Monday, April 22, 2019

Brainstorm # 1: Water Scarcity

Fact # 1
Today, over 1 billion people lack access to clean water. As many as 36 countries suffer from severe drought.
Fact # 2
70% of the Earth’s surface is covered by ocean water which accounts for 96% of our planet’s water supply. Ocean water cannot be consumed because it contains 35 grams of salt per 1 litre of seawater.

Fact # 3
Desalination technology turns saline ocean water into drinking water. Less than 2% of the world’s population (e.g. Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, UAE and Israel) are desalination stalwarts, but the UN projects that this figure will rise to about 14% in water-stressed regions by 2025.
Fact # 4
The start-up cost of a desalination plant can be as high as US$1 billion and the energy requirements are very steep. Presently, the cost of natural freshwater is about half the cost of desalinated water. Lowering desalination costs may depend on the competitiveness of renewable energy sources e.g. solar energy.
Fact # 5
Environmentally, desalination is not cost-free. It can harm fish and other marine creatures. Disposal of waste concentrates, including processing chemicals, poses technical challenges.

1. Are you an environmental *Optimist or **Pessimist?
2. Can conservation measures and the protection of existing water supplies effectively alleviate long-term water demands?
3. Is desalination the answer to drought and future water shortages?
4. If not, what alternative or emerging solutions are over the horizon?

Respond below.

*Optimists tend to be sanguine about the future and rely on human ingenuity and novel technologies to solve seemingly intractable problems.

**Pessimists are good at highlighting problems, and projecting contemporary shortcomings and pitfalls into the future.


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