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Warming oceans may cause higher mercury levels in fish - Washington Times ("what about my seafood?")

Warming oceans may cause higher mercury levels in fish - Washington Times ("what about my seafood?") | The Water Steward | Scoop.it
Washington Times Warming oceans may cause higher mercury levels in fish Washington Times WASHINGTON, October 4, 2013—Higher ocean surface temperatures triggered by global warming may cause fish to accumulate larger amounts of mercury, posing an...

Mercury pollution is mainly caused by coal-fired power plants, steel producers, incinerators, and cement makers that release it into the air. Other sources of mercury pollution are thermometers, batteries, consumer electronics and automotive parts that are manufactured, utilized or disposed of incorrectly. This pollution accumulates in oceans and waterways and is turned into methylmercury by bacteria found in the water.            

Moving its way up the food chain as larger fish eat smaller contaminated fish, mercury fails to dissolve and instead accumulates in a fish’s body at increasing levels. The mercury concentration in the bodies of large predatory fish who live a long time, including swordfish, tuna, mackerel and sharks, can be over 10,000 times higher than that of the surrounding environment, according to the Nature Conservancy.

Odorless and invisible, mercury in fish is difficult to detect and cannot be eliminated by trimming the skin or removing the bones. In the human body, mercury acts a neurotoxin that interferes with nervous system and brain functions.

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Scraping the Seafloor for Fish Harms Biodiversity - Scientific American ("trawlers more vicious now")

Scraping the Seafloor for Fish Harms Biodiversity - Scientific American ("trawlers more vicious now") | The Water Steward | Scoop.it
Scraping the Seafloor for Fish Harms Biodiversity
Scientific American
Trawling cut biodiversity by 50 percent and organic matter by 52 percent when compared with untouched sites. Meanwhile it slowed carbon cycling by 37 percent.

Despite images from early submersible expeditions of ghostly white dust settling onto a sandy floor, the deep sea is not a desert, Pusceddu says. Even parts of the sea that lack impressive corals or craggy seamounts can host important, if tiny, life-forms. Some such creatures feed shrimp, the main target species for trawlers at Pusceddu's study site. Others consume carbon and trap it in the seafloor.

Better care is urgent: more powerful trawlers now reach deeper waters, oil drilling is moving ever downward, and Papua New Guinea just signed the first commercial sea-mining agreement. Plus, other work has found that the deepest-sea dwellers are among the longest-lived and slowest to recover from the effects of bottom trawling. The European Union may take the lead on this issue. Its newly elected parliament is reviewing draft legislation to limit the scope of deep-sea trawling. Chief scientist Elliott Norse of the Marine Conservation Institute in Seattle says the recent findings show decision makers that “they need to find ways to make fishing less harmful environmentally.”

Bert Guevara's insight:

We don't see it, so we don't mind it. But the vast destruction created by deep-sea trawling affects the ocean, the fish, biodiversity, and of course, us.

"The final tally was grim. Trawling cut biodiversity by 50 percent and organic matter by 52 percent when compared with untouched sites. Meanwhile it slowed carbon cycling by 37 percent. Instead of settling on the seafloor, that stray carbon may acidify seawater or escape into the atmosphere."

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Gulf of Mexico Dead Zone Now the Size of Connecticut ("who's to blame? the list is long but few admit")

Gulf of Mexico Dead Zone Now the Size of Connecticut ("who's to blame? the list is long but few admit") | The Water Steward | Scoop.it
Scientists say that the dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico, largely fueled by the BP oil spill, is the size of Connecticut – a startling 5,052 square miles.

How do we contribute to the dead zone? Phosphorous and nitrogen fertilizers, pesticides, and other chemicals that we use to encourage plant growth wash into rivers and streams. Streams and rivers drain into the Mississippi River, and then flow into the Gulf of Mexico. The freshwater of the Mississippi then floats on top of the sea-water, keeping oxygen from the atmosphere from getting into the deeper sea waters.

