Friday, February 2, 2007
FEATURE-Tankers may ship water to parched cities of future.
When the oil runs out... We can still use our tankers... Right?
By Stefano Ambrogi
LONDON, Feb 2 (Reuters) - Fleets of supertankers could one day ply the world's oceans laden not with oil but fresh water.
In Paris on Friday the world's top climate scientists issued the strongest warning yet that human activity was heating the planet. They forecast temperatures would rise by between 1.1 and 6.4 degrees Celsius this century.
By 2100, water scarcity could impact between 1.1 and 3.2 billion people, says a leaked, related U.N. climate study due to be published in April.
China and Australia, as well as parts of Europe and the United States would face critical water shortages, it says.
Maritime experts say shipping water by tanker is one of the least eccentric ideas raised of late to counter acute shortages.
Dragging icebergs from the Arctic, ships hauling enormous bags of fresh water, and cloud seeding -- in which clouds are sprayed with chemicals to induce rain -- have all been aired by water authorities in the past.
"You can ship any liquid commodity if the money's right," said Bill Box, spokesman for Intertanko, the world's largest association of tanker owners.
Tankers would need to be specially coated for the water trade or built as a dedicated fleet.
In 1996, the World Bank's then water resources manager, John Hayward, said: "One way or another, water will be moved around the world as is oil now."
There is a SILVER LINING...
A supertanker full of oil can supply a city far longer than one full of water," he said.
For existing oil tanker owners the international shipping of water could hold an unexpected silver lining.