“Peter Brabeck-Letmathe chairs Nestlé, the world’s44th-largest company, which last year earned US$10.5 billion in profits on US$121.1 billion in revenues. He is the consummate international businessman, bargaining hard, overseeing 280,000 employees, outflanking competitors and at ease with heads of state. Yet Brabeck remains incapable of negotiating one simple and irreplaceable ingredient without which his company ceases to exist: water.
He hardly seems a gloomy Malthusian, yet Brabeck foresees “limits to growth” because our global fresh water supply is both finite and being rapidly, stupidly, depleted. The world can sustainably use 4,200 cubic kilometres of water, he notes, but it consumes 4,500 even as aquifers plummet and rivers run dry. Continue reading