This transcript appears in the August 6, 2021 issue of Executive Intelligence Review.
A Military Perspective
Marc Pelaez is a retired Rear Admiral of the U.S. Navy. He served as Chief of Naval Research and later was Vice President of Business and Technology Development for Newport News Shipbuilding. This is an edited transcript of his presentation to Panel 2, “Energy, World Health and the End of War: The Power of Energy Flux Density,” of the Schiller Institute’s July 24, 2021 conference, “There Is No ‘Climate Emergency’—Apply the Science and Economics of Development To Stop Blackouts and Death.” Subheads have been added.
Good morning! I would like to frame the issues which should be part of the discussion in my opinion.
In previous conferences, as we’ve considered a very lofty goal of modern medical facilities available to all people, it became clear, at least to me, that we must first understand that there are some basic underlying problems which must be addressed in the world. In particular, access to water, or clean and sanitary water, is fundamental. I believe that contaminated water supplies have been universally recognized as a prominent, global issue.
Access to Clean Water Is a Human Right
To put some things in perspective, just when we’re talking about consumption, which is necessary for basic human life, at least 2 billion people around the world do not have access to a clean water supply. Every week, 30,000 people are estimated to die because of sickness deriving from unsafe water; 90% of these deaths are children under 5 years old—young children being the most affected by diseases in contaminated drinking water. The vast majority of these deaths occur in Third World countries. Across the 54 countries of Africa, across Southeast Asia, and the continent of Latin America.
In these countries, usually women and children are forced to spend approximately three hours a day walking sometimes eight miles to the nearest swamp or river to bring back water that is often contaminated. Again, to put perspective on this, the time spent travelling to find water per year in Africa alone is estimated at 40 billion hours; which is equal to the entire workforce of France.
Now, there are a host of organizations and companies that I’ve come across that are trying to address parts of the problem, but we are a long way from having a global plan to tackle this very real crisis. Frankly, the world is a bleak place for people who may not even own a spoon; who aren’t educated on basic sanitation techniques; much less having access to even the simplest technologies to purify water. Other organizations such as the Gates Foundation and Charity Water, to name just two, are trying to address parts of the problem.
The challenge for this group is finding where we can most effectively contribute. I know that for some 40 years, the Schiller Institute—or people involved in it—have been looking at one major project across Africa, called Transaqua, which would have the effect of making access to water for all uses, both industrial, drinking water, agricultural, etc. It’s a long time in the making. This project would require, and I understand has the support of many of the affected governments in the central African region.
Call for a Conference To Examine Efforts and Technologies
How do we decide where we can most effectively contribute? First, we must understand current efforts and technology. At the conclusion of the last conference that we held, I suggested—and I suggest again—that a conference to examine both these current efforts and the technologies that are available or might be available to help alleviate this problem, would be a very important endeavor. What I don’t see, for sure, is a coordinated multi-national effort to address access to water, access to clean water. Perhaps we could effectively bring governments and NGOs together in a coordinated effort. Again, it’s very important to choose the path that would be most effective, where you can have the most impact on long-term health in solving this problem for the world. I believe that solving access to clean drinking water, etc. is truly above politics, and can be a unifying force for good.
I wish you the best on your endeavors at this, and I trust, subsequent conferences. Thank you.