This forum is about wrong numbers in science, politics and the media. It respects good science and good English.
Oxford prof(!) and head of computational science at Microsoft Stephen Emmott rants:
You wonder where they get their data from.
I recall many years back amid one of those droughts that brought on hose pipe bans with a vengeance that they decided industry was using far too much water.
Then they discovered they were using old data and that industry in fact far more conservative than thought.
Frankly though, 27,000 litres of water for I kg of chocolate seems unreasonable. I note there is no source quoted for the data. Just large numbers bandied around.
Let's put it into some sort of context. This is a Guardian article. We expect no less.
Plus this is all part of the "population" scam predicted by David Gardner referencing, for example, Guardian articles on the greenies conference where they said nothing about climate change being one of the top threats but a lot about population.
This was then followed by some obviously prepared comments appearing in BBC "live" programs on the environment and then by Attenborough's declaration about people being the problem.
One of the statistics you won't see in such an article though is the one about 14,000 litres of water being required to produce 1 litre of bio-diesel.
This article actually cites some sources and research to back it up. They don't quote chocolate in their research unfortunately. Of course, chocolate is a "luxury" and fair game.
PS where climate change has Big Oil as the bogey I guess in this arena it is the food giants.
Still, here is an interesting comment from Nestle:
See this link for the source of the numbers
So the message is that Ghanaian cocoa farmers should be using the water more efficiently, in watermelonspeak that means growing subsistence rather than tradeable crops (indeed one which has increased massively in price recently) so they can be kept in their "sustainable" poverty, where they belong. Or better die out and leave the pristine natural rainforest where, yea verily, doth ye lion layeth down with ye antelope even unto the fourth generation, and all iſ harmony until mankind arrives.
Very politically incorrect, James: I like it.
It was obvious that the 27,000l included that to grow the cocoa beans, but taking all the water falling on the land is a bit extreme.
What is more interesting is the phrasing "It takes..." which gives the impression that, once the chocolate is eaten, all that water is gone for ever. Of course, a moment's thought shows the truth, but that is the essence of propaganda - to slide an idea in under the radar.
Of course, these are exactly the sort of statistics greenies love, unless they would prefer to make up numbers and I can't be sure they don't prefer to lie.
Why? because they are wonderful for causing the impressionable to throw up their hands and call out "The end is near! Doomed. We're all doomed! It is man's greed that has done it" as if by adopting this behaviour of faux concern it is not they who have eaten the chocolate but big oil. It is always some else's fault.
And these figures can be very misleading.
So, when I buy 1kg of chocolate, where is my 27,000litres of water? Is it, like fossil fuels, you know, gone? Used up? polluting the soil? the air? the oceans? All of the above?
Or have they buried it deep underground?
Or could it be, since cocoa appears to be a rainforest crop that likes humid conditions, that the cocoa plant is merely a step along the way from falling out of the sky and soaking into the ground?
Of course, this also makes that biofuel statistic a little less frightening unless, because it is also (not all, some requires the slash and burn of rainforest to make room for biofuel crops) a corn belt crop, underground aquifers, and fossil water reserves are being used up at a rate far higher than they are being replenished.
But once their brains get stuck on the "27,000 litres for 1kg of chocolate" they often get no further...... No wonder it is fattening. Oh, and what about the sugar and the fats, the milk solids etc. are they included or excluded?
It's precisely the subliminal message of "destroying 27,000 litres of water for every kg of chocolate" that was the target of my satirical blog article: Save the World: Eat More Chocolate
It makes a form of economic sense. If you could use that 27,000 litres more efficiently, why not? And that's completely correct. But for the fact the greenies depart from everyone else on the definition of efficiency, because they believe the resources of nature to belong to them rather than to all of us, and particularly those that own the land on which such resources fall.
Chocolate is an extravagant luxury that should be available in consequently limited quantities. Ideally it should only be served in first class at 35,000 feet, whence the organically-grown (or even better, wild-harvested) product can comfortably be purchased for a "fair trade" price from approved plantations, to airline customers on the way to the latest UN conference on carbon emissions from the aviation industry.
It is not something that can be efficiently left to the evils of the market for the producers to decide that's the best use of their resources rather than maize or subsistence farming, and for the plebeian customer to enjoy at €1 per 100 g bar. That is an inefficient use of the producer's resources and the consumer's money.