Water Conservation Blog Archive

February 2, 2009

California's Water Bubble: When the Taps Run Dry

No Water, No Life - desert irrigation is unsustainableWhat will you do when you turn on your tap and find there is no water? Many in California may soon find out as a serious, grim drought is now in its third year [ark]. And it is unlikely to abate anytime soon, as all indications are this is a long-term climate change induced shift, perhaps related to climate change expanding the tropics [ark]. California's economy, like much of the world, has thrived on the back of a water bubble (as well as credit).

Arid regions are not able to support these population densities or profligate water use such as growing irrigated crops in deserts. Given current trends, one can predict that within decades much of Southwestern U.S. will need to be evacuated. And the nation will have to find other sources of produce immediately. Water shortages are how climate change [search] will first bite hardest.

October 2, 2008

Get with the FLOW: No Water, No Life

No Water, No LifeWake up to the World's greatest crisis! No, it is not financial; rather, the global water crisis [search] is both the most important political and environmental issue of the 21st Century. An important new documentary entitled "Flow - For the Love of Water" was released earlier in the year and sounds an urgent alarm, water resources are severely stressed globally and without massive societal and personal change, water necessary to sustain life will simply run out. You can live without a loan, but not water. The water crisis perfectly integrates and amplifies related climate change, terrestrial ecosystem loss, and over-population and consumption.

Ecological Internet has long predicted that global water shortages [search] may be the first wide-spread ecological calamity that occurs. Try living a few days without water and you will be swiftly brought back into touch with the fundamentally ecological nature of being. This provides the basis for our Water Conserve Portal and Water for All Always campaign. Solutions? Protect and restore old forests and their watersheds, dramatically reduce greenhouse gas emissions now, and strictly limits births and excessive conspicuous consumption. Anything less means a thirsty death for most if not all of humanity and our sister species as global ecosystems collapse [search].

September 17, 2008

Plastic Water Bottles and Your Heart and Earth

Plastic water bottles are toxicThe chemical in plastics used to line food and drink cans has been found to cause a three times higher rate of heart disease [ark | more\ark]. The toxic chemical bisphenol A (BPA) is an endocrine disruptor [search] that mimics the hormone estrogen. Scientists found that people with cardiovascular disease and diabetes had higher concentrations of BPA in their urine -- and that 90% of people have some BPA in their bodies.

After several decades of better living through chemical development and release, the Earth has become a toxic soup of unknown poisonous agents. Many like bisphenol A are widely used, and even show up in human tissues, before being fully known and properly tested. More terrifyingly, no one knows the cumulative effect of thousands of manufactured toxins being mixed together in the natural world. Together with climate change, water scarcity, dead oceans and cleared forests -- this toxicity threatens our very being. This should give you one more reason to not drink bottled water [search], if the industry's huge petroleum and water resource use is not enough.

July 20, 2008

Wetlands a Potential Carbon Bomb

Wetland carbon bombThe extent to which wetlands are responsible for climate change [ark | more\ark] is becoming dreadfully clear. A recent international conference reveals wetlands [search] contain 771 billion tons of greenhouse gases, one-fifth of all the carbon on Earth, equal to the amount of carbon now in the atmosphere. And now we learn that should wetlands continue to be casually destroyed, it may well release a "carbon bomb" that dramatically amplifies climate change and general ecological collapse.

Wetlands are required for a livable Earth. They account for 6 percent of Earth's land surface, yet produce 25 percent of the world's food, purify water, recharge aquifers and act as buffers against violent coastal storms. About 60 percent of the Earth's wetlands have been destroyed in the past century, mostly through drainage for agriculture. This self-destructive behavior, destroying what seems to be "wastelands", is bereft of ecological understanding, and is one of the most dangerous of many activities dismantling the physical ecological systems upon which life depends.

