The Looming Threat of Water Scarcity
March 19, 2013 11:47 AM - Maddy Traynor, Worldwatch Institute
Some 1.2 billion people—almost a fifth of the world—live in areas of physical water scarcity, while another 1.6 billion face what can be called economic water shortage. The situation is only expected to worsen as population growth, climate change, investment and management shortfalls, and inefficient use of existing resources restrict the amount of water available to people, according to Worldwatch Institute’s Vital Signs Online service (www.worldwatch.org). It is estimated that by 2025, 1.8 billion people will live in countries or regions with absolute water scarcity, with almost half of the world living in conditions of water stress. Water scarcity has several definitions. Physical scarcity occurs when there is not enough water to meet demand; its symptoms include severe environmental degradation, declining groundwater, and unequal water distribution. Economic water scarcity occurs when there is a lack of investment and proper management to meet the demand of people who do not have the financial means to use existing water sources; the symptoms in this case normally include poor infrastructure.Large parts of Africa suffer from economic water scarcity.
The Red-Dead water conveyer can avoid a dead end
March 19, 2013 08:51 AM - Batir Wardam, SciDevNet
The Red-Dead canal could take a small step forward in light of projected environmental impacts and other constraints, says Batir Wardam. After a delay of more than six months, the World Bank has finally released the final drafts of the feasibility and environmental assessment studies for the controversial Red Sea-Dead Sea Water Conveyance project, designed to channel some 1.2 billion cubic metres of water 180 kilometres from the Red Sea to the Dead Sea.
The Smart Grid and Electric Car Charging
March 7, 2013 06:20 AM - Roger Greenway, ENN
Widespread adoption of electric vehicles will reduce greenhouse gas emissions significantly. Some are worried that the electric grid will be stressed leading to a decrease in its reliability. In related news today, Battelle and AeroVironment have a technology that will address this concern, and help EV's charge when the grid is most able to support charging. This technology is the subject of a commercial license agreement between Battelle and AeroVironment, Inc., of Monrovia, Calif. The technology may also ultimately result in lower costs for plug-in electric vehicle owners. Battelle operates the Department of Energy's Pacific Northwest National Laboratory in Richland, Wash. AeroVironment will use a portion of the licensed technology in a new prototype version of its Level II charging systems.
Housing improvements linked to good health
March 6, 2013 02:12 PM - Rachel Mundy, SciDevNet
Having enough suitable living space is a key determinant of health outcomes around the world, a review of studies on housing improvements for health has found. Initiatives targeting housing improvements at the most impoverished people and those in the poorest health were more effective than generic schemes targeting entire areas, the review found.
Warnings of global ecological tipping points may be overstated
March 6, 2013 08:50 AM - Jeremy Hance, MONGABAY.COM
There's little evidence that the Earth is nearing a global ecological tipping point, according to a new Trends in Ecology and Evolution paper that is bound to be controversial. The authors argue that despite numerous warnings that the Earth is headed toward an ecological tipping point due to environmental stressors, such as habitat loss or climate change, it's unlikely this will occur anytime soon—at least not on land. The paper comes with a number of caveats, including that a global tipping point could occur in marine ecosystems due to ocean acidification from burning fossil fuels. In addition, regional tipping points, such as the Arctic ice melt or the Amazon rainforest drying out, are still of great concern.
The Bangladesh Arsenic Problem
March 5, 2013 01:08 PM - Andy Soos, ENN
Arsenic contamination of the groundwater in Bangladesh is a serious problem. In the Ganges Delta, the affected wells are typically more than 20 meters and less than 100 meters deep. Groundwater closer to the surface typically has spent a shorter time in the ground, therefore likely absorbing a lower concentration of arsenic; water deeper than 100 meters is exposed to much older sediments which have already been depleted of arsenic. Human activities are not the primary cause of arsenic found in groundwater in Bangladesh. A team of researchers from Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, Barnard College, Columbia University, University of Dhaka, Desert Research Institute and University of Tennessee found that the arsenic in groundwater in the region is part of a natural process that predates any recent human activity, such as intensive pumping.
Global Warming Will Open Arctic Shipping Routes
March 5, 2013 09:11 AM - Allison Winter, ENN
Who said the effects of global warming are all negative? According to new research conducted by UCLA, melting sea ice during the late summer will make Arctic shipping channels much more accessible. The economy of the world depends on shipping as nearly all of a country’s imports and exports are transported across the global by these large ships. Canals like the Suez and Panama have helped reduce the length of certain shipping routes, but nothing has been done in the Arctic region because of the unreliable weather and treacherous ice.
Global Warming Being Slowed by Volcanic Eruptions
March 2, 2013 07:39 AM - Roger Greenway, ENN
Planet Earth did not warm as much in response to increases in green house gas emissions as expected. There appear to be other factors that influence global temperatures than green house gasses. A team led by the University of Colorado Boulder looking for clues about why Earth did not warm as much as scientists expected between 2000 and 2010 now thinks the culprits are hiding in plain sight -- dozens of volcanoes spewing sulfur dioxide. The study results essentially exonerate Asia, including India and China, two countries that are estimated to have increased their industrial sulfur dioxide emissions by about 60 percent from 2000 to 2010 through coal burning, said lead study author Ryan Neely, who led the research as part of his CU-Boulder doctoral thesis. Small amounts of sulfur dioxide emissions from Earth’s surface eventually rise 12 to 20 miles into the stratospheric aerosol layer of the atmosphere, where chemical reactions create sulfuric acid and water particles that reflect sunlight back to space, cooling the planet.
Crab's Metabolism May be Affected by Noise Pollution
February 28, 2013 09:56 AM - Allison Winter, ENN
Sitting at the dock of the bay you might hear the crash of breaking waves and squawking seagulls flying overhead. As you take in all the sites and sounds, you next hear a speeding boat racing by and an oil tanker a mile away. Grinding engine noises and long, low, horn sounds can be deafening in any harbor. And while you can handle it for the hour or two you spend there, the continuous sounds of these noisy vessels are being found to have repercussions on marine life.
Shell suspends Arctic oil drilling for the year
February 28, 2013 08:55 AM - Jeremy Hance, MONGABAY.COM
Royal Dutch Shell announced yesterday that it was setting "pause" on its exploratory drilling activities in the Arctic for 2013. Shell's operations are currently under review by the federal government after the oil company suffered numerous setbacks during last year's opening attempt to drill exploratory wells in the Beaufort and Chukchi Seas, including running its drilling rig aground on Sitkalidak Island in southern Alaska in late December.