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Still Toxic After All These Years

Grist / EuToch / Getty Images / Alison Cassidy

Still Toxic After All These Years

Nearly a quarter-century after winning millions from PG&E, the ‘Erin Brockovich’ town continues its fight for clean water.

It was a sweltering, 117-degree July day in Hinkley, California. The surface of the 13-mile highway east to Barstow had become an asphalt skillet, and the town’s lone recreational feature, a children’s playscape, stood shining and unused like a monument to the lofty melting point of low-density polyethylene. Residents here appreciate the dry, desert landscape — that’s why many moved to Hinkley in the first place — but on days like this everyone takes refuge indoors, curtains drawn against the view of empty lots where neighbors’ houses once stood. Along the empty roads, thousands of pipe stubs — groundwater monitoring wells installed by Pacific Gas and Electric — began to look like air vents to some underground bunker where most everyone in town had retreated.

Despite the oppressive weather, a small group of residents had gathered at the community center for a workshop on bioremediation, basically how to remove chemical contamination from their land and water. These workshops are a regular occurrence here and broach topics like isotope analysis, well testing techniques, and the best ways to navigate the political machinations between oversight organizations. Hinkley-dwellers’ interest in these subjects is more based on survival than scientific curiosity; they want to make sure no one can pull the wool over their eyes again.

Hinkley is still best known as the “Erin Brockovich town.” In 1996 a group of residents famously won a massive direct-action arbitration against Pacific Gas and Electric with the help of Brockovich, a savvy single mom and Los Angeles legal clerk.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

On the Water-Starved Colorado River, Drought Is the New Normal

After two decades of drought, Lake Mead, which is impounded by Hoover Dam, is just 40 percent full. A “bathtub ring” visible along the edges of the lake show how far its water levels have dropped.
After two decades of drought, Lake Mead in Nevada is just 40 percent full. TED WOOD

CRISIS ON THE COLORADO: PART II

On the Water-Starved Colorado River, Drought Is the New Normal

With the Southwest locked in a 19-year drought and climate change making the region increasingly drier, water managers and users along the Colorado River are facing a troubling question: Are we in a new, more arid era when there will never be enough water? Second in a series.

In the basement of the University of Arizona’s Laboratory of Tree-Ring Research, the fragrant smell of pine hangs in the air as researchers comb through the stacks of tree slabs to find a round, 2-inch-thick piece of Douglas fir.

They point out an anomaly in the slab — an unusually wide set of rings that represent the years 1905 to 1922. Those rings mean it was a pluvial period — precipitation was well above average — and so the trees grew far more than other years.

“In 1905, the gates opened and it was very wet and stayed very wet until the 1920s,” said David Meko, a hydrologist at the lab who studies past climate and stream flow based on tree rings. “It guided their planning and how much water they thought was available.”

The planning was that of the states that share the water of the Colorado River. Worried that a burgeoning California would take most of the water before it was fairly divvied up, representatives from the other Colorado River Basin states, presided over by U.S. Secretary of Commerce Herbert Hoover, came together in 1922 to develop an equitable apportionment. They looked at flow measurements and figured that the river contained an average of 15 million acre-feet. They divided the Colorado River states into two divisions – the upper basin and the lower basin, with the dividing line in northern Arizona near the Utah border.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Science magazine on Peak Sand 2017 and 2018

Science magazine on Peak Sand 2017 and 2018

[ Sand is essential to make concrete, glass, silicon for computer chips, and many other products (longer list in Peak Sand), so no wonder top journal “Science” has had two articles on this topic.

Sand mining also ruins ecosystems, lessens biodiversity, impairs water and food security, makes storm surges and tsunamis more destructive, ruins drinking water with salty water, and salinization of cultivated land reduces and even prevents land from being farmed.

In India, illegally mining sand has become very lucrative and the “Sand Mafia” in India has become one of the most powerful and violent organized crime groups. They’ve killed hundreds of people so far in “sand wars”.  As a consequence of sand mining, death stalks people in other ways; standing-water pools created by extraction have increased the prevalence of malaria and other diseases.

These two articles have been shortened.

Larson, C. 2018. Asia’s hunger for sand takes toll on ecology. Science 359: 964-965.

Across Asia, rampant extraction of sand for construction is eroding coastlines and scouring waterways.

Already, scientists have linked poorly regulated and often illegal sand removal to declines in seagrasses in Indonesia and in species such as the Ganges River dolphin and terrapins in India and Malaysia. In eastern China’s Poyang Lake, dredging boats are sucking up tens of millions of tons of sand a year, altering the hydrology of the country’s largest freshwater lake, a way station for migratory birds.