Continue reading "Wetlands a Potential Carbon Bomb" »

October 26, 2007

America's Looming Water Shortage

Across America freshwater supplies are becoming scarce [ark], and water efficiency [search] is needed as never before. Examples are all around us: "An epic drought in Georgia [search] threatens the water supply for millions. Florida doesn't have nearly enough water for its expected population boom. The Great Lakes are shrinking [search]. Upstate New York's reservoirs have dropped to record lows. And in the West, the Sierra Nevada snowpack is melting [search] faster each year." Clearly much of the problem can be attributed to over-population and global heating which are starting to have a more noticeable impact. The price of global climate change policy and rezoning development away from water resources will be immense. And the price of upgrading America's water pipes alone is given as $300 billion over 30 years. Around the world some 2 billion people are expected to face water shortages worldwide [search] by the year 2050.

October 19, 2007

Bottled Water Backlash

Bottled water damages environmentBottled water is deeply environmentally damaging [search] and purchasing bottled water faces a backlash [ark] from an increasingly ecologically literate public. Water bottles number in the billions -- using petroleum in their construction, and taking up landfill space. Water needs to come from somewhere, and too often tap water is merely bottled and then driven long distances. We need to be concerned with maintaining our regional watersheds -- making sure our own tap water is safe and clean [search] -- rather than thinking we can continue to exploit mythologically pure bottled water from exotic locales. After drinking bottled water for years, an acquired taste we thought healthful, my family and I have happily converted back to using tap water. We tested the water prior to doing so and it was fine in all regards. It is heartening to see people doing the right thing, as rejecting bottled water becomes an ecologically beneficial and cool idea.

Some interesting facts from AlterNet article [ark]: "Americans drank some 37 billion bottles of water in 2005, despite the inconvenient truth that in most parts of the country, tap water is not only perfectly safe, but also more tightly regulated that its bottled counterpart... manufacturing plastic bottles for bottled water creates an astounding amount of pollution -- an annual equivalent of 1.5 billion barrels of oil... Bottled water 'very clearly reflects the wasteful and reckless consumerism in this country...' "
October 10, 2007

Mining Water to Produce Ethanol Biofuel

A whole range of environmental and social woes have emerged from an ill-informed, incautious rush into biofuels. Humanity's knee jerk reaction has been to seek to replace our dependency upon fossil fuels with a dependency upon living biomass; rather than embracing conservation, efficiency and true renewables. Emerging concerns with biofuels have included well-documented destruction of rainforests [search], human rights abuses [search], and an increase in food prices [search] as we choose to feed our cars before the poor and hungry.

Yet perhaps no element of biofuel policy is more alarming and unacknowledged than the degree to which biofuel production requires unsustainable use of scarce water resources [ark | search]. The National Research Council reports that the US ethanol rush will result in a drain on drinking water as corn production requires vast quantities of water for irrigation (planned cellulosic ethanol from biomass almost certainly will as well). Large scale, commercial production of biofuels mines water and soil resources, diminishing them -- making biofuels a non-renewable energy source. Biofuels are a deadly distraction from powering down the industrial Earth destroying growth machine.

October 9, 2007

Egypt Pursues Unsustainable Desert Irrigation

Desert irrigation is unsustainableEven as climate change and poor land use cause deserts to expand around the world [search], Egypt is poised to use limited water supplies to irrigate their deserts [search]. The Egyptian government is moving forward with a US$70 billion plan to reclaim 3.4 million acres of desert [ark] over the next 10 years, using Nile river waters that are already near exhaustion and highly contested.

Such efforts may work for awhile, but particularly in arid nations like Egypt, water supplies are inevitably overutilized, population advances negate increased food production, and a whole slew of ecological problems are created. These include salination of soils, changing of local microclimates and exhaustion of regional water supplies. It is unwise to use precious water resources to grow food in deserts unsuited to cultivation and where water evaporates quickly. The plan is clearly "neither practical nor sustainable and might ultimately backfire", and demonstrates the desparate situation that over-populated, resource exhausted nations such as Egypt face.

