Archive for May 2011
“Scientists have been using small variations in the Earth’s gravity to identify trouble spots around the globe where people are making unsustainable demands on groundwater, one of the planet’s main sources of fresh water.
They found problems in places as disparate as North Africa, northern India, northeastern China and the Sacramento-San Joaquin Valley in California, heartland of that state’s $30 billion agricultural industry.
Jay S. Famiglietti, director of the University of California’s Center for Hydrologic Modeling here, said the center’s Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment, known as Grace, relies on the interplay of two nine-year-old twin satellites that monitor each other while orbiting the Earth, thereby producing some of the most precise data ever on the planet’s gravitational variations. The results are redefining the field of hydrology, which itself has grown more critical as climate change and population growth draw down the world’s fresh water supplies.
Grace sees “all of the change in ice, all of the change in snow and water storage, all of the surface water, all of the soil moisture, all of the groundwater,” Dr. Famiglietti explained. ”
via Groundwater Depletion Is Detected by Grace Satellites – NYTimes.com.
“While Dr. Famiglietti says he wants no part of water politics, he acknowledged that this might be hard to avoid, given that his role is to make sure the best data about groundwater is available, harvesting and disseminating all of the information he can about the Earth’s water supply as aquifers dry up and shortages loom.
“Look, water has been a resource that has been plentiful,” he said. “But now we’ve got climate change, we’ve got population growth, we’ve got widespread groundwater contamination, we’ve got satellites showing us we are depleting some of this stuff.
“I think we’ve taken it for granted, and we are probably not able to do that any more.” “
“The revelation of the central role of UK companies in biofuels coincides with a report from Oxfam forecasting that the price of staple foods will more than double in the next 20 years. The report identifies biofuels as a factor and demands that western governments end biofuel policies that divert food to fuel for cars. “We are sleepwalking towards an age of avoidable crisis,” said Oxfams chief executive, Barbara Stocking. “One in seven people on the planet go hungry every day despite the fact that the world is capable of feeding everyone. The food system must be overhauled.” ”
via Biofuels boom in Africa as British firms lead rush on land for plantations | Environment | The Guardian.
“Liquid fuels made from plants – such as bioethanol – are hailed by some as environmentally-friendly replacements for fossil fuels. Because they compete for land with crop plants, biofuels have also been linked torecord food prices and rising hunger. There are also fears they can increase greenhouse gas emissions.
A market has been created by British and EU laws requiring the blending of rising amounts of biofuels into petrol and diesel, but the rules werecondemned as unethical and “backfiring badly” in April by a Nuffield Council on Bioethics commission. In the UK, only 31% of biofuels used meet voluntary environmental standards intended to protect water supplies, soil quality and carbon stocks in the source country. “
“For more than a decade people have prophesied the end of cash and credit cards. And for the past two years the drumbeat around mobile payments has grown steadily louder with the adoption of smartphones. Now numerous companies are jockeying to participate in what expected to be a huge market that will eventually generate billions in fees and revenue.
In the same way that Apple redefined and accelerated the development of the smartphone market with the iPhone in 2007, Google Wallet marks the beginning of the mobile payments era. Google is certainly not the first company operating in the sector, and it might not turn out to be the leader. But with last week’s announcement, Google has helped to bring new coherence and focus to the otherwise Darwinian and chaotic landscape of mobile payments.”
via With Google Wallet Mobile Payments Era Is Finally Here.
“A total of 6 billion cubic meters of tap water are lost through leaking pipes every year in China, a country that faces chronic water shortages.
That’s enough water to turn Beijing into a four-meter-deep swimming pool, or meet a year’s demand for water in the provinces of Zhejiang, Fujian, Jiangxi and Hainan, the Guangzhou-based Southern Weekly reported Friday.
China’s water problem is getting worse. This year, several provinces and municipalities along the Yangtze River which were previously rich in water resources, including Hunan, Hubei and Jiangxi, were hit by weeks of severe drought, leaving millions facing a shortage of drinking water and 166,000 hectares of farmland with no harvest. Drought also brought the threat of plague and higher grain prices.
The shortage makes the water leakage more unbearable. Leaking pipes resulted in a loss of 6 billion cubic meters of water in 2009, and so far no one seems to be taking responsibility for it, according to the China Urban Construction Statistical Yearbook 2009.
Water pipe leakage is a problem that every country faces, but in China, the rate remains high and seems to be getting worse, the Southern Weekly reported. ”
via Vast amounts of resources are being lost to leaky pipes – GlobalTimes.
Waste not- want not.
There are ‘smart solutions ‘ to this.
Knowing that you have a leaky pipe is the first line of offense. Smart meters can make early detection of probems with pipes underground .The quicker you discover the problem the quicker you should be able to address the problem
High density urban populations where the key water delivery occurs are under fiscal pressure to replace and proactively build solid infrastructure.
“Investment requires stable policy
Around the world, renewable energy contributes on average 13 percent to power generation; Africa lags behind with less than 11 percent of its energy coming from renewable sources.
And Sven Teske, one of the lead authors of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s “Special Report on Renewable Energy Sources”, cautions that “renewables” in Africa mostly refers to unsustainable biomass – firewood and charcoal, produced and consumed using inefficient and rudimentary techniques.
The gap could grow still wider. “While in Europe over 60 percent of new generation is from renewable sources, and only eight percent by coal, Africa has hardly any investment in renewables,” he says.
South Africa, the continent’s largest polluter, is putting billions into building the massive Medupi and Kusile coal-fired power plants in the rural Mpumalanga province.
“We hope this report helps build a long-term political framework for investment in renewables – mostly wind and solar power – and in achieving energy efficiency,” says Teske.”
via SOUTH AFRICA: Sound Policy Key to Renewable Energy – IPS ipsnews.net.
“The League of Green Embassies was created by the United States Department of State. It was established as an initiative to promote international cooperation for clean technologies and energy efficiency. There are three major objectives of the League of Green Embassies are, “To advance the Presidential mandate to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in USG buildings; to demonstrate the capabilities of U.S. products and technologies to the world market; and to increase the exports of U.S. products and services in line with the national Export Initiative.” When the league was established in 2007, it was run by former U.S Ambassador to Sweden, Michael M. Wood. In 2010, the U.S. Embassy in Helskini’s ambassador, Bruce J. Orek, took over the league.”
via Top Ten Highlights of the League of Green Embassies | CleanTechies Blog – CleanTechies.com.
Although this is USA centric , all nations can take note and focus on the methods and merits of greeen building… nad principles of sustainability.