This article is about the investment in one of our biggest assets: water.
We’ve been on this planet for 200,000+ years but now more than ever has it become so important that we understood how the mysterious substance, derived from rain and freshwater bodies depends on our maintaining of its cycle. It runs our cities and forms its very arteries and veins. Let’s explore how we can ensure the future is bright.
Fun fact, the words for plain water in the Malaysian slang are sky juice. It makes sense since water does come from the sky, and when the earliest humans sat in the dense jungles, or open plains and gazed up, you’d expect them to be completely caught in attention when these beautiful watery beads fell from Heaven. A gift from God?
Chittagong, a city in Bangladesh has sunk 15–20mm per year between 2015–2020. The country, home to some of the happiest and friendliest people on Earth, is fighting a crisis that will soon be faced by many others in suit. Their underground reserves are running low. As a result, the city is sinking due to the absence of the water that would have been holding the bedrock in place. This helps speed up the inland movement of coastlines for many coastal cities.
This article, seeks to solve the problems of water scarcity by providing a plentiful abundance of innovative solutions, to optimize the reader that should water wars ever be a thing, salvation is set to come. Just like the ancients gazed at the power of mighty falls and awed at the beauty of such a powerful multidimensional asset, so should we; an asset, a gift from the heavens above, to nourish their lands and cattle, to replenish their streams, and to quench them of their thirst without much of an investment on their part.
When thinking of what stocks to buy to support water-causes, think no further than this. There has been a growing obsession over water stocks in the past years as some investment funds, foreseeing water scarcity as the next big thing, have chosen to invest in water. We’ll follow Michael Burry’s water-positive stocks over the years.
There is growing concern over water scarcity. We wouldn’t want to end up in a Mad Max world, where water wars are the norm. In almost every post-apocalyptic fiction, it is always the persons that control the water that are at a real advantage over the rest of the population. Any investment of foresight must be done to place us in such power. ETFs and stocks that focus on the process of transporting, harvesting or providing water are a great start.
Owning the entire distribution line would be an added benefit. Having your own aquifer, beneath your farmlands is the pinnacle of perfection. But even that’s not enough. How do we convert today’s seemingly ubiquitous asset into liquid gold, that should be our next question? Hoarding it for the apocalypse will surely make your descendants happy but is there a sustainable method of tapping into your reserves so you can also turn a nice dollar?
A few examples of stocks one could purchase from the water supply and logistics/demand industry would include stocks from companies such as American Water Works Co Inc., Danaher Corp, Xylem Inc/NY, Pentair PLC, Veolia Environment SA, Geberit AG, Idex Corp, Suez Water Technologies, United Utilities Group PLC, Severn Trent PLC.
Investing in water might not necessarily be done through owning stocks that deal directly with water as mentioned above, it may mean investing in businesses impacted directly with the water market, for instance as noted in Investor Mint one could invest in almonds and food crops which are poised to experience heightened demand due to the scarcity of water. This scarcity of water would drive out smaller almond growers and mean more demand for the crop. Agricultural businesses are a safe bet when dealing with the scarcity of water, realized by one’s predictive modelling.
When dealing with agriculture and water sustainability, farmers could employ a variety of farming techniques to create a system of proper water usage. Aquaponics and hydroponics are a great tool for this. Although current costs for setup and the regular electricity bill for lighting should be factored in, one could be use such pods and equipment for indoor farming improving the circulation of water by a hundredfold. Even outdoor farming would benefit from minimizing water usage. This could be implemented via drip irrigation and other technologies such as camera-carrying-drones and soil pH and moisture sensors to efficiently assign fertilizer and water where it is needed the most.
An investment oft overlooked in sustainable water use and reuse lies in the treatment and safe repurpose of waste water. Though safe to use, rarely do developing countries and cities invest large sums in this form of water recycling to curb their own demand. Managing waste water is another great investment strategy poised to reign in millions while saving up on the otherwise abused less sustainable tapping of underground resources. Such resources need to be supplemented with alternative sources of water so they will not run out.
