Tag Archives | Water
Could the rising sea levels be beneficial to us as drinking water? The National Geographic reports:
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With 1.8 billion people predicted to live in areas of extreme water scarcity by 2025, desalination — the removal of salt from water — is increasingly being proposed as a solution.
But before desalination can make a real difference solving in the looming water crisis, officials and experts need to commit to overcoming obstacles that make the process expensive and inefficient, a new paper argues.
Scientists predict that by 2016, the amount of fresh water produced by desalination plants will exceed 10 billion gallons (38 million cubic meters) a year, or double the rate in 2008.
Modern desalination plants use a technology called reverse osmosis, pressing salty water through ultrathin, semipermeable plastic membranes. Unable to pass through, large molecules or ions, such as salt, are filtered out, so fresh water flows out the other side.
There’s a metaphor in there somewhere. Discovery writes:
The drought in Texas has gotten so severe municipal water managers have turned to a once untenable idea: recycling sewage water.
“When you talk about toilet-to-(water) tank it makes a lot of people nervous and grossed out,” says Terri Telchik, who works in the city manager’s office in Big Spring, Texas.
Less than 0.1 inches of rain has fallen on West Texas for months. Normally, the region gets more than 7 inches of rain this time of year. This week’s Department of Agriculture Drought Monitor map shows 75 percent of Texas is in “exceptional” drought stages.
Water for the town’s 27,000 residents comes through the Colorado River Municipal Water District, which has broken ground on a plant to capture treated wastewater for recycling.
A giant quasar billions of light-years away is surrounded by water vapor that could fill Earth’s oceans over 140 trillion times. Via National Geographic:
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In a galaxy 12 billion light-years away resides the most distant and most massive cloud of water yet seen in the universe, astronomers say.
Weighing in at 40 billion times the mass of Earth, the giant cloud of mist swaddles a type of actively feeding supermassive black hole known as a quasar.
Among the brightest and most energetic objects in the universe, quasars are black holes at the centers of galaxies that are gravitationally consuming surrounding disks of material while burping back out powerful energy jets.
“As this disk of material is consumed by the central black hole, it releases energy in the form of x-ray and infrared radiation, which in turn can heat the surrounding material, resulting in the observed water vapor,” said study co-author Eric Murphy, an astronomer with the Carnegie Observatories in Pasadena, California.
The solution is cheap since the sources of graphite could include the waste produced by graphite mining companies that still contains a significant amount of graphite. And the researchers believe that it is possible to modify the graphite oxide to pick out particular pollutants and therefore tailor the super sand to specific areas that might be having trouble with certain water-borne diseases or pollutants.
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In case you haven’t noticed, the world is on the verge of a horrific global food crisis. At some point, this crisis will affect you and your family. It may not be today, and it may not be tomorrow, but it is going to happen.
Crazy weather and horrifying natural disasters have played havoc with agricultural production in many areas of the globe over the past couple of years. Meanwhile, the price of oil has begun to skyrocket. The entire global economy is predicated on the ability to use massive amounts of inexpensive oil to cheaply produce food and other goods and transport them over vast distances. Without cheap oil the whole game changes.
Topsoil is being depleted at a staggering rate and key aquifers all over the world are being drained at an alarming pace. Global food prices are already at an all-time high and they continue to move up aggressively.
About a year ago we met filmmaker Stephanie Soechtig, director of the documentary Tapped, which outlined the ills of bottled water so effectively that we quickly decided to forgo those five-gallon jugs of water in favor of tap water at the disinformation offices, and I did the same at home.
However, while New York City’s tap water isn’t bad compared to some municipalities, it still contains plenty of chemicals that I have no intention of knowingly ingesting (fluoride, chlorine, various VOCs, etc.), so we decided to install water filters.
At the office we installed a plumbed-in filtered water dispenser from local company Cure Water Systems, and it works well in an office environment, proudly sporting one of Stephanie’s “Get Off The Bottle” stickers.
At home I installed an under-sink filter from Aquasana on the advice of super-informed science writer Terri Mitchell, who contributed a great article to the disinformation anthology You Are Still Being Lied To. The water tastes good and it is one of the most effective filters available, but the filters allow less and less water flow over time until you change them, so it’s not perfect.… Read the rest
Jeff McMahon writes for Forbes:
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Radiation from Japan has been detected in drinking water in 13 more American cities, and cesium-137 has been found in American milk—in Montpelier, Vermont—for the first time since the Japan nuclear disaster began, according to data released by the Environmental Protection Agency late Friday.
Milk samples from Phoenix and Los Angeles contained iodine-131 at levels roughly equal to the maximum contaminant level permitted by EPA, the data shows. The Phoenix sample contained 3.2 picoCuries per liter of iodine-131. The Los Angeles sample contained 2.9. The EPA maximum contaminant level is 3.0, but this is a conservative standard designed to minimize exposure over a lifetime, so EPA does not consider these levels to pose a health threat.
The cesium-137 found in milk in Vermont is the first cesium detected in milk since the Fukushima-Daichi nuclear accident occurred last month. The sample contained 1.9 picoCuries per liter of cesium-137, which falls under the same 3.0 standard.
OK, so your first reaction is going to be NO WAYYYY! — but you may be wrong. If you live in Orange County, California, or Fairfax County, Virginia, your water may well be going from toilet to tap, albeit via some filtration technology along the way. Kathy Chu reports on the increasing use of waste water in drinking systems in thirsty places around the world, for USA Today:
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… “Water is going to be the oil of the 21st century,” predicts Bill Cooper, director of the Urban Water Research Center at the University of California-Irvine.
Clearly, something needs to be done. Roughly 884 million people — 1 of every 8 in the world — still lack access to safe drinking water, according to the World Health Organization and UNICEF. Meanwhile, water use has increased by more than twice the rate of the world’s population growth during the past century, United Nations data show.
When the mainstream media decries the practices of large energy companies, you know they must really be operating outside any possibility of acceptable behavior. Case in point: hydraulic fracturing for natural gas deposits. Ian Urbina reports for the New York Times:
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The American landscape is dotted with hundreds of thousands of new wells and drilling rigs, as the country scrambles to tap into this century’s gold rush — for natural gas.
The gas has always been there, of course, trapped deep underground in countless tiny bubbles, like frozen spills of seltzer water between thin layers of shale rock. But drilling companies have only in recent years developed techniques to unlock the enormous reserves, thought to be enough to supply the country with gas for heating buildings, generating electricity and powering vehicles for up to a hundred years.
So energy companies are clamoring to drill. And they are getting rare support from their usual sparring partners.