Last month, Flint, Michigan, declared a state of emergency as a result of serious contamination of the municipal water supply. Since then, the issue has expanded from a municipal problem to a scandal reaching the Governor's office and the White House. The situation in Flint took up much of the annual State of the State address this week. [more inside]
GrowUp: the future of food - "The new concept of commercial aquaponics, argue Hofman and Webster, has a much-reduced environmental impact. Companion farming fish and crops dates back to the Aztecs, but it took until the 2010s, in Chicago, to move it indoors at any scale. In the UK, only eco-smallholdings have so far attempted it, and the only European aquaponics farms of note use purpose-built greenhouses. GrowUp's model, by contrast, is to fit out empty urban buildings, use no chemicals, employ LED lights, source 100 per cent renewable energy and, crucially, be based within five miles of its customer base in a dense urban area."
The Seattle Natural Hazard Explorer lets you explore where different parts of the city of Seattle, Washington are most vulnerable to potentially catastrophic geological events like earthquakes (previously) and volcanoes. It is one of many visualizations or choropleths that connect ever-changing data with explorable geographic locations, such as an Atlas for a Changing Planet and Syria: Epicenter of a Deepening Refugee Crisis
The city of Flint, Michigan, disconnected its municipal water supply from the Detroit system in April 2014 while a new pipeline to Lake Huron was being installed. The interim supply came from the local Flint River, and almost immediately, people complained that the new water was cloudy and smelled bad. Over the next eighteen months, though, the news got worse, and the state came up with $12 million to switch the water supply back. This week, the newly elected Mayor of Flint declared an emergency due to skyrocketing lead levels in the blood of Flint's children, asking the Genesee County Board of Commissioners to address the situation.
See drops of water 'trampoline' higher and higher At first, the drop rested motionless on the surface, but at around a twentieth of normal atmospheric pressure it suddenly jumped up. After a short leap the droplet eventually landed on the surface again, only to jump up again—even higher than the first time.
Dutch artist/musician Kamiel Rongen creates liquid landscapes, WaterBallet if you will. Here are all of them. Here is his website.
The risk here is not that millions of people in Britain are suddenly going to die of thirst. It is that after all those years in which humans settled by rivers and thrived, we are now locked in conflict with our natural surroundings. Either the humans or the rivers have to suffer. At the moment, it is the rivers, although in the longer term a sick river will produce less water, so the humans will end up in trouble as well. (longformGrauniad)
(Product video) Topmix Permeable has a claimed average permeability rate of 600 litres, per minute, per square meter. Watch the concrete in a small area of car park soak up 4,000 litres in a minute. An explanation version and a few caveats. [more inside]
The New York Times is reporting that NASA is about to announce the discovery of "definitive signs of liquid water on the surface of present-day Mars."
Cassini Finds Global Ocean in Saturn's Moon Enceladus. "A global ocean lies beneath the icy crust of Saturn's geologically active moon Enceladus, according to new research using data from NASA's Cassini mission." The discovery of a global ocean beneath its icy rind makes Enceladus an even better potential extraterrestrial incubator than previously thought. [more inside]
Artisanal water is a thing. Products include Fat Water, which contains 2 grams (20 calories) of Bulletproof XCT oil (related: buttered coffee chain). More conventionally, Whole Foods recently sold three stalks of asparagus in 16 oz of water for $6 for a short while. There is artesian Norwegian water, which some allege is “identical to the municipal water supply”. In Texas, Scottish artisanal water is free (though must purchase $2,900 meal to accompany). There is Canadian glacier water, poured by water butlers in Ireland but costing 53 Canadian dollars per bottle. In a Los Angeles bistro, you can drink Berg, a “glacial water from western Greenland” harvested from 15,000-year-old glaciers and displaying “sweet” and “smooth” tones ($20 per 0.75 liter bottle). And finally the Timmy Brothers explain their artisanal water journey (“It’s like opening up a Mark Twain story, except without the racist parts”).
"In lieu of showering I sprayed myself with AOBiome’s custom skin bacteria blend. Body odor is caused by the emissions of proliferating skin bacteria, as unique as a fingerprint. The Nitrosomonas eutropha taking over my skin now metabolizes ammonia into odorless nitrite and nitric oxide. Success! I wish I had a strain that excreted lipases, as my hair was still greasy." Why is the software engineer behind Soylent not using water in the shower and spraying himself with dirt instead? [more inside]
The Timmy Brothers: Water Makers (SLVimeo)
It's been over 100 years since the common cup for public water fountains was banned, reducing their health risks. But we don't trust drinking fountains anymore—and "it’s making us poorer, less healthy and less green." [more inside]
While California's water shortage continues, Cascadia has been suffering its own drought conditions, to the extent that expanding wildfires have lent the skies of Vancouver, B.C. a Mars-like orange hue.
As California's drought worsens, those who live in Rancho Santa Fe — one of the wealthiest communities in the US — seem to agree: "We’re not all equal when it comes to water."
California's crippling drought has prompted conservation efforts, such as replacing grass lawns and minding how long you leave the tap water running. But what about the food on your plate? Agriculture uses 80% of California's water supply, and producing what you eat can require a surprising amount of water. The LA Times' Interactive Water Footprint tells you How much water is used to produce your food? [more inside]
Mars might have liquid water, according to new findings We know Mars has water, and we also know that Mars once had liquid water (a whole ocean, in fact) but now it seems we may have evidence of liquid water today. [more inside]
At the very top of oceans and inland waters lies a distinct micrometer-thick microbial habitat. It influences climate change, fosters unusual and deadly bacteria, and is made of jelly. It is the surface microlayer.
