Help for a Plastic Planet: New Report Focuses on Solutions to Global Plastic Pollution

Last modified on 2012-04-25 16:06:33 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

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“Man-made debris in the oceans is now found from the poles to the equator and from shorelines, estuaries and the sea surface to ocean floor. While the types and absolute quantities vary, it is clear that plastic materials represent the major constituents of this debris, and there is no doubt about the ubiquity of such debris on a truly global scale.

Many conferences and documents on the subject of “Marine Debris,” especially those funded by industry, have been evasive about plastic: the single most destructive and overwhelmingly most common substance of concern in the waste material that washes from our shores to oceans and back onto shores around the globe. The significance of plastics being singled out as the main source of marine debris around the globe is that plastic production continues to increase at a rate of about 9 percent annually and the waste from it is cumulative: “Since most plastic items will not biodegrade in the environment it seems inevitable that quantities of debris will increase over time…” (Andrady 2011).

The second reason for hope is that the report offers real solutions, and a methodology to choose them, in addition to an excellent scientific accounting of the many threats posed by plastic pollution to the environment, wildlife, humans and our economies. The solutions specified in the report take account of the fact that the vast majority of communities around the globe are not able to manage non-biodegradable plastic waste because there is no plastic recycling infrastructure or market, and the volume of plastic waste overwhelms landfill capacity.”

Read more: Alternet

Protestors Condemn Ch. Karnchang over Xayaburi Dam Construction

Last modified on 2012-04-25 15:53:02 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

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“Coinciding with Ch. Karnchang’s Annual Shareholders Meeting, dozens of protestors rallied in front of the company’s headquarters in Bangkok on Tuesday, demanding a halt to all construction activities occurring on the Xayaburi Dam. Civil society groups and community representatives from villages along the Mekong River inside Thailand traveled hundreds of miles to make their voices heard. Together, their colorful affair helped to articulate the anger felt by many people whose lives and livelihoods would be impacted by the project.

We are here today to oppose the irresponsible investment of Thailand’s company in Laos. They see the Mekong as a project site to make profit, but they do not see lives. We are here today to tell them there are millions of us who will have to bare the cost of their dam,” said Somkiat Kuenchiangsa from the Chiang Khong Conservation Group in Chiang Rai province.”

Read more: International Rivers


Gas ‘fracking’ gets green light

Last modified on 2013-12-09 23:20:03 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

Retrieved from: The Guardian

“Ministers have been advised to allow the controversial practice of fracking for shale gas to be extended in Britain, despite it causing two earthquakes and the emergence of serious doubts over the safety of the wells that have already been drilled.

“The experts say hydraulic fracturing, whereby a well is drilled hundreds of metres deep and pumped full of water, sand and chemicals in order to release methane gas, should be allowed on a wide scale, although they accept that two small earthquakes in Blackpool last spring were caused by the first stages of fracking activities in the only British plants operating.

The government’s own data revealed serious questions around the safety of fracking in areas of known seismic activity, such as the two wells in Lancashire, because of evidence that the resulting earthquakes have damaged the integrity of at least one well. There is also apparent confusion over which government agencies should be overseeing the process to ensure its public safety, with the responsibility shared among several bodies that appear not to be co-ordinating.

“Environmental groups are worried not just about the potential dangers from earth tremors caused by fracking, but about the effects on the UK’s push to tackle climate change. Last month, the chancellor, George Osborne, and the new energy secretary, Ed Davey, launched a new “dash for gas” when they announced measures to encourage the building of new gas-fired power stations across the UK. Green groups argue this will put carbon-cutting targets out of reach, by locking in high-carbon emitting infrastructure and crowding out investment in renewables. “We should be developing the huge potential of clean British energy from the sun, wind and waves, not more dirty and dangerous fossil fuels,” said Atkins.”

Read more: The Guardian

Melt Or Grow? Fate Of Himalayan Glaciers Unknown

Last modified on 2012-04-24 20:12:43 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

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“The Himalayas are sometimes called the world’s “third pole” because they are covered with thousands of glaciers. Water from those glaciers helps feed some of the world’s most important rivers, including the Ganges and the Indus. And as those glaciers melt, they will contribute to rising sea levels.

