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Lockheed Martin Throws More Dirt on Malthus’ Grave

Cheap, clean water may soon be available for the whole planet. According to Reuters, defense contractor Lockheed Martin has developed a filter that will hugely reduce the amount of energy necessary to turn sea water into fresh water. The filter, which is five hundred times thinner then others currently available, lets water pass through but blocks all salt molecules. It will use almost 100 times less energy than other methods for making salt water drinkable, giving third world countries another way of expanding access to drinking water without having to create costly pumping stations.

As the article points out, this impressive tech is coming just in time:

Access to clean drinking water is increasingly seen as a major global security issue. Competition for water is likely to lead to instability and potential state failure in countries important to the United States, according to a U.S. intelligence community report last year.

“Between now and 2040, fresh water availability will not keep up with demand absent more effective management of water resources,” the report said. “Water problems will hinder the ability of key countries to produce food and generate electricity.”

Human life is always threatened by challenges, upheavals, and limitations, and there will always pessimists who claim that human race is doomed to defeat at the hands of these forces. Famously, in the 19th century, Thomas Malthus sounded dire warnings about the widespread suffering and chaos that will follow from our imminent overpopulation and two centuries later his contemporary followers are still singing the same tune.

But over and over again throughout the course of human history our ingenuity has been able to meet and overcome the challenges nature puts in our path. We have continually found new ways to make human life richer and more prosperous for more people in more places. The Lockheed filter still faces some obstacles in moving to mass production. It could wind up taking several years to reach the market, or could even totally fiz out. But either way, it represents the kind of creative ideas that are the real wealth of the human race.

[Image of African Well from Hector Conesa / Shutterstock]

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