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The Future Of Fresh Water: Will It Ever Become More Expensive Than Oil?

Source: Edd Mccracken/University of Melbourne - March 8, 2018 in Politics

The Future Of Fresh Water: Will It Ever Become More Expensive Than Oil?
Photo: Dan Carlson/Unsplash

Nature has declared that the world’s supply of water is fixed. As a means of keeping humanity alive, it has no substitute.

Recently, Cape Town has become painfully aware of the value of water.

The unwelcome combination of a once-in-a-century drought, a booming population and a relatively inflexible water supply, means the South African city will have its taps turned off on 9 July. The dreaded Day Zero will mean people will be forced to queue for their water under police or military supervision.

Experts say that Cape Town could be the first of many cities around the world to experience the brutal reality of  far outstripping supply.

It raises a particularly dystopian question: could water, one of the world’s most abundant resources, ever be more expensive than one of its rarest, oil?

“It already is,” says Dr Brian Cook, a researcher in Development Geography.

He’s right.

In Australian supermarkets, a bottle of Mount Franklin Spring Water costs around $3.33 a litre. At the pumps in mid-February 2018, the average cost of a litre of unleaded petrol is less than half that, at $1.38.

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