Global Archives - Page 2 of 7 - State of the Planet

Sewage treatment isn’t rocket science – except when it is

It’s a case of finding a use for what was thought of as waste. Sewage treatment processes produce methane and nitrous oxide, both greenhouse gasses, while leaving undesirably high levels of nitrogen in the discharged water. On their own, all three of these things are harmful to the environment. Stanford University reports that a team has found a way to take those unwanted waste gasses and use them to 1) reduce the amount of nitrogen in the water, 2) produce an alternative energy source and 3) dispose of the nitrous oxide cleanly – by using it as rocket fuel, in fact.

by |July 27, 2010

Cousteau explores the Gulf oil spill

Well-known oceanographer and documentary filmmaker Jean-Michel Cousteau and his organization, Ocean Futures Society, made 2 trips to the Gulf to study the impact that the oil spill is having on marine and terrestrial life. Cousteau is known for being an ocean explorer and documentarian, and for being the son of Jacques Cousteau. In 2 interviews… read more

by |July 15, 2010

No More Pavement! The Problem of Impervious Surfaces

Recent research, according to the New York Times, indicates that urban areas are about to get hotter — much hotter. Not exactly what blistering New Yorkers want to hear after one of the more brutal, record-breaking heat waves in memory. Of course climatologists (and most of the rest of us) have known for a long… read more

by |July 13, 2010

Beat the Heat, but with Bottled Water?

As temperatures in the Northeast finally begin to ease, we can assess the first heat wave of summer 2010. Here in New York, there was remarkably little drama. Through Herculean efforts, ConEd was able to avoid any serious blackouts or brownouts, and thankfully, there were no health emergencies. Neither were there any major heat-induced public safety disasters.

One thing there was plenty of though, was bottled water.

by |July 8, 2010

Applied Climate Research: A Conversation with Stefan Sobolowski (Part 2)

In part 1 of this interview, I talked with Columbia Water Center hydroclimatologist Stefan Sobolowski about the effects of continental snowcover on climate, and the implications of his research on climate change. In part 2, we talk about the problem of uncertainty in climate prediction models, extreme weather events, the regional variation of climate change effects and improved precipitation forecasting for India and the world.

by |June 28, 2010

Peak Ecological Water

‘Peak ecological water’ is the point at which so much water is being diverted from the environment for human use, that the ecosystem can no longer function normally. It can even get to the point that an ecosystem is irreversibly damaged, and there are estimates that humans already divert almost 50% of all accessible freshwater globally. According to their article, “Since 1900, half of the world’s wetlands have disappeared. The number of freshwater species has decreased by 50% since 1970, faster than the decline of species on land or in the sea. River deltas are increasingly deprived of flows due to upstream diversions, or receive water heavily contaminated with human and industrial wastes.”

by |June 24, 2010

The Implications of Snowcover on Climate: A Conversation with Stefan Sobolowski (Part 1)

Stefan Sobolowski says he has always had a passion for water, weather and climate—a passion he attributes to lifetime of skiing, hiking, snowboarding, and playing in oceans. Here, Stefan discusses his research on the effects of continental snowcover on climate and why one cold winter in the United States doesn’t mean that there is no such thing as global warming.

by |June 15, 2010

19 Ways to Solve the Freshwater Crisis

Circle of Blue recently reported on the results of a survey of sustainability experts, and listed their top 19 solutions to the world’s freshwater crisis. The survey was done by GlobeScan, a corporate affairs research firm, and SustainAbility, a strategy consultancy.  Respondents, drawn from five sectors —  corporate, government (including multi-lateral institutions), NGOs, institutional (e.g.,… read more

by |June 10, 2010

Peak Water?

Today, a growing number of scientists argue that global peak oil may be upon us—an argument that would seem to be supported by the increasingly heroic measures oil companies are taking (such as the ultra-deepwater drilling in the Gulf of Mexico) to keep up with global oil demand.

Many underground aquifers and even some surface water stored in lakes and glaciers can indeed be thought of as non-renewable—and thus subject to peak and decline–because they can be depleted faster than the natural recharge rate.

by |June 2, 2010

Beyond Market Economics?

Bottled water – “one of the least green and least defensible ripoffs on the market.” Is this a routine quote from one of the usual suspects of anti-bottled water campaigners? Surprisingly, no. It’s from the Economist – the journalistic bastion of free market economics – and is is included in their new special report on water that Julia summarized in an earlier blog post.

by |May 28, 2010