21 November 2014

This Week in Water

Want to keep up with the on-going ravages of the historic California drought? The Pacific Institute is a good place to start. [Hint: things are not pretty.]

San Diego is spending $2.5 billion to see if it can successfully turn sewer water into drinking water.

Meanwhile, hydrofracking oil and gas companies pumped nearly three billion gallons of waste water into California's underground aquifers, contaminating water that could have been used for drinking or irrigation.

Fracking sites in the U.S. guzzled billions of gallons of water (between 10 and 25 million gallons each) between April, 2010, and December, 2013, many of which are in drought-stricken Texas.

Fracking will now be allowed in the George Washington National Forest which sits atop the Marcellus shale formation that runs from upstate New York to West Virginia.

Seems fracking doesn't just pollute the groundwater, but contaminates the air near the sites as well.

There is, apparently, a waterless method for fracking which avoids most of the pollution problems typically associated with this form of extraction; it's just that no one seems to want to use it.

Detroit's water inequities continue.

An oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico off the coast of New Orleans blew up, killing 1 and leaving 3 injured.

Turns out it is a virus epidemic that has been melting the starfish along the coast from Mexico to Alaska. No one is quite sure what caused the outbreak.

Frasure Creek Mining company may have been falsifying tens of thousands of measurements of the amount of pollutants it has been dumping into the waters of Kentucky's coal country. And not on the low side. Kentucky regulators are defending their failure to catch these violations.

Global warming is heating up groundwater, not just the Earth's atmosphere and oceans. No real surprise there.

The population of the Republic of Kiribati, a remote Pacific island nation halfway between Hawaii and Australia, is seeking to relocate as sea levels continue to rise unabated and drinking water becomes evermore contaminated.

Tons of ocean garbage seems to end up in the pristine Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument in Hawaii, one of the largest marine refuges in the world. NOAA is working to clean up the mess and prevent further pollution.

Factory waste "evaporation ponds" in China have turned out to be environmental disasters.

Japan has cut its whaling targets in the Antarctic by two-thirds in a bid to resume its annual whale hunts.

Some scientists are developing carbon nanotube technologies to extract usable quantities of water from the humidity of the air.

Others have come up with tiny man-made islands that suck the pollution out of the water.

Fontus is a solar-powered, self-filling water bottle that turns air into water as you ride your bike.

European authorities have certified the use of a salt-water powered car on its roads. The Quant e-Sportlimousine purportedly has 920 hp and a top speed of 217.5 mph and can get 373 miles on a tank. The German-built vehicle uses electrolyte flow cell technology. [h/t to the always delightful writer/activist/blogger/cyber-friend Frances Madeson]

According to a University of Texas geoscientist, a major tectonic event opening up a deep oceanic gateway between the predecessors of the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans may have triggered a rise in sea levels, a change in ocean chemistry, and an upsurge of nutrients from the deeps during the Cambrian era which would explain a controversial surge in evolution that resulted in the sudden appearance of almost all modern animal groups.

14 November 2014

Druid Dancing Day

Today is the day all the leaves fall off the sacred Gingko tree in my neighborhood. 'Tis a holy day for Druids, a day to dance the day away. And so a Druid-themed pic cascade.

[As always, click pic to embiggen; mouse over for 'secret' message.]

A specimen Gingko Biloba, golden carpet

All the leaves fall in one day!

Who else is watching the Gingko leaves fall?

A fat* Red-shoulder Hawk, that's who!
Speaking of hawks:


@ The Highland Games, Stone Mtn.

"That'll do, dog."

Atlanta Ferris Wheel

Same, different angle from inside The Tabernacle

Architectural pic from inside The Tabernacle, Atlanta

 Bonus pic:

"If I were about 40 lbs heavier, I could jump down from here and eat you." [And, yes, that's a WFMU lunch box with Mickey Mouse and the gang doing 'The Last Supper' up on top of my fridge.]

Speaking of Druid dancing:

Spinal tap - Stonehenge by samithemenace


* This morning when I let the dogs out, Lily went charging out into the dog run barking like a fiend. A largish hawk took off and alit on a nearby tree branch. When I went to get the dogs after their and my breakfasts, Bruno had a squirrel's tail in his mouth. It disappeared down his gullet before I could wrest it away from him. I suspect the above hawk could be the same one that was in my yard earlier, now so fat and stuffed with squirrel that it doesn't even bother to fly away when approached by camera-bearing folks. A real Druidic-type omen, for sure.

13 November 2014

The Literary. Giveaway

Blog buddy, Robert Detman, proprietor of the blog The Literary., is giving away a copy of his new novel, Impossible Lives of Basher Thomas, to the first five people who contact him and jump through some simple social media hoops. Check it out.

I've entered, and you should as well.


06 November 2014

This Week in Water

Is Earth having a temper tantrum in response to humanity's indifference to global warming and pollution? Deep, historic levels of drought in Brazil, California, and Texas (among others); major hurricanes and typhoons; tsunamis; and rising sea levels and other similar calamities might indicate that this is the case—or at least a metaphor for the case.

Sea levels have risen 20cm since 1900, the highest rise in at least 6000 years.

According to NASA satellite data, depletion of groundwater aquifers worldwide is happening at unprecedented rates that cannot be naturally replenished.

There is so little available water in California's reservoirs that the state's ability to generate hydropower has been cut in half.

South Africa is running out of water. As is Sao Paulo.

Are beavers and the dams they construct a good potential defense against the withering effects of a warmer, drier climate?

Scientists have described for the first time a new genus of ocean animal that cannot be classified to any existing animal group. Called Dendrogramma, it is shaped like a mushroom and could "completely reshape the tree of life, and even our understanding of how animals evolved, how neurosystems evolved."

Researchers have developed a greener, more efficient method to produce ammonia using only air and water. Ammonia is critically important in the production of fertilizers which improve crop yields and sustain large populations. As a byproduct, the reaction also produces hydrogen which would be suitable for use in hydrogen fuel cells.

A solar-powered water wheel may be the first truly feasible device to help reduce the billion tons of plastic in our oceans.

Researchers have created a tool to determine whether fracking fluids have polluted a given water source.

Man-made islands of vegetation may help cleanse pollutants from water, according to Scottish scientists.

Seaworld has announced changes to the way it treats the killer whales, or Orcas, it continues to keep in captivity. This in response to the documentary film "Blackfish".

According to scientists, the rotational "wobble" of Mimas, one of Saturn's moons, makes it increasingly likely that it may have an underground "life friendly" ocean.