Sustainability

Finding leaks while they're easy to fix
July 18, 2017 08:24 AM - Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Access to clean, safe water is one of the world’s pressing needs, yet today’s water distribution systems lose an average of 20 percent of their supply because of leaks. These leaks not only make shortages worse but also can cause serious structural damage to buildings and roads by undermining foundations.

Unfortunately, leak detection systems are expensive and slow to operate — and they don’t work well in systems that use wood, clay, or plastic pipes, which account for the majority of systems in the developing world.

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New robotic lab tracking toxicity of Lake Erie algal bloom
July 22, 2017 12:41 PM - National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

A new research tool to safeguard drinking water is now keeping a watchful eye on Lake Erie. This week, a robotic lake-bottom laboratory began tracking the levels of dangerous toxins produced by cyanobacteria that bloom each summer in the lake's western basin.

The goal is to provide advance warning to municipal drinking water managers and thereby prevent a recurrence of the water crisis that left more than 400,000 Toledo-area residents without safe drinking water for about two days in early August 2014 due to high levels of microcystin toxins.

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SPOTLIGHT

Want To Slow Global Warming? Researchers Look To Family Planning

Tori Whitley, NPR

We've all heard of ways to reduce our carbon footprint: biking to work, eating less meat, recycling.

But there's another way to help the climate. A recent study from Lund University in Sweden shows that the biggest way to reduce climate change is to have fewer children.

"I knew this was a sensitive topic to bring up," says study co-author Kimberly Nicholas on NPR's Morning Edition. "Certainly it's not my place as a scientist to dictate choices for other people. But I do think it is my place to do the analysis and report it fairly."

The study concludes that four high-impact ways to reduce CO2 gas emissions include having fewer children, living without a car, avoiding airplane travel and eating a vegetarian diet.

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