A World For Water

Mar 17, 2022

4:00pm – 5:00pm CT

More than 70% of the Earth’s surface is covered by water—but less than 3% is drinkable freshwater. And to take this mind-boggling difference a step further, two thirds of that 3% is either sitting on frozen glaciers or inaccessible. When the need for freshwater exceeds a region’s available supply or water infrastructure capacities, that region is deemed as water-stressed. According to the UN, nearly one-third of the world’s population is currently living in water-stressed regions with research showing this could increase to one-half by 2050.
What will the future hold for water in our world? What are the biggest opportunities we have to meet humanity’s growing water crisis? What could a world with healthy water ecosystems look like through the lens of science, engineering, and design?
Two potential options are explored in the Smithsonian’s FUTURES exhibition. One, the Water Harvester, uses a new form of chemistry to pull water molecules from the air, creating pure drinkable water in even the driest climates. According to the World Economic Forum, it is one of the top 10 emerging technologies that will change the world. The second, a Coin-Operated Wetland, is an interactive speculative project from noted artist and former water engineer Tega Brain, which uses industrial laundry machines to turn dirty water into clean water by filtering it through a wetland ecosystem—a statement on how future humans could live in harmony with the water cycle.

Programming descriptions are generated by participants and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of SXSW.

photo of Tega Brain
photo of Chris Kay
Chris Kay

Water Harvesting Inc.

photo of Ashley Molese
Ashley Molese

Smithsonian Arts + Industries Building

Primary Access
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Secondary Access
Music Badge
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