TED Conversations

This conversation is closed. Start a new conversation
or join one »

Is the water crisis a serious issue?

Do you think the US should put effort into fixing the water crisis?

progress indicator
  • thumb
    Feb 28 2013: making clean water is not a problem technically. the water won't go anywhere from the planet, and any water can be cleaned to be drinkable. the only one problem is its price. when someone earns five dollars a day, drinking distilled/filtered water is not exactly an option. so the solution to any "water crisis" is economic progress. if people are richer, they can afford clean water no matter what.
  • thumb
    Mar 12 2013: Just in South America, to mention one case, there are huge corporations acquiring land with natural water reserves and their business is not beverages.
  • thumb
    Mar 11 2013: Maybe we can invite people with solutions to your conversation? I emailed the chief engineer here http://www.ecological-engineering.com to come to TED.
  • Mar 11 2013: Water is streaming day and night.For water crisis,It will be a very serious problem for our mankind to solve .We all need to keep working on it as well as we are still alive.
  • Mar 6 2013: Only if water is essential to life....

    Oh wait, it is and that hasn't been enough to start a real conversation yet...

    Check out Alan Savory's new TED talk, he is the only person I know of on the planet with a reasoned, reasonable, inexpensive way to reverse desertification, but some sacred cows might have to get slaughtered (like "We need to get rid of cows"). Water has already started be a conflict starter (search Cochambamba and water to see what I mean) and the damages are already worldwide (Aral Sea, Colorado River, etc.). Yet this topic is recieving a lot less attention than the related Global Warming (exacerbated by albedo effect, often a direct result of less rainfall); I suspect because while we can live with warmer, we cannot live much drier than we already are. This is an even-less convenient-truth...
    • Mar 10 2013: Thank you very much for the TED talk, and do you think if they released another version of the inconvenient truth but about the water crisis it would help the cause?
  • thumb
    Mar 6 2013: Taylor, It would be helpful to know your location to better address your question. Where does this crisis exist ... your site says in developing countries. Your explaination states ... should the US put effort into fixing the crisis. What right does the US have to interfer into another countries internal issues? The US State Department has for years attempted to "buy a buddy" by giving cash and supplying weapons ... the US is a failed dipolmatic state. All US efforts to "buy a buddy" has failed and we still send millions / billions to be distributed among the politicians. The citizens have never benefited.

    Second .. you suggest the UN as a help ... you could not be from the US and make this suggestion. The UN budget is 13.9 billion which the US pays 25% of the total budget and 27% of the operations costs .. plus all of the facilities and the city of New York suffers from the diplomatic fools of the UN and violation of US laws. 17 of the member nations pay 86.5% of all costs ... the rest of the nations are there for the ride. The UN has been trying to correct the world problems since 1945 and have a VERY poor record but VERY high costs. Can you name a nation that has been expelled for not paying it manditory dues ... for human righs violation in their own country while being a member nation , etc ... for violating the UN charter ... nope it doesn't happen.

    For centuries these undeveloped nations have had the same basic problems and have never acted to resolve them. Peace Corps have dug wells .. planted crops .. etc. when they leave the people go back to the old ways.

    Shouldn't these people want to help themselves .. can you help someone who doesn't really want helped.

    Just asking. Throwing money at the problem ... is that the answer ... we do that all over the globe and are still hated.

    Just some thoughts. Bob.
  • thumb
    Mar 6 2013: I recommend you the book 'When the Rivers Run Dry' by Fred Pearce.
  • Mar 6 2013: Yes,of course.UN means United Nations.Put forth an effort to a join effort is the original meaning of UN.I understand it so.
    • Mar 10 2013: But do you believe they are doing enough to help it?
  • Mar 5 2013: Sure! But will the useless Congress we have right now, invest in the future? I doubt it. To most of these people there is no water crisis or global warming. This planet's water is 98% salt water, with only 2% fresh drinking water and 1% of that fresh water is frozen in glaciers, which are melting at a great rate into salt water from the "non existent climate change" problem. Because of population increases throughout the world, we are running out of fresh water. The U.S. could step up and start to seriously try to solve the water problem but Congress is not willing to even support the schools/colleges needed to develop the scientists of tomorrow to lead the way. We have the science here to do the research but no funding to support the research needed to come up with some solutions. Sorry state of affairs!
  • thumb

