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Desalination — can it help us survive water scarcity?

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By illuminem briefings

· 2 min read

illuminem summarizes for you the essential news of the day. Read the full piece on Deutsche Welle or enjoy below:

🗞️ Driving the news: Desalination, a centuries-old technology for making saltwater drinkable, is seeing growth due to increasing global water scarcity exacerbated by climate change
• The method, which involves removing salt from seawater or brackish water, is now viewed as a critical solution for regions facing severe drought and freshwater shortages, despite its high energy use, cost, and environmental concerns

🔭 The context: With less than 1% of Earth's water being drinkable and a quarter of the global population living in extreme water stress conditions, desalination's importance is escalating
• Modern techniques include thermal distillation and reverse osmosis, with the industry expanding to produce 56 billion liters of desalinated water daily
• The Middle East, the most water-stressed region, hosts 39% of the world’s desalination plants

🌍 Why it matters for the planet: Although desalination is energy-intensive and traditionally powered by fossil fuels, contributing to greenhouse gas emissions, advancements in energy efficiency and potential for green energy sources present a pathway to more sustainable water productio
• However, concerns over brine discharge and its environmental impact remain, highlighting the need for improved management and technological solutions

⏭️ What's next: The future of desalination looks promising with technological improvements potentially reducing costs by 60% in the next two decades
• As water scarcity becomes an increasingly pressing issue, desalination's role in providing a reliable water source is undeniable, though challenges in affordability for low-income countries and environmental sustainability persist

💬 One quote: "Regardless of whether there is rainfall, whether there is a drought … there is seawater … So that's actually the best part of desalination," (Manzoor Qadir, deputy director of the United Nations University Institute for Water, Environment and Health)

📈 One stat: Today, 56 billion liters of desalinated water are produced every day, which equates to around 7 liters for every person on Earth

Click for more news covering the latest on climate change


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