Over the last century, water use has grown at more than twice the rate of population increase globally, and it is still increasing in all sectors. The effects of climate change will intensify the risk of droughts as well. While some regions are experiencing heavy floods, others are suffering from increasing aridity.
In both cases, the affected people face the same problems: a lack of clean drinking water and often lack water for agriculture. Poor access to water is not only a threat to people’s health but also livelihoods. It limits the potential to irrigate crops or undertake other water-dependent activities.
In some countries, water scarcity is so pronounced that humans cannot reach many of the desired economic, social, and environmental goals. Over 2 billion people live in countries experiencing high water stress today and the numbers will continue to increase. The need for greater access to reliable and clean water has therefore risen to the top of the development agenda of many countries in recent years.
In contrast, in Europe, the average person directly consumes between 100-150 litres of water a day – like drinking water, for washing clothes, bathing and watering plants. But each person also indirectly consumes anywhere between 1,500 and 10,000 litres of water per day, depending on where they live and their consumption habits.
-> Save Water: Reduce Your Water Footprint
If business as usual continues, the global demand for water will exceed viable resources by 40 percent by 2030. Therefore, using the critical elements water more efficiently is a top priority. “Water is something that we should all be focusing on. As a resource, we should really make sure we keep it, as much as we can,” says the Global Ecology Group (GEG) Founder and CEO Owen J. Morgan.
The global water crisis has many causes, requiring many different solutions. These solutions must span policy, behaviour change and innovative technology, such as water conservation and recycling technologies, to make a real difference.
Industrial water use accounts for approximately 22 percent of global consumption. The corporate footprint includes water that is directly and indirectly consumed when goods are produced. Much of this cannot be returned into the natural cycle or used for consumption leaving a huge untapped resource of water remain unfit for purpose.
However, GEG’s Founder and CEO Owen J. Morgan has already proven restoration of water from some of the most polluted sources, for example, mine water, drilling discharge and medical waste.
“We don’t need to go down the road of putting huge amounts of chemicals into the water to make it better. We can fix water by actually looking at what nature does,” says Owen.
Since the early 1990s, Owen has been developing a number of water recovery processes. These key technologies follow specific approaches to recovery of contaminated water to a natural balanced and in many cases a potable water supply.
GEG’s research and development is inspired by nature. We apply this inspiration to human needs by respecting our interconnectedness and interdependence with nature, and by working sustainability for the future of our species and our planet.
He was sitting in his mother’s garden at Woolsthorpe Manor in Lincolnshire, probably contemplating some profound philosophical idea, when while vaguely gazing at the horizon, he saw an apple fall from his mother’s apple tree. This prompted him to ask: “Why sh[oul]d that apple always descend perpendicularly to the ground […].” This is the myth around Sir Isaac Newton’s first contemplations of his law of universal gravitation. This is also one example of how nature can inspire us, lead us and teach us about ourselves, our surroundings and our potentials.
When we look at the scientific advances we have achieved as a species, it is easy to discount the role nature played and continues to play in pushing forward these developments.
We have built our planes by first observing birds, manufactured our submarines by learning from whales and tuned our sonars by listening in to bats and dolphins. This is what is generally referred to as biomimicry, the practise of looking deeply into nature for solutions to engineering, design and other challenges. We simply try to figure out where our challenge can be found in nature, and what strategy or pattern nature developed to overcome or transcend it. This process of observation is the first step to learn from nature truly.
The second step is to creatively scale up nature’s solutions to fit our human frameworks. While working on this, we must be aware of the challenges this scaling and fitting processes may present. Generally, it is not difficult to transpose nature’s solutions to fit our needs. What is challenging is to achieve this without violating nature’s laws of interconnectedness, interdependence and sustainability.
