The recent UN report on climate change should trigger a tremendous call to action based on its findings. Past evidence shows that man-made factors have resulted in significant increases in global warming over the last fifty years. This means that the future will undoubtedly result in an increasing number of fires, droughts, and flooding. The question is no longer whether changes in human behavior can stop climate change. Its now more about mitigating its impact and building a stronger capacity for resilience. This is especially important when it comes to climate change and water supply threats. We need water crisis solutions today if we’re going to effectively navigate future ecological disasters. (Ecological disasters require Bold solutions–read more in this Bold story.)
Climate change and water supply issues go hand in hand for obvious reasons. As global warming occurs, geographic terrains will become altered. This will affect fresh water supplies throughout the world. But at the same time, climate change will bring about catastrophic weather events that will disrupt existing water systems. Therefore, water crisis solutions will need to consider broad areas of impacts. Fortunately, there are a number of bold organizations today striving to address these issues. Through their efforts, an enhanced capacity for improved water resilience can become a true reality. But it will take more than their efforts alone. It will require communities throughout the world to make a real difference.
“When we look back at this period, it will be the time when we made the big decisions that mattered and so there are opportunities for real leadership and if we don’t get it we will have [global climate-related] catastrophe.” – Spencer Glendon, Founder of Probable Futures and Doctorate of Economic History
A Climate Change and Water Supply Reality
If there was ever a time for water crisis solutions and investments into the Blue Economy, it would certainly be now. (Read up on the facets of the Blue Economy in this Bold story–one of many on the topic!) At the current time, roughly a third of all people in the world lack access to clean water. At the same time, about half the world’s population do not have a safe toilet system. This has significant impacts as a result on human health and well-being. Poor water supplies markedly increase the number of diarrheal illnesses, which accounts for major increases in infant mortality. It also prohibits hand-washing, which further spreads communicable diseases. And it also affect opportunities for education. Over 100 million children, mostly girls, are unable to attend school because they must collect water from remote sites. Even before considering climate change and water supply effects, this is our present baseline.
By the year 2050, the U.N. reports that 3.2 billion people will live in water scarce areas. These predictions may actually be brighter than reality, however. With global warming, geographic shifts are likely to occur and disrupt existing water systems. In some cases, this could suddenly affect millions of people. Even in the U.S., water crisis solutions are already needed. Reports show that 7 out of 10 Americans drink contaminated water supplies that could impact their health. Specifically, 233 million Americans are exposed to toxins in their water supply, like lead and arsenic. Superimpose climate change and water supply issues on this, and the problem rapidly becomes catastrophic. Human health hangs in the balance as a result.
“People living in extreme poverty deserve a complete and sustainable solution, not a band-aid or an intermediary step, or the promise that one day someone will return to finally solve their water and sanitation problem.” – Marla Smith-Nilson, Founder and Executive Director of Water1st International
Organizations Striving to Find Water Crisis Solutions
Fortunately, there are a number of international organizations trying to make a difference. Appreciating climate change problems, they are making bold moves to develop sustainable water crisis solutions. Leveraging technological, financial, and community resources, these organizations believe they can create better water resilience. It’s no longer a matter of reversing climate change but instead mitigating the effects it will inevitably bring.
- Probable Futures – Founder Spencer Glendon of Probable Futures sees one of the issues of climate change and water supply as being informational. He believes providing the world with better knowledge and tools to make better decisions offers one approach to water resilience. As a result, he hopes to provide the public with free maps, tools, and resources to contribute to water crisis solutions. Through a group effort, equipped with facts and knowledge, he sees a brighter future in dealing with water scarcity.
- Water1st International – Founded by Marla Smith-Nilson in 2005, Water1st International provides a different type of water crisis solutions. Since its founding, the organization has completed over 3,500 projects and served nearly 250,000 people. Through sustainable projects backed by water and sanitation experts, Water1st provides piped water and toilets to households. The organization anticipates this will be an increasing need as climate change and water supply issues worsen. This is why they too see water resilience as an important subject today.
- Aquagenuity – As noted, water crisis solutions are needed in the U.S. as well. Doll Avant founded Aquagenuity with this in mind. As a data scientists, she is using machine learning and other cutting-edge technologies to provide real-time water data. This data then allows communities and individuals the ability to monitor the quality of their own water supply. Self-labeled Guardians of H2O, over 1 million supporters have joined Avant in her efforts. Thus, as climate change and water supply problems grow, she hopes technology can help provide some water resilience solutions.
“We have gone far beyond providing a list of toxins and parts per billion found in local water supplies (gibberish that means almost nothing to the average consumer); instead, we make water quality data visual, color-coded, and relevant.” – Doll Avant, Founder of Aquagenuity
It Takes a Community Effort to Make an IMPACT
The achievements of these types of organizations in addressing climate change and water supply shortages are noteworthy. But it will take more than isolated efforts to develop widespread water crisis solutions and enhance water resilience. It will take a global effort involving all communities through active participation.
Understanding this, IMPACT Public Service Fund, a group committed to improving civic life, is holding its “Future of Water” seminar. The virtual conference will take place on September 23rd at 6PM and feature key leaders in the water crisis solutions’ movement. Participants will gain a deeper understanding about climate change and water supply problems we all face. These are the types of activities needed to move toward greater water resilience in the future.