With a growing crisis regarding climate change, it is inevitable that much of the world will experience a future water shortage. The need for water resilience not only relates to global warming, but it also involves rapidly changing weather patterns. The future of fresh water is also affected by the continued rapid growth of urban areas. Each of these developments highlight the importance of water resilience. And innovative solutions are needed to address these challenges in the immediate future. Unless greater awareness and efforts are made to address our future water shortage, major impacts will be felt in numerous communities.
With this in mind, IMPACT Public Service Fund held a recent webinar entitled “The Future of Water.” Experts and innovators led a detailed discussion to speak about the future of fresh water from a global perspective. Overviews of our current situation were provided as were insights about a certain future water shortage to come. In essence, the webinar provided a call to action for all sectors in an effort to avert the crisis at hand. This not only included government officials and policymakers but also business leaders and the community at large. In order to enhance water resilience satisfactorily, a concerted effort by all will be required.
“The Future of Water” Webinar
The virtual webinar to discuss the future of fresh water was held on September 23rd. Several entrepreneurs and experts came forth to express their concerns about what seems to be a future water shortage. Climate changes that have already occurred are triggering these events at present. And social demographic changes are also contributing further to these concerns. Understanding this, the following touches upon some of the keynote speakers and notable highlights of the webinar.
Spencer Glendon – Founder of Probable Futures
Glendon noted the impact that climate change is already having on the world today. Already, fires are occurring in Northern regions that are unaccustomed to having such events. The cause of these fires are lightning strikes, which were previously unheard of in these regions. Specifically, Alaska now has frequent bouts of lightning as a result of rising energy in the air. Spencer then further notes the expanding regions of drought occurring in South America. This too has contributed to portions of the Amazon suffering from fires as well. In depicting these changes, he expressed the challenges and inevitable instability a future water shortage will bring. His objective analysis is concerning and calls for change to attain a brighter outlook for the future of fresh water.
Marla Smith-Nilson – Founder of Water1st International
While perspectives about a probable future of fresh water is enlightening, so is the need to raise awareness. In this regard, Smith-Nilson encourages all of us to adopt a broader view of the problem. She agrees that a future water shortage is likely, and in order to minimize this, we need to appreciate water usage. This not only involves direct use of water in our homes but indirect uses as well. She notes that food production, manufacturing, and all sorts of activities contribute to a future shortage of water. Specifically, she described how Jackson Lake near the Tetons shrank 30 feet over the summer this past year. This decrease was due to the indirect water requirements for remote communities and for local cattle needs. Unless this is better appreciated by everyone, it will be difficult to implement necessary solutions for change.
Doll Avant – Founder of Aquagenuity
The other keynote speaker at the webinar provided some excellent comparison between the opportunities today versus the past. Avant noted how the search for innovative water solutions is similar to efforts searching for oil in the past. The ability to access and secure oil in the 20th century facilitated all sorts of manufacturing and transportation solutions. The same can be said of the Internet in the 1990s as creative uses followed its presence. Doll believes the same opportunities exist for solutions that invent better access and storage of water. In an effort to prevent a future water shortage, she encourages new efforts in discovery. From this point of view, the future of fresh water stability relies on creative inventions.
The Role of Businesses in Water Resilience
Notably, environmentalists, governments, and communities have an important role in preventing a future water shortage. But bold businesses must also comprise a big part in developing solutions. The future of fresh water for communities throughout the world depend on these efforts. And fortunately, several major companies appreciate this fact and are committing to positive change. In leading by example, these businesses demonstrate how a combined effort can reduce the potentially devastating effects of climate change. They can also provide needed resources toward these efforts along the way.
Recently, 3M announced that it would be joining the Water Resilience Coalition in an effort to reduce water-related stresses. PepsiCo has vowed to replenish more water than it uses annually in high-risk areas by 2030. Similarly, Facebook also committed to reduce future water shortages in key ecosystems. Last year, Facebook used over 3.7 million cubic meters of water for its data centers alone. And lastly, Google is striving to replenish 120 percent of its water consumption in the future. These are important moves in the effort to preserve the future of fresh water. If these commitments come to fruition, they can serve as templates for other businesses to promote water resilience as well.
The Global Future of Fresh Water
Objective evidence shows that climate change is rapidly occurring, and a future water shortage is highly likely if not inevitable. But each of us can help minimize these effects through individual and collective efforts. The “Future of Water” webinar highlights not only the current evidence concerning the future of fresh water. But it also provides hope for developing innovation solutions and changes that can make a positive difference. For those who were fortunate enough to attend the webinar, this was the takeaway message. And taking action accordingly is critical if we’re to mitigate the impact of a future water shortage.