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
“As World Water Week kicks off, UNICEF says that despite tremendous progress in the last two decades in bringing access to improved drinking water sources to billions of people, finishing the task is not going to be easy.
“There have been outstanding gains in every region of the world,” said Sanjay Wijesekera, head of UNICEF’s water, sanitation and hygiene programmes. “However, the job is not done until every single person every day can get sufficient drinking water from a reliable source – and unfortunately the most difficult part is ahead.”
“Wijesekera cited a report, Progress on Drinking Water and Sanitation 2012, released earlier this year by UNICEF and the World Health Organization, which says that between 1990 and 2010 more than 2 billion people have gained access to improved sources of drinking water such as piped supplies, or protected wells. The report says the world reached the Millennium Development Goal on drinking water in 2010, five years ahead of schedule, but that 783 million people are still without access.
“According to the report, those still without access are the hardest to reach, being largely the poorest people in urban slums or deep rural areas.
“UNICEF says the most important step in providing universal access will be to address the inequities which exist in all regions and at all levels and where the poorest and women are most affected.”
Read more: All Africa
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
Photo retrieved from: www.globalvoicesonline.org
“Disputes over water are common around the world, exacerbated by climate change, growing populations, rapid urbanisation, increased irrigation and a rising demand for alternative energy sources such as hydroelectricity.
Following are a few of the regions where competition for water from major rivers systems is fuelling tension.
India is home to three major river systems — the Ganges, Brahmaputra and the Indus — which support 700 million people. As an upstream nation, it controls water flows to Bangladesh to the east and Pakistan to the west. The Indus supplies some 80 percent of Pakistan’s irrigated land.
India and Pakistan are both building hydropower dams in disputed Kashmir along Kishanganga river. Pakistan fears India’s dams will disrupt water flows.
India, for its part, is concerned that China is building dams along the Tsangpo river, which runs into India as the Brahmaputra.”
Read more: Reuters