Water, water everywhere: But is there enough to drink?
MIT experts address the challenges of supplying clean, safe water to a growing world population.
“Every country with a seacoast can have as much water as it wants, if it is willing to incur the costs.”
The challenge of supplying clean, safe drinking water to an expanding world population comes down to money, MIT economist Franklin Fisher says: We are surrounded by water — it covers 71 percent of Earth’s surface — and industrial-scale desalination has operated successfully around the world for many years.
“Every country with a seacoast can have as much water as it wants, if it is willing to incur the costs,” Fisher, the Jane Berkowitz Carlton and Dennis William Carlton Professor Emeritus of Economics, said yesterday in opening remarks at MIT’s first-ever Water Summit, organized by the student-run MIT Water Club.
Of course, the reality is not so simple: Desalination costs are still high, and not everyone lives near a seacoast — so getting the water where it’s needed, when it’s needed, can be prohibitively expensive. Policymakers, farmers, business leaders, and ordinary people around the world face difficult choices and tradeoffs in meeting their basic needs for water.