The Water Problem
A PROBLEM WITH MULTIPLE LAYERS, THE LACK OF FRESH WATER HINDERS ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT, DEVASTATES HUMAN HEALTH, LEADS TO ENVIRONMENTAL DEGRADATION AND CREATES POLITICAL INSTABILITY.
Over 80% of the morbidity and 30% of all deaths among half of the world’s inhabitants are the direct result of chronic fresh water shortages and lack of access to fresh water4. Most of these deaths occur in the developing world. In the developed world, we tend to take fresh water for granted but rapid depletion of non-renewable fresh water sources by expanding populations are creating chronic drought conditions, rising food prices and political turmoil. Presently, we are already spending 5% of our dirty grid energy draining, cleaning and transporting fresh aquifer waters, which are rapidly running out5. The US Department of Defense projects that by 2050, this percentage could top 20% and that over 1/3rd of the globe could be embroiled in wars ultimately rooted in access/control of fresh water resources.
- 1 Estimated with data from WHO/UNICEF Joint Monitoring Programme (JMP) for Water Supply and Sanitation. (2012). Progress on Sanitation and Drinking-Water, 2012 Update.
- 2 World Health Organization (WHO). (2008). Safer Water, Better Health: Costs, benefits, and sustainability of interventions to protect and promote health; Updated Table 1: WSH deaths by region, 2004.
- 3 Estimated with data from Diarhhoea: Why children are still dying and what can be done. UNICEF, WHO 2009
- 4 GF Leitner, Int. Desalination and Water Reuse Quart. 7 (1998) 10.
- 5 Desalination: A National Perspective. Committee on Advancing Desalination Technology, National Research Council. 2008. ISBN: 0-309-11924-3, p. 129.