Used to make concrete and glass, sand is an essential ingredient of nearly every modern highway, airport, dam, windowpane, and solar panel. Although desert sand is plentiful, its wind-tumbled particles are too smooth—and therefore not cohesive enough—for construction material. Instead, builders prize sand from quarries, coastlines, and riverbeds.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

More vegetables, less meat for all our sakes

More vegetables, less meat for all our sakes

Spanish market: Vegetable-rich diets make for a healthier planet. Image: By ja ma on Unsplash

Researchers are clear: the healthy diet for a healthy planet is more vegetables, less meat. What matters is the food that’s served, and the way it’s produced too.

LONDON, 17 January, 2019 − An international panel of health scientists and climate researchers has prescribed a new diet for the planet: more vegetables, less meat, fresh fruit, wholegrains and pulses, give up sugar, waste less and keep counting the calories.

And if 200 nations accept the diagnosis and follow doctor’s orders, tomorrow’s farmers may be able to feed 10 billion people comfortably by 2050, help contain climate change, and prevent 11 million premature deaths per year.

A commission sponsored by one of the oldest and most distinguished medical journals in the world today provides what it calls the first scientific targets for a healthy diet, from a sustainable food production system, that operates within what its authors term “planetary boundaries.”

The commission is the result of three years’ consultation by 37 experts from 16 countries, among them experts in health, nutrition, environmental sustainability, economics and political governance.

Goal within reach

It addresses the twin problems of global food supply: altogether 3 billion people are either under-nourished, or approaching clinical obesity because they are too well-nourished.

And global food production in its present form is helping to drive global warming and climate change, trigger accelerating biodiversity loss, pollute the rivers, lakes and coasts with ever greater levels of nitrogen and phosphorus run-off, and make unsustainable use of both land and fresh water.

“The food we eat and how we produce it determines the health of people and the planet, and we are currently getting this seriously wrong,” said Tim Lang, a food scientist at the City University of London, and one of the authors.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Salt-free drinkable water comes at a cost

Salt-free drinkable water comes at a cost

A desalination plant in Spain. Image: By Andrés Nieto Porras from Palma de Mallorca, Spain, via Wikimedia Commons

Two thirds of the world worries about water for at least a month annually. One successful source of salt-free drinkable water leaves a bitter aftertaste.

LONDON, 15 January, 2019 – Around the arid world, some 16,000 desalination plants are now purifying seawater and brackish aquifers, producing 95 million cubic metres of fresh, salt-free drinkable water daily. This is almost half the daily flow over Niagara Falls.

But there is a potentially-polluting price to pay: for every litre of fresh water, the same desalination plants produce around 1.5 litres of toxic brine. That adds up to enough in the course of a year to cover the whole of the US state of Florida to a depth of more than 30 cms.

A new study urges nations to explore better solutions – and new ways to exploit the minerals in the wastewater and support efforts to advance the declared UN sustainable development goal of reliable, safe water on tap for everybody in the world.

A second study confirms that the sustainable development goal of clean water and sanitation for everybody by 2030 is likely to cost around $1 trillion a year – and up to 8% more if the advances are matched by efforts to contain climate changeand limit global warming to the agreed UN target of well below 2°C above historic levels by 2100.

“Reject brine has been used for aquaculture, with increases in fish biomass of 300%”

Four out of ten of the world’s people face severe water scarcity. More than six out of ten experience at least one month a year in conditions of water scarcity. There are now desalination technologies at work in 177 countries: two thirds of them in nations with high incomes.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Warning: A ‘Shrinking Window’ of Usable Groundwater

“We found that the average depth of water resources across the country was about half of what people had previously estimated,” says Jennifer McIntosh, a distinguished scholar and professor of hydrology and atmospheric sciences at the University of Arizona.

McIntosh and her colleagues — who published a new study about these aquifers in November in Environmental Research Letters — took a different approach to assessing groundwater than other research, which has used satellites to measure changes in groundwater storage. For example, a 2015 study looked at 37 major aquifers across the world and found some were being depleted faster than they were being replenished, including in California’s agriculturally intensive Central Valley.

McIntosh says those previous studies revealed a lot about how we’re depleting water resources from the top down through extraction, such as pumping for agriculture and water supplies, especially in places like California.

But McIntosh and three other researchers wanted to look at groundwater from a different perspective: They examined how we’re using water resources from the bottom up.

The study may help close the gap about what we know and don’t know regarding how much water is available deep underground, as well as its quality.

It also rings some alarm bells.