NASA posits a larger amount of water in the solar system and beyond. With the recent hypothesis (trigger: bad science) that extra terrestrials might be quite large, how long do we have until the Space Whales come for us? Discuss.
California Drought Tests History of Endless Growth [New York Times]
A punishing drought is forcing a reconsideration of whether the aspiration of untrammeled growth that has for so long been the state’s engine has run against the limits of nature.California Water Use [New York Times] Are you affected? [New York Times] The Drought, explained. [New York Times Video] [more inside]
Toshio Shibata’s Mesmerizing Photographs of Water [New York Times]
The Japanese photographer Toshio Shibata is fascinated by water — in particular, the way it interacts with man-made structures. For the later half of his almost-40-year career in photography, he has explored this relationship in novel ways, hiding horizon lines and taking the perspective of the water itself with his camera, visually evoking its rushing sound.
"When we drink bottled water we throw away plastic, [and] 80% of the bottles are not recycled..... Ooho! uses the culinary technique of sphereification, the water is encapsulated in a double gelatinous membrane. The technique consist into apply sodium alginate (E-401) from the brown algae and calcium chloride (E-509) in a concrete proportions in order to generate a gelification on the exterior of the liquid. The final package is simple, cheap (2ct/unit), resistant, hygienic, biodegradable and even eatable."
Rainworks are positive messages and art that only appear when it rains. Peregrine Church watched a video showing off the properties of superhydrophobic coatings and got an idea uniquely suited to his environment: famously rainy Seattle.* Using a spray-on coating, he did a stencil at a bus stop. It's invisible in dry weather, but as rain hits it and the wet concrete darkens, the writing and art becomes clear. Since then, more have been added: tentacles, hopscotch grids, environmental messages, lily pads, and more. [more inside]
"Honestly? I've never had more fun cooking. Or eating. I didn't want to write this piece; it's almost humiliating to hear myself talk this way. But there it is. I'm in Berkeley. I'm lucky to be here. I may stay." Mark Bittman talks about California produce. [more inside]
With the discovery of life beneath the Ross Ice Shelf, the abundance of water in our solar system and a huge salty ocean under Ganymede's ice, scientists are rethinking the possibilities of life on other worlds.
...it might look something like this." Located in Missouri, Bonne Terre was an active mine until the early 1960s. In 1980, Doug and Cathy Goergens purchased it, flooded the 88 miles of passages on its three lowest levels, and turned into a scuba diving destination. Guests can take guided diving tours along dozens of underwater trails, past mining carts and other abandoned equipment.
Most people know that the expiration date on bottled water is for the bottle, not for the water. However, if your stored water is orangey, has the consistency of maple syrup, and is a billion years old, you're going to have worse problems than just a plasticky taste. [more inside]
What the collapse of ancient capitals can teach us about the cities of today — Warnings from history: Angkor was a thriving metropolis of 750,000 before a series of mega-monsoons made it unliveable. Can modern flood-threatened cities learn from its downfall?
"Death #1: Devoured by bats. Death #2: Sailed too close to the Elder Continent; my ship, bones gained sentience." People have been discussing Sunless Sea, the nouveau-Roguelike game just released by FailBetter Games. What else are they saying? Rock, Paper, Shotgun: "...the most delicious collection of words in all of gaming." Eurogamer: "This is the video game at its most mystical and revealing." There is, of course, a trailer. [more inside]
From Poop to Potable - a self-powering incinerator funded by The Gates Foundation that extracts drinking water from human feces.
Coyote Booms, Bear Attacks And How Climate Change Is Wreaking Havoc On The Animal Kingdom. "'The long-term drought impacts on vegetation that affect the prey of the animals that predators feed on is also a reason for encroachment,' said Crabtree. He said he thinks all large carnivores have this problem, especially the ones that depredate, or plunder — such as coyotes, bears, mountain lions and wolves. 'The drought decreases natural forage for herbivores like deer,' said Crabtree. 'There will be a relatively higher density of deer in urban areas where there are lawns.'" [more inside]
Lost your car? This might help. Just "do the damned experiment".
Cowspiracy is a crowdfunded documentary now being screened that examines the environmental impact of animal agriculture and seeks to examine why prominent environmental groups have apparently not made it a focus of their efforts. David Robinson Simon, the author of Meatonomics who appears in the film, interviews filmmakers Kip Andersen and Keegan Kuhn. [more inside]
Zero Percent Water. Alan Heathcock visits the Central Valley in California to talk to farmers about the drought, hear their perspective, and see first-hand what the land looks like.
A gigantic fish-eater (Bigger than a T. rex!) with a crocodile snout and a large sail on its back, Spinosaurus aegyptiacus has always been a strange and enigmatic creature. It may have just become something stranger: a semiaquatic, quadrupedal theropod dinosaur. [more inside]
Halfway through my three-week, 417-mile journey down the “most endangered” river in America, the water began flowing backward and the mud started talking. It spoke in baritone gurgles, like Barry White trapped in a bong. You know what this is, John? No, Barry White mud. This is QUICKSAND.
The drought in California and the American West is bad. Really bad. And it could get worse. The rich have their own plans.
All of California remains in drought with over 80% in worst categories of 'extreme' or 'exceptional' drought. Reservoir levels are 50% below average. (previously) [more inside]
Why the modern bathroom is a wasteful, unhealthy design (The Guardian): "Piped water may be the greatest convenience ever known but our sewage systems and bathrooms are a disaster" [more inside]