Water shortages in the West are increasingly threatening to convert America into that of third world status. What was once considered an infinite supply is now rapidly becoming a scarce commodity. Some say fresh potable water will be worth its weight in gold by 2020 in areas that still carelessly waste it due to short term rationale and immediate gratification. California’s Central Valley and the rest of the bread basket is rapidly drying up and water rationing is now actively enforced. But is there really a water shortage? We’ll get to that in a moment. First, let’s look at the numbers.
Folsom Lake, July 20, 2011 and again 3 years later.
Much like the human body, 70% of the planet is covered in water although only 3% of this is fresh water in the state of liquid or ice. Merely 1% of all water on the planet is currently drinkable either immediately or after minimal treatment. There are over 7.2 billion humans on the planet, and one must take into consideration that we must share this 1% of fresh water not only with each other but with many other organisms. With the diminishing abundance of this vital resource, strategic conservation and the cessation of pollution is obviously imperative for our own survival.
Shocker: There is No Water Shortage
This may seem like an unpopular statement prima facie, but upon perusal of the quantitative data it becomes an irrefutable truth. Peter Joseph of The Zeitgeist Movement has crunched the numbers and calculated that to purify enough water to provide basic water abundance for every human on the planet (including agricultural irrigation) using current water treatment plants as the model, it would require 3,327 3.7 acre purification plants. So, less than 12,000 acres of water treatment plants dispersed worldwide would provide more than enough clean water for Earth’s current human population. To put this in perspective, there are over 36 billion acres of land on planet Earth. Joseph compares this to the 30 million acres of land that is currently occupied by US military bases.
Desalinization plants remove salt from ocean water to provide fresh drinking water mainly for seaboard cities. Now, 60% of desalinization plants worldwide use reverse osmosis technology, although other technologies are in use. The typical base output of one of these plants is 150 million cubic meters of freshwater annually. If the entire human population were to rely strictly on desalinization plants alone, only 8.5% of coastlines would need to be utilized, or about one 50 acre plant every 10 miles or so. Desalinization technology is dramatically less efficient than simple purification processes but is still a smart supplementation when the two are used in tandem.
Additionally, 70% of all fresh water globally is still wasted on inefficient agricultural methods. Instead of having most of the water evaporate into the sky and even more of it absorbed into the ground far below the root systems of the crops, farmers can rely on indoor vertical farms and aquaponics systems that use a fraction of the water and produce more nutritious crops due to their even distribution of minerals.
Governments, Corporations Blocking Access to Fresh Water, Not Aiding It
Map of states with rainwater harvesting laws on the books.
Rain water harvesting using simple DIY technologies like rain barrels is illegal in 12 states. In addition to governments blocking the access to and collection of water, many of the financial elites are buying up bodies of water left and right for reasons unknown, although speculation may unsettle skeptics of their motives. This sentiment is only fueled by statements like those put forth by Peter Brabeck, former CEO and now Chairman of Nestle Group, the largest foodstuff corporation in the world. Brabeck shocked the world when he declared that water and food should be privatized and is not a basic human right.
Water is of course the most important raw material we have in the world today. It’s a question of whether we should privatize the normal water supply for the population. And there are two different opinions on the matter. The one opinion, which I think is extreme, is represented by the NGOs who bang on about declaring water a public right. That means that as a human being you should have a right to water. That’s an extreme solution. And the other view says that water is a foodstuff like and other, and like any other foodstuff it should have a market value. Personally, I believe it’s better to give a foodstuff value so that we’re all aware that is has a price, and then that one should take specific measures for the part of the population that has no access to this water and there are many different possibilities there. I’m still of the opinion that the biggest social responsibility of any CEO is to maintain and ensure the successful and profitable future of his enterprise.
Man Must Learn to Live in Balance with Nature
At one time, our ancestors drank directly from lakes, rivers, streams, and springs. While water contamination is a very real problem in many third worlds, in parts of Europe and America there is less of a chance of someone immediately dying from ingesting water found in nature. There is still a very palpable level of human pollution, no doubt, but all in all we can restore our fresh water to its purest state. When we realize that pollution is reversible, we see that we could theoretically live as our ancestors did.
Water access does not have to be an overly-complicated equation. If man learns to live in balance with nature, there is more than enough for everyone to share. This is no longer only the anthem of John Lennon fans and Green Peace advocates, it is empirically proven by modern measurements and calculations.