September 30, 2007

China's Water Bubble

The Chinese economic miracle has been based upon misuse of water. and other natural resources. The Chinese water bubble economy is profoundly serious crisis [search] threatening Chinese and global ecology and stability. Stores of freshwater are essentially being mined, and natural waterways treated as waste dumps. This has been the norm of industrialized society pioneered in Europe, perfected in the United States, and now practiced on an unprecedented magnitude in China. Water use has increased five-fold since 1949. Much of this water went towards ensuring self-sufficiency in grain production for grotesquely unsustainable human populations. To survive, Chine simply must conserve and protect clean water. And it is in the world's interest to help, as an ecologically imploding China is bound to lash out against its neighbors.

June 6, 2007

Water the Next Carbon

I heard on the radio yesterday that water is the next carbon. The expansion of Coca-Cola's water conservation efforts would allegedly be an example. I guess this means its use and misuse effects human societies ability to exist, but anyone could have told you that the water crisis is at least as far advanced as climate change.

January 22, 2007

World Running Out of Water

The world is running out of potable water and a major policy initiative to guarantee freshwater as a human right is required. In a most interesting article from the Guardian, Jeffery Sachs of the UN's Millennium Project notes the world simply has "no more rivers to take water from". And the near total lack of basic water policy for the future is noted, such as how are aquifers to be recharged and how to sustain ground water use? For some time I have thought that a major water shortage crisis [search] that ravishes millions may, even more so than climate change (though it may be the cause), galvanize the world to realize the extent to which the global biosphere teeters upon the edge of ruin. Then we may see the surge of personal lifestyle changes and policy prescriptions from governments and businesses adequate to achieve global ecological sustainability. The article notes that not only are China's and India's water supplies threatened but their food production as well. These "economic miracles" have largely been built upon the back of unsustainable water and other resource use - a deck of cards waiting to fall. In closing Sachs is quoted as making a point I have harked on for years, that "for the first time humans were shaping the environment rather than nature". Where does your water come from? What happens if it runs dry? What will you do, where will you go?

December 21, 2006

Death for China's 20 Million Year Old River Goddess

river_dolphin.jpgIt is likely the first big aquatic mammal has become extinct due to human activity. "For 20 million years, the white-fin dolphin, or baiji, swam China's longest river, the Yangtze. But a few years of breakneck development, overfishing and a massive increase in shipping have reduced sightings of this shy, graceful creature to zero." After 38 days of failure, Chinese scientists intend to continue their search for the rare Yangtze river dolphin [search]. The extinction of this nearly blind freshwater cetacean should indicate that humans must work harder to achieve greater species conservation. For far too long humanity has treated natural freshwater sources and other critical global ecosystems as waste dumps. If we do not stop, all life is at risk, and what is likely to remain are dandelions, rats and cockroaches, if that. As we enter deeply within the Earth's sixth great extinction event [search], destruction of ecosystems and human over-population and consumption make human extinction all the more likely.

November 27, 2006

China's Water Shortage Extremely Severe

The whole Chinese economic miracle is an illusory, short-lived experiment in over-population, over-resource use and disregard for ecological systems and their limits in general. Nowhere is this more evident than the the extreme water shortage wracking the country. "Two-thirds of Chinese cities face water shortages... More than 400 cities had water shortages, with 100 of them 'in serious trouble, lacking enough water to support industry or daily life." A country that dumps "45 billion tonnes of untreated waste water pumped directly into lakes and rivers" can not expect to engineer their way out of a looming water crisis [search]. China's hyper-economic growth cannot be maintained. Their leadership has traded the Earth's long-term prospects for an orgy of production of consumer crap, most of which is not needed. No one can realistically deny China the right to develop. But failure to get a grasp on environmental issues ensures the Chinese nation will implode - taking much of the region if not the world with it. The rich must live simply - rejecting the throw away consumer society - so that developing countries can simply live. It's called sustainable equity.

November 12, 2006

World's Water Woes Dangerous and Deadly

After years of being treated as disposal dumps and water for crops, The Earth's natural freshwater hydrological systems are failing. Australia's Murray River system [search] has run virtually dry after years of water mismanagement compounded by climate change. As water discharges into surrounding wetlands [more] are discontinued in order to continue profiligate irrigation in deserts, the river's riparian zone is effectively dying making river recovery unlikely even if some rains should return. And as highlighted before, in a world of plenty with trillions to spend on military weaponry, some 5,000 children a day are dying from water carried preventable diseases. "Nearly two million children a year die for want of clean water and proper sanitation while the world's poor often pay more for their water than people in Britain or the US." Where is the outrage at this entirely preventable tragedy? NOTE: Following site redesign we have not had time to be water blogging, but expect to now. Thank you for your patience.

