Easily Confused (56) Water

Where we find water: on Mars, between 34 and 250 million miles away

NASA water Mars

Where we can’t provide safe drinking water to around 750 million people: our own planet

Sorry, poor people, but this whole space thing is much more exciting.

About Andreas Moser

Travelling the world and writing about it. I have degrees in law and philosophy, but I'd much rather be a journalist, a spy or a hobo.
This entry was posted in Economics, Environment, Health, Technology and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

13 Responses to Easily Confused (56) Water

  1. Pingback: Utility Outage | The Happy Hermit

  2. Dante says:

    There is enough water on this planet. The problem is not the water but man himself.

  3. Dante says:

    What I mean is that poverty is as man-made as wealth.

  4. Dino Bragoli says:

    Exploration of new Worlds is a great political distraction, even before 1492…

    • But there is also a genuine, innate human longing for new worlds, exploration and adventure, at least among some humans. There have always been those who wanted to know what’s outside of the city walls, beyond that forest, on the other side of the Mediterranean and so on. So I don’t want to dismiss this exploration as an intentional distraction, I just don’t think it should be a financial priority.

    • And we can’t really blame NASA for trying to distract anyone from anything. They are actually doing valuable research on climate change: http://www.nbcnews.com/science/environment/nasa-warns-sea-level-rise-will-only-get-worse-future-n416636 It’s not their fault that people are more excited about water on Mars than they are worried about Singapore and Venice sinking into the sea.

      • Dino Bragoli says:

        That excitement is the key. A curious yearning for afar, masking frustration… almost resentment, towards those who have managed to escape the rigmarole of convention.

  5. dmill96 says:

    Even if the two situations were mutually exclusive (IMHO, they’re not) the technology used to find water on Mars provides no assistance to water here. And even if the money from the Mars technology were to be diverted to ordinary water projects the barriers are frequently far more than money or technology can solve. Even in the rich U.S. water is a political more than technological or economics activity (ask drought-ridden California how easy it is to redirect water that does exist in a state with both money and technology).

    I completely agree it is, at minimum, disappointing that all people in the world don’t have access to something as simple (and actually cheap) as clean water, but halting the search for it on Mars won’t solve the problem here. Global warming, which is much more connected to water shortages, was first detected on Venus, literally the term we freely use now ‘greenhouse effect’ largely was demonstrated by the hellish atmosphere on Venus. Science works that way, you study one thing, you never know where that might be useful. The very technology we’re using for this blog is based on science that had nothing to do with inventing computers or Internets.

    In the 70’s people began to demand moving space funding back to Earth, resulting in a lot of stupid projects that accomplished nothing (rocket technology has little to do with traffic jams). If you wanted to pick on misplaced spending it’s actually in Silicon Valley especially with social media, a quick-buck and easy technology that diverts both money and people from the much harder (and slower payback) problems of energy and water. If the money spent on Facebook had gone to desalinization technology those people in your picture might have clean water now.

    • Very good points, thank you!

      I agree that addressing two issues at the same time is usually not mutually exclusive. My point was actually less directed at space exploration, but at the reception of the news as if we were now going to settle Mars next week and – outside of California – not much debate about water use on earth.

      I also find it important to point out that most people who don’t have access to clean water don’t do so for lack of water, but for lack of infrastructure or lack of security or (state) institutions to build that infrastructure. Sometimes, it’s plain discrimination. I live in Targu Mures in Romania at the moment, where one part of the town still doesn’t have running water, let alone sewage (in 2015, in a EU member country!). Of course it’s the part of town where the Roma live (Valea Rece). Right next to it, a new, fancy section of the town has been built (Belvedere) which has all these utilities of course. So it’s not about technology or infrastructure, but about priorities.

  6. FairWater says:

    It’s a strange world, but indeed, there is enough water, our point is that Africa lacks durable handpumps, therefore poor people spend a fortune to keep their rusting pumps working, which makes them even more poor. See fairwater.org for the simple solution: Bottles and Pumps.

    • The solution would be to make it a public utility. Whenever access to water depends on money for pumps, the poor are left behind.

      • FairWater says:

        Correct! A good example is how rural water supply was organized in the Portuguese colonies at the time. They had regional repair teams and communities paid a general “water tax”. But with the independence and the NGOs, everything changed, there is so much money involved to “Do Good” and it also feels “So Good” for the donors to fly and drive around, but in the field all is disorganized and in dispair. We try to promote the BlueZone approach, a regional service, is a first step, but NGOs don’t like it because it does not fit their way of work unfortunately. Also many Governments in Africa prefer the way it is now, because they also profit from the financial aid. It’s a catch 22 situation!

        We think that only more public awareness about what really happens will slowly change the NGOs and other donors, to spend their money more wisely and transparent.

  7. FairWater says:

    By the way, it also does not help if the “Big Guys” like Bill Gates, Facebook and Google still support the traditional water NGOs with millions of US$ to just continue these “Business as Usual” with donating water pumps that don’t work. Seems they just want to make a “Good impression”, but it makes little sense and just worsen the situation for the poor. Sad, but probably they don’t even realize this, which is even more frustrating.

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