Archive for the 'greenwashing' Category

The Price of Thirst: How Millionaires Buy Up Farmland And Hoard All Our Water

Photo retrieved from: www.alternet.org

“Where I grew up, the city of Los Angeles diverted water away from Owens Lake, slowly draining it starting in 1913. It took more than ten years for the lake to dry up and turn into a toxic dust bowl, when naturally occurring heavy metals like aluminum and cadmium that had concentrated in the salt lake over centuries became airborne. This dust has been shown to cause cancer and respiratory failure, among other ailments. I grew up experiencing water inequity in my own body.

So when I saw Sean Hannity on Fox News broadcasting from another California valley allegedly drained of its water, I must admit I became curious. In September 2009, Hannity broadcast from Huron, California, in a weeklong special titled “The Valley Hope Forgot.” He was broadcasting from the poorest congressional district in the nation, in California’s San Joaquin Valley. According to the 2009 U.S. Census, 39 percent of Huron’s close to eight thousand residents live below the poverty line. It is a migrant labor town, a cotton-picker town, and is 98.6 percent Latino/a. Huron has no medical services, no high school, and no voting booth during elections, because most of the residents are undocumented. Some 80 percent of Huron residents have not finished high school, and children who are born there have more birth defects than children anywhere else in the country—most likely due to pesticide exposure.

One resident of Huron said she shut the windows when the wind blew. “What good is the wind?” she asked. “It’s all poison.” The water quality is no better, ranking 490 out of 502 cities in California, with fecal coliform bacteria, E. coli, and nitrates found in dangerous levels. The water system is built and run by Tri-City Engineering and owned by a former manager of Bechtel.

I could certainly see why Hannity would call it “The Valley Hope Forgot.” Ironically, these were not the problems that Hannity had come to discuss. According to Fox News, Huron had only one problem: “environmental extremists” had turned off the water to save a “two-inch fish” in the Bay Area. According to Hannity, both the winter-run Chinook salmon and the delta smelt had been listed as endangered species in 1994, an event that wreaked havoc on local farms. It had been determined that water pumped for farming in the San Joaquin Valley was destroying the fishes’ habitat up north. In an area known simply as “the Delta,” an ecologically unique inland estuary exists between San Francisco and Sacramento. Through this Delta, much of the state’s water supply passes, as do its endangered fish species. It turned out they were all competing for water.”

Read more: AlterNet

 

In the ‘Wild West’ of Water, Nestlé Gets Free Pass to Bottle the Commons

Photo retrieved from: www.commondreams.org

“International food giant Nestlé is striking gold in British Columbia—dubbed the ‘Wild West’ of water regulation—extracting hundreds of millions of liters of fresh groundwater each year without paying a cent.

As the only province in Canada that doesn’t regulate groundwater use, B.C. residents are calling on the provincial government to update the century-old Water Act saying that, without doing so, B.C. is ripe for such abuse. “The province does not license groundwater, charge a rental for groundwater withdrawals or track how much bottled water companies are taking from wells,” said a Ministry of Environment spokesperson.

“It’s really the Wild West out here in terms of groundwater,” added Linda Nowlan, conservation director from World Wildlife Fund Canada.

Any measurements or documentation of groundwater extraction are undergone on a “voluntary” basis by the corporation. According to Canadian paper The Province, Nestlé is extracting 265 million liters (or roughly 70 million gallons) of water each year from one well alone.

“It’s unsettling,” said WaterWealth Project campaign director Sheila Muxlow. “What’s going to happen in the long term if Nestlé keeps taking and taking and taking?”

“We have water that’s so clean and so pure, it’s amazing. And then they take it and sell it back to us in plastic bottles,” adds Sharlene Harrison-Hinds, a resident of Hope, B.C. which relies on the same aquifer being tapped by Nestlé.”

Read more: Common Dreams

 

Suez Wins Water-Supply Contract for Oil Vessels Off Brazil Coast

Photo retrieved from: www.usa.chinadaily.com

Suez Environnement (SEV), the second-largest water company in Europe, won a supply contract for vessels involved in offshore oil production in Brazil.

Degremont, Suez’s water-management subsidiary, was awarded an engineering and procurement contract for four water-supply units for Keppel FELS Brasil and its affiliates Lindel Private Ltd. and Estaleiro BrasFELS Ltda.

