Cameron Pollack / Sun Photography Editor

February 7, 2017

Lecturer Stresses Urgency of Global Water Crisis

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The next 10 years will be a trying time for the world’s water systems, according to Seth Siegel ’74, who lectured on his New York Times bestseller Let There Be Water: Israel’s Solution for a Water Starved World.

“By the year 2025, the U.S. government believes with a high degree of certainty that 60 percent of the world’s landmass and that some billions of people around the world will find themselves living in an environment with water scarcity,” Siegel said.

Translated in 14 different languages and available in 40 countries, Let There Be Water outlines Israel’s water-innovation approach.

“In South America and Mexico, there are more than 15 million people in danger of having their water give out,” he said. South America is not the only region with a water shortage problem. In India, water scarcity has become a true crisis, with 600 million people using water systems projected to fail in the next 10 years, according to Siegel.

But the United States does not escape these trends unscathed, according to Siegel, who said that they can have an immediate affect on U.S. food systems.

“Around the world, we are going to find ourselves in situation of rising food prices, increasing social instability,” he said.

Siegel said the main cause of global water scarcity is climate change. “Changing rain patterns, with some areas receiving much less rain than they did 30 years ago, is a large factor,” he said. Population change — projected to greatly increase by mid-century — is another driving factor of global water scarcity.

Siegel said Israel, the focus of his book, is a pioneer in this regard, as they use drip irrigation and have developed the world’s first drought friendly seeds.

He stressed urgency in replicating Israel’s sustainable initiatives.

“[This water crisis] is avoidable if we take some fast action,” Siegel said. “But we are not taking that action yet.”