King's College London geography graduate student Francesca Greco is presenting "Adding An Historical Perspective to Virtual Water Flows: Hydro Metabolism And the History Of Virtual Water" at the 2013 Association of American Geographers conference.
Greco has posted her presentation online for viewing and listening here. Her abstract is below
This presentation will guide through an historical perspective of virtual water and then will come back to current times. The term hydrometabolism will be introduced,drawing back to economic metabolism concept. Proceeding with our analysis, the human-nature of these water flows and the fact that, in history, these virtual water flows(or ,virtual rivers)have always existed, will , at the beginning, downplay the imporance of virtual water in past times. After this first finding, we will see how, with time, some of these flows have been inverting their routes for some reason, and we will explain the motivation of this "inverted virtual water flows" through an historical perspective.Consumers do not know the origin of the water embedded in their food, and consider a tomato coming from the Maghreb exaclty like a tomato coming from the Netherland.Virtual water flows in the past have been of minor impact because of the small numbers of human population, the sustainability of agricultural methods and the small impact of trade in the food market. During the antrhopocene, with the globalization of food and crop trade and overexploitation of water resources,virtual water trade has become "extreme" in certain areas: the hot-spots identified in this paper have shown how virtual water export are detrimental if water is being pumped from non -renewable and overexploited groundwater, and our main aim is just to show, once again using "virtual water"where a change must start from, and where the risks with virtual water export are currently becoming bigger.