Investment Impacts of Climate Change

(3BL Media/Justmeans) - We’ve all heard a lot about what we can expect from a changing climate. There will be increased droughts and flooding, food prices will likely rise, as will the level of the ocean. Growing seasons will shift as will the migration patterns of animals. Some species will move into areas where they had not previously been found.

US Water Consumption Lowest in Decades

(3BL Media/Justmeans) - One of the challenges we can expect to face in a climate-changed world is a dramatic redistribution of water resources. Some areas will experience drought, as California and all of the Southwest is currently facing, while others will be forced to deal with flooding, either from massive storms or snowmelt in the spring. These are enormous challenges which could threaten our economy and in some cases our livelihoods. The question of how we can prepare for this is an overwhelming one, though we know that we can surely benefit by becoming more resilient. In this context, this means, among other things, reducing the level of water consumption required for our way of life. That also implicitly means reducing our energy consumption, since the two are so inextricably linked.

There is some good news on that score. According to the US Geological Survey (USGS), in a report issued earlier this week, water use in the US, as of the year 2010 has fallen to the lowest level since before 1970. This was largely due to reductions in the two largest water consuming activities: thermoelectric power generation and agricultural irrigation. The biggest drop was in withdrawals for feeding and cooling thermal power plants, which accounts for about 45% of all water withdrawals. That number fell by 20%. This derived from a migration away from fossil fuel plants, particularly coal, as well as improved efficiency. Irrigation, which accounts for another 33% of all withdrawals, fell by 9%. Public water supply withdrawals also fell by 5% despite an increase in population. The only areas that saw increases were aquaculture and mining. What’s not clear is whether that trend will begin to reverse with severe droughts like the one currently underway in California, which has already reversed decades of progress in air quality improvement.

These numbers were rolled up at a national level. Drilling down into the numbers, as the folks at the Hamilton Project did, shows a wide variation in water usage and water availability across the various regions of the country. Just because the national average is down, deosn't mean that some areas aren't struggling.

Grey Water Wagon Provides Recycling For Californians

Many lawns throughout California are looking rather brown and patchy. The reason is simple. California is experiencing its worst drought in 100 years. Most of the state is categorized as being in a severe drought. California Governor Jerry Brown declared a state of emergency back in January and asked all Californians to conserve water by 20 percent. The state’s latest bi-weekly drought brief shows the drought’s impact across the golden state.

Comcast Launches Water Reduction Initiatives

While California suffers from one of its worst droughts on record, a major telecommunications company is doing what it can to conserve water in the golden state. Comcast recently announced it has introduced water reduction efforts in California with the goal of reducing water use by 25 percent or 10 million gallons a year. 

California Senators Introduce Legislation To Help Ease the Pain of Drought

All of California is in a drought and a huge swath of the state is in the worst category, exceptional drought. The drought is causing major problems for the state, including wildfires. The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection has responded to over 4,000 wildfires across the state since January 1. One of those wildfires is currently raging within Yosemite National Park. Water wells are also going dry in some communities.

Hospital In California’s Drought Stricken Central Valley Will Use Recycled Water

In case you live in a bubble and don’t know that California is in the third year of one of its worst droughts, driving through many towns in the state this summer might give you a clue something is not normal. Many public properties feature brown lawns, as do many lawns in residential areas. The San Joaquin Valley is one area that is already dry due to its desert climate.

Solar Desalination Solves Many Problems

(3BL Media/Justmeans) - It seems fitting, with World Water Week just behind us, and with news of the latest, even more dire assessment of the impacts of climate change from the IPCC still making the rounds, that we should share this story which shows one very effective way to connect the dots.

Given the changes coming down the climate pipeline, water is going to be an area of particular  concern, because we are so completely dependent on it to live, and because it’s going to be getting harder to find. Droughts are expected to increase. Snow melt, which often provides water in many regions for most of the year, is accelerating, often providing floods instead of nourishment, and changing rainfall patterns can deprive areas of water that previously had plenty.

Water and energy are inextricably linked. It takes lots of energy to pump water from one place to another and today’s thermal power plants with their cooling towers are among the nation’s largest consumers of water.

For all of these reasons, the announcement of a new solar desalination initiative is welcome news.

WaterFX is using a 377 foot-long solar array to turn brackish water, a mixture of fresh and salt water, into pure distilled water, also producing concentrated mineral salts as a byproduct. Brackish water is commonly found in estuaries, deltas and mangrove swamps, but it is becoming increasingly common as agricultural drainage as freshwater aquifers are depleted. This phenomenon is known as saltwater encroachment. It can also be expected to increase as sea level rises.

The Water FX technology, which has been dubbed “drought buster,” is currently being demonstrated in a $1 million project at the Panoche Water and Drainage District in Firebaugh, which serves the agriculturally rich Central Valley in California. Their Aqua4™ Concentrated Solar Still uses an approach that differs significantly from conventional desalination technology. Not only is it powered by the sun instead of electricity or other means, but it also relies on evaporation rather than reverse osmosis (RO) which is more commonly used. RO has been considered the more cost-effective approach due to the high energy cost associated with evaporation, but with the Concentrated Solar Still, the energy is free and clean. The rate at which fresh water can be recovered from salt or brackish water is also higher, as much as 93%, compared to 50% for RO systems. It also produces commercially desirable concentrated mineral salts as a byproduct.

A larger, commercial version of this plant, will be built later this year on 31 acres of land, capable of producing roughly two million gallons per day.

Analyzing Cargill’s 2012 CSR Report: Good Intentions, Misses the Big Issue

corn-droughtCargill has issued its annual CSR report. The report outlines the food and agriculture conglomerate's approach to corporate responsibility, with a special emphasis on its work to address global food security.

Kilimo Salama: Farmers in Kenya Cash in on a New Microinsurance Program

2629349514_cbb488b1ed_o"Insurance...offers significant capacity and ability to understand, manage, and spread risks associated with weather-related events...increasingly so in developing countries and economies in transition." -- Evan Mills, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory[1] It's not easy being a farmer in Kenya, where less than a fifth of the land is suitable for cultivati

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