Water shortage

Discussion in 'World Events' started by Saint, Mar 8, 2017.

  1. Saint Valued Senior Member

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    3,227
    If the world's population grows to 9 billions,
    will we have enough "clean water" for all people and agriculture?

    If No, how to solve the crisis?
     
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  3. mathman Valued Senior Member

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    Desalinization plants.
     
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  5. Oystein Registered Senior Member

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    890
    Yep. (1) Desalinization and (2) piping/pumping fresh water from large lakes and rivers overland thousands of miles. Just depends on how much you want (or need) to spend on water.

    Does anyone know if the waste products from desalinization (salt and other mineral brine) are used or discarded? If discarded then that will add to the coast because you can't let it enter the ground water or put it back in the ocean.
     
    Last edited: Mar 8, 2017
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  7. Jeeves Valued Senior Member

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    Salt can be used.
    But there is a teensy little problem with pumping, piping and trucking water from lakes to deserts: the lakes will dry up and then you'll have more deserts.
    In fact, count on it.

    Water has a natural cycle. Mess with that - as in building dams, digging canals, draining wetlands, fracking bedrock and tapping into aquifers - and you have no way to predict where the water will go.
     
  8. Xelasnave.1947 Valued Senior Member

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  9. Saint Valued Senior Member

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    3,227
    No, everyday I read about water shortage, polluted water, long drought etc.
    Millions die of polluted water and so on.

    Our current technology cannot solve this problem.
     
  10. exchemist Valued Senior Member

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    5,580
    That is a sweeping statement that you need to justify. It is apparent that we have many technical tools to use to address this issue. Desalination may help. Another aspect where huge strides could be made is in using fresh water more efficiently. Much of the fresh water most advanced economies use is wasted on non-critical uses and a huge amount of rainfall runoff is wasted too. Water has historically been thought of as "free" and that clearly needs to change.

    But I agree there is a quite a challenge before us. I found this report for instance, which makes sobering reading: https://www.populationinstitute.org/external/files/Fact_Sheets/Water_and_population.pdf

    I think the first thing we need to do is not to panic, remembering that the world's population is forecast to stabilise eventually - at around 11bn, if I recall correctly. So it is not a runaway exponential that necessarily ends in doom.

    Then we need to use water properly. There is huge scope for recycling or at least secondary use of "grey" water https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Greywater . All it takes is investment in a secondary piping system. There is much that remains to be done to make household appliances more efficient in the use of water.

    But of course there is little point in introducing all this in countries where the population is stable and there is already enough rainfall. I feel sure that a huge amount could be done by way of international pipelines for water. If one thinks what pipeline and other transport networks have been built up for oil, for example, there seems little reason why something similar could not be done for water, if we were value it as we do oil today.
     
  11. Jeeves Valued Senior Member

    Messages:
    1,549
    An unbelievable quantity of Canada's fresh, clean water is being trucked away in plastic bottles - which will soon become an insurmountable problem in their own right - to be sold mostly in places where it's not needed, because the people who buy it have good tap-water already.
    Another unimaginably huge volume of water is poisoned by oil and gas companies and a smaller, but not insignificant amount, by other industries.
    There are some excellent reclamation projects. Where a government has made the effort and raised the funds, the science and technology was readily available.
    But none of it is ever coming back from Chicago, Pittsburgh or LA. Unless it comes in the form of torrential rain, that causes flooding, that washes away topsoil ....
    The world's elites have managed water very badly for a very long time, and now the big multinationals are buying up water rights everywhere.
    It will be very bad, indeed, before it's any better.
     
  12. Oystein Registered Senior Member

    Messages:
    890
    Just curious . . . How is the "leveling off" of population going to occur? Voluntarily? That doesn't seem likely. Thru mass killings via war, pestilence, starvation, natural catastrophe, etc.?

    My feelings exactly.
     
  13. exchemist Valued Senior Member

    Messages:
    5,580
    Actually, it may be that multinationals buying up water rights is the first step to proper management of water.

    If they are doing this (I'll have to take your word for it, though I'd love to know what multinationals and where), they must be doing so in the expectation of it becoming a commodity with value. Once water has value and is traded in an open market, we can expect to see the sort of investment in redistribution that I have been talking about, i.e. just as happens today with oil.
     
