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article imageOp-Ed: Like living? Fix the water crisis before it fixes you

By Paul Wallis     Sep 13, 2020 in World
Sydney - This mismanaged world now has a water crisis to deal with, as well as everything else. As usual, the problem was predicted, and as usual, nobody did anything about it. Crunch time is expected to be around 2050.
The ongoing news about water scarcity is scary enough, and it’s endless. It’s been in the news for over a decade around the world. Just about every country on Earth has some problems, some have many. What they all have in common is that very little but verbiage is taking place. Nobody is trying to create new water reserves, improve storage, manage usage or anything else on a national, let alone global scale.
It’s a surefire course to yet another preventable environmental catastrophe. This one won’t be something people can walk away from. Water is the one thing you need to survive. You can go without food for a week or so. You can survive without water for 3 days.
Two years ago, World Water Development Report gave a rather grim prediction of the likely results of failure to solve the world’s water problems. 5 billion people could be at risk by 2050 is the ballpark figure.
Meanwhile, droughts, pollution, glacier melts and other fun things are effectively cycling available fresh water out of reach. Glacier melts deliver a lot of fresh water globally every year. The huge current melts are basically crashing the mechanism.
The Antarctic has a lot more water and ice than the Arctic, but the Arctic is basically gone. The thin sheets of ice over the Arctic now contain much less water, and the Antarctic could go the same way with the same brilliant management.
Antarctica has most of the world’s fresh water. Alarming reports are now emerging of the risk of a massive compund ice shelf collapse, and a sea level rise of half a metre. The melts are accelerating, that’s not disputed. The melts are being caused by hydrofracture, which is water breaking ice to expose more ice to melting. If those ice shelves are exposed, it's not going to be a good outcome.
If the Antarctic ice goes, the global weather machinery is in big trouble. Weather patterns, already chaotic as a result of the increasingly odder jet streams, could rewrite themselves. Rain, floods, and droughts could simply become quite unpredictable. We’re already seeing many unprecedented weather events. (It WAS predicted, by thousands of experts. This is what happens when you don’t listen to experts.)
One thing for sure is that these weather patterns can’t stabilise for a long time. Water supplies are extremely vulnerable to lack of rain. There are reasons, none of them good, for this antiquated situation:
• “Modern” water supplies still for some reason rely on water falling out of the sky.
• Recycling water was a thing for about 5 seconds in the political mindset, then vanished.
• Pollution destroys quite a lot of available drinking water, or severely contaminates it to the point it needs processing at extra cost. Absolutely nothing is done about these things. See Flint, Michigan for details.
• Most water infrastructure around the world is of vintages from 100 years old to about 10 years old. The older infrastructure is incredibly inefficient and there’s a lot of it still in service. It leaks, it wastes water, and it is often full of nostalgic risks like lead, etc.
• Basic water technology like molecular filtration, tech that’s been around for 40 years, is often ignored.
• Rainwater isn’t harvested as it should be.
Would you like to survive, yes or no?
If you said no, your chances of successfully not surviving are improving drastically, quite literally every minute as the ice melts. If this totally unnecessary situation was a Survival 101 course, humanity is failing, and has been failing dismally for many years now.
Ancient civilizations knew how to manage water supplies. Anyone who’s ever had anything to do with water infrastructure knows better. Better water storage with minimal water loss is no mystery to anyone. The fact is that all the solutions are already known. People know how to create water-efficient systems. They know how to harvest rainwater. Water pressure can be reduced in systems to reduce usage. There are endless tricks learned over thousands of years.
No water = You’re dead. Try explaining that and getting someone to listen.
In this enlightened year of 2020, where everything’s peaches and cream and buttercups, of course, we’re not talking about survival. We’re talking politics. We’re talking conspiracy theories. Any subject at all which shouldn’t even be worth sneering at is taking up all the space. We’re having hissy fits and tantrums about a pandemic which could have been shut down 3 months ago. This is the mentality expected to handle a global water crisis, and “crisis” could be a euphemism.
A serious 100% globally lethal situation like whether there’ll be any water a few years from now is barely getting mentioned. If prehistoric humans had been this dumb, they’d have gone extinct long ago.
That’s now a working possibility.
Predictions of water famine include:
• Wars over water resources: Why build more efficient water supply systems when you can have a nice expensive war instead? Africa and the Middle East are expected to have big problems, sooner rather than later.
Water theft: This is another hobby for criminals, notably big business, and other usual suspects. Water can be big money, too, so don’t expect this to stop rapidly.
• Desertification: Lack of water means loss of fertile land. Civilisations have fallen for that reason often before. The deserts creep in, and the situation gets worse. Deserts generate a lot of heat, too, adding to the weather problems.
• Crop yields: You’d think supplying water for food production was a no-brainer. It isn’t. It’s a bureaucracy coupled to costs and debts. Too much cost means no food production. Take a good look at that bean sprout, because you may not be able to afford it in future.
• Urban water supplies at risk: There is a possibility, based on standard drought management systems, that water supplies will have to be rationed. The cities are water gluttons. Big cities, in particular, use up water in incredible amounts. The mega-cities like Tokyo, Mexico City, London, New York, etc. are likely to get the worst of major water shortages. You can’t use water you don’t have.
Prediction of the future is a science, but some things are all too clear
It’s 2051. You look at the clock. The water will be on in 5 minutes. You get your cup of tea ready. It’s a 250ml cup, but hey, what’s life without a bit of luxury? You pour the tea, enjoying the steam and any other kind of moisture.
You check out the juice situation. Three packs of orange juice left. They cost $5 each, but the kids like them. Anyway, it’s a sort of status thing to have your own juice at school.
You’ve had your half hour of tap-running time. You make sure the taps are sealed so you don’t get a fine. Off to work you waddle, out into the 40C heat. The air is dry and stale. Dust isn’t much of a dietary supplement. You’re already sweating, a lot, and losing water. You know what that means.
You’re tired of kidney stones and dehydration, so you break out some of the secret water you have stashed in the car. Nobody’s looking. A few swigs, and nobody trying to panhandle some water from you. Life is about as good as it gets.
Some future you have there, bozos. For once in your brain-dead crime, politics, and conspiracy-addled lives, get something done right and fix this water problem. You will definitely not get a second chance.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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