Last week, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released its sixth assessment report on the state of climate science.
The latest report from the UN-sponsored body spoke of humanity's "unequivocal" contribution to climate change. Media headlines followed with phrases like "code red", "catastrophe", "frightening", "hell", paired with images of burning forests.
Humans may be screwed, but here's why I'm still optimistic about Earth's future.
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A scientific process called desalination could help solve a looming water crisis.
With a higher demand for freshwater, a growing population will continue to pressure natural freshwater resources. Today, 1 in 9 people already lack access to safe water. If current water consumption trends persist, the demand for water will exceed supply by 40% in 2030.
Only 0.7% of Earth’s water is readily accessible as freshwater and 96.5% of it is saltwater. Through the process of desalination, scientists can turn saltwater into safe, drinking water. This process is either thermal-based (solar desalination) or membrane-based (reverse osmosis).
Why not implement desalination worldwide? There are environmental and economic challenges. For example, brine, the concentrated salt byproduct of desalination plants, is known to disrupt ocean ecosystems. But path to more sustainable alternatives exist.
If global water scarcity worsens, sustainable desalination plants can help provide fresh, potable water to vulnerable populations across the world.
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