Can We Solve the Global Water Crisis?

The catastrophic global effects of climate change –– rising sea levels, warming temperatures, devastating natural disasters, record-setting droughts––affect us all. While hope for a brighter environmental future seems to grow dimmer by the day, some Israeli innovators are tackling sustainability head on, specifically when it comes to preserving and optimizing how we use one of the world’s most precious resources: water. 

  • Review
  • Discussion
  • Activities
  • Reflection
  • Further Learning
  1. What is drip irrigation?
    • The process of making seawater drinkable
    • Taking raw sewage, filtering it, filtering it a second time, and then cleaning the water so you can drink it
    • Bringing big data and tech to maximize crop yields
    • Using pipes to deliver water and nutrients to the root zones of crops
  2. Which of the following best describes Israel’s access to natural water sources?
    • A country that is largely arid with only one sizeable freshwater lake
    • A country with an abundance of natural water sources, including multiple freshwater lakes
    • A country with few natural water sources but access to neighboring countries’ water sources
    • A country with no natural water sources
  3. What is Israel’s main saltwater source?
    • The Dead Sea
    • The Sea of Galilee
    • The Mediterranean Sea 
    • There is no main saltwater source.
  4. How much of the water which Israelis consume by 2025 will be desalinated seawater?
    • 100%
    • 85%
    • 25%
    • 1%
  5. What is Agtech?
    • When big data and tech are brought into the mix to maximize crop yields
    • Switching from fossil fuels to solar energy
    • Creating water out of thin air
    • The process of making seawater drinkable
  1. Israel is an international leader in the global quest for water conservation and other environmental efforts. As a country located in the arid Middle East, Israeli government officials have identified innovation in sustainability efforts as a national priority. Should all countries focus on sustainability efforts as a top priority, or does Israel’s geographic location and specific national needs make its priorities different from other nations?
  2. This video celebrates Israel as a leader in the world of environmentalism and sustainability. If these efforts are further publicized, do you believe initiatives like the BDS movement or other anti-Zionist groups will lose support, or does the knowledge of Israel’s global contributions have little effect on how most people feel towards Israel?
  3. Some of the innovations mentioned in the video were encouraged and supported by Israeli governmental mandates. For example, Israel required in 1976 that solar water heaters be used for all buildings over eight stories tall. Yet, governmental mandates to provide environmental protections or support initiatives towards sustainability are not always well-received by the people. One widely debated topic in the United States was over the ban of plastic straws. Or, California politicians recently debated the State’s approach to solar energy. Should governments mandate environmental protections, or should people and companies be allowed to make their own free choices?
  4. The video focuses on Israel’s national commitment to discover new technologies and then scale these sustainability efforts. This idea was similarly explored in Dan Senor and Saul Singer’s book, Start Up Nation, in which they explained why Israel’s national efforts have allowed and encouraged Israeli innovation. However, the video also briefly mentions the inventions of some specific individuals, including Simcha Blass’ drip irrigation technology and Zvi Tahor and Levi Yissar’s sun boiler. Should Israel as a country be credited with its commitment to innovation, or should the individuals who have created these new technologies be predominantly credited?
  5. Many of these companies are donating Israeli inventions to suffering communities, including rural villages in Africa and Palestinians in the Gaza Strip. Do companies have a moral obligation or no moral obligation to share their products with communities in need? Does it matter if the product is for essential needs like clean water, as opposed to products that are non-essential?
  1. The video mentions how this video is part of the Team Seas initiative and how learners should check out teamseas.org for more information. Learners should split into groups of three, research the Team Seas website and social media pages to learn what the organization’s goals are, and then brainstorm three ways that their educational learning center (i.e. school, synagogue, or community center) can help join the cause. Ideas could include cleaning up beaches, fundraisers to raise donations, or creating artwork to raise awareness.
  2. Learners can explore more about the process of desalination through the free BrainPop Desalination simulation. They should use this virtual programming to try and create a line of desalination for 15-20 minutes. This activity can also be done in small groups. At the end of the lesson, the groups should reflect on what they learned about the process of desalination, what makes these engineering systems innovative, and how desalination has improved Israel’s access to drinking water.
  3. There were several organizations mentioned in the video. The group of learners should be divided and each assigned one of the following organizations: Team Seas, Innovation Africa, PhyTech, CropX, AgriTask, or WaterGen. Each group should create an informational brochure about the organization, including what the goal of the organization is, how it is working to achieve that goal, and how others can support its efforts. Free tools like Canva or Google Docs can be used to create a brochure.
  4. Play our Kahoot about water sustainability!
  1. There have been numerous efforts to identify why some innovations are successful and others are not. This video mentioned that Israel has become a global model in sustainability efforts because of its commitment, ingenuity, and perseverance. However, others like McKinsey & Company identify other essentials for innovation, including the ability to be aspirational. Or, Elon Musk once said, “Innovation is not easy. It takes hard work, great timing, and some serious gumption.” What do you think are the precursors for innovation? Which qualities of innovators do you hope to adapt in your own life and personal efforts?
  2. As mentioned in the video, the threat of changing global conditions does not only affect Israel; it affects all of us. Here is a list of 40 Ways To Help the Environment. What changes can you make in your own life to help support the environment and/or sustainability efforts?
  3. One of the impacts of Covid-19 was that people connected more with nature. As social gatherings were discouraged, especially indoors, people began looking towards the natural environment and appreciating all it has to offer. One interesting trend was the surge in RV sales as people were able to seek outdoor vacations, while remaining socially distanced. As we discuss the environment and sustainability efforts, it is important to reflect on our relationship with nature and the outdoors. Did Covid-19 encourage you to connect more with nature? What is your relationship like with the outdoors? Here are suggestions on how to connect more with nature.

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