So a lot is at stake in understanding these glaciers and how they will respond in a warming world. Researchers writing in the latest issue of Science magazine make it clear they are still struggling at that task.

Just a few years ago, it seemed that the Himalayas were on the brink of disaster. The U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) made alarming claims about the fate of all that ice. You can almost see Jeffrey Kargel at the University of Arizona cringe as he describes it.

“One page had the most egregious errors you could imagine, just one after another, including the claim that the glaciers would disappear by 2035,” he says.

But the claim was dead wrong. The error put a lot of egg on the face of the IPCC. But it also sent glacier scientists scrambling. They knew very little about the state and the fate of those glaciers, even the basics.”

Read more: NPR


Damming the Poor: It’s Time to Create River Parks for People

Last modified on 2012-04-24 01:30:37 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

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“In their free-flowing form, large rivers like the Tana are among the most productive, life-giving ecosystems on the planet.  These natural supermarkets continue to feed hundreds of millions of very poor people each and every day.

Many fish species wait for floods to swim out onto a river’s floodplain, where they spawn prolifically.  When a fish spawns on a floodplain, its offspring will have many advantages over other fish born in the river itself. The water spilling onto a floodplain during floods is enriched with nutrients, helping young fish to grow.  The drowned vegetation of the floodplain harbors a bounty of insects to feed upon, and provides places where newborn fish can hide from bigger fish and other predators.  Rivers with large numbers of floodplain-spawning fish produce far more fish for people to eat than those without floods and floodplains.”

Read more: National Geographic


Supreme Court seeks CPCB report on ground water contamination

Last modified on 2012-04-20 16:56:23 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

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“NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court directed the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) to file a comprehensive affidavit on the “character and content” of reported contamination of ground water in Bhopal’s Arifnagar area due to the 1985 Union Carbide gas tragedy.

A bench of justices Altamas Kabir and J Chelameshwar also asked Board’s counsel Vijay Panjwani to recommend measures to overcome the contamination and action to be taken in this regard.

The bench passed the order while dealing with a PIL filed by an NGO Research Foundation of India on various pollution related issues in the country.

At the earlier hearing the apex court had also sought an affidavit from the Madhya Pradesh government on reports of groundwater contamination even 25 years after the world’s worst industrial disaster.”

Eole Uses Wind Power to Make Water From Desert Air

Last modified on 2012-04-20 16:27:58 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

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“A  revolutionary way to condense water from the desert air, powered by – and housed within – a wind turbine has been tested in the UAE  since October of 2011, by French innovation startup Eole Water.

The ground-mounted version has proven that it can condense up to 800 litres a day from air with just the 15-20% humidity typical of the region, and the company believes that a tower top turbine will produce levels well over 1,000 litres (264 gallons) a day.

Water marketing director Thibault Janin told ReCharge News: “The prototype is not yet on a mast because we wanted to check that it could operate in difficult desert conditions first — and so far the results have been very good. And would be even better, of course, if it was placed in coastal or offshore areas where there is higher humidity and more wind.”

Now that the ground test worked, the next step will be to erect the wind turbine-cum-air-condensation system.

Since the test suggests that in desert conditions, the turbine on a tower can produce 1,000 litres of drinking water, the company believes that in coastal regions or islands, with typically higher humidity, it could produce twice that amount.

The turbine needs at least seven-metre-per-second winds to generate 30 kW of electricity to move the water to the storage tanks and to power its purification system.”

Read more: Green Prophet


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Merck and Safe Water Network Launch Initiative to Improve Water Access and Help Reduce the Impact of Water-Borne Disease in India

Last modified on 2013-12-09 23:20:02 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

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“Merck, known as MSD outside the United States and Canada, and Safe Water Network, announced the launch of a three−year, $1.5M partnership to increase access to safe water and reduce the impact of water-borne disease among impoverished communities in Andhra Pradesh, India.

This initiative addresses a critical need in India where an estimated 70 − 80 percent disease is related to water contamination and poor sanitation, and where more than 120,000 children under the age of five die each year from rotavirus diarrhea alone.

