What water scarcity?
71% of the earth’s surface is covered in water. Yes that’s salty, but sweet water originates from evaporation off the oceans, plus a little bit of desalination through distillation or reverse osmosis that we perform.
We can electrocute water, splitting it into oxygen and hydrogen, and it can also get locked up in minerals, but within the hydrologic cycle, water is practically never synthesized or broken up. It’s almost as with energy, which is never created nor destroyed, according to the 1st law of Thermodynamics. And in the realm of energy, the sun irradiates onto the earth’s land masses in about 90min all the energy humanity requires in a year. So it is equally inaccurate to talk about energy scarcity or an energy crisis. I’m not a cornucopian, there are technological challenges to generation and storage, but fundamentally, we have energy aplenty.
Likewise, we have been content with the amount of fresh water in circulation for millennia, admittedly before the big population increase brought about by harnessing fossil fuels, and before climate change. Still, it is not accurate to say that there is too little fresh water, rather we overuse fresh water and nature’s capacity to purify it after we soil it.
So yes we waste water, but mainly by using it for purposes that such a substance is just too precious to be used for. With its three aggregate states regularly occurring, its resonance, the unique crystallizing properties and the 4° anomaly enabling all life on earth, it is definitely one of the most fascinating substances on earth – yet we are using it to wash away our feces – yet we are using it to wash away our faeces. In nature, animals drink from streams and pee in the woods. Woods never stink, the layer of topsoil is like a massive bioreactor, thin on a global scale, and easily eroded away, but when intact, incredibly powerful at breaking down anything dissolved in water. Hormones, wreaking havoc on fish in aquatic ecosystems, are gone within a matter of hours in soil. Even heavy metals are immobilized.
We are not animals (despite what evolutionary biology wants to make us believe), but when it comes to living in nature, we could learn a thing or two from them. Using water as a carrier for human waste has its origins in the roman empire, as covered in this charming documentary. Initially, it was fresh water that had already been used in fountains and baths, so it was directly re-used grey water. Fresh water was far too precious. Using clean fresh water in toilets should be considered an societal dead end. Better ways exist.
As the latest IPCC report shows again, agriculture is a main contributor to climate change. It would be important to acknowledge that the main driver for climate change is local, disrupting the hydrologic cycle, draining water quickly and thus removing the coolant from the landscape, bringing about topsoil erosion and dramatic loss of fertility, that can only be compensated through massive use of fertilizer generated using huge amounts of released fossil energy, as explained over on the nature page. We can no longer afford the fossil fuel dependency nor the nature-degrading properties of the modern industrialized agriculture. Again – alternatives and pioneering examples thereof, do exist.