September 17, 2006

Investors Bet on Rising Costs for Scarce Water

Multi-national corporations already own the seeds from which comes our food, and the energy we need to power our lifes. It makes sense that they would make a play to control water, access to which is becoming dangerously scarce for many. Access to clean water and air is a basic human right. "According to United Nations estimates, one third of the world's population lives in areas with water shortages and 1.1 billion people lack access to safe drinking water." The privitization of water will lead to huge disparities in access and consumption of this precious and absolutely necessary commodity. Once the mega-corps own our water we will all be their serfs. Water conservation depends upon ending inefficient uses, restoring hydrological systems, and guaranteeing access - and a whole bunch of other challenging policies truly adequate to achieve ecological sustainability such as reducing human population.

September 9, 2006

Great Lakes Water Diversion

A new book entitled "The Great Lakes Water Wars" warns of coming conflict over Great Lakes water resources in an increasingly parched world.

"His premise is that an era of warring over the Great Lakes [search] is under way -- and will intensify as the global water shortage worsens. The lakes' future and the region's way of life hang in the balance as leaders grapple with the challenge of preserving what amounts to nearly one-fifth of the world's fresh surface water. The book comes nine months after representatives of the eight Great Lakes states signed a compact to ban most diversions of water outside the drainage basin, require each state to regulate water use and establish a regional standard for large-scale water withdrawals."
August 16, 2006

Water Crisis

The Earth is being buffetted by a variety of environmental catastrophes. As humanity slumbers largely thinking things are fine it is difficult to identify which major eco-crisis will be the first to cause widespread death and destruction, probably the only way average Joe's are going to stop and think about where their water, air and food come from. I would say there is a 50/50 chance that the water crisis will be the first to truly bite (the other of course being climate change). Water is the lubricant of life and we continue to over use it and crap into it wherever found. The media is reporting on a new WWF report on the water crisis.

Continue reading "Water Crisis" »

July 28, 2006

Widespread Water Pollutant Found to Be Highly Toxic

The scientific evidence continues to grow that trichloroethylene (TCE), the most widespread industrial contaminant found in drinking water, can cause cancer in people. TCE is a solvent used in adhesives, paint and spot removers. The military uses it widely to clean airplanes and missiles, and has resisted for years greater restrictions upon its use. A new National Academy of Sciences report found the chemical is a possible cause of kidney cancer, reproductive and developmental damage, impaired neurological function and autoimmune disease. The fact that the chemical has been used so widely, and it has been so difficult to react to emerging scientific information regarding its toxicity, shows the extent to which toxic chemicals are routinely introduced without regard to human health. There are hundreds of toxics in our water (search) and environment which we do not fully understand their human and ecological impacts, much less their combined interactions. Humanity must move beyond introducing "wonder" chemicals into their habitat that they do not understand or need.

June 21, 2006

ALERT: Water More Precious than Gold, Stop Chile's Pascua Lama Gold Mine

glacial waterTake Action: Glacier gold mine will taint pristine valley with cyanide

Canadian-based Barrick Gold plans to soon launch a gold mine in a remote Chilean valley that will destroy regional water supplies and devastate local sustainable agricultural practices. The Pascua Lama mining project is 80 miles south-west of the Chilean city of Vallena, and involves mining a very rich field of gold and silver in the high mountains between Chile and Argentina at an altitude of over 4,500 metres. The proposed "Pascua Lama" mine will devastate community water rights and indigenous farmers - leading to the destruction of glaciers and contamination of the purest of water sources necessary for Chile's well-being.

