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Are we running out of water?

MARCH 15, 2012
by Summer Woods ’14, Contributing Writer

“I’ll need some water to begin.”

Peter Rogers, a professor of Environmental Engineering at Harvard University, opened up his discussion on the solution for water scarcity with a quip that set the tone for the rest of his presentation.

Rogers talk was part of a week-long university wide discussion about the rising problem of water, as well as a promotion for the Water Walk, which will be held on April 13.

The professor, who is a recipient of the Guggenheim Fellowship, has published a number of works on the subject of sustainable water production. His research focuses on the crisis arising in water due to population, prosperity and the changing climate.

80 percent of the world’s population, he said, is consuming contaminated water or will run out of water by 2050. But Rogers assured the audience of around 90 students and Furman faculty that it wasn’t all “doom and gloom.” He believes we currently have the technology to meet demands for water by 2050 and simply need to learn to efficiently use it.

The most cost effective way to meet growing demand would be to recycle waste water. Rogers also said outdated water infrastructures, particularly in Asian countries, are being overtaxed and will soon be in disrepair. In addition to recycling, Rogers said increasing the price of water could force consumers to conserve.

To illustrate his dedication to promoting the education of water issues across the globe, Rogers declined to accept any fee for agreeing to speak, and instead requested that the money be put towards the purchase of books on the subject for the James B. Duke Library.

Rogers urged increased awareness about this rising global issue. “Maybe it would be easier to just go to a new planet, but I saw in the New York Times this morning that the space budget has been cut again, so that’s not happening.”

Last updated March 15, 2012
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