justifiably, we angst continuously over the price of petroleum, yet we seem to have forgotten another precious, indispensable and dangerously depleting resource: water. And without this life-sustaining substance, nothing else matters.
Like crude oil, water prices have surged in the last 12 years, doubling or tripling in many parts of the U.S, according to a recent USA Today study of 100 municipalities. Think of what that does to living expenses and business costs. And like crude oil, which is still threatened despite the current production boom here in the U.S., water is getting scarcer by the minute.
Many Americans could soon realize this, since water shortages due to high demand and climate change have become a realistic possibility in New York City, Washington D.C., Los Angeles and San Diego–where approximately 40 million Americans reside–as well as most of California and breadbasket states including Nebraska, Illinois and Minnesota, notes Columbia University Water Center’s new study, “America’s Water Risk: Water Stress and Climate Variability.” The vast majority of our food is produced in these water-stressed regions.
Analysts are constantly reminding us that new discoveries of ‘black gold’ can’t keep up with declining production from established sources and rising car production, especially in Asia. Likewise, we need to raise awareness when it comes to water scarcity.