“India faces significant water and sanitation challenges. Seventy−five percent of the country’s surface water is contaminated by human, agricultural and industrial waste[2], while half of the country’s population lacks access to basic sanitation[3]. Those living in urban slums and rural environments are most affected. In many areas of the country, a growing dependence on groundwater for drinking is associated with a rise in health problems due to fluoride, salinity, water-borne pathogens, nitrate and other contaminants found in the water. In Andhra Pradesh, only 31 percent[4] of households treat their water before use, and 43 percent[5] of children under the age of five are stunted, a common result of frequent episodes of diarrhea.

This joint effort draws on Safe Water Network’s field experience in India, Ghana and Kenya to address the operational, economic, cultural and environmental challenges to safe water access. The team will apply a rigorous method to data collection and analysis to produce effective demand generation and education methods that can be replicated at scale throughout India.

The initiative will add a dozen sites to Safe Water Network’s existing field projects in Andhra Pradesh, which already provide nearly 40,000 people access to clean water. The additional sites will provide safe water access to another 20,000 – 30,000 people. Each phase of the initiative will be documented, including the data on health outcomes. Key findings will be shared with the water and sanitation sector as well as other organizations to help them address the global water crisis.”

Read more: Safe Water Network

Water Wars: Why India and Pakistan Are Squaring Off Over Their Rivers

Last modified on 2013-12-09 23:20:02 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

Photo retrieved from: TIME world

“India’s Wular Lake, a popular picnic and tourist spot nestled in the Kashmir Valley, is an unlikely site for conflict. But India’s plan to build a structure on the Jhelum River at the mouth of the lake that will allow it to release water during the river’s lean winter months has outraged neighboring Pakistan, which believes the project will give India the power to control how much water flows downstream to its farmers. After two and a half decades of deadlock and 15 marathon rounds of bilateral talks — the most recent occurring in late March — the countries appear a long way from finding common ground.

The dispute isn’t the first of its kind, nor will it be the last. The waters of the Indus River and tributaries like the Jhelum — and the dams built on them by India — have long been one of the main points of contention between the rival neighbors, along with the disputed region of Kashmir itself and cross-border terrorism. Pakistan, whose agriculture-dominated economy is heavily reliant on the Indus and its tributaries, fears upstream dams allow India to manipulate the flows of water as it sees fit. Many in Pakistan accuse New Delhi of wantonly exacerbating the country’s dire water shortages, choking its agricultural production and ruining livelihoods.

“Indeed, India has ramped up its hydroelectricity projects in recent years to try to boost its woefully inadequate power supplies. The government has a total of 45 projects either already completed or in the proposal stage on the western rivers, some as large as 1000 megawatt and many as small as 2 and 3 megawatt. This expansion has irked Islamabad. “India is putting more and more restrictions and constrictions on Pakistan’s waters,” Kamal Majidulla, Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gillani’s special assistant on water resources and agriculture, tells TIME.

A 2011 U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee report said that studies show no single dam will affect Pakistan’s access to water, but the cumulative effect of multiple hydroelectric projects could give India the ability to store enough water to limit Pakistan’s supply at crucial moments in the growing season. India has never abused its water supplies in this way, the report adds, and New Delhi rejects the theory as an unsubstantiated hypothesis. But the report’s observations serve as a suitable analogy for India and Pakistan’s water conflicts overall. While no single legal or diplomatic tussle will rupture the fragile relations between the countries, the cumulative effect of a series of standoffs could cause tensions to boil over.”

Read more: TIME

Middle East Water Woes Beg for Environmental Sewage Solutions

Last modified on 2012-04-16 16:17:14 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

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“The environment is politics and in the Middle East this is ever so stark, ravaged by internal socio-religio-political conflicts and international wars. Wars internally and externally are based on oppression, division, exclusion, land theft, and expropriation of the Middle East’s oil reserves. The Middle East is the globe’s oil capital. Those who want to own it are traditional colonial powers who will do anything and promise anything from political freedom to militarisation to democracy to get at it; it’s why war and conflict still proliferate in the region.

Easily forgotten in all the wars and conflicts are survival basic resources such as water. Water for thirst, water for industry, water for agriculture and water for sanitation. The Middle East’s oil-rich countries are able to cross-subsidise oil-money for purchases of food crops or agri-land for growing food to be imported into the region. This is neither environmentally sustainable nor economically.

Things will run dry, monetary-wise and resource-wise, so hard rapid environmental resource conservation must dictate all immediate and future plans.

