Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Why is water scarcity intensifying?

The following is excerpted from an investment web site that focuses on sustainability. One of its portfolios is devoted to water and all its "connective tissue," including acquisition, purification, transportation, and consumption. Why is water a good investment? Because it's scarce and getting scarcer. Why?

Population growth. Within the past century, the world population has tripled from 1.8 billion in 1900 to over 6 billion in 2000, and in slightly more than 10 years, we have added another billion, reaching the 7 billion mark in October 2011. Although growth rates have begun to level off, the world’s population is expected to reach 9 billion people by 2050.

Changing consumption patterns. Historically, there has been a positive correlation between disposable income and meat consumption. The global middle class is expected to grow from about 1.8 billion people today to 4.8 billion people by 2030. A larger middle class – most of which will be located in the emerging markets – will consume more meat. Producing one calorie equivalent of meat requires 10x more water than producing one calorie equivalent of corn or wheat.

Increasing industrial production will require higher volumes of high quality water, adapted to the industrial application where it is needed. Many of the recently built or upgraded industrial production plants are located in water-stressed emerging markets.

Climate change will have a significant impact on the distribution of precipitation and the availability of water. For instance, in India, Pakistan, China and other Asian countries, about 1 billion people rely on run-off from the Himalayas as their main water source. As a result of global warming, glaciers that supply most of the freshwater to the region during the dry season are expected to deliver up to 50 % less water within the next few decades. In addition, rising sea levels and floods will have a dramatic impact on coastal fresh water sources, causing them to become brackish or salty.
Founded in 1995, RobecoSAM is an investment specialist focused exclusively on Sustainability Investing.

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Gun Violence is a Disease

Tired of seeing gun violence victims in the emergency room, Dr. Garen Wintemute of the UC-Davis School of Medicine has "joined the ranks of gun control advocates trying to stop the carnage by getting criminals' guns off the streets." But Wintemute has taken a unique approach: he addresses gun violence as a public health problem. He said, "If we were talking about an infection as opposed to a bullet, and we had 30,000 to 40,000 deaths a year, no one would question whether this was a health problem." Wintermute, a "one-man band who is a professor of epidemiology and preventive medicine, a practicing emergency room doctor and director of his own Violence Prevention Resource Program," has assembled, interpreted and published statistics and facts on gun violence, testified before Congress three times and in 1997 was named one of 15 "heroes of medicine" by Time magazine. His message is that "guns need to be made safer to prevent unintentional tragedies, and their access made as difficult as possible for the perpetrators of intentional ones." Instead of outlawing guns completely, Wintemute wants to "stop or reduce the chances of injury-by-gunshot occurring in the first place." But he says there is "no one thing" that will prevent such occurrences, and instead pushes for a comprehensive approach that includes restricting how many guns can be purchased, reducing the number of inexpensive guns and using computer data to identify gun dealers that sell to criminals (Vanzi, California Journal, 3/00 issue). This was written by Max Vanzi for the California Journal in March 2000.

Here's what Dr. Wintermute said in an interview with Frontline on the gun industry in California. He was asked why he got into advocating for research into gun violence.

Most of the people who die after being shot never even make it to an emergency department. They die where they're shot.

"I'm an ER doc. I practice emergency medicine, and I used to do it full time. It occurred to me as it does to many people in that specialty that it's not enough just to treat trauma. We need to prevent it. And that's particularly the case with regard to firearm trauma, gunshot wounds. And here's why.
Even in these days, in big cities with regionalized fancy trauma systems, most of the people who die after being shot never even make it to an emergency department. They die where they're shot. And of those people who do make it into the emergency medical system, a trauma team and all of that, of those who die, better than 95% die within the first 24 hours. And what that says to me and to a lot of other people is that we're probably already saving pretty much all the lives we're going to be able to say through advances in medical care. And if we want to expand our ability to save people from dying from a gunshot wound, we need to keep them from getting shot in the first place. And that's why so many people in emergency medicine and trauma are involved in the prevention side as well as the treatment side."