November 16, 2005 | Graham

Will there be enough water for us and our cars?

The latest fashionable scare is the idea that our cities will run out of water. I say “fashionable” not because I don’t think there is a genuine issue, but because I think it has been typically over-stated.
However, water may be at even more of a premium if the CSIRO is successful with one of its latest projects. This press release outlines how:

A team at CSIRO Manufacturing and Infrastructure Technology has developed a small device that can extract enough hydrogen per day from water to power a family car for up to150kms. This work is an important part of CSIRO’s Energy Transformed Flagship research program into positioning Australia for a future hydrogen economy.

The system currently works off mains power, but they are working to adapt it to use solar and wind power instead.
While the vision of our suburban houses sitting there with their roofs photosynthesising electricity from sunlight and turning it into hydrogen to fuel our cars is attractive to me, I can’t help think that solving one potential problem – a shortage of oil – might not exacerbate a present problem – there’s not as much water around as we might like.

Posted by Graham at 11:35 am | Comments (6) |
Filed under: Australian Politics


  1. This probably has no significance to Qld readers but we changed from refrigerated airconditioning to evaporative cooling which reduces electricity consumption but increases water consumption.
    We now find that with climate change, that we are still frowned upon by the greenies.
    The only positive (or negative from my point of view is that with my poor health, a heatwave combined with an electricity outage is likely to mean that I won’t be listening to any opponents of cooling.

    Comment by Fred Bastiat — November 16, 2005 @ 6:57 pm

  2. Nice post. But you don’t have to worry about there being enough water. As the planet gets warmer it is going to get wetter! At least that was the consensus from about 100 Australian climatologists (see Australasian Science June 2004).

    Comment by Jennifer — November 17, 2005 @ 12:29 pm

  3. Jennifer, I thought that according to the CSIRO Australia will get much drier. I think the Queensland Environment Minister told parliament the other day that there would be something like 40% less rain in the near future. This paper suggests 35% less rain by 2070. If Nature is right, then we’re all making decisions based on bad statistics.

    Comment by Graham Young — November 17, 2005 @ 5:00 pm

  4. They have scenario modelled that it could get drier and scenario modelled that it could get wetter – but mostly reported the results from the drier scenario.
    Warmer air holds more moisture. That’s why Greenland has been getting taller, see .

    Comment by Jennifer — November 17, 2005 @ 5:46 pm

  5. One of the “counter-intuitive” effects of global warming is that there should be more ice at the south pole and on land masses at the north pole, because even though it will be warmer it will still mostly be below freezing in those areas, meaning higher precipitation equals more ice.
    But, a paper published in Nature yesterday looks at the effects of a warmer world on communities that depend on snow melt fed water catchments and concludes that higher temperatures will lead to less water being available even though more may well fall because of problems with catching the water that now falls as snow when it falls as rain. This article provides a good headline “The Irony of Global Warming: More Rain, Less Water”, but a better explanation of the research is at

    Comment by Graham Young — November 18, 2005 @ 6:58 am

  6. Nice links. Read both, thanks.
    So there will be more water in the oceans for use in desalination plants. :-)
    Wind or solar powered desal plants, of course.

    Comment by Jennifer — November 18, 2005 @ 9:47 am

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