Archive for ‘Water’

Google-funded hot rock ‘water’ drill could reduce cost of geothermal energy

Wednesday, May 19th, 2010

A novel drill that is inspired by a jet engine and uses super-heated water to carve through rock could help harness to make clean energy from underground rocks more economically viable, according to its backers at Google.

Potter Drilling is part-funded by Google.org – the internet search giant’s philanthropic arm – and wants to use its technology to develop geothermal energy, which involves tapping the energy from hot rocks deep in the Earth.

Geothermal energy is seen by environmentalists as a vast potential source of clean, carbon-free energy if it can be tapped efficiently. Traditional methods drill into the Earth and use naturally occurring underground pockets of steam or hot water in order to make clean electricity.

A report (pdf) by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology estimated that tapping just 2% of the potential resource from so-called enhanced geothermal systems between 3km and 10km below the surface of continental USA could supply more than 2,500 times the country’s total annual energy use.

Source: Google-funded hot rock ‘water’ drill could reduce cost of geothermal energy - guardian.co.uk

Date: 19 May, 2010

The Perfect Storm: Six Trends Converging on Collapse

Wednesday, May 19th, 2010

Failure is not in falling down, but in refusing to get up. –Chinese Proverb

There are dark clouds gathering on the horizon. They are the clouds of six hugely troubling global trends, climate change being just one of the six. Individually, each of these trends is a potential civilization buster. Collectively, they are converging to form the perfect storm–a storm of such magnitude that it will dwarf anything that mankind has ever seen. If we are unsuccessful in our attempts to calm this storm, without a doubt it will destroy life as we know it on Planet Earth!

The following six trends are converging to form the perfect storm for global destruction, each of which is a potential civilization buster in its own right, if left unchecked:

1. Climate Change: with a 90% degree of certainty, the world’s top scientists believe that our planet’s climate is changing at an accelerating pace, that these changes are caused by man, and will have increasingly severe consequences for our world. Naysayers stress the 10% scientific probability that man is not the cause of current climate changes, but would you board a plane if you were told it had a 9 out of 10 chance of crashing? It is a rare person over the age of thirty who will tell you that the weather is not quite different now from when they were a child. Certainly far more erratic, though not necessarily always hotter.

Recent estimates by a collaborative team of climate scientists, including a group from MIT, calculate that even if we implemented the most stringent greenhouse gas limits currently proposed by some of the world’s governments, it is quite likely that our world’s climate will warm by 6.3F or more over the next century, leading to disastrous crop failures in most of the world’s productive farmlands and “breadbaskets”.

2. Peak Oil: Our global economy and culture are built largely upon a reliance on cheap oil. From the cars we drive, to the jets we fly, to the buildings we live in, to the food we eat, to the clothes we wear–almost everything that encompasses the fabric of our modern life is either powered by oil, built from oil, or made/grown via machines powered by oil. When the price of oil rose to $140 a barrel in 2008, the world’s economy went into a tailspin–collapsing local economies, reducing consumption, and bringing the price of oil back down to a fraction of what it had been just a few months earlier. Global output of traditional crude oil peaked around 2005-2006 and is currently declining. Expensive alternate oil and oil-equivalent sources, like tar sands, deep ocean oil wells, and bio fuels have taken up the slack for the time being, but these are limited resources and their utilization is not growing as quickly as anticipated to fill in the gap caused by the shrinking output from the world’s mature oil fields. In 2008 the International Energy Agency (IEA) estimated that decline at a rate of the world’s mature oil fields at 9.1% annually, with a drop to “only” 6.4% if huge capital investments are made to implement “Enhanced Oil Recovery” technologies on a massive scale.

3. Collapse of the World’s Oceans: with 11 out of 15 of the world’s major fisheries either in collapse, or in danger of collapse, our world’s oceans are in serious trouble! The ocean’s planktons form the bottom of both the food chain and the bulk of the carbon-oxygen cycle for our planet. According to a recent British government report, the oceans have lost 73% of their zooplankton since 1960, and over 50% of this decline has been since 1990, and the phytoplanktons are also in serious decline! Unfortunately, the coral reefs aren’t doing much better than the planktons. By 2004, an estimated 20 percent of the world’s coral reefs had been destroyed (up from just 11 percent in 2000), an additional 24 percent were close to collapsing, and another 26 percent were under long-term threat of collapse.

