Thursday, September 23, 2010

This Is NOT Good! The Energy/Water Aporia: Not Enough H2O = More War

Water is moving closer and closer to the center of the contentions around the intersection of two vital human needs: energy and hydration. Perhaps people tend to overlook how MUCH of the power upon which they depend is provided by water, either captured behind a dam, or boiled and pushed through vanes a steam. There may--many experts do not qualify it; they say there WILL--soon be warfare to determine which interest prevails when there is not enough for both.

Rising Energy Demand Hits Water Scarcity 'Choke Point'
by Peter Boaz and Matthew O. Berger
WASHINGTON - Meeting the growing demand for energy in the U.S., even through sustainable means, could entail greater threats to the environment, new research shows.

The study was carried out by Circle of Blue, a network of journalists and scientists dedicated to water sustainability, and could have implications not just for the relationship between energy demand and water scarcity in the U.S. but elsewhere in the world, as well. "It is not just that energy production could not occur without using vast amounts of water. It's also that it's occurring in the era of climate change, population growth and steadily increasing demand for energy," explained Circle of Blue's Keith Schneider, who presented the findings in Washington Wednesday.

"The result is that the competition for water at every stage of the mining, processing, production, shipping and use of energy is growing more fierce, more complex and much more difficult to resolve," he said. About half the 410 billion gallons of water the U.S. withdraws daily goes to cooling thermoelectric power plants, and most of that to cooling coal-burning plants, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

Meanwhile, climate change is leading to decreased snowmelt, rains and freshwater supplies, says Circle of Blue.

One of the things missing from the discussion, then, is the recognition that saving energy also saves water, the group contends.

The U.S. government has not been blind to the conflict between energy and water needs. The first part of a report commissioned by the U.S. Congress in 2005 laid out the consequences of not paying enough attention to water supply issues in increasing energy production. The second part, which would have laid out a research agenda and begun developing solutions, has yet to be made public, says Schneider.

He says the U.S. Department of Energy has declined repeated requests to explain why the report has not been published.

Energy demand in the U.S. is expected to increase by 40 percent as the U.S. population rises above 440 million by 2050. The water supply will not be able to support that growth, Schneider says.

Renewable sources of energy will certainly be a large part of trying to meet that energy demand, but these, too, come with a hidden water cost.

In 2009, the U.S. dedicated 23 million acres of public lands in six states for new solar electricity-generating plants as part of its economic stimulus package, which apportioned nearly 100 billion dollars for clean energy projects. Though the plan appeared promising, environmentalists soon began to point it could have damaging, unintended consequences. Schneider notes that criticism of the impact the water-cooled solar plants could have on water priorities in the U.S. Southwest even came from within the government.

"In arid settings, the increased water demand from concentrating solar energy systems employing water-cooled technology could strain limited water resources already under development pressure from urbanization, irrigation expansion, commercial interests and mining," wrote Jon Jarvis, then head of the National Park Service's Pacific West Region, in a February 2009 internal memo. "Solar generating plants that use conventional cooling technology use two to three times as much water as coal- fired power plants," Schneider noted.

In other countries, the threat of water scarcity is even more pertinent.

Egypt, for example, has a population of approximately 82 million, but an annual water quota of about 86 billion cubic meters - and the population is expected to rise by more than 10 million people in the next decade.

Yet 30 European blue chip companies are set to invest 560 billion dollars over the next 40 years to build solar power plants in North Africa as part of the Desertec Industrial Initiative. Egypt, Morocco and Tunisia have agreed to work with the initiative. Comparing this project with the U.S.'s, Schneider notes that in an environment that faces even greater water scarcity than the southwestern U.S., such projects could prove disastrous. Circle of Blue calls the intersection of a rising demand for energy and diminishing supply water a "choke point", but energy development - whether of the fossil fuel or renewable variety - is just one aspect of the water scarcity crisis that is unfolding in various regions of the globe.

Yemen is widely seen as the place where this scarcity will hit first and hardest.

"Analysts are worried Yemen could be the first country in the world to effectively run out of water," said Christine Parthemore, a fellow at the Center for a New American Security, where she studies the intersection of natural resources and security issues. She spoke at a separate event Wednesday.

Yemen, which has no rivers and cannot afford desalination, is drawing water at around 400 times its replacement rate, she says, and this looming crisis is compounding other issues in the region, like the fact that Yemen has become a key recruiting spot for groups like al Qaeda.

"We are about to see water wars in the future," said U.S. General Anthony Zinni. "We have seen fuel wars; we're about to see water wars."
(Published on Thursday, September 23, 2010 by Inter Press Service)

Monday, September 20, 2010

Well, Do Ya?

