Global Water Crisis

The Scientist provides a very well-done and disturbing picture of the role of water shortages in our lives and in our politics for the next several decades:

  • More than one billion people do not now have good access to potable water; that number will double between now and 2015.
  • Twenty-two countries are dependent on water from river systems that start in other countries.
  • It takes 10,584 liters of water to make a computer CPU, 525 liters to make a bowl of rice and 30,275 liters to make an extra-large cotton t-shirt.
Possible solutions include the development of virtual water sources. The idea is that countries with water shortages can alter their economies so they can import water-intensive goods, leaving them with a net "gain" of water.

Desalinating seawater is another technology that is in widespread use; more than 11,000 desalination plants are located throughout the world. Many of these plants are located in the Persian Gulf region, but make use of an older technology that basically just boils the water. Dwindling oil supplies will make those plants unusable.

Read more about this problem in this excellent article - Facing the Global Water Crisis.

Science fiction writer Frank Herbert, author of the Dune series of books, was fascinated by desert technologies. Read about dew collectors from the book; this technovelgy item also has links to real-life dew collection technologies.

Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 5/11/2004)

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