4. Deforestation: Over 50% of the world’s forests have already disappeared, and much of the rest is in threatened. Deforestation contributes approximately 25% of all global greenhouse gasses, nearly double the 14% that transportation and industry sectors each contribute. Additionally, the forests of the world are a critical part of the weather cycle as well as the carbon-oxygen cycle. Each large mature tree acts as a giant water pump, recycling millions of gallons of water back into the atmosphere via evaporation from its leaves or needles. It has been estimated that a single large rainforest or coniferous tree has an evaporative surface area roughly equal to a 40 acre lake. When the trees are decimated in a region, a process called “desertification” tends to occur downwind because the trees are no longer there to pump groundwater back into the atmosphere to fall back to Earth as additional rainfall at some down wind location.

5. The Global Food Crisis: Soils, Weather and Water. For the first time since the “green revolution” started, our world is producing less food each year, yet its population continues to rise as we loose more top soil, arable land, and have less water for irrigation. Climate change is currently contributing more to losses than technology is to gains. In 2008 and 2009, food riots threatened the stability of many governments. In 2010 extended droughts in the breadbaskets of both China and India are threatening the food supply for over 1/3 of the world’s population!

6. Over Population: This is the elephant in the room that few are talking about. In the last decade, we have added more people to the population of our planet than were added between the births of Jesus and Abraham Lincoln. In the mid 1980s our world first overshot its capacity to provide for its human population, yet this population continues to grow and we continue to live on borrowed time. One thousand years after Jesus walked the Earth, human population was around 1/2 billion. Eight hundred years later this population doubled to 1 billion. It took only 130 more years to double to 2 billion in 1930. When I was a kid in 1960, world population hit 3 billion people and it only took another 40 years to double to 6 billion in the year 2000.

Source: The Perfect Storm: Six Trends Converging on Collapse - The Huffington Post

Date: 19 May, 2010

About the World Water Week in Stockholm

Tuesday, May 18th, 2010

The World Water Week in Stockholm is the annual meeting place for the planet’s most urgent water-related issues. Organised by the Stockholm International Water Institute (SIWI), it brings together experts, practitioners, decision makers and leaders from around the globe to exchange ideas, foster new thinking and develop solutions.

Source: About the World Water Week in Stockholm – World Water Week

Date: 5 – 11  September 2010

Arctic team reports unusual conditions near Pole

Tuesday, May 18th, 2010

A group of British explorers just back from a 60-day trip to the North Pole said on Monday they had encountered unusual conditions, including ice sheets that drifted far faster than they had expected.

The three-member team walked across the frozen Arctic Ocean to study the impact of increased carbon dioxide absorption by the sea, which could make the water more acidic and put crucial food chains under pressure.

Expedition leader Ann Daniels said the ice drifted so much that they eventually covered 500 nautical miles (576 miles) rather than the 268 nautical miles initially envisaged.

Source: Arctic team reports unusual conditions near Pole – Reuters

Date: 18 May 2010

Ha Noi suburbs drought stricken

Tuesday, May 18th, 2010

As the dry season in Vietnam prolongs into drought, residents in Ba Vi District on the outskirts of Ha Noi are suffering from water shortages.

Out of 109 households, home to 502 people in Cao Linh Hamlet, Phu Son Commune, only 10 have enough water, only made possible by them building their own water storage containers.

“From November to the end of March, there was serious lack of water here, and this year it has worsened due to the long-lasting drought,” said Phung Tien Truong, a local official.

The communal People’s Committee and residents have asked for water supplies many times but not received a response.

“Besides the weather, Cao Linh is located 600 metres up Phu Huu Hill meaning underground water is scarce. Previously, the hamlet relied on water from the Yen Ngua canal, but that has been gradually filled up by landslides,” added Chu Ba Trang from Phu Son Commune’s People’s Committee.

“We have to take water from the irrigation canals which have no water in dry season. The water we take from wells is yellow and very muddy,” said Chu Van Cho, Phu An Hamlet’s Party Secretary.

