Water crisis closes in

The global water crisis has a more direct impact on the lives of Americans than Yale students might think, senior lecturer Shimon Anisfeld said.

Anisfeld, who works at the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Science, released a new book Oct. 7, “Water Resources,” that tackles the multifaceted water issue and discusses potential solutions to the water crisis. The book is part of the school’s Foundations of Contemporary Environmental Studies series.

Q: What are some strategies for preventing the water crisis?

A: Understanding all aspects of the problem is integral to solving it. People tend to focus on one facet of the issue, but I want to expand people’s views so that they take into account factors such as scarcity, drought, flooding, agriculture, various ecosystems, technology, dams, etcetera. In much of the world we have already fully developed our water infrastructure. Thus, instead of working on how to further build this infrastructure, we need to manage it better. We also need to work on sustaining our green infrastructure in addition to our gray infrastructure and focus on healthy ecosystems.

Q: What immediate action do you think students can take to help mitigate the water crisis?

A: Knowledge about the crisis is important. Thus, emphasizing education about the problem is more important than day-to-day actions. That said, there are daily steps everyone can take. People tend to think about the water they use directly, but it is more important to think about the “virtual water” used indirectly though food and industrial products.

Q: How does the water crisis affect the United States?

A: There are different water crises in different parts of the United States. In the West, there is a scarcity of resources and conflict over limited water. The East also faces conflict, but there is more water to go around. Those in the East should allocate time to the issues surrounding ecosystem degradation and discovering the best use of the water we do have. Preparation must also be taken for change in terms of climate variability and land use that stem from the water crisis. These are changes we are already starting to see, and today’s youth will have to learn how to adapt to them in the future.

Comments

  • Congested

    I have traveled to Arizona several times. The water shortage there is quite real. Visual evidence is everywhere, proving that the depths of lakes and the size of the Colorado River, which passes through the Grand Canyon, have decreased. While I love Arizona, I am very concerned that it and other states in its region will suffer from water shortages, as already evident now. Some water conservation can be achieved by teaching the public good habits when using water (e.g. repairing leaks, using low-flow toilets and turning on faucets, only when needed). However, I am becoming more concerned that some kind of water shortage crisis may occur in the near future. Somehow, we can learn to live with fossil fuel shortages and higher prices; but water is critical to our survival. If we have a major shortage, civil unrest and extreme behavior may result.