Desalination and Climate Change
Posted by jab12004 on July 9, 2009
I don’t pretend to know much about water, but being from California and living through droughts certainly has kept it on my mind. While everyone knows that water will continue to increase in importance, it definitely has not reached a national level of prominence like climate change. Most people acknowledge that climate change will continue to affect water availability going forward, but it seems that water shortages are already contributing to climate change.
A recent article in the Washington Post discusses the opening of a desalinization plant that is going to open next year in Carlsbad, CA. Of particular note to climate change was that
Government agencies have opposed desalination because of the process’s energy consumption. The desalination plant would use nearly twice as much energy as a wastewater-treatment plant available in Orange County.
I realize that we are already using energy to treat water, but turning to large scale desalinization is a significant step. Plants in other parts of California are also expected to be built, and many of these will require the construction of new power plants. These new emissions will in turn contribute to climate change related water shortages.
One new power plant is a drop in the bucket compared to global emissions, but it illustrates that water needs to be a part of our national climate agenda moving forward. If we ignore it, it will just find a way to come back and bite us.