A Different Approach

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Lakes run dry from too much water extraction and climate change

Lakes run dry from too much water extraction and climate change

Source: Hannah Osborne. Feb 8, 2016. Bolivia’s vanishing Lake Poopó: ESA images show fully evaporated lake from space. International Business Times.

Preface.  It’s bad enough that aquifers are being depleted that won’t recharge until after the next ice age, or in some places like California, never, because greedy farmers suck all the water up and the caverns below collapse and will never fill up with water again.

But equally problematic are lakes and rivers drying up, essential for agriculture, fisheries, drinking, and industrial water supplies.

Ah the poor grandchildren, what a bleak future, with little time left to do anything, if that’s even possible given human nature…

Alice Friedemann   www.energyskeptic.com  author of “When Trucks Stop Running: Energy and the Future of Transportation”, 2015, Springer and “Crunch! Whole Grain Artisan Chips and Crackers”. Podcasts: Practical Prepping, KunstlerCast 253, KunstlerCast278, Peak Prosperity , XX2 report

***

Kate Ravilious. 4 March 2016. Many of world’s lakes are vanishing and some may be gone forever. NewScientist.

Bolivia’s second largest lake has vanished into thin air. In December, Lake Poopó became a dry salt pan and its largest lake – Lake Titicaca – is heading towards trouble, too. The combination of silting up and irrigation withdrawal from the Desaguadero River, which feeds Poopó, together with climate change and the extra warmth from current El Niño, were enough to finish this lake off.

Recent research and new data suggest that lakes in other parts of the world may also be on their way out.

“Considering the size of the lake – 2700 square kilometers (1042 square miles) – this is quite an astounding event, with slim prospects of recovery,” says Dirk Hoffmann from the Bolivia Mountain Institute. “This event should serve as a real warning. Eventually, we can expect Lake Titicaca to go the same way.”

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

4 Bad Ideas That Can Get You Killed When SHTF

4 Bad Ideas That Can Get You Killed When SHTF

In a survival situation, every decision you make is crucial. One wrong move can quickly cost you your life. If you want to survive when SHTF, you should avoid these four bad prepping ideas at all costs.

(h/t to BeansBulletsBandagesAndYou.com)

Drinking unfiltered or unpurified water

Just because the water looks clean doesn’t mean it isn’t clean. If you don’t have a reliable source of clean drinking water, you probably won’t last longer than three days. If you start drinking unclean water out of desperation, your chances of survival could dwindle even lower. Even drinking from clear mountain springs can potentially be harmful to your health, if you don’t filter or purify it first. You could expose yourself to all sorts of waterborne diseases and parasites that are invisible to the naked eye. SHTF will really happen if you have to deal with a serious bout of diarrhea on top of all your other problems. At the very least, you should always boil your water first before drinking it. It isn’t worth it to take your chances otherwise. (Related: Do you have a safe source of water for a SHTF situation? Top 5 water purification mistakes.)

Playing with fire

In order to boil your water, you must first learn how to build a fire. Campfires serve a number of uses, such as cooking and keeping you warm, but you must always be responsible for any fires that you start. If you don’t have the faintest idea of how to build a fire, then you shouldn’t try to build one in the first place. You should also first learn how to properly put out fires before making any attempts at starting them. In the right conditions, it can sometimes only take a few neglected embers to spark a raging wildfire.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

How To Put Measures Together to Weatherproof Food and Water in Winter

How To Put Measures Together to Weatherproof Food and Water in Winter

Over the course of the past few years and several winters past, I have written articles on the importance of water supplies and food during the winter months when traveling. The bottom line is that most of us are in a vehicle and/or away from home much of the day, whether winter or summer. Winter is a little different, as it poses challenges and perils that are not necessarily addressed as easily as in the warmer months.

In those articles, I stressed the importance of a thermos during the winter to carry (at a bare minimum) hot water. I recommend the water over coffee for several reasons. First, coffee is a diuretic, and this means that an excessive amount will cause you to lose water through urination. If you drink as much coffee as I do, it is not so much an issue there, as your body will compensate with the increased intake. Secondly and more importantly, you can do more with a thermos of hot water than you can with coffee.

Hot water can be used for soup (think “Vitamin R,” as we called it in the Army or Ramen), and if you are the way I am…you can pack either a jar or a Tupperware container with instant coffee. The hot water is invaluable to restore your core temperature if you need to do so. One thermos is good, and two is even better. Be sure to insulate your thermos, at a bare minimum by wrapping a heavy blanket around it. I have two old sweatshirt sleeves, very thick. The wide part goes over the top and to the bottom, folded, and the other sleeve wide part over the bottom, and up to the top. Voila! Just this little measure extends the heating time/life of the thermos by about 4-6 hours. No, really: it works.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Sierra Nevada Snowpack On Track To Collapse 79%, New Study Warns

A new report by the Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) examined the headwater regions of California’s ten major reservoirs, representing half of the state’s surface storage, discovered each could experience a 79% decline in peak snowpack water volume by 2100.

