Archive for the 'Other Watersheds Elsewhere' Category

Chasing Environmental Change

October 18, 2017

By Joannah Otis, for No Water No Life

Joannah is a Georgetown University sophomore studying Environmental Studies, Art History and Psychology. A member of the university’s Environmental Club, she enjoys spending her free time in N.J.’s Raritan River Basin, a NWNL case study watershed.  Joannah is a NWNL Researcher for Fall 2017.  Below is Part II of her analysis of our 2016 NWNL Survey.  Part I can be found here: A Green Education for the Younger Generation.

 

From the mid-to-late 1900’s, climate change and water-use issues began to appear more and more consistently in the popular media.  Yet, based on results of a 2016 NWNL Survey, working-age adults between the ages of 31 and 50 are surprisingly unaware of environmental disruptions in their own communities, even though the concept of climate change gained traction during the formative years of their lives. In 1975, the term “global warming” was introduced by American scientist Wallace Broecker. By 1988, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) was established to assess the effects and dangers of emissions, water use, and pollution. Two years later, this panel released its initial Report detailing how greenhouse-gas emissions lead to increased average temperatures. Later IPCC Reports state that it is 95% likely that humans are causing global warming.

 

Jones_140316_CA_0484Refineries on the northern extension of the San Francisco Bay, California (2014)

 

Shortly thereafter, Al Gore’s 1992 book Earth in the Balance further exposed the general public to the threats human behavior was placing on biodiversity, water, soil and climate. He proposed a “Global Marshall Plan,” intended to eradicate poverty, protect the environment, and promote sustainable development through an Eco-Social Market Economy.1 The “Climategate” affair of 2009 stirred further public debate concerning wasteful human practices when hackers released some e-mails from the University of East Anglia’s Climatic Research Unit.2  In spite of these decades of publicity on climate change and human effects on the planet, wasteful water use continues today.

Those between 31 to 50 however have been exposed to environmentally-friendly practices starting at a young age.  So perhaps that’s why they as a group are more likely to be frugal water users. The NWNL Survey revealed that nobody polled in this age group considered themselves wasteful with water. In fact, 30% claimed to be frugal water consumers vesus only 14% of the 18-30 year-old respondents. It is also notable that 28% of the youngest group in the survey, the under-18-year-olds, admitted to being wasteful. [See Part I of this Survey Analysis on the need for under-18-year-olds to become more aware of environmental issues, the need to reduce consumption, and their carbon footprints.]  Those in the over 50-year-old bracket were the least willing to alter their wasteful water practices. This information is reconcilable with the fact that the older generation did not grow up with encouragements to be environmentally friendly and thus are hesitant to alter their habits.

 

Jones_111026_LA_0547Clay water jug being filled from wall pipe, Atchafalaya Basin, Louisiana (2011)

 

At the same time, about 79% of those in the 31-50 age range never or infrequently recycle water. This survey response is somewhat tilted, given that the majority of people surveyed did not come from drought-afflicted areas. In states like California where water shortages are a perpetual part of everyday life, water recycling has become much more popular. Starting in 2015, the California Water Environment Association and other municipal water groups produced recycled water from community waste treatment plants  for free. Although not all recycled water is suitable for drinking, all recycled water can be used for landscaping and agricultural purposes.3  Going further, some extremely arid California communities, including San Diego, began recycling “black water,” which is processed from sewage that includes human waste, into drinking water beginning in 2011.4  (Once overcoming “the mental yuck factor,” those that drink this recycled water, including NWNL Director Alison Jones, say it’s delicious).   Such government water-recycling projects make it much easier for people to be more responsible water users.

