Eco-friendly vs appropriate technology

By Daniel Collins 14/07/2010

The BBC has a nice photo essay on the up-take of a low-tech irrigation device – a treadle pump. The BBC, perhaps echoing IDEI, is calling it “eco-friendly”. But it’s not. There’s nothing environmentally friendly about pumping out more water from an aquifer than is recharged. Even pumping less than the recharge rate can be problematic for groundwater-dependent ecosystems.

This treadle pump is better described as appropriate technology. Low-cost tech, that can be made or serviced locally.

Remember the declining aquifer levels in India? It’s because of insatiable pumping. And why so much pumping? For irrigation to feed the massive population. If higher pumping isn’t accompanied by lower birthrates, these pumps are just delaying the problem.

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