Living in arid climates in the western United States I have witnessed long periods of drought, highlighting for me our tenuous place on a changing planet. Virtually half the earth's population already struggles with water scarcity and sanitation as it is. With climate change this will get increasingly worse, and the desertification of habitable lands is now a foreseeable future. As a result I have become interested in researching climate adaptation technologies that have the potential to bring water to places that have no rain. In particular, I set out to experiment with passive approaches to atmospheric water harvesting using simple and accessible materials.
Summer in the high desert
Over the summer I started experimenting with a material composite embedded within a structure that together can boost the natural process of condensation. Moisture is absorbed at night, heated by the sun in the morning, and condensation forms via a temperature differential. These experiments were conducted in the summer with daily humidity levels between 5-40%. This system has been successful in producing a small amount of water, and I continue research into optimizing the materials and design to maximize productivity.
The Garden of Life Support
Below are designs for planter boxes that utilize the above system to create their own water. Though this may one day serve as a technological adaptation to unpredictable climate extremes, it is at present a response to a lack of action and an inability to change course in the face of climate collapse. This is technology of the last resort which should not be used or needed, but in its embodiment we may understand both what humans can and cannot do. Theoretically useful, it simultaneously exposes the emptiness of such an exercise.