  14. exchemist Valued Senior Member

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    5,580
    Just by human nature. I believe I saw a UN forecast not so long ago that came up with the maximum level I mentioned, on the basis of the empirical observation, in all societies to date, that as affluence increases the birth rate per head declines.

    Later footnote: Actually the central forecast, for 2075, is a little over 9bn:

    http://www.un.org/esa/population/publications/longrange2/WorldPop2300final.pdf

    It is fair to say the number is highly dependent on fertility rate assumptions and there is a range of scenarios. But you can read it here. The exec summary is all I have read through properly, though I quickly looked at some of the trend graphs.
     
    Last edited: Mar 8, 2017
  15. Oystein Registered Senior Member

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    890
    I don't know . . . Looks like a "take your pick" to me:

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    I firmly believe that human population will level off at some point and I firmly believe it will be due to mass killings via war, pestilence, starvation, natural catastrophe, etc
     
  16. Jeeves Valued Senior Member

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    1,549
    Here is the handiest reference; I didn't save the others. http://www.globalresearch.ca/the-ne...-banks-are-buying-up-the-worlds-water/5383274
    They're not doing it to manage the water "properly".
    They're doing to make mega profits. The billionnaire's swimming pool gets filled before the small farmer's vegetables get a drop.
    By market redistribution, what we usually mean is "from he hath not, it shall be taken away, even the little that he hath."
    It means mass starvation, riots, migration and war.
     
  17. billvon Valued Senior Member

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    Problem with them is energy. We don't have enough of it.

    Nuclear power paired with multi-stage flash distillation could be a partial solution. However, such facilities are expensive and centralized, and many countries can't afford them.

    Smaller local devices would likely be more effective in the short term. The Deka Slingshot is one such device and can operate on fuels from wood to cow dung. Solar distillers are cheap and easy to set up.

    On a larger scale, systemic changes are more likely to be effective. Better protection of the water sources we have, for example, along with better choices for soaps and detergents (so the wastewater can be used as graywater.) Use of salt water for cooling, flushing toilets, washing etc removes much of the need for fresh water. (And once salt water delivery becomes common, local solar or Slingshot distillers then provide drinking water.)
     
  18. Oystein Registered Senior Member

    Messages:
    890
    Another possibility is to tow icebergs south (or north) to ports that are setup to "dismantle/melt/use" the bergs. Who knows what technology will become feasible if fresh water becomes scarce and thus expensive.
     
  19. exchemist Valued Senior Member

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    5,580
    Well of course, they are not charities. But that doesn't have to be bad. You need society to see the importance of the issue and start addressing it. And this is a manifestation of exactly that. They will no doubt need regulation, as with all commerce, but once you harness the power of the market, a lot of good things can happen.

    Again I would use the global distribution system for oil and its products as an analogy. Does anyone seriously imagine the way that works and responds to consumer demand could have been created by non-profit organisations?

    I'm far from a red-in-tooth-and-claw, free market fanatic, but it does seem to me that a managed market system has proven to be the best one we have for managing important global commodities.
     
  20. billvon Valued Senior Member

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    12,273
    Energy again. That takes a lot of energy.

    If you could just cause icebergs to appear in places that needed them (the Salton Sea for example) that would be great - but impractical.
     
  21. Oystein Registered Senior Member

    Messages:
    890
    Desalinization, as done today, is not a distillery-type process. Is this because it takes too much energy to boil the sea water and then condense the water vapor? Is there a point (cost of fresh water) where it might be feasible? Or are there too many contaminants in sea water that can't be removed via distillation?
     
  22. billvon Valued Senior Member

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    12,273
    That's definitely not true out here. The almond crops alone use 1000x more water than all the swimming pools in the state.
     
  23. billvon Valued Senior Member

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    12,273
    A lot of desalinators use flash distillation; 60% of the desalinators in the world use that process or a variant. When you have extra low quality thermal energy (i.e. you're next to a power plant) it's the way to go.

    If you don't have a cheap/free source of low quality heat, then RO desalinators take a lot less energy. They also take a lot more maintenance and are more complex.
     

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