The Absurdity of Virtual Water

A recent protest, courtesy of the ultra-radical PETA, argued that we should stop eating meat because of the amount of water required to raise a pound of meat. They argued that one pound of meat requires 2,463 gallons of water (or 6 months worth of showers), and, presumably, that not eating meat saves all, or at least most, of this water. How, one might ask, could it require 2,463 gallons of water to eat a single pound of meat? To answer, let’s look at one of the craziest new(ish) concepts environmentalists are using: Virtual Water.

Virtual water “is the amount of water that is embedded in food or other products needed for its production.” For example, one cup of coffee requires 37 gallons of water to grow the beans, ship the beans, and make the coffee. A single hamburger requires 634 gallons of water. There is no telling how much virtual water a single glass of water requires, but it is surely quite a bit.

The idea of virtual water originated in 1993 from Professor Tony Allen, of King’s College London. Professor Allen is the author of over 100 publications (no telling how much water a book requires to produce), but it wasn’t until recently that the virtual water footprint theory has gained much popularity. Footprints, be they carbon or virtual water, are turning into big business now, thanks to constant climate change alarmism raised by folks like Professor Allen, Al Gore, and the “green messiah” David Suzuki.

All this talk of virtual water might make one thirst for even a cursory examination of this ridiculous concept. Is the water destroyed? No, as the law of conservation of mass tells us, matter cannot be created nor destroyed but can only change form. Maybe the involved water is collected and shot into space? Or, better yet, it simply disappears? Of course not. The water is cycled right back into the same ecosystem it was just taken out of! In fact, much of the water required to make a pound of beef is quickly recycled back into the ground via the natural production of waste from a cow. Even more of the water is released as steam when the burger is grilled over an open flame.

It is silly to talk about virtual water. Where would the story stop? Should we count the water that required to raise the cow that the coffee bean picker ate so he had enough energy to pick the beans? The concept of virtual water is an absurd and bold-faced attempt inciting mass panic about absolutely nothing! Real water is what matters. However, if you want to do your part and give water back to the world, make an extra burger tonight so that you can release that much needed steam back into nature. And if you really want to do your part, invite your friends at the Capital Research Center – we’ll be glad to eat a burger or two!

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