The water-supply units, two of them seawater desalination, will equip two floating production, storage and offloading or FPSOs vessels ordered by Tupi BV, a subsidiary of state-owned Petrobras Brasileiro SA, for offshore oil production in Brazil. The other two are sulphate removal units that treat seawater to make it suitable for water injection, helping avoid clogging rock reservoirs and contributing to enhanced oil recovery, Suez said today in a statement. No contract terms were disclosed.

Following the discovery of ultra-deep reservoirs 300 kilometers off shore, Brazil will become the sixth-largest oil producer by 2020, said Remi Lantier, chief executive officer of Degremont. With the contract,” “Degremont proves its capability to accompany Petrobras in its needs for innovative water solutions for upstream oil and gas production.”

 

Read more: Bloomberg

 

Can Jakarta ever root out the problems that cause so much destruction after every monsoon season?

Photo retrieved from: www.inquirer.net

“Jakarta, Indonesia, is one of Asia’s most flood-prone cities. Every year hundreds of thousands of citizens living in the capital of Southeast Asia’s largest economy brace for the loss of business, shelter and livelihoods.

Each year, as the rainy season approaches, the authorities insist they are ready to counter the tides of brown murky water, trash, and even animals, surging downstream. But the annual city-wide submergence continues.

This year’s sustained downpour threatens to prompt the kind of flooding not seen since 2007 when 350,000 people were evacuated from water-logged areas and dozens were killed. Already, at least 100,000 people have been affected. Army personnel have been deployed to some of the city’s poorest parts to clean up – a process likely to take weeks, if not months.

Asia’s monsoon season prompts annual debate about the state of infrastructure and the fundamental mismanagement of vital systems meant to keep some of the world’s biggest cities moving. With a population of 10 million, Jakarta’s latest battle to stem the tide highlights a deeper political and social problem: The government’s inability to remove and rehabilitate low-lying slum areas; an unwillingness on part of thousands of poor people to leave dangerous areas despite the risk to themselves and their families; and the overwhelming problem of waste and dumping, often cited as the biggest hindrance to keeping Indonesia “flood-free”.

Indonesia faces a formidable challenge: The country’s economy is growing at breakneck speed, its population is rising and the pressures on its decaying systems are mounting. The World Bank has stepped in to help save what it describes as a “sinking city”, due to rising sea levels, trash and annual rain. To dig the city out of its mess, the World Bank has invested $200 million to dredge parts of Jakarta.”

Read more: Aljazeera

 

A Raging River

Photo retrieved from: www.amazonwatch.org

“As the Brazil government pursues its reckless plans to build mega-dams on major Amazonian rivers like the Xingu and Madeira, we can expect to see their catastrophic social and environmental consequences continue to befall local communities. This article highlights how the construction of the Santo Antônio dam of Brazil’s Madeira River Complex in the Amazonian state of Rondônia has unleashed the river’s destructive powers, swallowing a riverside community in the city of Porto Velho. It also shows how these dams decimate the abundant fish species that are so crucial to local food security and livelihoods while uprooting thousands of people from their homes.

Two days before the start of tests on the first turbine of the Santo Antônio hydroelectric dam [on the Madeira River] in Rondônia, the phone rang in the home of fisherwoman Maria Iêsa Reis Lima. “It’s going to start”, warned a friend who worked on the dam’s construction. Iêsa sat on the porch, poised to observe the waters, awaiting what she knew would be an irreversible change. “The Madeira River is dangerous, it demands respect. The engineers say that they have all the technology, but nothing controls the reaction of this river.”

This is sadly just one of the stories emerging from dam-ravaged communities in the Amazon, one we will see repeated many times over if Brazil continues to pursue its disastrous plans for the region’s rivers.”

Read more: Amazon Watch


 

Shale Gas Industry Targets College Campuses, K-12 Schools

Photo retrieved from: www.alternet.org

“On Sept. 27, the PA House of Representatives – in a 136-62 vote -  passed a bill that allows hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking” to take place on the campuses of public universities. Its Senate copycat version passed in June in a 46-3 vote and Republican Gov. Tom Corbett  signed it into law as Act 147 on Oct. 8 .

The bill is colloquially referred to as the  Indigenous Mineral Resources Development Act . It was  sponsored by Republican Sen. Don White , one of the state’s top recipients of oil and gas industry funding between 2000-April 2012, pulling in $94,150 during that time frame, according to a  recent report published by  Common Cause PA and Conservation Voters of Pennsylvania . Corbett has  taken over $1.8 million from the oil and gas industry since his time serving as the state’s Attorney General in 2004.”

