Blog 5: The Freshwater Crisis, More Solutions

For my last post involving the Global Freshwater Crisis I will be discussing, not unlike my first post, solutions that can be implemented to help solve the problem. Droughts have become a massive problem across the globe and although places like California are suffering it is the Third World countries like Pakistan or Ethiopia that are going to be hurt the most.

If we can find a way, or even several ways, to not only stop using so much water for things like agriculture, but to also create more sources for fresh, clean water then we could be saving thousands of lives. One thing that we as a planet do have on hand is the largest source of water ever; the ocean. People around the world have been working on ways to get water from the ocean, desalinate it using reverse osmosis, and then give it back to the people as fresh drinking water. http://www.cnn.com/2014/05/26/tech/city-tomorrow-desalination/

A couple of things that we need to be careful of when it comes to large desalination plants like the one in the video above is that removing the brine from the water and then putting it back into the ocean can upset ecosystems and ruin the living processes of marine life. Another thing that people tend to forget about is that like the rest of the planet we are polluting the ocean. Not only do we need to find ways to remove the salt from the water but if we want it to be drinkable and healthy then we need to find ways to remove any sort of bacteria that could be hiding inside. Waterborne diseases kill thousands of children every year so keeping the ocean clean not only helps them when we create fresh water with it but it also helps the animals that live there. https://www.facebook.com/CollectiveEvolutionPage/videos/10153840711338908/

Above is a video about a bucket that two surfers created that constantly pulls trash from the ocean. Giving people access to clean and fresh water is one step but keeping the ocean clean is another one. The ocean is so severely polluted with our trash that, as seen on Netflix, there is a land mass in the middle of the ocean that is purely waste;the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. The plastic that we use and dispose of everyday doesn’t just disappear nor does it biodegrade, it just sits. There are millions of landfills all around the world that seep and leak trash sewage into our ecosystems, and there are incinerators that produce harmful dioxins and release them into into the air. “In 2010 alone, more than 300 tons of plastic was produced worldwide” (Wolff), out of that 14 billion pounds is put into the ocean. 3% of that trash and plastic floats to the top, the rest sinks to bottom where we still have not developed the technology to get to.

If we want to help the people who cannot get fresh and clean water then we have to help the ecosystems that provide us the resources.

Last is a water bottle called the Fontus, although it’s a prototype and has flaws of its own it’s a start.

This invention is small scale, it’s a water bottle, but it works the same way the Warka Towers from my original blog post does but on a quicker and more efficient scale. If we could use this technology, and the other technologies above, the Fresh Water Crisis might diminish faster then you’d think.

Resources:

http://www.wolffkevin.com/resources/global_environment_issue.pdf

CNN.

Blog 4: The Freshwater Crisis and Disease

No one can deny that the freshwater crisis in Third World countries is a severe problem but one part of the crisis squeezes my heart a smidgen more than the rest; child deaths.

According to The Water Project 1 out of every 5 deaths of people under the age of five worldwide are due to water related diseases. WaterAid.org states that 315,000 children under five die every year from diarrhoeal diseases alone, not including dehydration or being malnourished. Diarrhea is the leading cause of death of children under five in Sub-Saharan Africa and the second leading cause of death of children under five worldwide. Annually, 60 million children are born into homes without access to sanitation and every minute an infant dies from lack of safe water and a clean environment.

Access to clean water and sanitary places to live could prevent these deaths from happening completely. The Water Project discusses how the best way to access clean water in Africa would be to use groundwater but drilling for the water puts up the predicament of how much that would cost, not to mention finding a spot that would provide enough water for the large population in need of it.

In July of 2010 the United Nations General Assembly recognized that everyone in the world should have equal amounts of water for domestic and personal use, and more importantly that this water should be clean and safe to use. The physical accessibility of said water should only take at most a half an hour to retrieve. My question is why the statistic haven’t changed if this had been recognized? The amount of child deaths from waterborne diseases alone is still drastically large as is the amount of water being wasted on Agricultural and Industrial uses in first world countries. So what can we do?

sources:

http://www.wateroneworldsolutions.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=category&layout=blog&id=38&Itemid=59

https://thewaterproject.org/water-in-crisis-rural-urban-africa

https://thewaterproject.org/water_stats

http://www.un.org/en/globalissues/water/

http://www.wateraid.org/what-we-do/the-crisis/statistics

Blog Post 3: The Freshwater Crisis, Agriculture, and Climate Change, who’s responsible?

