Water Crisis

We need (all) water cleaning technologies to survive

Although a mere 0.014% of all water on Earth is both fresh and easily accessible (of the remaining water, 97% is saline and a little less than 3% is hard to access), technically, there is a sufficient amount of freshwater on a global scale, for humanity to get by. However, due to unequal distribution (exacerbated by climate change) resulting in some very wet and some very dry geographic locations, plus a sharp rise in global freshwater demand in recent decades driven by industry, humanity is facing a water crisis, with demand expected to outstrip supply by 40% in 2030, if current trends continue.

Water scarcity is the lack of fresh water resources to meet water demand. It affects every continent and was listed in 2015 by the World Economic Forum as the largest global risk in terms of potential impact over the next decade. In 2016 is was on third place. It is manifested by partial or no satisfaction of expressed demand, economic competition for water quantity or quality, disputes between users, irreversible depletion of groundwater, and negative impacts on the environment. One-thirds of the global population (2 billion people) live under conditions of severe water scarcity at least 1 month of the year. Half a billion people in the world face severe water scarcity all year round. Half of the world’s largest cities experience water scarcity.

Physical and economical scarcity

Physical water scarcity results from inadequate natural water resources to supply a region’s demand. Around one fifth of the world’s population currently live in regions affected by physical water scarcity, where there is inadequate water resources to meet a country’s or regional demand, including the water needed to fulfill the demand of ecosystems to function effectively.  Arid regions frequently suffer from physical water scarcity. It also occurs where water seems abundant but where resources are over-committed, such as when there is over development of hydraulic infrastructure for irrigation. Symptoms of physical water scarcity include environmental degradation and declining groundwater as well as other forms of exploitation or overuse.

Economic water scarcity is caused by a lack of investment in infrastructure or technology to draw water from rivers, aquifers or other water sources, or insufficient human capacity to satisfy the demand for water. One quarter of the world’s population is affected by economic water scarcity. Critical conditions often arise for economically poor and politically weak communities living in already dry environment. In countries suffering from water shortages water is the subject of speculation.

We have been and will fight for water

Clean – or even just fresh water – is even more important than oil. Here is a list over the conflicts related to water. Soon the oil will be replaced with other energy forms – but we can not replace water with anything else.

Human right or is water a commercial product

The legislation is clear: The United Nations Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights established a foundation of five core attributes for water security. They declare that the human right to water entitles everyone to sufficient, safe, acceptable, physically accessible, and affordable water for personal and domestic use.

When it comes to drinking water it is big business. The bottled water industry is growing like no other – the need is growing and the profits are high. International beverage companies are buying access to aquifers and springs to build botteling plants and thereby making profits of off fresh water that initially should be a human right (even for those who can not afford to buy the water in bottles).

Why it is getting worse

Put these 3 factors together: 1) The worlds population is growing, so the water demand is growing. 2) The easy accessible fresh water is getting less and less (ice melting, over exploitation, global warming). 3) The fresh water that we have is getting more and more questionable for drinking (salt intrusions, chemicals from plastics, drugs and agriculture). This is why most of us will have to clean our drinking water, now and in the very near future.

This paper from February 2020 by Future Directions International has a short overview of how it looks now in near future.

And now some good news

Technology seems to be the go-to answer for our politicians. The numerous political efforts to cut CO2 does not work in reality: the CO2 particles in our atmosphere goes only one way – up.

The good news is that a number of companies, such as WaterStillar, are struggling to invent, develop and bring sustainable technologies to market that will actually help. Let us all hope that it is not too late.