Maintaining our water supply systems in a conceivable societal collapse


“As the world is struggling with successive and partially coinciding short-term, high-impact, crises (e.g. COVID-19 pandemic, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine), a longer-term crisis is arguably looming, associated with mankind’s transgression of planetary boundaries [1,2] and the highly disruptive effects this could have on our society. The planetary boundary concept describes the nine boundaries of safe operating space for humanity. For the climate boundary, we are presently considered to be in the zone of uncertainty and increasing risk [3] and not on track to meet even the 2 degree target of the Paris Accord [4]. Three other planetary boundaries — biosphere integrity, novel entities and biogeochemical flows — are already considered to be critical beyond the zone of uncertainty [3,5].
The possibility of a societal collapse, partial or worldwide, as a consequence of these planetary boundary transgressions and tipping point activations, has started to receive serious consideration even in the scientific literature [6,7,8,9,10,11]. The mechanisms by which planetary boundary transgressions directly exert pressure on societies are becoming clear, in particular through their impact on the availability and distribution of food production, the availability of water and the incidence of extreme weather [12,13] and potentially ensuing conflicts and/or mass migrations [14,15].”

(Citation: van Thienen, P., Chatzistefanou, G.A., – Maintaining our water supply systems in a conceivable societal collapse – 19th International Computing & Control for the Water Industry Conference, 4-7 September 2023)

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