    Josh S

    • 0
    Mar 5 2013: What's the water crisis?
    - not trying to be obnoxious, i mean ive heard of water pollution... but not a crisis
    • Mar 5 2013: Read the facts on this site, http://water.org/water-crisis/water-facts/water/.
      • thumb

        Josh S

        • 0
        Mar 5 2013: oh ok i see where you're coming from,

        My opinion would be that there is a much smaller percentage of people now without clean water then with it. The vast majority of people have access to clean water, more than anytime in the history of our species. Yes, we have work to do, as the facts from the website shows, and yes it is a tragic, preventable problem, but every year more and more people have clean water. we are making progress toward the goal of everyone having clean water, not the other way around, so i dont think there is a crisis.
        Or if you do consider it a crisis, then we have been in a water crisis since the first human was born.
        • Mar 10 2013: But while we wait for a solution a myriad of people are dying everyday from a preventable cause.
        • Mar 11 2013: There is definitely a crisis present; lack of clean water has caused so many diseases that cause suffering in many indigenous and poorer communities. I just went to Panama, in Darien, and witnessed life in the embera community, and water is scarce. Sewage flooding is an issue, disease is spreading.

          BUT there are organizations that are trying to build water infrastructure that, with time, can attenuate the water crisis.
  • thumb
    Mar 4 2013: Way more serious than you imagine.
  • Mar 3 2013: I think water is our bodies' blood.Air is our breathing.Sun and soil are our nurtrure.We humanbeing has damaged the bestow of the nature for a long time.US is doing a good job,we all over the world people should learn from them.
    • Mar 5 2013: How is the US doing a good job? What are some practical things everybody can do?
      • Mar 5 2013: Sorry,dear Taylor Blackford I made a mistake.I meant if US can put effort to fixing the water crisis,good action,we all countries should join them.
        • Mar 5 2013: Do you think that the UN or any other large multi-country organization could put forth an effort to a joint effort?
  • thumb
    Mar 2 2013: Yes it is. Water is the second most ubiquitous substance on earth (after air) but only a little portion of it is accessible to it humans in the readily usable form. This is because this availability is dependent on natural water cycles traditionally and human activities greatly impair such cycles.
    The idea that technology can convert non-usable water (dirty, polluted or saline) to usable if there is only enough money is not only silly but stinks with exploitation, power and unfairness. It is silly because it sounds like we can destroy health and can boast of medical technology that can cure us if we have enough money. It is exploitative because most goods, including modern agriculture has unappreciated high water footprint. We have parts of world where 600 litres of water is routinely used per capita where as we know there are other parts of the world, parts from where historically 'free' labor force has come to affluent parts of world till few centuries ago, where women walk 20 kms daily to collect a bucketful of water.
    I do not intend to promote my blogs just trying to save space here.
    • Mar 2 2013: Less than 5 minutes ago: What do you think we should do to fix this problem?
      • thumb
        Mar 2 2013: Will you pay me if I tell you? :) Joking...
        Actually there is not one solution to the problem. Apart from what are being tried in terms of technology (low-flow faucets et all, I am chuckling again), agriculture (GM seeds that require much less water to produce crops) and other means, I think water footprint should be integrated into the economy. I mean, if a pair of jeans have thousands over liters of water embedded in it at a price say x$, I think I shall buy another pair with either lesser liters embedded for same x $ or may pay a little more for that.
        There should be water usage governance and policies like aquifer withdrawal regulation, taxation on water intensive sports like golf and consumption of meat.
        The per capita consumption of water, both direct and virtual, should be controlled through legislation as well as social appeals.
        I know the answer sounds uninteresting but fact of the matter is that there is no magic lamp that we can rub and avert global water crisis.
  • thumb
    Mar 1 2013: One cannot pipe the world can they? If a region is suffering from drought or arid climate conditions one does not go off and pipe water from one part of the planet to that area. The population of those areas will move or be forced to move as we have always done throughout history, it is only a crime when commercial interests take all the water for their own use through complex policies put in place by their shills in office.