Berkeley Lab used supercomputers to investigate current warming trends and carbon emissions.

Scientists analyzed how a future warmer world would affect “snowpack upstream of 10 major reservoirs — three in Northern California, three in Central California, and four in Southern California. The reservoirs are Shasta, Oroville, Folsom, New Melones, Don Pedro, Exchequer, Pine Flat, Terminus, Success, and Isabella,” said The Mercury News.

By 2039 to 2059, the snowpack runoff could drop by 54%, the study determined, and then 79% from 2079 to 2099. The study noted that three northernmost reservoirs, Shasta, Oroville and Folsom, could see an 83% reduction, by 2100.

Alan Rhoades, a postdoctoral fellow at Berkeley Lab and lead author of the study, said his team of researchers found that peak runoff could come four weeks earlier by 2100, at the beginning of March rather than April 01.

Mountain snowpack is a significant source of water for California: “Our precipitation is really intermittent and extremes-driven,” Rhoades said. “We get 50% of our annual precipitation in five to 15 days, or one to two weeks. Our water demand is highest during the summer months when we don’t get a lot of precipitation, so we really rely on mountain snowpack as a stopgap for our water supply.”

“So as the world continues to warm, these storms will get even warmer and won’t readily get to freezing, whereby you could have snowfall or snow accumulation and the persistence of snow on the surface,” he said.

As a result of warmer weather, the amount of snow is projected to decrease while rain could increase. The study noted that it did not look at rainfall, only mountain snowpack.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Humanure Part 1: Why Should We Give a Crap?

HUMANURE PART 1: WHY SHOULD WE GIVE A CRAP?

Permaculture is not just about garden design. Even if you don’t have land or access to land, looking at life from a permaculture perspective can help you to make life decisions and take actions towards  upholding the ethics of permaculture in your daily practices. This article series will take a look specifically at one of these practices which we all share, examine the benefits of changing our habits from a scientific perspective, and offer some practical ideas of what to do next.

That which cannot be named

It’s something which everyone engages in, sometimes as often as once or even twice a day. It can often be the first sign of illness if it is uncomfortable, and if it’s comfortable can help us to feel healthy and of course relieved. We do it almost as often as we eat and yet many people only feel comfortable talking about it with their closest friends or doctor. This could be seen as unbalanced, but probably even more unbalanced (especially from a permaculture perspective) is how we deal with our faeces. The most popular way of treating faeces globally is still by using water, either to flush to a public sewage treatment facility or to an onsite septic tank, or, in many places, by flushing it directly into the sea or a river (1). There are many reasons why using water to treat poo is environmentally detrimental, and most readers may well be familiar with these already. However, below I will briefly go into a few. Likewise with reasons why you may wish to change your pooing habits (if you haven’t already) to that of non-water treatment.

Why do we do what we do with poo?

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

What Preppers Can Learn from Cape Town, Where Residents Live on 13 Gallons of Water Per Person Per Day

What Preppers Can Learn from Cape Town, Where Residents Live on 13 Gallons of Water Per Person Per Day

Living in Cape Town South Africa, after we have gained experience with rolling blackouts, our city (and surrounds) ran out of water … a first-world major metropolis ran out of water.

This is my summation of what happened and how we personally dealt with it.

Two things to note:

  • Cape Town falls in a winter rainfall area. (Similar to Northern California)
  • In our country, clean water is a constitutional right. Building dams, desalination plants, and maintaining the dams is the responsibility of the national government. Local governments are responsible for distributing the water. They are not allowed to build dams or desalination plants. Cape Town was forced to do both, at taxpayers’ cost.

This is to give you some background on how things are (or are supposed to be) here. You will see that how things are supposed to be are not how things are.

How did Cape Town almost run completely out of water?

