What if the world runs out of water? In a session titled Water Scarcity and the Human Right to Water at the Skoll World Forum, water experts Peter Gleick, Gary White, and Gidon Bromberg discussed the very real problem of water scarcity in the world. Nearly a billion people in the world don't have access to clean water right now, and some are drinking muddied water from nearby streams because the good kind is either too far, too dangerous to get to, or inaccessible due to the lack of knowledge or wells. Gleick — whom Wired called one of 15 people Obama should listen to, spoke about the need to rethink and reframe the water problem. We have the impression that we'll never run out of water, but that simply isn't true — like oil, water can be over-pumped and its supply can peak, bringing us to a point where the next gallon of water will cause more harm than good. He points out that, in the 20th century, we focused our water efforts on "hard" solutions, technology and infrastructures that could improve water delivery. Now, he says, we have to think of "soft" solutions, economic and social aspects that complement the tech. "The population is growing too rapidly, but we still need to provide people with water and food," he said. "The good news is I think we can do it."
I'm talking to Gleick at the Forum tomorrow to find out exactly how.