WATER AND CLIMATE CHANGE
For several years climate change has been increasing the pressure on water bodies.
What effects of climate change are emerging in recent years?
From floods and droughts to the acidification of the oceans and the rise in sea levels. Well, according to various studies it is expected that the effects of climate change on water intensify over the coming years.
These changes are giving rise to actions around the world. Cities are already adapting with more sustainable nature-based solutions to lessen the effects of floods and using water in a more intelligent and sustainable way, so that it is possible to coexist with droughts. Since there is more water than land on the surface of the planet, the warming of the oceans represents about 93% of global warming since 1950.
How does this heating occur in the water? It is produced as a consequence of the increase of greenhouse gas emissions, especially carbon dioxide, trapping more and more solar energy within the atmosphere.
Most of this heat trapped ends up being stored in the oceans, which affects the temperature and circulation of water. Increasingly higher temperatures are also melting polar ice sheets. As the total area of the ice and the snow cover are reduced, the amount of solar energy that is reflected into the space is reduced, which makes the planet even hotter. This, in turn, means that more fresh water is incorporated into the oceans, which further alters the currents. One of the sectors with greater prominence when it comes to significantly mitigating the effects of climate change is the water sector.
Droughts: It is one of the harshest consequences of climate change being increasingly severe and frequent. In addition, the historical series confirms that they increasingly affect the driest geographical areas, thus increasing their extension in time and quantity. The rise in sea level due to melting: a consequence that is still in time to return before reaching the point of inflection.
The rise in sea level, together with the overexploitation of aquifers in coastal areas, is aggravating the intrusion of saline water into them, resulting in the salinization of freshwater reserves.
Deforestation: direct impact on climate change policy by reducing the CO2 absorption capacity, favoring the advance of desertification and the increase of CO2 due to the natural degradation of organic waste. The degradation of organic matter in untreated wastewater: The equivalent CO2 emissions are caused by the absence of wastewater treatment, as well as NO2, and methane (CH4), which are the gases actually emitted.
What technological and environmental solutions are possible?
Desalination: The only source of non-conventional drinking water generation in areas where there is no other alternative. There has also been much discussion as an option to transport water, because for distances greater than 100 km from the point of origin, desalination is more efficient and competitive in terms of square meters of water produced / transported. The old thermal desalination plants that are currently maintained, mostly located in the Middle East, have come to be questioned because of their high degree of emissions and large oil consumption. The basis of its operation, in most cases, is based on the production of thermal energy, obtaining water as a by-product and with an exorbitant energy consumption. But we observe with optimism a clear tendency in the substitution of the same for more efficient plants, contributing to supply potable water in arid zones and reducing emissions.
2Large-scale reuse: The treatment of wastewater with qualities suitable for agricultural use would not only reduce the emissions emitted by the degradation of organic matter from wastewater “per se”, but would open the door to improve crop yields. The rainfed crops would be irrigated with higher production efficiency and a smaller agricultural crop area needed for the same production.
The first cause of deforestation is the expansion of agricultural areas, so it is important to favor the afforestation of new areas using irrigation from unconventional water sources. This new way of reusing water will serve to optimize the maintenance of forests, parks and gardens, but we need to reach higher reuse levels than the current ones. In addition, in those arid areas that do not have other sources of water for irrigation, desalination after a first potable use, would have a great positive impact for agriculture. Climate change is a difficult and complicated problem but it can be reduced with new solutions based on technological progress, and aligned with the economic advances and political interests of the 21st century. These solutions can produce neutral desalinated water in emissions, allowing to close non-sustainable plants and plants. However, in the field of reuse we must continue working so that unconventional water sources from wastewater and oriented to agricultural uses are a reality on a larger scale.
Did you know that each of us can contribute our grain of sand to stop this?
Use public transport.
Buy efficient appliances to save energy.
Install energy saving light bulbs.
Reduce the consumption of packaged products.
Close the tap and make a responsible consumption of water.
What are you waiting for to contribute your grain of sand?