 

Jones_140322_CA_3870Sign for non-potable reclaimed water, San Joaquin River Valley, California (2014)

 

While it is concerning that more than half  (58%) of 31-50 year-olds are unsure of what water changes are being pursued in their community, it is encouraging that a large percentage of them are individually willing to make water use changes. Of those surveyed in this age group, 73% were open to buying fewer “high-water-content” items. These items include leather, paper, cotton clothing and merchandise from drought-ridden areas. For example, producing just one pair of jeans takes about 1,800 gallons of water,5 while one sheet of paper demands almost three gallons.6

NWNL hopes more will be done to encourage these working-age adults, who say they are willing to put water-saving techniques into practice, to learn more about climate-change impacts on their community. A renewed emphasis on presenting reliable, factual information in the news and in social media will be important in promoting effective approaches to responsible water consumption practices.   

 

All photos © Alison M. Jones.

Glaciers: A Photo Essay

September 19, 2017

Edit (9/27/17): Since publishing this blog, the Washington Post reported the calving (or splitting) of a key Antarctic glacier, the Pine Island Glacier.  The article states, “the single glacier alone contains 1.7 feet of potential global sea level rise and is thought to be in a process of unstable, ongoing retreat.”  To learn more about how climate change contributed to this calving, and what the affects will be, read the article here.

 

“The alarming rate of glacial shrinkage worldwide threatens our current way of life, from biodiversity to tourism, hydropower to clean water supply.” (climatenewsnetwork.net)

During and in between NWNL’s dozens of expeditions to its six case-study watersheds, we have explored the value and current condition of glaciers on three continents, since they are a critical source of freshwater.  NWNL visited the Columbia Icefields of Alberta, Canada in 2007; Argentine glaciers in 2003 and 2005; and Rebman Glacier on the summit of Tanzania’s Mt Kilimanjaro in 2003.   We have witnessed the effect of climate change on glaciers. The melting of glaciers will affect  all forms of water resources for human and wildlife communities.  Just as upstream nutrients and pollutants travel downstream, “the loss of mountain ice creates problems for the people who live downstream.” Glacial loss must be thought of as just as important in the climate-change discussion as flooding and drought have become.

 

Jones_030809_TZ_0745Climbing Mount Kilimanjaro via the Machame Route. Tanzania, East Africa. (2003)

 

Jones_050402_ARG_0155Hole in ice of Lake Viedma Glacier in South Patagonia’s Glacier National Park, Argentina. (2005)

 

Jones_070609_ALB_2357Sign marking the former edge of the glacier. Columbia Icefields, Alberta, Canada. (2007)

 

ARG SC LVgla 059DA.tifLake Viedma Glacier at Glaciers National Park in Southern Patagonia, Argentina. (2005)

 

Canada: Alberta, Columbia Icefields Center Bus Tour, Athabasca GlacierAthabasca Glacier in Columbia Icefields. Alberta, Canada. (2007)

 

ARG SC Azul 004DA.tifGlacier melting and pouring into Blue Lake in the Andes Mountains. Southern Patagonia, Argentina. (2005)

 

Posted by Sarah Kearns, NWNL Project Manager.

All photos © Alison M. Jones.

 

Future of the Mekong River is at risk

July 14, 2015
Dam construction along Mekong River, Laos

Dam construction along Mekong River, Laos

The Mekong River in Southesast Asia is one of the world’s longest waterways, and flows through 6 countries: China, Myanmar (Burma), Thailand, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam. In November of 2014, NWNL followed the Mekong River from Chiang Khong, Thailand to Luang Prabang, Laos. This is part of the main stem of the river.

Development along the Mekong, Chiang Khong, Thailand, 2014

Development along the Mekong, Chiang Khong, Thailand, 2014

Mekong water used for crop irrigation, Chiang Khong, Thailand

Mekong water used for crop irrigation, Chiang Khong, Thailand

Fishery, Chiang Khong, Thailand

Fishery, Chiang Khong, Thailand

Fish make up 80% of the Southeast Asian diet.

Ame Trandem, Southeast Asia program director for the environmental group International Rivers, says the dam-building rush and climate change have brought the Mekong River Basin close to a “catastrophic tipping point”.

Dam construction in Laos

Dam construction in Laos

The proposal of several hydrodams would be devastating to millions of people who depend on the Mekong River for their livelihoods, food security, crop irrigation and let’s not forget wildlife!

