Archive for the 'world water supply' Category

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As Planet Warms, 13% of Humanity Headed for Worse Water Scarcity

Photo retrieved from: www.commondreams.org

“Researchers warn that the planet is headed for severe scarcity in which the global poor, as well as people living in parts of Asia and North Africa, the Mediterranean, and the Middle East, will be hardest hit. “Now this is not a question of ducks and daisies, but of our unique natural heritage, the very basis of life,” said Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, one of the co-authors and director of PIK, in a Tuesday announcement about the the studies.

The current pledges of the international community to reduce greenhouse gas emissions are not aggressive enough to curb the spiraling problem of water scarcity, researchers found in a series of modeling studies.

“Mean global warming of 2 degrees, the target set by the international community, is projected to expose an additional 8 percent of humankind to new or increased water scarcity,” says Dieter Gerten, lead-author of one of the studies. “3.5 degrees – likely to occur if national emissions reductions remain at currently pledged levels – would affect 11 percent of the world population.”

If the globe warms 5 degrees Celsius, which PIK says it is on-target to do by the end of the century if “business-as-usual” continues, the number of people directly affected by new or increased water scarcity will reach well over 1 billion, a stunning 13 percent of the global human population.”

Read more: Common Dreams

 

Fukushima radiation readings spike to highest levels

Radiation readings around tanks holding contaminated water at the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant have spiked by more than a fifth to their highest levels, Japan’s nuclear regulator said Wednesday, heightening concerns about the cleanup of the worst atomic disaster in almost three decades.

Radiation hot spots have spread to three holding areas for hundreds of hastily built tanks storing water contaminated by being flushed over three reactors that melted down at the Fukushima Daiichi plant in March 2011.

The rising radiation levels and leaks at the plant further inflamed international alarm, one day after the Japanese government said that it would step in with almost $500 million of funding to fix the growing levels of contaminated water at the plant.

Readings just above the ground near a set of tanks at the plant showed radiation as high as 2,200 millisieverts (mSv), Japan’s Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA) said Wednesday. The previous high in areas holding the tanks was the 1,800 mSv recorded Saturday.

READ MORE: Al Jazeera

NASA images reveal Middle East water woes

Photo retrieved from: www.aljazeera.com

Pictures taken by NASA satellites reveal an alarming loss of freshwater in the Middle East.

Two important rivers are disappearing, and if they vanish millions of people will be affected.

In just seven years, 144 cubic kilometres of water has been lost.

Al Jazeera’s Gerald Tan explains.”

Read more: Aljazeera

 

Nigeria: UN Unveils Platform for Global Water Management

Photo retrieved from: www.asme.org

“Each year brings new pressures on water. One-third of the world’s people already live in countries with moderate to high water stress. Competition is growing between farmers and herders; industry and agriculture; town and country. Upstream and downstream, and across borders, we need to cooperate for the benefit of all – now and in the future,” “he added.

The General Assembly proclaimed 2013 International Year for Water Cooperation in 2010, following a proposal from Tajikistan. The Year will serve to raise awareness and prompt action on the multiple dimensions of water cooperation, such as sustainable and economic development, climate change and food security.

“Over-exploitation, management, financing of water resources, all of these aspects are incredibly important and cooperation at different levels is therefore critical,” UNESCO Science Specialist Ms. Ana Persic, said during a media briefing to mark the start of the Year at UN Headquarters in New York, USA.

Persic added that the benefits of intensifying cooperation include poverty reduction, equity, economic growth, and the protection of the environment.” “We know water is critical for human life, but it is also critical for life on Earth if we want to protect and sustainably manage the planet we have.”

Read more: All Africa

 

Desalination Seen Booming at 15% a Year as World Water Dries Up

Photo retrieved from: www.bloomberg.com

“In the Atacama Desert in northern Chile, 158,438 residents of the city of Copiapo suffered daily cutoffs of tap water last year as Anglo American Plc and other companies helped suck nearby aquifers dry for their mines. With little water left for drinking or mining, the government of President Sebastian Pinera convinced the companies to seek a solution to the water crisis 60 kilometers away from Copiapo — on the shores of the Pacific Ocean.

London-based Anglo American is spending $107 million to build a desalination plant on the coast that will pump about 120 liters (32 gallons) a second of water through the desert to its Mantoverde copper mine. Set for completion in the second half of this year, the project will provide enough salt-free water, which is used to separate copper from ore, to operate the mine. Two other companies are building similar desalination plants in an effort to keep Chile’s mining-driven economic boom alive, Bloomberg Markets magazine will report in its March issue.”

Read more: Bloomberg

 

Spreading the Nexus and Finding it Everywhere

Retrieved from PhDComics.com

Spreading the Nexus and Finding it Everywhere

by Miles Ten Brinke

Miles, Peak Water columnist and avowed Hydrophilic energy-head, has found his way to Britain where he’s lost his California perma-tan and is studying an Energy Policy MSc at the University of Exeter on a Fulbright.

Applying for PhDs is an intimidating prospect. So too is trying to make a real, valuable contribution to a burgeoning field. As is navigating the current job market. Fair readers, you find me now striving through all three.