Accessing ancient geological aquifers for stored groundwater slowed down with lack of sustainable use and management of resources. When groundwater supplies started dwindling, desalination became the next option, the primary social-water-feeder.”

Read more: Green Prophet


What happens when all the wells run dry?

Last modified on 2012-04-09 16:27:00 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

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“From 2006 to 2011, they note, up to 60 per cent of Syria’s land experienced one of the worst droughts and the most severe set of crop failures in its history. The United Nations reported that more than 800,000 Syrians had their livelihoods wiped out by these droughts, and many were forced to move to the cities to find work – adding to the burdens of already incompetent government.

”If climate projections stay on their current path, the drought situation in North Africa and the Middle East is going to get progressively worse, and you will end up witnessing cycle after cycle of instability that may be the impetus for future authoritarian responses,” argues Femia.

An analysis by the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, published last October in the Journal of Climate, found that droughts in winter in the Middle East – when the region traditionally gets most of its rainfall to replenish aquifers – are increasing, and human-caused climate change is partly responsible.”

Read more: National Times

Companies, households use Malang dam as garbage dump

Last modified on 2012-04-06 15:29:42 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

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“Negligence and a lack of supervision has led Sengguruh dam in the East Java town of Malang to be used as a waste disposal site for household garbage and industrial waste, state water firm Perum Jasa Tirta says.

“Besides the industrial waste from the hundreds of companies, there has been a huge volume of household waste — about 20 to 30 cubic meters a day during the dry season, and up to 80 cubic meters a day during the rainy season,” Jasa Tirta spokesman Tri Hardjono said in Malang on Monday as quoted by Antara.

Tri added that the waste not only contaminated the water in the dam, but also made it shallower, obliging local authorities to dredge the dam every year as the local power plant relies on it for water.”

Read more: Jakarta Post

Japan: Plant Leaks Radioactive Water

Last modified on 2012-04-06 15:12:59 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

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“The operator of Japan’s crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant says tons of highly radioactive water appear to have leaked into the ocean from a purification unit. The Tokyo Electric Power Company is struggling to keep the melted reactors cool and contain radiation; the leak raises concerns about its ability to keep the plant stable. Similar leaks have occurred several times since last year, and officials say they do not pose an immediate health threat. Workers spotted the leak on Thursday coming from a section of hose on a device used to decontaminate cooling water leaking from reactors. The company said it appeared to have stopped the leak.”

Read more: The New York Times

Pakistan and India to go to War over Water?

Last modified on 2012-04-05 22:26:26 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

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“But now a rising new element of discord threatens to precipitate a new armed clash between southern Asia’s two nuclear powers – water.

Lahore’s “The Nation’ newspaper on Sunday published an editorial entitled, “War with India inevitable: Nizami,” the newspaper’s Editor-in-Chief and Nazaria-i-Pakistan Trust At issue are Pakistan’s concerns over India’s ongoing construction of two hydroelectric dams on the upper reaches of the Indus River. Islamabad is concerned that the 45 megawatt, 190-foot tall Nimoo-Bazgo concrete dam 44 megawatt Chutak hydroelectric power project will reduce the Indus River’s flow towards Pakistan, as they are capable of storing up to 4.23 billion cubic feet of water, violating the terms of the bilateral 1960 Indus Water Treaty. The Indus, which begins in Indian-controlled Kashmir, is crucial to both India and Pakistan, but is currently experiencing water flows down 30 percent from its normal levels. The Indus is Pakistan’s primary freshwater source, on which 90 percent of its agriculture depends. According to a number of Pakistani agriculture and water experts, the nation is heading towards a massive water shortage in the next couple of years due to insufficient water management practices and storage capacity, which will be exacerbated by the twin Indian hydroelectric projects, as they will further diminish the Indus’ flow.

So, if push comes to shove, who’s got Pakistan’s back?


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Feverish Chinese Dam Building Could Trigger Tsunami

Last modified on 2012-04-05 22:16:20 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

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“More than 130 large dams that China is building in its western region, an area of high seismicity, are vulnerable to earthquakes or could induce earthquakes, according to a new report released by the Canadian-based environmental group Probe International. In a worst-case scenario, dams could collapse creating a tsunami that would wipe out everything in its path, including downstream dams, and cause untold loss of life and property.