Stay informed! Read more about this in “Cry Me a River.”

Check for updates on International Rivers and Save the Mekong.

Dam construction in Laos

Dam construction in Laos

haiku for you

January 8, 2014

Jones_080531_WY_5320icicles and water
old differences
dissolved…
drip down together

– teishitsu

Beautiful scenes and terrifying views of how humankind intersects with water resources.

September 11, 2013

WATER, an upcoming exhibit of Edward Burtynsky photographs, is on NWNL’s radar. His photography addresses categories: distressed ecosystems, infrastructure control, agriculture, aquaculture, waterfront, and waterway sources. Two NYC galleries will feature his work in mid-September-November: Howard Greenberg Gallery and Bryce Wolkowitz Gallery.

Watermark, a documentary film by Burtynsky in collaboration with Jennifer Baichwal, explores the impacts of consumption and development on our planet’s water resources.

Conversation with Burtynsky on his Water exhibit: http://framework.latimes.com/2013/09/05/reframed-in-conversation-with-edward-burtynsky/#/0

– Posted by Jasmine Graf, NWNL Associate Director

NWNL expands its watershed coverage: This blog post discusses the Amazon’s Belo Monte Dam

August 27, 2011

The No Water No Life website will soon expand to include information collected by other conservation photographers and scientists regarding freshwater issues in river basins other than our project’s 6 case-study watersheds. This will allow our website to be a go-to source for fresh-water issues worldwide, not just in our 6 American and African case-study watersheds.

As a disclaimer, NWNL will post such information garnered by other groups in acknowledgement of the universality of our concerns over the management of the freshwater resources. Since NWNL has not researched, visited nor consulted with scientists studying these other ecosystems, NWNL cannot endorse nor guarantee the accuracy of information gathered by the following sources.

Pending this expansion of NWNL coverage on its site, this NWNL blog space will be used for such purposes. The international attention on the effects of building the Belo Monte Dam in Brazil’s Amazon is just one example of extended coverage we are starting to offer. The impacts surrounding the Belo Monte Dam are comparable to those of two NWNL case-study watersheds. Displacement caused by dams was experienced by British Canadians, First Nations and US communities in the Columbia River Basin, and may be forced on the half-million pastoralists in Ethiopia and Kenya hoping to stop construction of the Gibe Dams on the Omo River.

Kayapó Chief Raoni speaking with tribal leaders over the Belo Monte Dam. Photo: Antoine Bonsorte/ Amazon Watch (CC)

As Aug. 22 was the International Day of Action to Defend the Brazilian Amazon, here are a few resources for the issues, actions and activists involved in the Belo Monde Dam project. One of the NGOs focusing on Belo Monte is International Rivers, a colleague of NWNL in its documentation of Ethiopia’s Omo River.

Amazon Watch is also actively behind the international protests against the proposed Belo Monte Dam on Xingu River. These organizations and others, including Conservation International, claim that this dam, recently approved by Brazil’s president, will threaten ecosystem and the extinction of the Kayapó people. Belo Monte Dam, the world’s largest hydro-power project underway, thus represents a defining environmental struggle to protect free-flowing rivers, forests and rights of all indigenous cultures.

Others involved include “Avatar” director James Cameron, who created “Pandora” about the battle to stop this dam on the Xingu River, which he sees as one of the great tributaries of the Amazon River. His involvement stems from the Amazon rainforest parallels to his Avatar film. Sigourney Weaver has visited the Kayapó people also out of concern for the Belo Monte Dam and 60 others intended for the Amazon. Cristina Mittermeier, past President of the International League of Conservation Photographers (iLCP), was part of the protests on Aug. 22 in Washington DC at the Brazilian Embassy and commented on this on Facebook. She is also an advisor to No Water No Life.

Conservation International has created a YouTube documentary “The Kayapó Nation: Protectors of the Amazon” (3:03 min) on Kayapó resistance to save their rainforest homeland and culture, and the global importance of the forests endangered by the proposed hydro-electric dams.

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