    As far as i know for the States, it is the Oglalla aquifer that is being sucked dry and once that is gone? What other natural sources are there that will deliver the necessary amount needed to water the farms who are subsidized and are utilizing land that is usually too arid to grow in? There are those of us here who live on islands that understand that water is the primary source first and foremost of all resources that is the first concern, if someone was to tell me that i was to half the use of that water because they were going to take it and give it to someone else, i would shoot them then laugh at them for their naivete. Welcome to the horror of population pressure.
    • Mar 1 2013: But what if a community as a whole decided that they would decrease their own consumption because the end results were an extended life for the water supplies of the entire population. Yes there is not instant trade off if I save here it goes to someone somewhere else, but if we decrease the amount we use now, there might be more for everybody later.
      • thumb
        Mar 1 2013: It would still run into the ocean Taylor and you can't stop it as it is part of the natural system of recycling as well as the complex bio environments that those sources keep alive by just being there. If you and your community do what you say you want to do? What's to stop the government body that controls it selling the excess off to commercial interests? One cannot take from a water producing area and give it to an area that is going arid and expect that it will change that area nor can one expect those water producing areas be producers in the future, as in the case of my country if what they predict comes to pass, half of my country turning to hot dry and arid. I live in Nz, two islands and if it goes belly up then i move.

        Conserve your water yes but it doesn't help anyone in Africa or Asia or me. The best one can do is make sure the natural aquifers don't drain out or allow it to drain out like they are doing with the Oglalla. There are ways to harvest moisture from early morning moisture from the coasts but it just needs setting up.
    • Mar 3 2013: "One cannot pipe the world can they?"

      We have already piped the world with oil and gas pipes.

      As Krisztián Pintér says, the key is price.
      • Mar 10 2013: If we already piped the world with oil and gas pipes why would it be so difficult to lay down a water pipe. Yes the price will be high but water provides life and without life then there is no point.
  • Comment deleted

  • thumb
    Feb 28 2013: wow…so now there is a global "water" crisis that somehow the United States is responsible for…

    • Feb 28 2013: I am not saying responsible for, but should we be trying to help other countries that cannot help themselves
  • Comment deleted

    • Feb 28 2013: So would you want a world where everybody else is dying and we have enough clean water to help all of them?
      • Comment deleted

        • Feb 28 2013: Almost 10,000 people die everyday from not having access to clean water, that's not nobody.
  • Comment deleted

    • Feb 28 2013: Water may be abundant but more than 99 percent of it cannot be consumed such as the salt water in the oceans, or the fresh water in the polar ice caps, or water filled with pathogens. Yes for Americans have more fresh water than we can handle, but other parts of the world have no access to any. The water in a well may be endless but as time goes on the well will have to be dug and redug in order to obtain the necessary water which might run out some day and the idea of a well will be a thing of the past.
      • Comment deleted

        • Feb 28 2013: The water levels all over the world have been dropping over the past years, this means the wells are slowly emptying out. Yes its easy for some bigshot to pay for a well to be dug, but not everybody has the machinery lying around or the money to pay for it.
  • thumb
    Feb 28 2013: Absolutely!

    Did you know that the Colorado River will no longer flow into the sea by the end of THIS decade? Do you have any idea how many aquifers have been destroyed through pollution because of chemicals used as both fertilizer and pesticides - not to mention fracking that turns faucets into blow-torches? Are you aware that - regardless of primary cause - global warming is real? That means that more water will evaporate. People will need to drink more water. Crops will need more water if we are to eat. Population growth is dangerous at this stage of humanity's development.

    But these things are overlooked because your government has sold your survival (thus you) to the highest bidder. The more our resources are depleted, the more of a hindrance you are to the highest bidders, so something will need to be done to reduce the numbers of people like you. (The best way would be to start a major war - with an invented but culturally believable reason - so that the sheeple who are not paying attention will die, and attention will be diverted from a serious underlying problem that - if not addressed - will mean the end of most of humanity anyhow)

    The USA cannot escape global warming. It could escape population excess. It could refuse to sell our survival to the highest bidders in the name of profits. More and more Americans should ask themselves why this is happening. When they do, they will realize that money is not more important than people, and they will join together to bring the corrupted system down
    • Feb 28 2013: That is a very interesting point. Do you believe there is any way to fix the problem as citizens? Or do you think it will be the government who is regulating it and controlling our water vaults down the road. If this really does happen, is there any hope for the rest of the world or will the water shortage be the first step in our overall demise?
      • thumb

        Gail . 50+

        • +1
        Mar 1 2013: Water is already being used as a weapon in places. Consider Palestine. During the Oslo accord, Israel agreed to drill wells in the West Bank. It was thought that this would encourage economic development in Palestine - so that it could become a viable state. So Israel dug the wells. It then piped the water into Israel and to those homes in the Jewish settlements in the West Bank. It then declared that its own water sources were to be secured and left untapped in the name of national security. Now poor Palistineans walk through the desert climate, past rows of swimming pools as they walk several miles with empty jugs to get the day's essential water.