As is typical for gold mining, the project will use cyanide and other toxic materials to extract small amounts of gold from huge volumes of mined ore. Toxic chemical waste including cyanide will be removed via drainage into nearby rivers, seriously polluting marvelously pure glacial fed rivers, and causing long-term environmental impacts for local peoples. In a first, glaciers abutting and partially covering the proposed mine will be destroyed, posing a threat to the ecosystem and further contaminating the source of local water supplies, seriously harming agriculture and quality of life in the region.

Continue reading "ALERT: Water More Precious than Gold, Stop Chile's Pascua Lama Gold Mine" »

May 31, 2006

China Deserts Expand into Arable Land

droughtChina's falling water tables and overgrazing in the country whose landmass is already one-third desert are resulting in a giant dust bowl across northern China, converting large swathes of arable land to desert and triggering sandstorms whose impact carries across the Pacific. "There are huge areas there that were once productive grassland that are now desert," says Lester Brown of the Earth Policy Institute. Sandstorms were this year exacerbated by droughts across northern and western China, that were also contributing to forest fires raging in Inner Mongolia and Heilongjiang. Water tables were diminishing in north China, causing rivers and land to dry out and affecting grain harvests, especially of wheat, which is grown predominantly in the drought-stricken northern provinces.

May 19, 2006

Drought Prevention, Earth Restoration

The United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) is engaged in an interesting project in the Caribbean and South America to combat drought, soil degradation and desertification. The program is the first sub-regional program of its kind, depending upon young people trained in reforestation and sustainable development techniques carrying out a program of environmental rehabilitation. The project is the beginning of the sort of large-scale ecological restoration efforts that Ecological Internet has long advocated. Humanity has surpassed the Earth's carrying-capacity, having destroyed more ecosystems than can be lost and the Earth's life-support systems still function in the long-term. We must not only protect all remaining large natural habitats, but also commence an age of ecological restoration based upon protecting water and other landscape ecological patterns and processes.

May 9, 2006

Reckless Development Fouls China's Waters

Economic growth based upon the liquidation of natural capital is relatively easy to achieve and is particularly undermining of ecosystems and future development potential. China has regularly achieved growth rates near 10% by mining their water. The Boston Globe reports that environmentally reckless development of China's provincial cities is devastating the country's lakes and rivers. Consider that three of China's seven major river basins are polluted, 90 percent of the rivers running through cities suffer from severe pollution, and more than 300 million rural residents do not have access to clean water. China's artificially high growth rates are a mirage based upon unsustainable water and other resource use - including the region's ancient forests. The Chinese economic miracle in its aping of the destructive Western way of living is destroying the planet.

April 28, 2006

Global Water Crisis

A new book entitled "When the Rivers Run Dry" argues that the global water shortage is the "defining crisis" of our time. In a revealing Salon book review and interview with the author, Fred Pearce, reveals that while we may save over four gallons of water by turning off the tap when brushing our teeth, it takes 265 gallons to produce a glass of milk and 800 gallons for a hamburger. Most of the water that each one of us uses comes from the water used to irrigate the crops that we consume. Water has thus become a global commodity as water is imported in foodstuffs. Despite these and a long list of other concerns the author is optimistic that given huge inefficiencies in how water is used, that significant progress in water conservation can be made.

April 26, 2006

VICTORY: Russia Announces Lake Baikal to Be Spared Oil Pipeline Threat

lake_baikal.jpgIn yet another startling victory for Ecological Internet's network and partners, Russian President Putin has announced the new Siberian/Pacific coast oil pipeline will be routed at least 40 km from Lake Baikal [more], and outside of the "Jewel of Siberia's" watershed. Lake Baikal is home to 20 percent of the world's fresh water, and is the world's deepest and oldest lake renowned for its water purity and home to tremendous amounts of endemic species including a rare fresh water seal.

Continue reading "VICTORY: Russia Announces Lake Baikal to Be Spared Oil Pipeline Threat" »

April 18, 2006

ALERT: Save Russia's Lake Baikal: World's Largest Body of Freshwater Threatened

UPDATE: This alert was successful! Russia has announced Lake Baikal will be spared oil pipeline threat.

