Transparent gold

We are witnessing one of the worst drought crises we have ever experienced and even if the rains come, the situation will get worse and worse and the water war between communities, farmers, livestock farmers and populations in general, will become more acute without there being many solutions in the short term.

The illegal exploitation of aquifers, which is carried out on a massive scale, further accentuates the scarcity of drinking water, not to mention its contamination by seepage of waste of all kinds without any kind of control.

Fresh water is a misused resource and sadly marked by the six thousand people, mostly children, who die every day as a result of drinking unsafe water. Sixty-six million people worldwide are infected with schistosomiasis, one of the most important parasitic diseases caused by drinking contaminated water.

More than half of the world’s rivers are poisoned or their low water courses run dry for much of the year due to overuse. Of the world’s 500 major rivers, 250 are seriously polluted. Millions of people have become environmental refugees. The numbers are increasing every year in a preoccupying manner, not only because of the lack of water, but also because of all kinds of serious natural disasters.

As a consequence of all this and coupled with climate change, we are witnessing one of the hottest years on record in human history since man has controlled the earth’s temperature.

According to the UN, 2.2 billion people in the world lack access to safe drinking water and 297,000 children under the age of five die each year from diseases caused by poor sanitation and unsafe water, and the numbers continue to rise along with those of climate refugees.

Thales of Miletus, Socrates’ predecessor, said that water was the beginning of all things. All the most ancient civilisations: the Chinese, the Egyptians, and the Mesopotamians were born on the course of a river: the Huang Ho, the Nile. The Tigris and the Euphrates. These are logical social choices in the structure of life. And the lack of water will be the beginning of hostilities on a planetary level.

Of all the water on planet earth, 97% is salty and is in the oceans and seas, while 3% is fresh water, of which only 1% is usable and 2% is currently frozen in glaciers and polar ice caps. Of this 1%, 70% is mainly used for irrigation in agriculture, 20% for industry, and the remaining 10% for domestic use. This water crisis is essentially caused by indiscriminate use, lack of water resource management, and the destruction of ecosystems such as forests and wetlands that capture, filter, store, and distribute water. Precisely, half of the world’s wetlands have disappeared and Doñana and Cabañeros are on the way to doing so.

On the other hand, the report “Running Pure” points out that forest areas near cities should be protected as much as possible, as these well-managed natural forests minimise the risk of landslides, erosion and sedimentation, and significantly improve water purity, filtering pollutants such as pesticides and, in some cases, capturing and storing water. Such forest management can mean huge savings.

The Guardian, however, has reported that the world’s central banks are financing the destruction of rainforests. The Bank of England, the US Federal Reserve, and the European Central Bank are among the institutions that have bought millions of dollars in bonds issued by companies linked to deforestation and land grabbing, according to the Bankrolling Destruction Report published by Derechos Global. This means, as the report rightly points out, that the taxpayers of all these territories, all of us, are unwittingly underwriting companies involved in the destruction of the Amazon and other rainforests. Those responsible are the governments that allow it and they cannot plead ignorance with the number of advisors they have to cover themselves with. And trees are indispensable in the biological circle of water.

A new report from the United Nations meteorological agency warns that global temperatures will reach record levels driven by greenhouse gases, not just CO2 and the natural phenomenon of El Niño, which will have repercussions on health, food security, and the environment, and warns of a warming Arctic and changing global rainfall patterns. The next five years, according to the report, will be the warmest on record.

What are our politicians doing knowing that Spain will be particularly hard hit by drought and higher temperatures than the rest of Europe? Nothing, just blame each other between communities, leaving Spain to fend for itself. They do not take real and effective decisions.

The climate crisis is very serious and war conflicts may break out very soon because of water, which I consider to be the new “transparent gold”. But what could be done with 97% salt water? The current desalination plants are not very profitable, as they are expensive to build and operate, yet they are seen as a way out for countries that have the economic resources. But ……. and for those millions of people who die for lack of water ….. and those children infected by drinking smelly puddles, with painful diseases until death? and that famine that causes millions of people to die every year and originates real floods of environmental refugees?

We are made of 70% water and someone, a formidable writer, a magnificent talent of the pen and science, a modern-day Jules Verne, has given us a simple formula so that the world does not lack water so that deserts are irrigated with fertile fields to alleviate famine and thirst so that countries with water problems can solve their serious deficiencies so that cheap, unlimited water can be used profitably by all the world’s citizens. I am referring to the system invented by Alberto Vázquez Figueroa, in his Desalination by Natural Pressure.

This invention means obtaining fresh water very cheaply and with little energy compared to conventional desalination plants. It is an effective solution for those places where drinking water is scarce and where economic resources are poor and close to the sea. The sea, where life originally began, can once again deliver it to all the people who are dying of thirst today, and Spain is privileged to be surrounded by the sea.

I have already denounced it ad nauseam and I have even contacted the authorities to also warn that with sea water just to wash your hands, the death of 3.5 million children who die for not being able to do so, according to UNICEF, can be avoided. Bringing tankers from the sea to the places where this mortality is occurring is very simple and inexpensive.

Solutions exist, but as always, there is no political will to solve this serious problem that will affect health, food, and life itself.

Pedro Pozas Terrado