Barron's: H2O Scarcity Threatens Global Econ

Barron’s headline: Beyond Drought: The Coming Water Shortage Is a Threat From Main Street to Wall Street

By Lauren FosterFollow
Aug. 26, 2022 1:30 am ET…

The biggest water hog is agriculture, which accounts for about 70% of global water withdrawals globally, according to the World Bank. Other thirsty sectors include apparel, energy, chemicals, pharmaceuticals, and mining. A report from nonprofit CDP found that the potential financial impacts of water risks are far greater than the costs of addressing them. In 2020, companies reported maximum financial impacts of water risks at $301 billion—more than five times higher than the $55 billion associated with mitigating them.

Tesla (TSLA) recently faced water-related hurdles at its electric-vehicle factory near Berlin. The plant was supposed to open in July 2021 but ran into bureaucratic challenges and resistance from locals worried that the factory—which may use up to 1.4 million cubic meters of water a year—would strain the area’s water supply, which comes from local surface and groundwater sources. This supply has been shrinking for several years, due to prolonged drought, climate change, and overuse.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk laughed off a reporter’s question about water usage when he visited the plant in August 2021. “This region has so much water; look around you,” he said. “[There’s] water everywhere here. Does this seem like a desert to you?”

Note: Night shifts at Tesla’s Shanghai plant were cancelled this week due to power shortages relating to water shortages behind the Three Gorges Dams. People who make parts for Tesla have seen their factories shut down due to power outages. Shanghai’s night sky downtown was black save for emergency centers. Skyscrapers are dark. Restaurants are closed. Meat is rotting in refrigerators. And in Germany’s River Rhine, barges which ship parts to factories, are no longer taking full loads, but, 30% - 40% of what they normally hold. All of these problems are directly traceable to the drought planet-wide.