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The Global Freshwater Crisis

By Joe Romm on June 12, 2008 at 4:37 pm

"The Global Freshwater Crisis"

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Along with carbon, water is the other great problem of this century. And, of course, the two are intimately related because the biggest impacts of carbon-driven climate change are projected to be on the hydrological cycle.

The American Prospect magazine has a special report on the water crisis in its June issue. If you want to get up to speed on the water issue, this is a good place to start:

Where Has All the Water Gone?

The world’s water crisis poses grave threats to our survival. Can we change course?

Facing Up to Freshwater Pollution

We are at a turning point as momentous as the 1970s, when the Clean Water Act was enacted.

The Backlash Against Bottled Water

Water Wisdom

A conversation with water expert Peter H. Gleick on today’s crisis, and a vision for tomorrow’s sustainability

The Perils of Privatization

The conflict between multinational corporations’ quest for profits and the simple human right to clean, safe water

Changing Water Policies in the Dry Southwest

Smart water use and a shift in water culture form a winning strategy.

The Missing Piece: A Water Ethic

We must make the protection of freshwater ecosystems a central goal in all that we do.

Modern Pressures on a Prized Ecosystem

Dams and development threaten bountiful supplies of fish in Cambodia, the world’s largest inland fishery.

Suprising Progress in Teeming Manila

Online Extra: Many poor residents benefit from a creative enterprise between a family company and the government’s water agency.

Water and Climate Change: Perfect Storm in Sight

Online Extra: The reality of drought will require tremendous resilience in adapting to the untoward impacts.

Grabbing the River Jordan

Online Extra: The World’s First Water War.

Water Technologies Somewhat to the Rescue

Online Extra: Often, in the water world, large changes can be made with simple, no-cost policy decisions.

Curing the Developing World’s Water Woes

Online Extra: We have an unprecedented opportunity to prioritize safe drinking water and sanitation investments.

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9 Responses to The Global Freshwater Crisis

  1. Jonas says:

    On the other hand, engineers just found a way to squeeze trillions of liters of drinking water out of gypsum. Very abundant in the world’s deserts, especially the Sahara.

    Check it out:

    June 12, 2008: Greening the desert by squeezing water out of gypsum.

    Part of a special issue on “macro engineering” projects, published in the International Journal of Global Environmental Issues.

  2. Finnjor says:

    There is no water shortage so far as we have the Greenland and Antarctic ice masses. And no energy problem. The potential energy of these ice masses is enough for all our demand for a thousand years.

  3. Uosdwis says:

    At what point do we make the connection: “hey, they have a HELL of a lot of extra water in Iowa/Indiana/Illinois/Wisconsin etc, RIGHT NOW. Could we capture as much of it as possible and distribute to the West?” Course, it would need to be filtered heavily, but it is FRESH, not saltwater.

  4. Russ says:

    Joe,
    I read somewhere that this spring the IPCC was going to release a report on drought, but so far their website doesn’t say anything about it, and I haven’t heard anything else about it. Do you know anything about this?

  5. Greg N says:

    Have you read “When the Rivers Run Dry” by Fred Pearce?

    A fascinating tour of the world, describing the hows and whys of the water crisis – and the consequences for the people he met.

  6. Earl Killian says:

    We could use water so much more efficiently than we do today. We use drinking water to flush our toilets; what could be more wasteful?

  7. David B. Benson says:

    Earl Killian — Using bottled water? champaigne? :-)

  8. Earl Killian says:

    David Benson, it reminds me when we had an earlier drought in California, and our Japanese guests asked about what we drank. We answered “beer”, and they asked “doesn’t that take water too?” and we answered, “we drink Japanese beer.” :-)

    But seriously, I prefer the solution found in Earthships: collect rainwater in a cistern and filter it, use that for drinking, cooking, and showering. The wastewater from these activities is then filtered through the indoor greenhouse growing beds, and the nearly pure result is used for flushing toilets. That water is then filtered through the outdoor planting beds. Thus the water is used four times.

    Earthships will be quite valuable after the collapse.

  9. David B. Benson says:

    Earl Killian — Collecting rainwater is a very good idea. Without the filtering you haven’t set up yet, you could still use it for flushing.