13 August 2013

This Week in Water

First, thanks for the birthday wishes. To me, it's just another day. I only pay attention to years ending in '5' or '0' now. We enjoyed a rollicking family dinner here at Casa H. wherein I once again demonstrated my masterful technique for charring meat. (btw: This was not me. Though it reminds me of one time when I was a kid my father, brother, some friends, and I drove down to ATL from NC to see a weekend series between the Cubs and Braves. I saw a so-called 'bleacher bum' from the visiting Cubbies walking along the railing demonstrating after his team scored a run and and watched as he fell from the stadium railing down into the bullpen at old Fulton County Stadium.)

NOW, this week in water:

Pakistan is running out of water. It threatens to further destabilize the region.

Alberta, Canada is facing a similar issue because massive amounts of freshwater is being used by the tar sands oil development industry.

Farmers in New Mexico are draining the region's aquifers to sell water for fracking.

Seems there's more oil than fresh water in Texas, especially now that the fracking boom has sucked away precious water from beneath the ground. Wells are drying up and livestock dying.

Researchers at UT Arlington have found high levels of Arsenic in groundwater near fracking sites.

Here is an infographic from the Union of Concerned Scientists showing the conflict over scarce water resources between energy and consumption uses.

In Tennessee, complaining about water quality can be considered "an act of terrorism" according to Sherwin Smith, the deputy director of the Tennessee Dept. of Environment and Conservation's Division of Water Resources. So, take that you DFH tree-huggers.

The Colorado River basin is experiencing historic drought, and Las Vegas needs federal disaster aid.

Water level in the U.S./Canada Great Lakes is getting very low. Many suspect it has to do with increased evaporation due to climate change. Six local U.S. Senators (Levin, Durbin, Franken, Brown, Schumer, Stabenow) have written a letter to Pres. Obama complaining that his Climate Action Plan overlooked this issue.

Apparently, someone thinks it might be a good idea to use the area around the Great Lakes as a dumping ground for nuclear waste. Others not so much.

You can watch the entire 2009 documentary "Blue Gold: World Water Wars" here.

As an avid scuba diver, this saddens me: the Caribbean has lost 80% of its coral reef cover in recent years due to climate change, pollution, overfishing, and degradation. [Personal note: I'm proud to note that Wisdomie, my eldest, is beginning his training in research/science diving at UH Manoa this week! He'll be documenting these issues professionally. You go, Son!]

Warming seas off the coast of Maine and overfishing of native predators have caused a spike in the lobster population. It's gotten so bad, the lobsters have started cannibalizing each other [gruesome video at link]. Also, the price of lobster has fallen dramatically which threatens the fishermen's livelihoods.

Estuaries up and down the East Coast of the U.S. are experiencing the negative effects of human- and climate-related stressors.

In a tributary of the Potomac River, a Virginia fisherman caught a record-breaking northern snakefish, the invasive so-called 'Frankenfish' native to Russia, China, and Korea.

The Gulf of Mexico oyster industry (Apalachicola Bay Oysters are the best in the world!) has been declared a fishery disaster area—due in part to excess water use for energy and consumption upstream by, ahem, Atlanta.

Shark finning is driving that ancient predator to near-extinction.

The U.S. has declared an 'unusual mortality event' due to the high number of dead bottlenose dolphins washing up on its East Coast.

Rising sea levels may contribute to more violent storms on the U.S. east coast. That shouldn't be a problem, though, according to Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) who says no one would notice if sea levels rose 4 to 6 inches: "We don’t know where sea level is even, let alone be able to say that it’s going to come up an inch globally because some polar ice caps might melt because there’s CO2 suspended in the atmosphere." This in the face of "[a]n analysis published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences late last month [which] found that more than 1,700 U.S. cities and towns could be partially underwater by the end of this century. And 80 of those cities could be below the high-water mark in the next decade. None of them, however, are in Iowa."

A Los Angeles restaurant has announced plans to sell a 750ml bottle of Canadian brand Berg water for $20. It has also proposed a flight of waters for $12 for comparative tasting.

Lockheed Martin believes sheets of ultra-thin graphene with regular holes about a nanometer (a billionth of a meter) in size will slash the amount of energy it takes to push seawater through the filter, and thus the costs of desalination. A competing filter technology is being developed at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.

This University of Texas researcher believes that a thumbnail-size chip which costs about $0.50 apiece to manufacture is the key to the cheapest method of desalinating water. It uses a charged electrode to separate salt from water and does not require filtration.

Seattle residents are coming up with creative ways to re-use rainwater and runoff.

Engineers in Peru have devised a billboard which captures the humidity from the air, condenses it, purifies it, and distributes it to local residents in the desert-surrounded capitol Lima.

An Indian man has been awarded for developing 'water ATMs' that purify and sell ground water to locals at a relatively cheap price.

Pres. Bill Clinton and his daughter, Chelsea, are in central Africa promoting programs to increase access to clean, potable water. "It is one of the simplest things we can do to save lives," he said.

Speaking of junk in the water: A giant, 15-ton 'fatberg' (a collection of grease, oil, and fat) has been found clogging up the London sewers. According to U.S. Olympic champion Michael Phelps, 'everyone pees in the pool' at the meets. (Of course, he was probably stoned when he said it.) And if you want to go swimming in the lakes in Sweden, don't skinny-dip. You need to protect your 'junk' because the testicle-nibbling fish Pacu, an invasive species from South America, a relative of the Piranha, has been found there.

And in good news for you hikers, a small company in the U.S. has developed instant beer. Just add water.

1 comment:

ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© said...

"Instant Beer!" - Just add beer.