Once you start its hard to shut off, colouring your perspective on everything else. You might even start seeing the world through it. In the midst of this now I can attest to the surreality of spreading the word and finding it everywhere you look.

On some level applying for a PhD is an exercise in arrogance, assuming that not only is there a gap in the knowledge that you, you lowly peon you, have accurately identified but that its something to which you can bring a unique constructive addition.  You’ve got to find the right niche though, or it all can fall apart. Though I’m not sure yet what the next step for me will be after my MSc I’m knee-deep now in the process of finding such a niche myself. I’ve several materials put together now, spent a particular amount of time developing an energy-water policy nexus research proposal.

Effectively, I’m trying to take the approach here at Exeter’s energy policy group and combine it with the Transitions literature (basically about the interplay between the society and economy with technology over time- i.e. transitioning to decarbonisation in energy) to study energy-water nexus case studies from the American Southwest, the United Kingdom and desert lands around the world. All this is towards helping to develop a water equivalent to the global energy system transition. I spent a lot of time on my literature review trying to throw together a whole slew of different perspectives and areas, and went through several revisions with the help of my Tremough mentors.  Hopefully I got in a decent stab at balancing the practicality (both in terms of execution and impact) and uniqueness (both intellectually and to creative problem-solving). As the comic here shows, this terrifying balance dominates the first stages in every doctoral studentship.  Wish me luck. The experience has crystallised my thinking on energy-water issues, I see it everywhere now.

I’m already dedicating one module (on environmental and sustainability policy) to exploring the nexus in California and the UK, had an incredible seminar on energy and the built environment (including water-in-energy infrastructure) and spent an afternoon recently watching the live Guardian debate on the energy-water-food nexus discussing its contours on Twitter. Right now I’m in the depths of a one-week intensive module on international energy issues, its a lot of time spent being bombarded with incredible and deeply complex material. The water-energy nexus has been a constant theme from India’s bilateral water resource treaties with Pakistan and Tibet to Big Hydro in China and Middle Eastern solar desalinisation. We’ll continue through Friday afternoon, providing a plethora of new areas and datasets for study. I doubt this project will end any time soon.

Though I’ve many other interests in energy and specialisms I hope to develop I’m working right now to find a placement further exploring the nexus, might even end up combining such an experience with my PhD research proposal to develop my dissertation over the summer. Whether I find a job or start a PhD, after I finish at Exeter there’s a very good chance this work will go on well into the near future. I’ll continue chasing the nexus.

Its a big thing to be a part of.

~ Miles on Water

Joining A Global Nexus Conversation

Image retrieved from AsiaSociety.org

Joining a Global Nexus Conversation

by Miles Ten Brinke

Miles, Peak Water columnist and avowed Hydrophilic energy-head, has found his way to Britain where he’s lost his California perma-tan and is studying an Energy Policy

This year Abu Dhabi made history, simultaneously hosting the 6th World Energy Future Summit and the inaugural International Water Summit from 15-17 January. The link between the two was explicit, bringing world leaders (in policy, in business, in government and in science) together to debate the conditions of the energy-water nexus and how we might build together a collective sustainable future. In starting this column I’ve had the privilege to join a growing movement, and its been really fascinating as I uncover the extent of that movement in my research. There are, as one would expect a myriad of different approaches being employed.

I was drawn to one particular perspective recently when a friend of mine send me a link to a Berkeley Blog post on the energy-water nexus. It’s by Dan Kammen, a Professor of Energy at UC Berkeley and one of the most brilliant voices on energy today (especially from a quantitative, science-focused approach). He attended the Abu Dhabi summits and then blogged about his experience, writing about the growing focus on and importance of the research on interconnections between different global challenges (such as climate change and biodiversity). Its a fundamental exercise, laying out precisely what it is we’re working towards. He goes on to champion the pursuit of  each nexus, and pushing the boundaries of innovative ideas and solutions to these immense challenges. We need to shift the momentum, and to my mind that’s the vital role politics and policy will play. Even then it really comes down to philosophy- why we’re working towards a better world and what we intend it look like.

When you boil it down, we’re all working towards a few key aims. That is, pursuing a future world which is sustainable (in the classic tripod sense-economic, social and environmental), equitable and just, secure and stable. Whether we’re looking at food, climate, justice, poverty, water, energy and so many others the same key set of principles motivates us. More importantly, there are profound connections and implications between these areas-a multidimensional global nexus. In studying energy, and now energy and water, I’ve only seen the tiniest glimpse of the whole.

Most of us in the (if I can call it this) sustainability and justice community specialise in a particular area within our field, carving out a niche of expertise. We often seem to look at the same problems speaking hundreds of different technical languages, nearly intelligible even within the same sub-field. Its the world we live in, how most research (academic, public, private, commercial or otherwise) is conducted. That’s why these global conferences and any such endeavour are so valuable- even if each of us can only really master a small area, in having a holistic global conversation we can take strategic collective action.

You bring your little bit of the world, I’ll bring mine.

~ Miles on Water

‘Green’ Approaches to Water Gaining Ground Around World

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

 

Defense and Security Companies Are Planning to Cash in on Climate Change and Environmental Collapse

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

A Global Treaty on Rivers: Key to True Water Security

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