TAKE ACTION: Let Russian government know oil and water do not mix

A controversial Russian crude oil pipeline from eastern Siberia to the Pacific coast threatens the world's largest freshwater lake. The pipeline may pass within less than one kilometer of Lake Baikal -- a UNESCO protected World Heritage site and home to 20 percent of the world's fresh water. Lake Baikal, called the "Jewel of Siberia", is the world's deepest and oldest lake renowned for its water purity and home to tremendous amounts of endemic species including a rare fresh water seal. It is feared that an earthquake, forest fire or flood around Lake Baikal could rupture the pipeline, sending 4,000 tons of crude oil into the world's largest freshwater body in just 20 minutes.

Continue reading "ALERT: Save Russia's Lake Baikal: World's Largest Body of Freshwater Threatened" »

April 8, 2006

Dramatic Cutback Needed in Salmon Catch

A federal advisory panel has recommended a dramatic cutback in the West Coast's commercial salmon season, stopping just short of an unprecedented ban that threatened to put the beleaguered fishing industry out of business. Globally nearly every major fishery is already over-depleted or in the process of collapsing. Even as humanity's dependency upon protein from the ocean peaks, there is virtually no hope that fish populations will be maintained in the long-term unless fishing ends immediately and large marine protected areas are established in order to allow fisheries to restore themselves.

March 30, 2006

Climate Induced Drought Emergencies

From England to Southeastern U.S., changing climate is leading to devastating and deadly droughts that threaten to wreak social and ecological mayhem. In Britain's south the worst drought in 100 years has caused streams to vanish, once lush vegetation to die and reservoir levels to plunge. In Arizona the longstanding drought has been raised to a "red alert". These human caused droughts are just the tip of the iceberg (wait, those are being lost too). Humanity's climate changed future looks precarious indeed, with water shortages and excess being the first deadly incarnation of global ecological collapse.

March 29, 2006

Judge Rules for Fish in Klamath River Dispute

A federal judge delivered a stinging defeat Monday to the Bush administration over its decision to reduce flows on the Klamath River, which has been blamed for devastating fish kills and putting the commercial salmon season in jeopardy. Aquatic habitats have been the most devasted by human activities of any ecosystem. Rectifying the imbalance will require supporting fish/natural water systems over agriculture in areas where it is not practible. It is time to start looking after water ecosystems as if our life depends upon it. It does.

March 28, 2006

U.S. Industry Routinely Flouting Water Laws

More than 62 percent of industrial and municipal facilities across the United States discharged more pollution into U.S. waterways than their Clean Water Act permits allowed. Perhaps this should come as no surprise given the Bush Administration's trouncing of environmental law. But it is still shocking given our complete dependence upon these waters for life.

March 23, 2006

Farming's Highly Wasteful Water Use

A global assessment has determined that farming poses the greatest threat to fresh water resources. Water use in agriculture is commonly underpriced and undervalued. Agriculture is responsible for 70 percent of freshwater used globally, and only 30 percent of this is returned to the environment. Agriculture's massive use and waste of water can be dramatically improved with simple technologies like drip irrigation.

March 21, 2006

Water Crisis Causing Mass Suffering

The global crisis in drinking water availability is now one of the main causes of extreme suffering around the world. Some 1.1billion people have no access to safe water, 2.6 billion do not have basic sanitation and water borne disease fills half the world's hospital beds. In the hyper-abundant rich world one can only imagine the horror that is life without water. The situation is indicative of collapsing ecosystems and human civilization.

March 20, 2006

Severe Drought in England

The United Kingdom is getting a taste of climate change impacts as a major severe drought racks Southern Britain. The Environment Agency and water firms are asking for the public's help to beat the region's drought crisis. Three firms have asked the government for powers to ban non-essential water use such as watering parks. The last time such orders were in place in Britain was in 1991.

Save Water, Start on Farms

Eliminating water waste and mismanagement on farms -- rather than building dams or diverting rivers -- would go far toward alleviating the world's water crisis. Farming accounts for 70 percent of the water consumed and a majority of its waste. Mismanagement of resources leads to a lack of safe drinking water for one-fifth of the world's population.