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Wild Green

Former Utne Reader senior editor Keith Goetzman on environmental issues from climate change to composting.

Your iPhone Depends on Water

 by Keith Goetzman

Tags: Keith Goetzman, environment, energy, climate change, wilderness and wildlife, building and design, science, air and water, business, urban planning, natural resources, IEEE Spectrum,

iPhone charge

Think of it this way: When you’re on your iPhone, the tap is running. The technology magazine IEEE Spectrum considers just how much water is used in creating the energy that runs our everyday electronic devices—and our society at large:

Plug your iPhone into the wall, and about half a liter of water must flow through kilometers of pipes, pumps, and the heat exchangers of a power plant. That’s a lot of money and machinery just so you can get a 6–watt-hour charge for your flashy little phone. Now, add up all the half-liters of water used to generate the roughly 17 billion megawatt-hours that the world will burn through this year. Trust us, it’s a lot of water. In the United States alone, on just one average day, more than 500 billion liters of freshwater travel through the country’s power plants—more than twice what flows through the Nile.

This illuminating bit of number crunching is part of an ambitious IEEE Spectrum special report, “Water vs. Energy,” that explores the intertwined, sometimes oppositional relationships of these two resources. It’s well worth reading in order to prepare for a dryer, warmer world.

Source: IEEE Spectrum

Image by www.jzx100.com, licensed under Creative Commons.