Posts Tagged ‘water’

Even though it’s raining hard here in EarthQuaker land, we’re still being told to expect a drought this summer.  That makes us more than usually interested in issues of water management and conservation.

A good place to start for a global overview of the crises we face with water is this interview with Peter Gleick, founder and president of the Pacific Institute.

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What, exactly, is the world coming to? How worried, precisely, should we be about the state of our climate, our energy system, our food supplies, our water, the air we breath? What really is — or might soon — be the problem with any of these?

It’s hard to keep track and easy to feel overwhelmed.

A good place to start feeling a little less swamped and a little more informed this Earth Day might be this useful round up from the folks at AlterNet: “Eight Reasons Our Changing World Will Turn You Into an Environmentalist, Like It or Not.” To quote the editors:

Alternet picked eight topics — water, global warming, food, health, energy, pollution, consumption and corporations — that pose real dangers to the future of human life and selected a series of recent essays that illustrate these problems, along with links to organizations and further resources that address these issues.

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Scientists at this week’s general meeting of the European Geosciences Union in Vienna have been worrying about water.

Some see ‘melting mountains’ (to use Reuters’ headline) as a “time bomb” set to explode established patterns of global water use.

That snow melt will raise world sea levels much more than previously predicted, say others.

If we’re looking at a world with less land and less water to support our living on it, perhaps we need to think about taking up less space. As we do that, the New York Times tells us, the wealthiest of us can rely upon a new breed of advisers — downsizing specialists.

“People who are about to shed personal belongings, by necessity or choice, may find the task overwhelming and emotionally painful,” notes writer Elizabeth Olson.  She sees plenty of future opportunity for those with skills in “organizing, psychology and plain old hand-holding.

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It’s always struck us EarthQuakers as odd that golfers have long been allowed to portray their sport as beneficial to the environment. Golf course owners are adept, for example, at receiving tax breaks, on the grounds that they protect ‘green’ space.

For sure, the first golf courses were relatively low impact. They were carved out of temperate coastal ‘links‘ areas, most of which was left untouched, and with the turfed tee and putting-green areas watered by natural rainfall.

But as the game has spread around the world, and as the idea of what a course should look like has changed, the typical course has become a voracious consumer of water and a reliable vector for vast amounts of inorganic chemical run-off in the form of fertilizers, herbicides and pesticides.

So we’re cheered, here, by the news that in America golf is a game in apparent decline. Or it’s at least over-extended itself. The NY Times reports this week that “Between 1990 and 2003, developers built more than 3,000 new golf courses in the United States, bringing the total to about 16,000.” Now, it turns out, many are going bankrupt as Americans lose interest in playing the game.

The report cites people’s general busyness, changing family values and a culture less interested in exercise as reasons for the change. Another factor, though, may be that more and more Americans are recognizing that to be on a golf course is to be in only a simulacrum of nature — and one that too often directly threatens nature, to boot.

Is it time, we wonder, to scale down golf’s global footprint? Let it stay, perhaps, on those sandy coastal bluffs, where it can co-exist quite nicely with the native flora and fauna. But let those thousands of other courses earn their tax breaks, finally, by reverting back into space that’s truly green.

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The new issue of Science reports on “a coming crisis in water supply for the western United States,” the Associated Press tells us today.

“Human activity such as driving and powering air conditioners is responsible for up to 60 percent of changes contributing to dwindling water supplies in the arid and growing West, a new study finds,” says the AP’sErica Werner.

Also in Science recently — a story explaining that “the least biologically productive regions of the ocean–the subtropical gyres–are getting bigger.”

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Here’s a story from the most recent issue of the very mainstream Scientific American. It’s a look at the dramatic effect that newly-discovered reserves of water under the Antarctic ice sheets might have on rising sea levels.

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