01 March 2014

This Week in Water

This Week in Water: always interesting, always important.

Make no mistake about it, the current unrest in the Ukraine/Russia conflict is, at root, about water. "The Russian Black Sea fleet has been stationed in Sevastopol since the 18th century. Following the collapse of the Soviet Union it remained there, according to an agreement between Russia and Ukraine." Russian access to the Black Sea and, hence, Southern Europe, the Mediterranean, the Atlantic, Africa, and the Middle East is dependent on its having control of Yalta and the Crimean port Sevastopol. Thus, today, the Russian parliament has authorized Vladimir Putin to use military force in the Ukraine. U.S. and E.U. policymakers are scrambling to determine the extent of American and European interests in the conflict.

Watch this space
U.S. intelligence is warning that shrinking water resources pose threats to global security, increasing the risks of terror and war.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is calling for governments, corporations, entrepreneurs, NGOs, academics, the media, and environmentalists to work together to bring attention to the problems affecting the world's oceans. “Every human on Earth depends on the oceans for the food we eat and the air we breathe,” Kerry said. “The environmental reasons for protecting the planet’s oceans should be leaping out at people.”

We've highlighted the on-going historic drought affecting California. But did you know northeastern Brazil is also in the midst of a historic two-year drought, the worst in that country in decades?

California ice cap from space (h/t NASA)
As is the case in Texas, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, and other regions of the U.S., Yukon fracking threatens groundwater safety in Canada. Seems like the threats to freshwater from fracking are beginning to surface in Alberta and British Columbia as well.

Oil companies are dumping billions of gallons of wastewater from their hydraulic fracking operations into the Pacific Ocean in sight of the coast of California. And, by all indications, they are doing it legally by virtue of a loophole in EPA regulations.

Yet another spill into a West Virginia waterway. This time coal slurry into the Kanawha River. Meantime, the repercussions from the Elk River spill continue to resound there.

As do the repercussions—political, economic, and environmental—from the Dan River coal slurry spill in North Carolina by Duke Energy. Reports say there are Federal criminal investigations into the issue, highlighting potential corruption by the N.C. Governor Pat McCrory, a former executive with Duke Energy, and the state's environmental agencies.

The traditional lifestyles and livelihoods of Native Americans in Panama are threatened by the construction of an illegal, upriver dam.

Some are calling for a new global water ethic.

The leader of Fiji has invited residents of the island nation of Kiribati to relocate to Fiji as their home islands are subject to rising sea levels.

Scientists are forecasting an El Niño event in the Pacific this year. "[T]he effects of El Niño events can reverberate around the globe, wreaking havoc with typical weather patterns. El Niños increase the likelihood for California to be pummeled by Pacific storm systems, for example, while leaving eastern Australia at greater risk of drought. Because they are characterized by higher than average sea surface temperatures in the equatorial tropical Pacific Ocean, and they add heat to the atmosphere, El Niño events also tend to boost global average temperatures." Global warming is increasing the frequency of these events.

Huge offshore wind farms can protect vulnerable coastal cities against cyclones and hurricanes, reducing the devastating winds like those from Hurricanes Sandy and Katrina significantly.

Need a quick water filter? Break off a branch from the nearest pine tree, peel away the bark, and slowly pour lake water through the stick. This improvised filter will trap any bacteria and produce fresh, uncontaminated water. Or, so say MIT scientists. This method can produce up to four liters of potable water per day.

Soon, you might be able to produce hydrogen for your home fuel cell from your own desktop algae bioreactor.

The face, as we know it on animals of all sorts consisting of eyes and mouth and breathing apparatus and ears, etc., probably developed (evolutionarily speaking) from a small, primitive, armored, jawless fish known as Romundina that swam the seas some 415 million years ago.

A 2500 year old, half-ton naked sculpture of the Greek god Apollo discovered by Palestinian fisherman is causing international authorities to open tentative political discussions with Hamas and the Palestinian Authority.

The recent Ham-on-Nye creationism/evolution debate (farce) has raised enough money for Ken Ham's creationism museum in Kentucky to build a replica of Noah's Ark. According to creationists, Noah put two of every species of animal on the Biblical ark to survive a global flood that his god, Jahweh, had sent to punish humanity for its sinfulness. That includes, by the way, everything from dinosaurs to bacteria, including all microspecies—e.g., grey wolf and red wolf and timber wolf, etc. This is also the guy who claims to have a saddle humans used to ride dinosaurs. He believes the Earth is 6000 years old, and that fossil and carbon-14 dated evidence to the contrary was put here on earth by a peevish sky god to test our faith. Oh, and light can't possibly travel billions of light years to reach us here. Come on, Bill Nye Science Guy, don't be such a dupe! And here I thought faith was the opposite of cynicism.

1 comment:

ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© said...

Oil companies are dumping billions of gallons of wastewater from their hydraulic fracking operations into the Pacific Ocean in sight of the coast of California. And, by all indications, they are doing it legally by virtue of a loophole in EPA regulations.

Same shit, different day. And it's bipartisan...all our political whores work hard for the money.