The real problem with water is not in its abundance but rather in its usability. Persian Gulf countries experience a shortage of clean water resources. Desalination can provide it by removing the salts from seawater to make it drinkable. This however comes with consequences, the removal of salts from sea water uses immense amounts of energy and the process itself and due to negligence can be damaging to the surrounding.
Desalination – Disguised evil
By latest studies desalination contributes to global warming and destroys the marine environments. The benefits it brings are undermined by damage it causes.
During seawater desalination, small fish and fish eggs get sucked into the water inlet tube. Desalination plants emit water twice saltier than seawater leaking harmful chemicals and adversely affecting fish reproduction, the coral reef and the food chains.
Every step of desalination consumes large amounts of energy, which can lead to an increase in greenhouse emissions. In the Persian Gulf region, the sea water desalination had been responsible for the growth of over 100% in CO2 emissions.
According to utilitarianism investment project should not be undertaken as losses of common environments and habitats can outstrip Gulf people of their right to enjoy nature in the future making majority worse off. Desalination projects are expected to result in social and environmental injustice: local people will pay higher prices for fresh water since desalination is more expensive than other water treatment or management interventions. In addition, people’s everyday for economic profit activities will be disrupted, include fishing and tourism. As an example, California’s desalination results in a $13.6 million economic loss to fishermen per year. Food & Water Watch (FWW) calculated that if all of the proposed plants in California functioned at their full capacity, the additional water would only be enough for everyone in California to take one extra three-minute shower a day. This, however, would be the most expensive shower the citizens would have ever taken.
Pragmatism theory, according to which numbers should justify the actions, suggests take a vote against desalination. Not for all rational and intuitive reasons can we allow to destroy delicate marine environments that cannot be reestablished.
Instead of killing nature local governments could cooperate to draw conservation activities into the area. Eco-tourism could become a stable source of income for local budgets so can help with funding of more effective water management and waste-water cleaning projects.
According to Kant we have an obligation to do only what is morally right determined by rational thinking. With careful consideration and just a little bit of affection for the region we can see that there can be ultimately no greater common idea than saving the natural wonders of the gulf for future generations. This is at the centre of sustainable living and it is our greatest responsibility to preserve and to multiply. We strongly agree with the deontological view that no economical consequences can justify the immoral undertakings.
An artificial but irreplaceable source
Desalination is here to Stay
The need for desalination in the Persian Gulf region results from the combination of factors such abundance of cheap energy, access to the sea and scarcity of freshwater. This can clearly be seen in the middle east region, and the coast of North Africa. Although desalination plants pollute nearby sea water and air, the need for water in such dry regions is absolutely critical for agriculture, industry, and civil life. It is, thus, vital for the consequences of desalination to be thoroughly understood and evaluated considering all groups to be affected by the activity. Especially urban civilians would be hit the hardest, therefore, governments must ensure that no social unrest results as a consequence of taking or not taking the action.
The present solution would be to import water which is not efficient, more expensive and produces a larger carbon footprint than desalination. The other option would be to use natural underground water aquifers which can’t be, however, sustainably used at current rates of water consumption and could be easily overused and consequently destroyed by salt water intrusion. This puts the livelihood of small countryside communities that fully depend on those natural resources at great risk.
Mitigating the Current Harmful Desalination Practices
Desalination certainly does come at a cost by damaging the surrounding marine environment and by producing high carbon emissions. Some may argue, however, that the maximum utility it provides can outweigh the damaging effects of desalination if only the negative effects were to be compensated. Recently it became evident that there might be the ways of dealing with chemical contamination of se. Firstly, there must be collaboration between environmental groups and the corporations that operate the desalination plants. Perhaps most importantly, new promising disruptive technologies are being actively brought to life.
A Promising Future
The recent developments of Forward-reserve osmosis hybrid (FO-RO) desalination systems minimizes energy consumption by about 20% compared to the single reverse osmosis process. In addition, extremely efficient graphite oxide membranes may be introduced into desalination very soon by a company which has developed this technology. Water desalination with graphite oxide will introduce immense energy reductions in desalination. At the same time, graphite oxide technology eliminates the need to dump waste saline water into the sea. This will result in a new desalination method in the near future that is more feasible and eco-friendly, thus allowing for wide scale adaptation of desalination while encompassing more stakeholders in the utility it provides.