Starting with the most outrageous tech to the simplest, we’ll explore satellite modules. These satellite modules would be retrofitted with their own thrusters and drills to facilitate the mining of space asteroids. This would save billions through the sustainable extraction and supply of water for future space missions. This is not to say that everything on Earth is fine and there is no further room for innovation, but the technological advancement for all humankind throughout the course of our space missions have greatly profited almost everyone on Earth, from the discovery of life-saving medical treatment to the development of GPS. Space is key, so to unlock water in space should be a win for future sustainable water usage.
Astronauts try to reuse every single drop of water they take to space because it costs roughly $25,000 per gallon or $6,600 per litre to transport water to the ISS (International Space Station). This is if you consider launch costs per pound to equal $10,000, something SpaceX alone claims it can do. It currently touts a price of $9,100 per pound or $20,000 per kg when its Dragon cargo spacecraft is launched at full capacity. Rocket Lab offers $30,000 per kg, while other rocket companies attempt to finish developing their own versions of reusable rockets to catch up to the pair.
Unlocking space water as a minable resource allows companies like NASA to save a lot of money, and this is made possible by the plethora of companies currently looking into asteroid mining.
The mining of C-class asteroids presents just the opportunity needed to resupply NASA missions with the much needed “space-juice.” To do this would involve satellite modules capable of navigating to the intended asteroid, then tugging it to a safe orbit where it can be easily mined for resupply missions. There is serious money to be made here.
This is my favourite. Desalination is a no-brainer. To be able to curb world demand for freshwater we need to find a way to use the world’s oceans to supply us with freshwater while also making sure we invest in sustainably replenishing the cycle of freshwater we use. Already there are people and companies invested in making cheaper desalination plants. One such notable example is Manoj Bhargava, who poured huge sums of his own wealth into the “Rain Project” to build a device that could convert seawater into fresh drinkable water.
The biggest problem with desalination is it is very expensive to build and manage current plants. This is why projects such as the one above would help ease global transitions into desalination offering a range of cheaper alternatives that would require much less of an investment. Another problem to be addressed that arises from desalination would be the removal of Iodine in the purified water. In countries heavily reliant on desalination such as Israel and Palestine, their population’s Iodine deficiency levels had at one point been at a high, although Palestine has taken care of the problem ever since adding Iodine to their salt and therefore marking their country’s Iodine status as adequate.
This option involves the use of water in the splitting of Hydrogen from the Oxygen atom in a water molecule. Hydrogen can then be used for fuel while the Oxygen is released saving the environment from the use of fossil fuels. The only setback involved would have to do with the process involved in extracting the elements needed to build the car, such as the Lithium battery which would be used for energy storage, similar to that of electric vehicles which sometimes involves an extraction process which often ends up hurting the environment.
Hydrogen Fuel Cell Vehicles (HFCVs) include a wide class of vehicles such as cars that run on Hydrogen. HFCVs currently use a different method to generate Hydrogen which is not as environmentally friendly as electrolysis. The process being referred to here is called steam reforming and it involves the production of millions of metric tonnes of CO2 emissions unless paired with Carbon Capture and Storage to curb the emissions which would however require another investment. For an in-depth study on other standalone clean technologies that can produce Hydrogen needed to power HFCVs apart from electrolysis, please refer here.
When considering electrolysis, we must remember its acceptancy is still in infancy. Aside from the lack of awareness to do with electrolysis, another problem to solve when dealing with HFCVs would be the many sceptical due to the risk posed when dealing with Hydrogen, a highly combustible and leaky substance. Due to its almost zero weight, it is hard to contain Hydrogen for long periods of time which is it is normally stored in its liquid form. However, even in liquid form it still proves very hard to ship which is why many rocket engineers choose alternate fuels instead of having to deal with the hassle of Hydrogen storage though it makes for a great rocket fuel.
Electrolysis would be the only remaining option for vehicular mobility in a future that is less reliant on fossil fuel reserves and on electric vehicles which may be more liable to hacking and shutting down in the case of a CME (Coronal Mass Ejection). I personally think it is a great time to go All-Electric which personally means I would totally own a Tesla, but thinking down the road, we need to start investing in even greener technologies.
Did I forget anything? Have your say in the comments below. Be a part of this conversation concerning how we can maximize all our efforts to enable the sustainable use and reusability of water till kingdom come.