Developing Third World countries are the ones who will, ultimately, be negatively affected the most by climate change but it is the First World countries that are the ones who are causing it. It’s hard to admit to yourself that despite how much you care, living in a first world country, especially the United States, that you are part of the problem. Buying meat specifically, and other foods from grocery stores that are supplied by large food corporations alone is essentially feeding the climate change issue.

According to the Climate Institute, 25% of the world’s carbon dioxide emissions (the most abundant of the GHGs) is due to agriculture. Main factors of agriculture contributing to global warming are deforestation, fertilizers that are fossil fuel based, and the burning of biomass. 30% of the world’s land is dedicated to agriculture, and first world countries like the US, Europe and Australia are the only ones who benefit. All of this pertains also to the freshwater crisis.

Thirty-seven different nations on this planet suffer from freshwater depletion, and a big part of this is due to climate change. Agriculture is not only a large factor in global warming but also a massive user of freshwater. 98% of the world’s water is saltwater while the remaining 2% is freshwater. 70% of that 2% is snow and ice, 30% is groundwater, and less then 0.5% is surface water;lakes, rivers, and streams. Because of the emissions produces from agriculture the sea ice and glaciers are melting, causing the freshwater to mix with the oceans, erasing said freshwater from existence. That’s not all: the higher the temperature the more water evaporates into the air causing either too heavy of a rainfall or severe drought.

All of this is happening because of the first world countries who have set the world on a path of destruction, all because we feel that we need more and more food. While we grow the food we need and raise thousands of cattle for slaughter even more people on the other side of the globe are suffering from hunger and lack of freshwater to drink, cook, and bathe with.

What needs to happen now is first world countries, need to fix it. They need to find ways to farm organically and in more efficient ways, they need to find ways to desalinate ocean water, create reservoirs to store it and pipe systems to transport it so that a mother in Ethiopia can give her child a glass of water instead of walking forty miles to get water that causes a plethora of waterborne diseases to infect said child. We have to do something about it because not only do we have the resources but we’re also at fault.

Resources:

http://www.dw.com/en/climate-change-fuels-water-scarcity-and-hunger/a-17325128

http://www.climate.org/topics/agriculture.html

http://www.nature.com/news/one-third-of-our-greenhouse-gas-emissions-come-from-agriculture-1.11708

http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2012/nov/30/climate-change-water

Blog Post 2: the Freshwater Crisis and Anthropocentric Flooding

The Global South is suffering from lack of fresh water. Africa, India, and several places in South America, all have thousands of families dying from thirst and disease. Soon enough it won’t just be waterborne diseases killing these people, but the massive floods crashing over these coastal cities and towns that are too poor to defend themselves or find shelter.

The coastal cities in the Global South that are suffering from poverty only have the technology to protect themselves from possible flooding now, not the devastating floods that are to come due to climate change. According to a recent study from the Organization and Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) the top ten cities that are at risk from severe coastal flooding are Guangzhou, Miami, New York, New Orleans, Mumbai, Nagoya, Tampa, Boston, Shenzen, and Osaka. 50% of those cities are in the United States alone and therefore have an extremely high chance of keeping all of their citizens safe and sound. Aside from New Orleans those cities don’t have much to worry about while the other 50% are the most vulnerable to future flood damage.

While anthropocentric climate change also causes high risk for disease because of the rising temperatures, a severely high risk for malaria in all of Africa, and also critical drought sweeping Africa and Asia causing crop failure and starvation, the flooding is something that no one can prepare for. While the people in these developing countries have been battling poverty, and starvation during these droughts they have not been prepared for the grave flooding that will sweep the coasts if the world continues on its self destructive path. (worldbank.org)

The video above discusses how 80% of the countries that are negatively effected by river flooding are only fifteen countries and are all developing areas. NASA predicts that global sea levels will rise another 2.5-10 cm by 2100, causing some of the largest developing cities like Cairo, Mumbai, and Shanghai, to be completely submerged.

