Our planet holds 326 million cubic miles of water. Of this, 97% is saltwater and only 3% is fresh water. Of that remaining 3%, more than 99.3% is locked in ice, leaving an estimated 684,000 cubic miles of fresh water, much of which is polluted, or remote and unavailable to people. While water appears to be plentiful, in fact, fresh, drinkable water is actually very scarce and over seven times the cost of a gallon of gasoline.
Water is not readily available in more than half the countries in the world, some of them the poorest, thirstiest and most crowded. In many of these countries, the air is humid enough to yield enormous amounts of precious water, and most nations within 30 degrees latitude of the equator actually have more water vapour than they need — an average of 15 to 20 grams of water per cubic metre of air. Our atmospheric water-generating technology can turn 10%–40% of that into liquid form.
Since water vapour in the air is constantly replenished by Earth’s natural cycle
, extracting water from the air can continue indefinitely without impacting local ecosystems. The planet’s natural water cycle provides for all forms of life.
How much water is available from the air? At any one time, the atmosphere contains 4,000 cubic miles of water. If it were a lake, it would be roughly the size of all the Great Lakes (the world’s largest body of fresh water) combined, and would be constantly refilled.