The obliviousness of water footprints

Shopping Supermarket Market Goods Food MeatI was sitting next to a Texas-based businessman from Saudi Arabia on the plane. He was highly amused to see me eating vegetarian. “If you give me vegetarian, I will throw it away and eat you!” he joked and bared his teeth.

I gulped and organised my thoughts on how to use this teachable moment to talk about water footprints without being offensive. He was already well-aware that vegetables were more healthy than meat but didn’t care because he’d rather live short and eat what he loved than live long eating vegetables. He wasn’t even co-relating his numerous health complaints like gout with diet. Caring for animals’ feelings would not cut ice with him because his favourite hobby was hunting.

“How do you like to drink toilet water?” I asked. Continue reading

Multi-purpose infrastructure is the need of the day

30BE6317-E021-4319-B4DE-6ACAF6483582By now, we all know that cities account for more than half the world’s population. Come 2050, it is expected that another 2.5 billion people will move from villages to cities. In China alone, more people that the whole population of the USA today will move into cities by 2050. These are mind-boggling numbers and present a scary picture of the future liveability of cities or rather the lack of it, especially in South and Southeast Asia.

Already, we see how a day of intense rain causes havoc with flooding. The inexorable march of climate change is bringing more intense rain at odd times or no rain at all. The ‘heat island’ effect of cities with bumper-to-bumper traffic jostling for space with humans gets accentuated during times of no rain. Continue reading

Show some energy

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It has been known for a long time that there is energy in wastewater. Nearly any wastewater has an energy value of 13-15 kJ/g COD. The organic matter present in wastewater is theoretically sufficient to more than offset all the energy used in its treatment. Continue reading

A Raw Deal for Vegetarians

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It is the same story at every conference I attend. At lunchtime, I move towards the food-laden tables hoping to find something that I can eat, but end up being thoroughly disappointed. The only items on offer for vegetarians are salads; all very good to look at, but not at all filling. On the other hand, meat-eaters have a variety of dishes to choose from. Why are vegetarians given a raw deal? Continue reading