Chennai, India’s sixth-largest city, with a population of nearly 10 million, has almost run out of water.
Recently Cape Town almost ran out, and the shortlist of cities that could run out of water includes Sao Paulo, Bangalore, Beijing, Cairo, Jakarta, Moscow, Istanbul, Mexico City, London, Tokyo, and Miami. That’s over 150 million people facing a potential water crisis.
In 2015 the Syrian water crisis forced nearly half of the population to relocate, 6 million internally, and 5 million left the country altogether.
The implications here are mind-boggling. Imagine the impact of 75 million people relocating, with half of them seeking refuge in other countries.
Unless we can develop weather control with the power to turn rainfall on and off, we will have to implement as many water conservation measures as we can. And not just in agriculture. A leaky toilet can waste more water than a family-sized hydroponic garden requires.
Hydroponic systems can conserve 95% of the water. Using these to grow food in cities, on rooftops, in open spaces, in the suburbs and surrounding areas will reduce pressure on available water supplies. It will also reduce dependence on distant food supplies.
However, hydroponics needs a giant leap forward to simplify it, to lower costs and generally make it usable by average people around the world.
Remember the One Laptop Per Child initiative? The advent of iPads eclipsed the OLPC project, and hydroponics would benefit from a similar forward thrust. Regardless of the final form the technology takes, it needs to be available to just about everyone: children, teachers, amateurs, and professionals, to use as they will.
A lot of things need to be done to get out ahead of water problems brought on by global warming. Helping individuals and communities become more independent is one of the best things we can do.