Episode 171: The global water crisis and how to stop it

Paul Bauman discusses the inaugural Global Sustainability Lecture series, “A Strategy for Improving Rural Water Supply Development in Sub-Saharan Africa.”

Though 98% of the available freshwater in the world is groundwater, groundwater resources are not easily available in much of the world, where subsurface water is the only option. Today, more than 400 million people in sub-Saharan Africa live in water insecurity, meaning they lack reasonable access to either sufficient quantities of water or water of acceptable quality. For rural populations, a direct consequence of water insecurity is food insecurity. In the Horn of Africa alone, more than 60% of the population is food insecure, with more than 20 million people approaching famine conditions.

In this conversation with host Andrew Geary, Paul highlights how water impacts all 17 of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. He outlines the impact of two billion people living with water stress and how it could reach over five billion in the next ten years. Paul also shares why every geoscientist needs to be aware of this crisis, how it impacts their work, and what actions to take to address the issue. This is an inspiring, humbling, and necessary conversation.

Seismic Soundoff · 171: The global water crisis and how to stop it

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Since the early 1990s, Paul has directed water exploration programs in some of the most water-stressed locations on the planet, including Yemen, post-tsunami Aceh Province in Indonesia, refugee camps, and conflict-affected areas in East Africa and Bangladesh, and drought-affected areas of Southern Africa.

Paul has a B.Sc.E. in Geological Engineering from Princeton University and an M.Sc. in Earth Sciences from the University of Waterloo. He is a principal geophysicist at BGC Engineering in Calgary, where he directs the Near-Surface Geophysics group. Paul was the 2020/2021 CSEG Distinguished Lecturer, and received the 2021 award for Applied Hydrogeology from the International Association of Hydrogeologists (IAH). Some of his geophysical projects have been featured in movies, and television documentaries, including the National Geographic Television special Finding Atlantis, two NOVA documentaries (Ancient Refuge in the Holy Land and Holocaust Escape Tunnel), Discovery Network’s Finding Escobar’s MillionsFinding Water which documented a water program in the Kakuma Refugee Camp, and the Holocaust documentaries The Good Nazi and They Fought Back.


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Original music created by Zach Bridges. Andrew Geary hosted, edited, and produced this episode at 51 features, LLC. Thank you to the SEG podcast team: Jennifer Cobb, Kathy Gamble, and Ally McGinnis.

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