Inviting Water 2.0

uv water purification unit in south africa

I’m hearing a lot about Global Warming realities and Web 2.0 technologies these days. Not connected, mind you. More like a pulsation in attention between long-term and short-term spans, big and small scales, very outside and very inside, if you will. But more and more, it seems the causes of Warming and the potential for Tech are dwarfed by immediately obvious needs of Life:

  • 2.0 billion people have to go outside of their homes to get drinking water.
  • 1.2 billion of those go out to get water that isn’t even safe to drink.
  • 600 million others have unsafe water piped into their homes.

That’s one third of all people on the planet without safe water to drink. In Bangladesh the situation is even more acute. 46 million choose daily between arsenic-poisoned groundwater (arsenic at 30 to 50 to 100 times the EPA and WHO safe limits) and bio-contaminated surface water. Most choose slow death by the poison over a swifter death by disease.

Ashok Gadgil, interviewed by Massive Change in November, 2003, is working directly to solve these things. An environomental physicist, he’s invented kiosks for UV purification of water and is now working on the arsenic issue. Refreshing and heartening to hear him talk about his work at the intersection of planetary life science and human-scale social interaction, a quieter ground between warming alarms and techno buzz.

The point is that this is brand new Life tech AND it fits easily into how people already Live. That’s the unit on the wall behind the people in the photo.