Copyright, Sept. 2010, by John Konopak (with the skilled assistance of pal/foto-shopper extraordinaire, Forest Taber, Searsport, ME.)!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

X : You Are Here

Via BAD SCIENCE/Discovery Mag:
That’s here, that’s home, that’s us.

On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives. The aggregate of our joy and suffering, thousands of confident religions, ideologies, and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilization, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every mother and father, hopeful child, inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every “superstar,” every “supreme leader,” every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived there [...]

The Earth is the only world known so far to harbor life. There is nowhere else, at least in the near future, to which our species could migrate. Visit, yes. Settle, not yet. Like it or not, for the moment the Earth is where we make our stand.”
- Carl Sagan

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Why "We" Were/Are STILL In Iraq.

As the story immediately below here on this blog, and many more, over the last several weeks, announces, the USer "combat" role in Iraq has been "reduced." This reduction while mainly cosmetic, still bolsters the insistance on understanding why "we" were there in the first place....

Some folks think it was a personal vendetta, GWB vs. Saddam. Others still maintain it was to get rid of Iraq's (non-existent) WMD. Still others repeat the falsehoods about the 9/11 attacks. Not true, any of it.

The PNAC--which got was the power behind getting Shrub appointed--took us into Iraq to play their part in the Great Game: the geo/energy politics of Central Asia, which has diverted--and beggared--"Euro" empires (including ours) for 300 years.

The PNAC-loaded Busheviks invaded Iraq for four reasons, mainly, all implicated (dictated) by "that old Kissingerian real-Politik":

1) To (re-)establish a USer military presence in the oil-belt, after Usama bin Laden sent his pals to politely ask us to leave Saudi Arabia; which we did, peremptorily...

2) To control the distribution of Iraqi oil. (OIF--Operation Iraqi Freedom--really WAS originally scheduled to be called Operation: Iraqi Liberation. No, really. Would I shit you?
You can't make this shit up!)

3) Protect Israel's northern front from Saddam. The original plan was to divide Iraq into three sectors which would then be so fragmented and splintered that they'd never again pose a threat to Tel Aviv.

4) Put pressure on Iran's regime, and foment unrest among rest of the Kurds not in Iraq. The partitioning scheme--which Biden favored, to protect Israel-- would also have wrecked serious havoc in the border provinces of Turkey, Syria, and Iran.

I enumerate these only for accounting, not hierarchical purposes.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Associated Press Issues "Style" Edict on Obama Admin's "End of Combat"

Anyone who's ever toiled at any desk on any newspaper anywhere in the country, and possibly in the whole world, knows what the AP (Associated Press) Stylebook is: the wire-bound gospel of newspaper/reportorial usage; the 'last word' on what it was and was not acceptable to call, name, or describe anyone and anything; the unarguable authority on punctuation, abbreviation, anagrams, and citations. For journalists for the last 75 years, at least, the AP Style Book was The LAW!

So, when AP issued a whole, quite long and extensive "Stylebook note," amending the Stylebook to account for certain awkwardnesses, inconsistencies, and dubious claims in discourse surrounding the much ballyhooed withdrawal, last week, of the "last of the US combat troops from Iraq, it is significant. Via Huffpost:
At some point in the last two weeks, you may have been told by someone in the news that combat operations in Iraq were over, and that the last combat troop had left the country. Well, the Associated Press is not having any of it, and in a memo from their standards editor, Tom Kent, the law in this regard has been laid down, in no uncertain terms: "To begin with, combat in Iraq is not over, and we should not uncritically repeat suggestions that it is, even if they come from senior officials."
The rest is highly instructive.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Gawd Bliss Jackie & Dunlop!~

Albuquerque Is The State's "Worst Speed Trap" City

Via the daily fishwrap, our own Abq. Urinal:
Group Ranks ABQ as State's Worst Speed Trap City
By Astrid Galvan
Wednesday, 01 September 2010 18:15
The National Motorist Association opposes red light and speed cameras

Drivers beware: Albuquerque has been named the state's worst speed trap city by the National Motorist Association.
The group, which opposes red light and speed cameras, ranked Albuquerque the highest in speed traps based on data from the National Speed Trap Exchange, according to its website.
It defines a speed trap as any use of traffic enforcement "focused on extracting revenue from drivers instead of improving safety." That could include speed cameras, red light cameras, or police officers stopped in roadways using a speed radar gun, the website says.
The state Transportation Commission banned red light cameras on state and federal highways in May.
The organization said it wanted to warn weekend holiday drivers about the cities with the most speed traps.
Las Cruces was second on the list as the city with the most speed traps with a population of 100,000 or less.
For those traveling the region this weekend, Tucson and Flagstaff have the most speed traps in Arizona, while Colorado Springs and Littleton ranked highest in Colorado.

Read more: ABQNews: Group Ranks ABQ as State's Worst Speed Trap City
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