Source: Ha Noi suburbs drought stricken – Asia News Network

Date: 18 May 2010

Southern Taiwan drought unlikely to end soon: official

Monday, May 17th, 2010

The drought in southern Taiwan is likely to persist through May despite some afternoon thunder showers over the past few days, an official with the Water Resources Agency (WRA) said Monday.

Wu Yueh-hsi, deputy director of the Water Resources Agency under the Ministry of Economic Affairs, said that although this year’s plum rain season began in early May, rainfall in southern Taiwan, particularly in reservoirs’ upstream catchment areas, had not been significant.

Despite the rains, the Kaoping River — the major water source in southern Taiwan — has seen a decrease in water yield compared with other years, Wu said.

Source: Southern Taiwan drought unlikely to end soon: official - Focus Taiwan News Channel

Date: 17 May 2010

Two Dead After Yemenis Clash Over Water Rights

Monday, May 17th, 2010

Two people died in a southern Yemeni village where the military intervened to end a dispute over water rights, underscoring tensions sparked by a looming water crisis in the Arabian peninsular state.

“This province suffers from a severe water crisis. Our ground (water) wells are almost depleted.”

Some experts say Sanaa could be the world’s first capital city to run dry because of a chronic shortage of ground water.

The country’s 21 ground water wells are already failing to meet demand from its 23 million-strong population, which is expected to double in the next 20 years. The problem is particularly acute in cities like Taiz and Sanaa.

For Yemenis, water scarcity is quickly becoming a source of violent clashes. Some analysts even suggest “water refugees” may someday flee to neighboring Gulf countries and Europe.

Source: Two Dead After Yemenis Clash Over Water Rights – Planet Ark – Reuters

Date: 17 May 2010

Warming in Lake Tanganyika highest in 1,500 years

Sunday, May 16th, 2010

Lake Tanganyika, the second oldest and second deepest lake in the world, is now at its warmest in 1,500 years, scientists said on Sunday.

The evidence comes from cores drilled into sedimentary layers in the lake bottom that point to climate changes over many centuries.

Tanganyika’s surface waters, at 26 degrees Celsius (78.8 degrees Fahrenheit), are now at temperatures that are “unprecedented since AD 500,” they reported in the journal Nature Geoscience.

The warming accelerated in the late 20th century, tallying with abundant data from other sites pointing the finger at man-made, heat-trapping greenhouse gases, they said.

As it has warmed, the lake has also suffered a fall in biological activity, they said.

Surface layers that warm become harder to penetrate by cool currents, welling up from the lake’s depths, which bring vital nutrients that feed the first links in the food chain. Ultimately, fish species become affected.

An estimated 10 million people in Burundi, Tanzania, Zambia and the Democratic Republic of Congo depend on the lake, using it for drinking water.

Source: Warming in Lake Tanganyika highest in 1,500 years - France24

Date: 16 May 2010

Source: Late-twentieth-century warming in Lake Tanganyika unprecedented since AD 500 – Nature Geoscience (login required)

Date: 16 May 2010

Minister: Integrated strategy for water resources management

Saturday, May 15th, 2010

Minister of Water Resources and Irrigation Mohamed Nasreddin Allam returned home from Amsterdam after a four-day visit to the Netherlands during which he chaired the 44th session of the Egyptian-Dutch Consultative Council for Water Management.

The meetings also took up mapping out a long-term strategy to face shortage of water resources until 2050 and develop programs for exploiting underground water as one of the most important future water alternatives, he added.

Source: Minister: Integrated strategy for water resources management – Egypt State Information Service

Date: 15 May 2010

Drought threatens Bakhtegan Lake, Iran

Thursday, May 13th, 2010

The Environment Protection Organization of Iran has warned about the declining water levels of Bakhtegan Lake in the country’s southern Fars Province.

Located about 160km east of the historical city of Shiraz, the lake is facing a great environmental disaster due to drought and lack of proper management, ISNA reported.   Several dams have been built over the Kor River, the main source of Bakhtegan’s water, reducing the water flow into the salt lake and threatening its bird-life.

Iran’s second-largest lake, Bakhtegan once hosted thousands of migratory birds such as flamingos in an area of over 350,000 hectares.

Source: Drought threatens Bakhtegan Lake – presstv

Date: 13 May 2010

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