There were basically four main reasons, as Cape Town knew of this pending problem:

  • An unforeseen severe drought triggered it all.
  • Unbeknownst to most, because of “state capture” (a kind phrase for corruption), the National Department of Water and Sanitation had no funds left to build dams. The South African public was blissfully unaware of this.
  • The local budgets, the part that the city must budget in order to distribute the water, was used to build a dam, effect some repairs to local national water infrastructures, and because year after year there were good rains, the rest was used for other pressing political promises, like schools, toilets (yes toilets), and housing etc.
  • There was a huge influx of people into Cape Town from other provinces, seeking jobs, as the Western Cape is one of the best-run provinces in SA.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

How To Protect Your Skin From Wind, Cold, And Sun During Winter

How To Protect Your Skin From Wind, Cold, And Sun During Winter

These crisp cool winter months are beautiful. The fresh snow lingers on the ground as you wake up to a lovely frost coating what used to be vibrantly colored trees just a few weeks ago. But now that winter is here, many still have to be outside to care for animals or land, and because of that, we’ve designed this helpful guide with natural alternatives to help keep your skin perfectly beautiful and healthy even in the icy cold and dry winter wind.

Winter presents some seriously interesting problems for those with already problematic skin.  Have no worries! There are some things that can be done to minimize the effects of the harsh cold and dry weather on your skin. Here they are:

DRINK MORE WATER

During winter months, the body is going to need more water. According to a previous Ready Nutrition article by Jerimiah Johnson, getting enough water could even end up being crucial to your own survival. As Johnson puts it:

During the winter, you’ll need about a quarter to a half extra water than your body normally requires, and this increases further if you are working hard physically or exerting yourself.  Remember what is happening in the cold weather.  Your body is burning up calories and extra sugar and carbohydrates to heat your muscle tissue.  This requires a tremendous amount of metabolic energy, down to the cellular level.  Water is fuelnever forget that.  With the increased cold temperatures, your metabolism works harder to stay warm.  Food intake is critical, and so is water. –Ready Nutrition

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

55 Ways To Save Money on Your Utility and Water Bills

55 Ways To Save Money on Your Utility and Water Bills

The single biggest expense most households have are their utility and water bills. Sometimes those two bills combined are more expensive than the mortgage. Sometimes those two bills are the same as the mortgage and monthly groceries. In other words, they are just expensive.

In the twenty plus years of paying for a utility bill and growing up in a house that was very conscious of its water and electrical use, I have learned some tips and tricks to drive down the costs of those bills. Some of these tips will not cost you a thing and will provide immediate results. Some results will not be immediately seen. For some of these tips, you will need to pay to save. You will need to purchase items will that will pay for themselves in the future.

I realize some towns/cities/companies have minimum usages for utilities and water. If you are above the minimum usages, you want to get down to those if you can. You can also call and try to negotiate the minimum usage amount, but most places do not allow that.

55 Ways To Save Money on Your Utility and Water Bills

1. Shut off the lights. Most houses are lit up like they are a light show. If you are not in the room, shut off the lights. Use lamps, oil lamps, or candles instead of overhead lights to save money. During the day, use natural lighting.

2. Unplug the small appliance especially the ones with lights or a display. They draw power even though they are not in use.

3. Hang your laundry instead of using the clothes dryer. You can hang inside or outside depending on your weather. Hanging inside during the winter also provides some needed humidity too if you live where it is cold.
…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Total Planetary Collapse: The World’s Vertebrate Population Has Fallen By An Average Of 60 Percent Since 1970

Total Planetary Collapse: The World’s Vertebrate Population Has Fallen By An Average Of 60 Percent Since 1970

The clock is ticking for humanity, and it is not just because our financial system is heading for the biggest implosion that any of us have ever seen.  The truth is that we are literally running out of everything.  We will not have enough oil to meet our energy needs long before we get to the end of this century.  The lack of fresh water is already a major crisis in many parts of the world.  Our air and our soil are more polluted than they have ever been before.  And at this point we can barely feed the entire planet, but global demand for food is expected to escalate dramatically in the years ahead.  If we continue doing things the way that we have been doing them, a future filled with famine, civil unrest, environmental chaos and war appears to be inevitable.  We are literally on the verge of total planetary collapse, but because this is happening in slow-motion most people don’t feel an urgency to do anything about it.

And to a certain extent, the damage has already been done.  This week, the WWF released a report which found that the vertebrate population of the world has fallen by an average of 60 percent since 1970.  the following comes from NBC News

The population of the planet’s vertebrates has dropped an average of 60 percent since 1970, according to a report by the WWF conservation organization.

The most striking decline in vertebrate population was in the tropics in South and Central America, with an 89 percent loss compared to 1970. Freshwater species have also significantly fallen — down 83 percent in that period.

You may be thinking that you are not a big fan of the WWF, and I certainly am not either.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Olduvai IV: Courage
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Olduvai II: Exodus
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Olduvai
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Olduvai II: Exodus
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Olduvai III: Cataclysm
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