Wednesday, March 26, 2014

The Lima Billboard's Example

It's been a year and by now, you might have read about University of Engineering and Technology in Peru researchers' innovative way of combining marketing with true engineering genius in their Lima-based billboard that pulls water from thin air.

Peru has always suffered from a lack of moisture, making it at risk for drought conditions.   But its water conditions have worsened.  As this article from Time states:

"Because it sits along the southern Pacific Ocean, the humidity in the city averages 83% (it’s actually closer to 100% in the mornings). But Lima is also part of what’s called a coastal desert: It lies at the northern edge of the Atacama, the driest desert in the world, meaning the city sees perhaps half an inch of precipitation annually (Lima is the second largest desert city in the world after Cairo)."

The city relies on water that trickles down from the Andes, specifically glacier water.  However, with the effects of global warming, this water source evaporates faster and faster as years go by, eroding the supply for the fifth-largest city in the Americas.

A quick diagram of how the Billboard works.
The Lima Billboard, therefore, isn't just some marketing ploy that can draw foreign investment for the school's engineering department.  It may serve as a way for all cities to adapt to what is clearly going to be shifting weather patterns that will destabilize current societal infrastructure.  While those in the eastern regions of the US may scoff at the notion of moisture being scant, the western part of the country sees its real damage in the agricultural industry, the desertification of the Southwest states, and the ongoing coastal drought.  Traditional irrigation methods may not be as useful nor reliable as they once were, and the increasingly more difficult need to keep water in massive urban centers is becoming evident as one of the primary concerns of the 21st century.   Here's hoping in another year, every major city in the Western US has a billboard such as this.

Donal Thoms-Cappello is a freelance writer for Rotor Clip Company.

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