Liquid Assets: How the Business of Bottled Water Went Mad by Sophie Elmhirst [The Guardian] “Water is no longer simply water – it has become a commercial blank slate, a word on to which any possible ingredient or fantastical, life-enhancing promise can be attached. And it’s working. Over the past two decades, bottled water has become the fastest-growing drinks market in the world. The global market was valued at $157bn in 2013, and is expected to reach $280bn by 2020. Last year, in the UK alone, consumption of water drinks grew by 8.2%, equating to a retail value of more than £2.5bn. Sales of water are 100 times higher than in 1980. Of water: a substance that, in developed countries, can be drunk for free from a tap without fear of contracting cholera. What is going on?”
With a global mean temperature rise of 1.5℃ (video, direct .mp4 link) the Marshall Islands, site of the US's Bikini Atoll nuclear weapons tests, may disappear completely. With most islands just six feet above sea level and less than a mile wide the ring of atolls is already severely affected by climate change. ⅓ of all Marshall Islanders are believed to live in the US, although they may face deportation. In recent months the residents of the Pacific island nation have been advised to cease eating fish after elevated levels of PCBs were found in the waters around the US missile base on Kwajalein Atoll. Recently, very previously, previously, previously, personal anecdotes.
Alaska is Having Its Hottest Year Since Records Began - "After a spring that was a full ten degrees hotter than normal, the northern state is on track for the most sweltering year on record." (via) [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."
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]
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]
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.
A hundred years ago streams got in the way of urban planning so people covered them up. Today towns and cities are looking to bring these streams back into light thus reducing flood risks, improving water quality, and revitalising neighbourhoods.
Starting on September 22 last year, Professor Robert Fuller of the University of North Georgia spent four months paddling down the Chattahoochee River system, from the Chattahoochee's headwaters in northern Georgia down through the Apalachicola into the Gulf of Mexico, studying water quality along the way. Then he paddled 200 miles through the Gulf, turned at the mouth of the Mobile River, and paddled another 750 miles upstream on the Mobile, Alabama, Coosa, and Etowah Rivers all the way back to northern Georgia—a total of just over 1,500 miles of solo paddling in his Kruger Sea Wind. Along the way, he kept a blog, "ate a lot of Beanie Weenies", and faced difficulties including cold, hunger, injuries, and river obstructions. Incidentally, he did all this while living with leukemia. [more inside]
Spring Rain, Then Foul Algae in Ailing Lake Erie: [New York Times]
"A thick and growing coat of toxic algae appears each summer, so vast that in 2011 it covered a sixth of its waters, contributing to an expanding dead zone on its bottom, reducing fish populations, fouling beaches and crippling a tourism industry that generates more than $10 billion in revenue annually."
Five regional weather control programs in northeastern China seek to increase precipitation by 10 percent. [more inside]
For millennia, man has yearned to block the sun (with black plastic balls). If an un-covered public water reservoir contains bromide, sunlight will combine the bromide with the chlorine used for reducing bacteria -- thus poisoning the water with carcinogenic bromate. Blocking the sunlight is the answer, but building a permanent cover for a huge reservoir is very costly. The solution for LA-area reservoirs, a few years ago: cover the entire water surface with millions of floating "bird balls", in effect turning the reservoir into a 10+ acre ball pit. [more inside]
Yale's 2010 Environmental Performance Index (EPI) ranks 163 countries on 25 performance indicators tracked across ten policy categories covering both environmental public health and ecosystem vitality. These indicators provide a gauge at a national government scale of how close countries are to established environmental policy goals.
How to feed 9 billion people: The global food supply is starting to get tight, with increasing sensitivity to droughts and floods causing price spikes and food shortages. The UK commissioned a report to examine how to feed a planet with a population that is set to increase to 9 billion by 2050. [more inside]
Waterlife — No matter where we live, the Great Lakes affect us all. And as species of fish disappear and rates of birth defects and cancer rise, it seems one thing is clear: the Great Lakes are changing and something's not quite right with the water. An interactive documentary film from the National Film Board of Canada. [more inside]
Restoring the Paradise that Saddam Destroyed. "Saddam Hussein drained the unique wetlands of southern Iraq as a punishment to the region's Marsh Arabs who had backed an uprising. Two decades later, one courageous US Iraqi is leading efforts to restore the marshes. Not even exploding bombs can deter him from his dream." [Via]
In Lester R. Brown's new book Plan B 3.0: Mobilizing to Save Civilization (2008, full-text)) - an update to Plan B 2.0: Rescuing a Planet Under Stress and a Civilization in Trouble (2006, full-text) - he calls for a war-time mobilization (ch.13) to save global civilization (already showing Early Signs of Decline (ch.6)) from Deteriorating Oil and Food Security (ch.2), Rising Temperatures and Rising Seas (ch.3), Emerging Water Shortages (ch.4), and Natural Systems Under Stress (ch.5)
Thirsty Dragon at the Olympics Dai Qing on China's environmental crisis and the upcoming Beijing Olympics.
In what it calls "the final wake-up call to the international community," a UN report (press release, website, 21 MB PDF) warns that damage to the environment is reaching a "point of no return" and now threatens "humanity's very survival." Oh, c'mon, tell us what you really think.
"California has a decision to make. We either brace ourselves for long-term [water] cuts that threaten our economy and our very way of way of life, or we invest in a solution to fix the [San Francisco Bay] Delta and expand our water toolbox so we can meet future challenges head-on.” [more inside]
When I grow up I want to be an environmental engineer. I want to work on projects that can provide potable water for people. I want to clean the polluted Mother Ganga [Ganges] who provides life giving water from the Himalayas to the Bay of Bengal. Or the Nile, both blue and white, spilling fertility from her bunds on a regular cycle. I want to design products that use the least amount of energy and fuel, from recycled materials and are biodegradable. I want to seek alternative sources of energy, such as using biofuel to power cellphones. I want to design with maximum constraints. Call her mother earth, gaia, demeter, ceres or inanna, our planet is on the brink of no return. Or is it all just a matter of perspective?
Water footprint - "of an individual, business or nation is defined as the total volume of freshwater that is used to produce the goods and services consumed by the individual, business or nation"
BULLSHIT! Penn & Teller present their rational, libertarian bent views on diverse subjects, now available for free download on Google Video ::: profanity; creationism; alien abductions; conspiracy theories; recycling; gun control; endangered species; religion; the bible; family values; the apocalypse; signs from heaven; the occult; 12-step recovery programs; exercise v. genetics; environmentalism; hypnosis; ghosts; the war on drugs; feng shui / bottled water; college; PETA; and abstinence.
Two great tastes that taste great together. Are you a scat fan? Well, Congress will soon vote on a bipartisan measure that would block the EPA from allowing sewage blending. Scientists & environmentalists gave BushCo some flak on this, but notice how bipartisan the bill is: it's sponsored by Bart Stupak (D-MI) as well as Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) The whitehouse site yielded inconclusive results (searched for sewage blending) This issue first caught my attention on another site (rhymes with 'bark') and I discovered it matters, at least to me, because people crap in my drinking water all the time and apparently the municipal waste treatment systems aren't handling it.
Satellite pictures of the Mesopotamian marshlands, published by the United Nations Environment Programme, show that the wetlands are beginning to return to life. [Via Best of the Web.]
Good news on the pollution front. Town in Northern California finds a way to turn its sewage into non-polluting water and make a wildlife refuge. If you live in Arcata, you can flush your toilet with pride! Quick overview here or the full flush.
Bottled water a waste of money, no better than most tap water, and environmentally unfriendly.