        But I think that is a rarity. Still, it shows how access to water can become so severe that a corrupt government - that no longer serves the people - such as the american government - can cross the line.

        I don't think that water shortage will be the first step in an overall demise. I think that it's part of a perfect storm of events - most of which would be avoided if our government served us rather than the wealthy who make their profits on the backs of those whom they do not appreciate.

        The hope lies in working out the only available solution that I have been able to think of - but do it in your own mind so that you understand it. When enough do this, we will be able to reclaim a government of, by, & for the PEOPLE (rather than money). Only then will we be free, and with that freedom comes safety (for different reasons).
  • Feb 28 2013: Of course it is.
    Upwards of one billion people don't have access to clean water and over 2.5 billion don't have sanitary conditions.
    In 2005, 4,000 children a day died from not having access to enough water to keep them alive. That figure is higher now and still growing.
    Not one child left behind? Right? Wrong, millions of them left to die.
    Certainly not white chillun. Certainly not Amerikan chillun.
    Any resource that humans need to live should not be allowed to be owned or controlled by anyone, any country, any corporation, any bank or financial institution, king or queen. The resources of the earth were here for everyone's needs, not only a select few.
    The control should be taken out of their hands and managed properly by the global population.
    We don't have a population problem. We have a management problem of huge proportions because they are intentionally mismanaged for profit, scarcity that leads to profit, and that also leads to the horrible deaths of millions of people and thousands of children every single day.
    • Feb 28 2013: But do you think that the US should be working towards having more clean water, even when were are hardly affected by the lack of it. From what I know most Americans are apathetic and do not care about what happens in other parts of the world. So should we be the forerunners in a new age where water sustainability is key?
  • Feb 28 2013: How do you suggest we fix the problem?
    • Feb 28 2013: Amerikans have had many liberties taken away.
      They will not be given back. There are more laws to limit voting.
      There are methods people are trying to implement to not allow a change in law to be challenged once it has been passed. Such is what is happening in Michigan right now.
      There is so much going on that what seems clear is this: all these things falsely taken away can only be "taken back" by force in some form or other. They will not be given back.
      Amerikans have great examples from other countries as to what they need to do. Syria, Egypt, Libya, Italy, Greece. People have to rise up. The only empowerment Amerikans have right now is in the Dec of Indep which tells them, authorizes them and instructs them in what to do.

      Such is the fact that companies, groups or individuals who control resources must relinquish control or ownership of those resources. If they don't or won't, then only force will get them back.
      I don't see how one Amerikan can walk around without feeling real guilt about the poverty they have caused in the rest of the world. So too have others I know, with other countries and their governments and so on, but they have done the most damage.
      Yet they cry how much one act of child sexual abuse is 100% intolerable while they tolerate and benefit and enjoy, the fruits of resources stolen from other cultures and countries, causing millions to die and that includes millions of children.Over decades, with immunity and impunity. They can tolerate extreme collateral starvation, slavery, poverty, inequality, crime, greed, war and death. They benefit from all of that. If they are good people, then they must stop their Imperialistic, Fascist leaders and entities from carrying on in this way.
      They really shouldn't be doing anything else but that. How could anything else be more important?

      Mismanagement means new management. How do people get management that does its job?
      By voting? No, that doesn't work. Pleading? Asking nicely? Suggesting? Being civil?
  • Feb 28 2013: In Texas and some other states we are growing our populations into real water problems. Okay that may not look bad to some of the regions already in really bad shape, but wealth in the history of nations comes and goes. This will someday be a nontrivial problem. With some of the antics in Washington I am not sure that the future is dimming quidkly. In American - Mr. potter was not the hero in "It's a Wonderful Life."