Photo retrieved from: www.ipsnews.net
“After Hurricane Sandy swept through the northeast of the United States late October 2012, millions of New Yorkers were left for days without electricity. But they still had access to drinking water, thanks to New York City’s reliance on protected watershed areas for potable water.
Instead of using electric-powered water treatment plans, New York City brings its high-quality drinking water through aqueducts connected to protected areas in the nearby Catskill/Delaware forests and wetlands – just one example of how protecting watersheds can provide residential areas with drinking water and flood and pollution protection at bargain basement prices.
New York saved between four and six billion dollars on the cost of water treatment plants by protecting forests and compensating farmers in the Catskills for reducing pollution in lakes and streams.
In 2011, countries around the world invested more than eight billion dollars in similar watershed projects around the world, according to the State of Watershed Payments 2012 report released Thursday. That year, China led the way, accounting for 91 percent of watershed investment.”
Read more: IPS
Photo retrieved from: www.energydigital.com
“It is not just the coercive industries that are positioning themselves to profit from fears about the future. The commodities upon which life depends are being woven into new security narratives based on fears about scarcity, overpopulation and inequality. Increasing importance is attached to ‘food security’, ‘energy security’, ‘water security’ and so on, with little analysis of exactly what is being secured for whom, and at whose expense? But when perceived food insecurity in South Korea and Saudi Arabia is fuelling land grabs and exploitation in Africa, and rising food prices are causing widespread social unrest, alarm bells should be ringing.
The climate security discourse takes these outcomes for granted. It is predicated on winners and losers – the secure and the damned – and based on a vision of ‘security’ so warped by the ‘war on terror’ that it essentially envisages disposable people in place of the international solidarity so obviously required to face the future in a just and collaborative way.
To confront this ever creeping securitisation of our future, we must of course continue to fight to end our fossil fuel addiction as urgently as possible, joining movements like those fighting tar sands developments in North America and forming broad civic alliances that pressure towns, states and governments to transition their economies to a low-carbon footing. We can not stop climate change – it is already happening – but we can still prevent the worst effects.”
Read more: Alternet
Photo retrieved from: www.wwfpanda.org
“Back in 1997, the UN adopted the Convention on the Non-Navigable Uses of International Watercourses. It did not lay down hard and fast rules for sharing waters, but it was a statement of principle that nations should ensure the “sustainable and equitable use of shared rivers.”
Only three countries voted against: China, Turkey and Burundi — all of them upstream countries on major rivers. China is the water tower of Asia. Its Tibetan plateau is the source of the Indus, Brahmaputra, Irrawaddy, Salween, and Mekong rivers. But in refusing to sign the treaty, China asserted that it had “indisputable territorial sovereignty over those parts of international watercourses that flow through its territory.”
To come into force, the treaty required 35 nations to ratify it in their legislatures. To date only 28 countries have done so. Other refuseniks include the U.S. and Britain, an original sponsor of the treaty. But the momentum for ratification is picking up. Eight of the 28 ratifiers did so in the last three years. France has become a cheerleader for the convention. Jean-Pierre Thebault, France’s environment ambassador, told a meeting I attended in Helsinki in September that he hoped enough nations would join for it to come into force in time for the UN’s International Year of Water Cooperation in 2013.”
Read more: Yale Environment 360
Retrieved From: International Rivers
BANGKOK — Ignoring criticism that a huge hydroelectric dam could irreparably damage the ecology of the Mekong River, the government of Laos said on Tuesday that it was pushing ahead with the multibillion-dollar project, the first dam to be built on the lower portion of the iconic river.
“I would say I’m 100 percent sure it’s going ahead,” Daovong Phonekeo, deputy director general of the Laotian Department of Electricity, said by telephone on Tuesday.
Laotian government officials and executives of a Thai construction company that is to build the dam are to officially inaugurate the project at a ceremony on Wednesday in Xayaburi, the remote province in northwestern Laos where the dam is to be situated.
The electricity from the project will be sold to Thailand and will provide billions of dollars of revenue to Laos, one of the poorest countries in Asia. But the project has been criticized by scientists who are concerned that the dam may disturb spawning patterns and lead to the extinction of many species of fish that have for centuries been the main source of protein for millions of people along the river’s banks.
Read More: New York Times
Karkamis dam. Retrieved from: www.power-technology.com
“Water scarcity has received a lot of attention over the last three decades. It has been predicted to be the source of future wars and many experts have publicly warned about the dangers of water scarcity as the main factor for armed conflict in the Middle East and Africa. Despite the predictions by experts in this field, there is still no evidence that water or even food scarcity has been the single or most important cause for an interstate war.
It could be that the attention given to the issue at national, regional, and global levels produced initiatives to reduce this possibility. Another reason may be that the high costs of war in human lives and resources has made it less attractive while regional and bilateral cooperation proved more effective and less costly in addressing the issue.