Anthropocentric climate change is not only affecting coastal flooding but the freshwater crisis in these developing countries. “More than 50 percent of the World’s freshwater comes from mountain run off and snow melt.” (gracelinks.org) Glaciers are one of the most important sources of freshwater on the planet and once one or several have melted they don’t replenish and that source of freshwater is lost forever. World Agriculture alone accounts for 70% of the World’s water usage and continues to rise due to anthropocentric induced drought. “Almost 80% of diseases in so called ‘developing’ are associated with water, causing some three million early deaths. For example, 5,000 children die everyday from diarrhea, or one every 17 seconds.” (worldmeters.info).

It is sad to think that so many people are dying from the freshwater crisis in these developing countries when it is highly possible that they will die from floods of water that they had been so severely lacking.

Resources:

http://www.worldbank.org/en/news/feature/2013/08/19/coastal-cities-at-highest-risk-floods

http://www.worldometers.info/water/

http://www.gracelinks.org/2380/the-impact-of-climate-change-on-water-resources

The Freshwater Crisis: Ethiopia

There is nothing more abundant on this planet than water, yet somehow places around the world seem to be running out of it.  California’s been in a drought for at least a decade now but because of their first world privileges children aren’t dying at an unacceptable rate, not like they are in Ethiopia.

Droughts have been a problem in Ethiopia and other parts of Africa for the last twenty years or so but it hasn’t been a severe issue until recently.  Water sources like lakes, rivers, and wells have become so shallow that when collected it is infected with feces and that causes waterborne illnesses like cholera.  When there is barely enough water for a person to consume there’s definitely not enough for someone to bathe and that’s another large factor for causing disease, specifically in young children.  If they’re not shallow they’re dried up entirely preventing people from having access to water completely.

Freshwater 2000 (Arlington Institute)

Although the map above is from 2000, it gives you a good look at what the water shortage in Africa is like.  Ethiopia sits within the horn of the continent where it’s colored orange.  If you bring your eyes down to the key you can see that orange represents 0-1000 m3 of water per capita which is next to nothing.  “Water stressed” is a term used when there is only 1,700 m3 of water per person within an area and Ethiopia falls drastically beneath that statistic.

Aside from the large problem of Climate Change that factors in to Ethiopia’s serious drought, another component is that 90% of developing countries water is dedicated to agriculture.  Top agriculture companies such as Karuturi and Ethio-Agri-CEFT acquire most of the farmland which is dedicated to growing crops like tea and coffee, which is then exported to other countries.  This leaves 10% of the water for the people in these developing countries.

Arturo Vittori and partner Andres Vogler, industrial designers, have come up with an idea to provide fresh drinking water to the people of Ethiopia, and many other developing countries that areas that are struggling as well, without importing expensive, hard to make, development technologies.

warka tower2 warka tower

The image above shows Vittori’s invention, it’s called a Warka Tower.  It can be made by people in their own communities out of materials like bamboo.  What it does is it feeds off of the air and collects the condensation from the atmosphere in it’s net, giving the people gallons of freshwater at a time.  These water towers can be places anywhere therefore someone doesn’t have to hike forty miles to retrieve buckets of contaminated water to drink and bathe in.

It may take a long time to implement these towers throughout Ethiopia and other developing countries struggling with the freshwater crisis,  but I think it’s worth it.  In blog posts following this one I will be looking at different ways to solve climate change related problems in developing countries that are inexpensive and helpful to the peoples of these places.

Sources: 

  • http://www.arlingtoninstitute.org/wbp/global-water-crisis/441
  • http://www.smithsonianmag.com/innovation/this-tower-pulls-drinking-water-out-of-thin-air-180950399/?no-ist
  • https://thewaterproject.org/water-in-crisis-ethiopia
  • http://www.marcopolis.net/top-agriculture-companies-in-ethiopia.htm