When Oceans Collide – Water and Population Growth

“In the world of catalysts – I watch the ocean. The ultimate teacher of transformation. It has survived and carved its way through the Earth for eons. Are we, tiny humans, the final calamity of its superior lifeforms. Who are we to defy nature? We do not even create a cell phone battery that lasts more than 12 months…” ~ Maria Lehtman

Going back to nature? Most of us are inadept to even consider it. Smart Cities, when you really think about it, can ultimately be a smart choice. Rather build them tall and smart if the nature around us can stay healthy and with cleaner energy.

There is an ocean of people around the earth. According to the World Population clock: 7’689’226’300 and counting up. The world population is growing by roughly 80 million people per annum. The death rate is ca. one-third of the birth rate. The two oceans: people and water are on a collision course. The growth rate has begun to decline but our impact on everything on this planet continues to be extravagant.

If you like numbers, you might like this post. Even if you don’t –  these figures are worthwhile to take note of. These digits are impacting your future.

Population Growth

It is amazing to think that the 1 billion people milestone was achieved in 1800 and since then:

2nd billion in 130 years (1930)

3rd billion in 30 years (1960)

4th billion in 15 years (1974 … I’m of this era)

5th billion in 13 years (1987)

….9th billion will come around ca. the year 2038 with over 60% of the population settled in urban areas.

What about our water footprint?

 “A drop of water is worth more than a sack of gold to a thirsty man.”

On a global basis, the consumption of water goes first and foremost to agriculture: 70%, and thereafter 20% to industries and 10% for domestic use.

The alarming factor is that freshwater consumption has tripled over the last 50 years. The demand is growing 64 billion cubic meters a year. Now you might think that biofuels are a savior, but 1’000-4’000 liters of water is needed to produce one liter of biofuel.

A famous comedian had a jest about people dying in diarrhea in medieval times. They failed to look at the world at large. 5’000 children a day die due to lack of clean water and symptoms of diarrhea.

So think about the earlier populations figures. Now add the fact that 1.2 billion people already live in areas of water scarcity, and 1.6 billion people with economic water shortage – i.e. half the world’s population is already challenged getting access to water supplies.  Considering that we reach another population doubling eventually – doing nothing about our water footprint is not an option.

Water needs to be treated as a scarce resource now. We have water, the question is, for how long? The demand can be regulated and innovations brought about, but they are needed immediately.

How About Mobile?

“It used to be that we imagined that our mobile phones would be for us to talk to each other. Now, our mobile phones are there to talk to us. ~ Sherry Turkle

To start with, Groupe Speciale Mobile (GSM) did not even exist before 1982. (The first GSM call, by the way, was made in Finland by Radiolinja in 1991, and the first international roaming text message SMS sent between Telecom Finland and Vodafone UK in 1992). This follows with  another amazing set of figures:

10 million GSM subscribers exceeded in 1995

50 million GSM subscribers in 1996

0.6 billion unique subscribers in 2000

2,0 billion unique subscribers in 2007

And today: According to GSMA Mobile connections in March 2019 (including M2M) were 9’237’868’990 and the number of unique subscribers ca. 5’183’411’907.

This rate is not slowing down, on the contrary, the current growth 2,65% is perceived to continue to grow exponentially as smart-everything takes over commodity and industrial goods and services. This is an interesting trend because the connectivity is not, contrary to ‘common belief’, coming out of thin air. It requires significant investments in resources, equipment, and industrial advancements.

Smart Devices and Water

Now, what does telecommunications have to do with water footprint? The fact that we can track and build smart alerting systems globally to any devices, means we can monitor water consumption, waste, optimization, damages etc. The telecommunications industry can help to forecast and manage water supplies – and most of all, it can do that in all of the earlier mentioned areas: agriculture, industry, and homes. ‘Internet of Everything’ can serve the requirements of the future if we keep innovating sustainable production mechanisms around it.

Nano Technology and Computing are interesting areas to explore as they bring even more compact data in every area of industry. We have barely scratched the surface on these fields. In August 2018 researchers in the University of Michigan announced that they have created a computer the size of a speck of dust. Nanotech brings significant advancement benefits to all industries, especially in the health sector.

“You can’t cross the sea merely by standing and staring at the water.” ~ Rabindranath Tagore

You might wonder why someone from the country of 180’000+ lakes is writing about the water footprint and scarcity. That is the reason. If I come across a good area to invest in the future in preserving humanity – water is my choice number one.

Sources:

Worldometers I http://www.worldometers.info/world-population/

Worldometers I http://www.worldometers.info/water/

IFPRI I http://www.ifpri.org/publication/global-water-outlook-2025

Unwater.org I http://www.unwater.org/water-facts/scarcity/

AQUASTAT I http://www.fao.org/nr/water/aquastat/main/index.stm

GSMA I https://www.gsma.com/

GSMA I https://www.gsma.com/https://www.gsma.com/aboutus/history

Information-Age I https://www.information-age.com/predictions-telecoms-2019-123477448/

ConferenceSeries.com I https://nanotechnology.conferenceseries.com/events-list/future-prospects-of-nanotechnologies-and-commercial-viability

ExtremeTech I https://www.extremetech.com/computing/274772-researchers-create-computer-the-size-of-dust

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