Whatever the reasons behind water scarcity’s relatively low correlation with armed conflict, the combination of a water-related dispute with other conditions may fuel radicalization of national security objectives or interstate armed conflict. Furthermore, a U.S. intelligence report on Global Water Security stated that water scarcity will become a source for failed states by 2023.
Water scarcity is one of the major problems in the Area of Responsibility (AOR) of U.S. Central Command (USCENTCOM), especially in the Middle East. Water availability in these countries is among the lowest in the world. As most water in the region is used for agricultural purposes, its scarcity not only affects human consumption and domestic use but also brings the ensuing possibility of food scarcity and the potential for internal or regional conflict that comes with it.”
Read more: Small Wars Journal
Photo retrieved from: www.reuters.com
“The extent of ice probably hit its low point on September 16, when it covered 1.32 million square miles (3.42 million square km) of the Arctic Ocean, the smallest amount since satellite records began 33 years ago.
Changing weather conditions could further shrink the extent, the center said. A final analysis is expected next month.
The record was broken on August 26, when the ice shrank below the record set in 2007. After that, it kept melting for three more weeks, bringing the ice extent – defined by NSIDC as the area covered by at least 15 percent ice – to nearly half of the 1979-2000 average.
“We are now in uncharted territory,” Mark Serreze, the center’s director, said in a statement. “While we’ve long known that as the planet warms up, changes would be seen first and be most pronounced in the Arctic, few of us were prepared for how rapidly the changes would actually occur.”
The summer ice isn’t just dwindling. It is also thin, relatively fragile seasonal ice instead of the hardier multi-year ice that can better withstand bright sunlight.”
Read more: Reuters
Photo retrieved from: www.commondreams.org
“In 2007, a new record was set for the minimum summer sea ice cover in the Arctic had halved. This furious flag waving attracted attention. That year, the world’s scientists declared the end of any doubt that our addiction to burning fossil fuels was changing the face of the planet. Al Gore expounded his inconvenient truth and the world seemed set to act.
Today, that 2007 record is smashed and the shredded white flag is now flickering rathering than flashing. But the danger is greater than even, even if the alarm signal is frayed.
The last great global ice melt the planet witnessed came 10,000 years ago at the end of a deep ice age. As glaciers retreated, a benign and balmy climate emerged in which the human race has flourished. Our entire civilisation is built on the warm soils left as the ice sheets melted.
This new great melting heralds the polar opposite: the gravest of threats to civilisation. Removing the lid from the pole will release heat equivalent to fast-forwarding human-caused climate change by two decades, say scientists.”
Read more: Common Dreams
Photo retrieved from: www.alternet.org
“Growing water shortages in many countries are a major threat to global security and development and should be a top priority at the U.N. Security Council, a panel of experts said in a new report .
However, that report ignores the biggest threat to water security: neoliberal policies of the free market economic system laying waste to the natural world and turning water into a commodity, activists counter.
China and India will not have enough fresh water to meet their needs before 2030, according to the “Global Water Crisis” report released this week. Well before that time, water shortages will increase conflicts and worsen instability in sub-Saharan Africa, West Asia and North Africa, it warned.”
Read more: Alternet
Photo retrieved from: www.360.yale.edu
“Cheap pumps and new ways of powering them are transforming farming and boosting income all over Africa and Asia,” says Meredith Giordano, lead author of a three-year research project looking at how smallholder farmers are turning their backs on governments and finding their own solutions to water problems.
“We were amazed at the scale of what is going on,” Giordano says. Indian farmers have an estimated 20 million pumps at work watering their fields. As many as 200 million Africans benefit from the crops they water. And in addition to pumps, she notes, “simple tools for drilling wells and capturing rainwater have enabled many farmers to produce more crops in the dry season, hugely boosting their incomes.”
Read more: Yale Environment 360
Photo retrieved from: www.greenprophet.com
“Soaring temperatures and low precipitation could not occur at a worse time for many farmers in the United States, and around the world. Intensifying drought conditions are affecting corn and soybean crops throughout the Midwest, raising grain prices as well as concerns about future food prices.
The US Drought Monitor reports that 88 percent of this year’s corn crop and 77 percent of the soybean crop are now affected by the most severe drought since 1988. In response the Worldwatch Institutelaunched a 12 step guide to combatting drought and desertification. These tips can be used by policy makers around the world and in dry climates in the Middle East. Read on for the list.
1. Agroforestry: Planting trees in and around farms reduces soil erosion by providing a natural barrier against strong winds and rainfall. Tree roots also stabilize and nourish soils. The 1990 Farm Bill established the USDA National Agroforestry Center with the expressed aim of encouraging farmers to grow trees as windbreaks or as part of combined forage and livestock production, among other uses. See Green Prophet’s feature on the Nabateans to see how this idea can be applied in the Middle East.
2. Soil management: Alternating crop species allows soil periods of rest, restores nutrients, and also controls pests. Soil amendments, such as biochar, help soils retain moisture near the surface by providing a direct source of water and nutrients to plant roots, even in times of drought.”
Read more: Green Prophet