I think there’s a fair argument to be made that the only governments taking their responsibility to their citizens seriously right now are the island nations who are doing things like trying to find a place to relocate the entire country. This shows a disturbingly rare understanding that a nation is its people, and the first duty of any government is meeting the basic survival needs of those people.
One of the many ways in which the government has failed in that duty is in the protection of our water. We’ve known for a long time that many of our fresh water supplies are not sustainable at the current rate of use, but not only have we failed to make the many obvious changes that could address that problem, we haven’t even stopped people from poisoning the water we do have. When you add in the vital need to keep existing nuclear waste and nuclear power plants from irradiating large portions of the landscape, it’s clear that we’re going to need to have a much better grip on how our nation uses and distributes water.
The good news is that – as with so many other environmental challenges – this is a problem we could solve, if we wanted to.
See, we’re not going to be short on water, just on water that’s safe to drink, or to water crops with. As some of you may have heard, much of the world is actually going to have much, much easier access to water in the near future, so the only question is whether we can make use of that water.
In case there was any doubt, we can, if we have the infrastructure. Solar-powered desalination plants could be deployed all along the coast, maybe as part of preparations for the acceleration of sea level rise, and we would have a practically infinite source of water for indoor farms, to keep green areas green in droughts, and to build a society that has a shot at bringing greenhouse gas levels – and temperatures – down a bit.
With freshwater supplies at a premium already in many parts of the world as a result of climate change, there has never been a better time for solar desalination to come of age. Whether or not this emerging technology can go mainstream sooner than later may mean the difference between a peaceful future and one wracked by conflict over access to ever-dwindling supplies of freshwater.
In hopes I’ll be able to stop saying this some day, we could be doing this, but we’re not.
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