We could say that the length of the British coast is infinite. Looking from a distance, we see a smooth measurable line. However, moving closer, increasingly small inlets are evident that keep adding to its length.
Somewhat similarly, drought makes us think of lawns we should not water and showers we should not take. Crop yields shrink and wells dry up.
But there is much more.
Less water can mean more salt…
When salt water evaporates, salt production increases. This year, as you might expect, Europe’s drought accelerated evaporation. However, the result is a plus for France’s salt farmers that are reporting record salt production for their Fleur de Sel.
Drought also can reduce electricity…
Hearing about water, we should think electricity. Less hydropower has diminished Spain’s electrical generation. In addition, France’s nuclear plants had to cut back because of an inadequate (lower rivers) and inappropriate (too warm) supply of the water that cools the plants.
And we also wind up with barge problems…
Those lower water levels are disrupting shipping traffic. With the Rhine’s level dropping, ships have to carry less. To prevent running aground, many vessels have reduced cargo by 30 to 40 percent for their grains and coal and chemicals. Meanwhile, travel became impossible when the level fell below the 40 centimeter mark.
A river barge on the Rhine:
Our Bottom Line: Water Infrastructure
The World Economic Forum created a series of what they called Transformation Maps. In their Map (below), I would have used Water Infrastructure as my single big category. Like a transportation infrastructure, an information infrastructure, and a financial infrastructure, a water infrastructure includes people, technology, and values.
While the WEF map for water is overlapping and redundant, I liked it as a springboard for pondering the significance of water. Do go to their website for its interactive features:
My sources and more: Walking, I always enjoy the World Business Report. Yesterday, they alerted me to the barge crisis and the importance of Europe’s inland waterways. From there, the WEF (World Economic Forum) had more about the drought’s impact as did this Port Technology journal. Please note that the infinite length of the British coastline was cited by fractal mathematician Benoit Mandelbroit.