The story of morphine, for example, has gone through the steps described above. The pain-relieving qualities of opium have been known and exploited for centuries. These qualities had always been extracted from the natural plant itself. In our modern age, however, “the pharmaceutical industry believed nature could not provide enough of the actual raw materials, to grow enough poppies to feed an opiate market. Much easier [they thought] is to synthesise the molecular structure”, explains the Founder and Chief Executive Officer of the Global Ecology Group, Owen J. Morgan.
Synthesised morphine was the result of the pharmaceutical industry’s attempts to take something that nature provides and fit it into a human framework of consumption. However, as explained by Brook, Bennet and Desai in their paper entitled ‘The Chemical History of Morphine: An 8000-year Journey, from Resin to de-novo Synthesis’, “our attempts to synthesise morphine, despite our advanced knowledge in synthetic chemistry, are still no match for the plant-based extraction of morphine from the poppy plant”. As we are part of nature, “if we put a synthetic into our body, it doesn’t matter how close we have replicated nature, we have missed parts of those building blocks, because we don’t understand all those building blocks”, explains Owen.
Nature is filled with examples that can benefit us, from healing plants to creative, cooperative networks. The mass scaling of nature’s solutions has always been the problematic sequence in our attempts to learn from nature.
How do we bridge this gap? Only by always respecting nature’s laws of interconnectedness, interdependence and sustainability. If our mass scaling claims to be “independent” from nature, this is a first sign that we are off track. If we do not consider the impact of our innovations on us, our environment, other species and the future, it is then a sure sign that we need to reconsider our steps. In the words of Owen, “nature can provide us with all these life-giving and healing properties, why don’t we figure out how to work with nature to actually have a beneficial relationship, so that we coexist?”
GEG seeks to do precisely that. Our research and development, as well as our innovations, such as Ennea and the Harvester, are inspired by nature. We apply this inspiration to human needs by respecting our interconnectedness and interdependence with nature, and by working sustainability for the future of our species and our planet.
This resonates with many in the younger generations. These same thoughts echoed in Greta Thunberg’s words when she declared that “we are facing a mass extinction”, denouncing her audience at the United Nations Climate Action Summit in New York for stealing her dreams and her childhood, to the applause of that same assembly.
What Greta and other individuals and organisations, such as Extinction Rebellion are referring to when they level this criticism, is something inherent to any positive change: Responsibility.
Responsibility, in the sense of being accountable, is greatly lacking in our politics, our policies and our businesses. The concept of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) was coined as a way to signify Big Business’ steps towards acknowledging this responsibility. CSR is at best, however, a superficial remedy dealing with symptoms only. Responsibility cannot mean diverging some of our income to “do good”, it means to be accountable throughout all aspects, processes, goals and achievements of our businesses. This, in turn, requires a shift in vision.
Popular wisdom dictates that business’ only creed is profit. Consequently, using all measures necessary to achieve this goal is a given and a right. Nature is also a means to that end. Talking about care for nature as a necessary and integral part of a business model was for a long time a laughable proposition. Up to now, many businesses view this as a matter of secondary concern, while for others, it is a direct threat to their profit-making principle.
A shift in vision means a fundamental change in our business philosophy. Such a change, however, takes time – time that we cannot afford. So how do we start, as businesses, to ‘be responsible’? We need to ‘feel responsible’. This feeling of responsibility starts, as the Founder and Chief Executive Officer of the Global Ecology Group, Owen J. Morgan describes, by viewing ourselves as “caretakers of life itself”. It is only when we hold this view that everything else falls into place: Care for nature and profit-making are no longer mutually exclusive realities.
At the Global Ecology Group, we act as a catalyst for this vision change, by providing working systems and solutions to different industries and sectors, enabling them to make real steps towards ‘being responsible’.
Through innovations like Ennea and the Harvester, GEG’s Research and Development paves the way towards establishing industry practices which bring together the two sides of the responsible-business equation – both reaching business goals and meeting complex environmental challenges. This is our way to build a legacy of symbiosis, where human growth connotes care for life itself.