To pierce the Chinese government’s secrecy over its dam-building, the Probe report overlays a Chinese map of dam locations with US Geological Survey earthquake data and a United Nations’ seismic hazard map. Probe also used Google Earth satellite images to confirm the state of completion of about one-half of the dams.

According to the report, 98.6% of the dams being constructed in western China are located in moderate to very high seismic hazard zones. The Zipingpu Dam, for example, which is now thought to have triggered the magnitude 7.9 Sichuan earthquake in 2008 that killed an estimated 80,000 people, was built in a moderate seismic zone. The force of that quake cracked the dam and shook it so severely that it sank one metre and moved 60 centimetres downstream.”

Read more: Probe International


Look How Unequally Water Is Divided In The Middle East

Last modified on 2012-04-04 00:25:22 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

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“THE southern provinces on Lebanon’s border with Israel fare worse than the rest of the country by most measures. Water is one thing in short supply. Swathes of fertile farming land sit idle. Officials say the lack of water is partly to blame for the region’s underdevelopment. While Lebanon as a whole has water in abundance, the south’s rivers are shared with Israel which gets the lion’s share. This is nothing new, but a new study has sketched out the extent of the imbalance for the first time.

Rivers that straddle borders have long caused tensionns in the Middle East. International law says that the useable water should be divided into “equitable and reasonable” portions according to such factors as population. But this directive is often overruled by bilateral agreements. These are lawful but often outdatedand the more powerful country usually gets the better deal.”

Read more: Business Insider


Water Wars Heat Up

Last modified on 2012-04-04 00:18:44 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

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“Water demand in the summer season shoots up anywhere between 20 to 40 per cent in the city. Vigyanapura is feeling the heat already, with absolutely no water supply.

This area was promised new connections under the upcoming Cauvery project. But from the past one month, the residents have been drawing water from the water tankers who charge exorbitant rates. The area corporator Sukumar has pitched in with 25 loads of water supply for the population of 15,000 due to the increase in the panic calls from the public because of no water supply. He said, “Earlier, I use to get around 50 calls a day from different areas. But this time, I get around 200 calls per day pertaining to water scarcity. Each day around 40 tractors with 4,000 litres capacity and 5 tankers with 7,000 liters capacity are supplied.”

The city at present receives around 900 million litres of water per day (MLD) ,while the demand in the core areas alone is around 1250 MLD. Earlier, in the� Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) monthly council meeting, a few corporators brandished empty pitchers in the council, demanding the council to make arrangements for drinking water through the BWSSB.”

Read more: IBN

People Forced To Drink Polluted Water

Last modified on 2012-04-02 18:25:46 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

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“Chakwal—Pakistan Council of Research in Water Resources (PCRWR) has revealed that most of the water sources in district Chakwal are providing unsafe drinking water, mainly due to presence of micro-organisms, iron and fluoride.

According to report of Technical survey for Water Supply Schemes ( WSS) conducted by PCRWR throughout the country,out of 202 WSSs in district Chakwal, only 21% are supplying water safe at source.

Mostly untreated water was being supplied to the consumers, which was causing many waterborne diseases among adults as well as kids alike.

PCRWR is conducting a country wide study of water supply schemes under Provision of Safe Drinking Water project. The project, launched in 2006, is now nearing completion that is billed as the most detailed and comprehensive survey of its nature in Asia.

The outcome of the survey conducted in the Chakwal district, has revealed that these schemes are providing piped water supply to an enumerated population of 1.125 million persons on 202 surveyed water supply schemes.”

Read more: Pakistan Observer

Concerns over India rivers order

Last modified on 2012-04-02 18:11:42 GMT. 0 comments. Top.


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“A supreme court order in India asking the government to link more than 30 rivers and divert waters to parched areas has sparked concerns in neighbouring countries.

Bangladesh says it would be hardest hit because it is a downstream country to two major rivers that flow from India.

New Delhi is yet to respond to the neighbouring countries’ reactions.

The multi-billion-dollar project was announced by the Indian government in 2002 but had since remained on paper.

Experts in Nepal say the country’s unstable political situation could open the door for India to build dams and reservoirs in Nepalese territory for the inter-linking project – known as the ILR.”

Read more: BBC


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