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?”
New York Times: "For decades, automakers have relied on turbocharging, which uses energy captured from exhaust gases to force additional air into the cylinders, to increase the power and efficiency of some gasoline engines." "[Now] a prominent automotive supplier has developed a counterintuitive technology that could enhance turbocharged engines for passenger cars by improving fuel economy with no reduction in power. How? By spraying water into the cylinders as the engine is operating." Warning: Some marketing speak in quotes.
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.
Last week, the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe in North Dakota emerged as climate change heroes when, with little political clout or media spotlight, they halted construction of the $3.7 billion Dakota Access oil pipeline. The defiance, based on a desire to protect both Sioux burial grounds and the waters of the Missouri River, evoked America’s ugly racial past—and present. “It feels like 1875 because Natives are still fighting for our land,” tweeted Native American writer Sherman Alexie, about a week before the pipeline security loosed attack dogs on the protesters, causing the internet to compare images of the ensuing chaos to images of Selma in 1965. A delegation from Black Lives Matter has visited the resistance camp, as have Amnesty International and MSNBC. But it's not the non-Native visitors who are the most interesting: what may be most important about the Standing Rock camps is that they have brought about the greatest gathering of Native Americans in more than a century. "Not since Little Big Horn have we stood together in this way," wrote one camp organizer. "The heart of the aboriginal world has been reawakened." [more inside]
A detailed play by play breakdown of a very short gif. Featuring a cute doggy. [more inside]
How to Save a City Through a Website There was a make-a-payment button, and I thought, What if we collected the PDF full of account numbers? What if we built a website to find people who were having problems paying their bills and we get their account numbers and we say we'll log into their account and just pay some bills for them? That's pretty much how we've paid the bulk of the first early bills.
WaterWigs is a personal project of photographer Tim Tadder. A "Making of" video explains how and why. [more inside]
Should the United States Save Tangier Island From Oblivion? (New York Times) "...she built the house in a place where the bay was steadily advancing on her backyard every year, usually by about a dozen feet."
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]
We don't know for certain if the Gas! GAS! in Wilfred Owen's devastating poem was chlorine, but we do know that it can kill and maim in the way he described. But when his poem was written, chlorine had already begun to play a completely different, quietly heroic role, going on to save hundreds of millions of lives over the course of the 20th century. The battle to get chlorine accepted for water treatment was understandably dramatic given its known killing power. In 1908, John Leal, in almost complete secrecy, without any permission from government authorities (and no notice to the general public)... decided to add chlorine to the Jersey City reservoirs. [more inside]
Water in voxels: a pleasant little collection of watery scenes hand-drawn in chunky 3D. (Voxels are the 3d equivalent of pixels, like the blocks that make up a minecraft world.) [more inside]
Katherine and Isabelle Adams are 9 and 11 years old. When they learned that girls in many places have to walk for miles to get to the nearest well (and clean drinking water), they decided they wanted to help. They started selling their origami ornaments to fund a single well in Ethiopia. When they overshot their goal, they just kept going. [more inside]
Scurvy Dogs - A brief overview of the history of the scurvy, brought to you by naval cartoonist Lucy Bellwood
Water will flow once more in Maui streams long diverted to feed the island's thirsty sugar cane industry. The water will now be available for the cultivation of kalo, or taro, a plant with historic and cultural significance whose cultivation has had a complicated history. This marks a win for local taro farmers, who had been fighting for some time for the return of water. The water returns as the sugar industry departs the island for good, taking a number of jobs with it. [more inside]
Vox, with the help of the Washington State Department of Health, has used "housing and poverty data in our calculations to [map] areas of risk" for lead poisoning. [more inside]
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.