Comedy, Tragedy and Optimism

You know that quote, “Comedy is tragedy plus time”? I keep waiting for enough time to pass so there’s space for humor. But it’s been relentless lately, with human tragedies and natural disasters hitting one right after another, sometimes simultaneously and never with enough room to catch our breath. I’m not a comedy writer, but I can find humor in most things, and I’m an optimist to my core. In times like these, when it’s especially hard to find the funny, I turn to optimism.

My optimism isn’t dreaming about puffy white clouds and sunshine and magical fixes to complex problems. My optimism is rooted in the relentless hard work of people determined to solve those problems, and to make the world — even if just their corner of it — better. I work for a smart home water technology company, and every day I read something about the state of world water. It’s rarely good news. There’s drought, flood, contaminated supply, water rights disputes, devastation brought by hurricanes around the world, and soaring water costs that are pricing people out of water in their homes, right here in the United States. For me, no amount of time can turn humanity’s lack of clean water into comedy.

What makes me optimistic today, though, is remembering just how many smart, hardworking people are dedicated to the goal of safe access to clean water for everyone. Some projects have a global reach, and some have a targeted local solution. All are looking to solve one of humanity’s biggest problems, and none are giving up. Here’s some of what’s happening in the world of water:

  • Waste-to-water solutions have made huge strides, with processors converting sewage to clean, drinkable water in locations around the globe, for increasing numbers of people.
  • Desalination plants are becoming more efficient, with leaps in technology for the desal filters in both large and small capacity use.
  • Fog harvesting from cloud forests and water harvesting from air have made a modern resurgence in South America and Africa, respectively.
  • Personal filter straws have helped individuals around the world pull clean water from local sources, removing 99 percent of bacteria and contaminants.
  • Coagulants help remove dirt quickly so muddy water can be filtered and purified more efficiently, increasing the number local water sources.

There are untold numbers of solar-, wind-, and human-powered solutions not on this list, but all with the goal of access to clean water. There’s amazing work going on in this space. Some of it is high tech and some is low tech, but it’s all human-centered, and that’s what gives me hope. Someday soon I’ll get back to feisty takes on water technology and snarky Top 5 lists. But right now, let’s hear it for the hardworking people who make our world less thirsty, and make it easier for optimists to find hope in times like these. Keep working. Water is important. In fact, I’ll raise my glass to you now.