Read more: Alternet

 

Palestinians Face Food and Water Crisis in the West Bank Spurred by Israeli Control of Resources

Photo retrieved from: www.alternet.org

Israel now controls 85 percent of the water resources in the West Bank . Though Palestinians could theoretically drill more wells, they are forbidden from doing so without a permit from the Israel Military. These permits are notoriously difficult, if not impossible to obtain. Palestinians are forced to rely on Israeli authorities for access to their own water.

Often, Israeli merchants  sell this water back to Palestinians at inflated prices . Palestinians can barely afford their own drinking water—much less the necessary gallons of water to irrigate their orchards and crops.

Though Palestinian crops flourish in dry, desert climates, the extreme lack of water is taking a devastating toll on the land. Many farmers have forgone harvesting their crops because the yield and the quality are no longer worth it. Israeli farmers with similar crops have replaced Palestinian farmers in the markets, further economically marginalizing an already disenfranchised people.”

Read more: Alternet

 

Deluge of water protests hit India

Photo retrieved from: www.aljazeera.com

“Flooded farmers in central India have submerged themselves neck-deep in water – some for as long as 17 days – to protest a state government’s dam project that has inundated their lands.

The concept of demonstration by submersion appears to be spreading in India. Hundreds took to the waters of the Bay of Bengal in Tamil Nadu state on Thursday to protest what they say are the dangers from a nuclear power plant.

About 100 police in central Madhya Pradesh state arrested hundreds of water-logged demonstrators who live along the Narmada River on Wednesday. They were demanding the government adjust levels of a local dam to halt flooding.

The protesters in Harda district – where more than 240 villages have been inundated - had also asked for land and agriculture-loss compensation.

The villagers began underwater demonstrations in late August with a jal satyagraha - as the protest is called. Jalmeans water and satyagrah is a form of nonviolent resistance popularised by Mahatma Gandhi.”

Read more: Aljazeera

 

Is Fracking Good for the Environment?

Photo retrieved from: www.motherjones.com

“Is increased production of natural gas from shale deposits good for the environment? At first glance, yes: natural gas releases less CO2 into the atmosphere than coal, so replacing coal-fired electrical plants with gas-fired plants is a win for global warming. And since fracking makes natural gas cheaper, it helps stimulate a switch from coal to gas.

But wait: It turns out you also have to account for leakage. The problem is that natural gas is methane, a powerful greenhouse gas in its own right, and when you extract natural gas from shale formations, some of it inevitably leaks out. That’s decidedly badfor global warming. But David McCabe, an atmospheric scientist at the Clean Air Task Force, reports that the news is fairly good on this front:” “From the best of the collective work, we believe that burning natural gas for electricity produces about 30-50% less greenhouse gas than burning coal, even accounting for the emissions of methane (and carbon dioxide) from producing and transporting the natural gas.”

Read more: Mother Jones

Fracking, Coal and Nukes Wreak Havoc on Fresh Water Supplies

Photo retrieved from: www.alternet.org

“The undisputed champion of the current U.S. energy debate is  hydraulic fracturing or fracking. As conventional oil and gas resources become more difficult to come by, energy companies now have to dig deeper than ever to unearth the rich deposits of fossil fuels still available. In order to fracture shale formations that often exist thousands of feet below the surface, drillers use anywhere from 1 to 8 million gallons of water per frack. A well may be fracked up to 18 times. The water, usually drawn from natural resources such as lakes and rivers, is unrecoverable once it’s blasted into the earth, and  out of the water cycle for good.

Even if there wasn’t a problem with  water contamination , deforestation, and noise and  air pollution from fracking, the pro-drilling agenda would still be hit hard with an insurmountable roadblock—access to abundant water.

On June 28, the Susquehanna River Basin Commission  suspended 37 separately approved water withdrawals for fracking due to localized streamflow levels dropping throughout the Susquehanna Basin in Pennsylvania and New York.

In Kansas, oil and gas drillers are running out of options due to the tenth driest July on record. Companies with dwindling access to water resources are resorting to paying farmers for what water they have left, or more, drilling their own water wells, digging ponds next to streams or trucking in water from places as far way as Pennsylvania, according to  CNN Money .”

Read more: Alternet