Some people are looking to our oceans to solve our fresh water crisis. They believe that desalination might be able to fix our problem.
Desalination is a process where most salt and minerals are removed from salt water, allowing us to drink it and use it for irrigation. Considering we have so much ocean water, that seems like a fantastic idea, but it has some serious disadvantages.
- Not only does ocean water get brought into the desalination plant but marine life does as well.
- Chemicals such as hydrogen peroxide, chlorine and hydrochloric acid are used in this process. Their by-products can sometimes get into the end product and affect our health. Also, once they’ve served their purpose, then these chemicals have to be disposed of which is a big environmental concern.
- The concentrated solution of salt or brine that is left over from the process also has to be disposed of. This disposal can have major impacts on the environment as its composition can kill wildlife and vegetation. If desalination plants pump it back into the ocean it then affects the existing natural balance of salt in the ocean water. It also decreases the oxygen levels in that area of the ocean which can then kill the surrounding marine life.
- This process requires the use of a vast amount of fossil fuels which contributes to the world’s greenhouse gas emissions. These gas emissions are harmful to human beings and they contribute to global warming which then leads to climate change.
- Building and running these plants is extremely expensive and the high cost of producing this water will then be passed on to the consumer. Impoverished countries might not be able to ever consider this as a solution to their fresh water problem.