Add to this the fact that BP never cleaned up their mess from 2010, even though both the company and the Feds were applauded for their ‘quick response.’ The oxygen deprivation caused by the spill is vast, with the Gulf’s coral community suffering especially.

The ‘footprint’ of the 2010 oil spill involving the oil giant BP, TransOcean, which operated the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig, and Halliburton, is likely much worse than anyone guessed. Of course BP wants to downplay the bad press, saying that, “PSU researchers ‘prematurely linked’ the oil found on the coral reefs to the 2010 oil spill, when it could have come from other sources including underwater landslides or natural oil and gas seeps.”

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Acidification affects future of all sea life ("prospect looks grim; favorite dishes may not survive")

Acidification affects future of all sea life ("prospect looks grim; favorite dishes may not survive") | The Water Steward | Scoop.it
This week, IoM Friends of the Earth’s Tony Brown looks at the impact of rising ocean acidification on our planet, and our diets

In 2010, a report by the US National Research Council found that pH levels – the level of acidity or alkalinity – at the oceans’ surface had fallen from a measure of 8.2 in pre-industrial times, to 8.1 in modern times.

This has taken place as something between a quarter and a third of man-made CO2 emissions have been added to the natural absorption rates of those oceans.

Since pH is measured on a logarithmic scale, this means that there has been a 10-fold decrease in alkalinity – or to put it another way, an increase in acidity.

The rate of change is 100 times faster than anything the world’s oceans have experienced for the last few million years.

By 2100, pH levels could, it’s estimated, drop to between 7.7 and 7.8, if we continue to emit CO2 at present rates. A pH of 7.0 is ‘neutral’, so this is significant – it would be the lowest level for 55 million years, when during the Paleocene-Eocene thermal maximum (PETM), a sudden die-off of shell-based ocean life forms took place in the space of around 1,000 years. If projections are correct, our extra CO2 emissions will cause a similar demise in a few centuries, with no time for species to evolve or adapt.

Bert Guevara's insight:

The call to mitigate ocean acidification by reducing global carbon emissions is as urgent as ever. The consequences are widespread and cannot be solved by a few nations alone.

Read and be informed and act. 

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Canadians Can't Drink Their Water After 1.3 Billion Gallons Of Mining Waste ... ("unforgiveable sin")

Canadians Can't Drink Their Water After 1.3 Billion Gallons Of Mining Waste ...  ("unforgiveable sin") | The Water Steward | Scoop.it

gThinkProgress
Canadians Can't Drink Their Water After 1.3 Billion Gallons Of Mining Waste ...

A breach in a tailings pond from the open-pit Mount Polley copper and gold mine sent five million cubic meters (1.3 billion gallons) of slurry gushing into Hazeltine Creek in B.C. That’s the equivalent of 2,000 Olympic swimming pools of waste, the CBC reports. Tailings ponds from mineral mines store a mix of water, chemicals and ground-up minerals left over from mining operations.

The flow of the mining waste, which can contain things like arsenic, mercury, and sulfur, uprooted trees on its way to the creek and forced a water ban for about 300 people who live in the region. That number could grow, as authorities determine just how far the waste has traveled. The cause of the breach is still unknown.

“What we know so far is that debris from the tailings pond backed up a little into Polley Lake, which absorbed some of the flow, but the majority of it went down into the Hazeltine Creek,” Al Richmond, chairman of the Cariboo Regional District told the Vancouver Sun. “The creek (used to be) four feet wide. Now it’s 150 feet wide.”

The region is sparsely populated, which makes emergency response difficult — Richmond told the Vancouver Sun that only four people from the region’s volunteer fire department were able to act as first responders to the disaster. Right now, authorities are working to test all waterways for contamination, a process that Richmond said he hopes will take no more than 48 hours. Richmond also said he didn’t know whether or not the spill had been contained.

“The potential long-term impact to waterways, the watershed and roads is huge,” he said.

Bert Guevara's insight:

It would take decades to clean up the mess, if at all possible.

Remember Marinduque's Boac River which is still dead and the mining company not taking responsibility? This is happening all over the planet.

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Worldwide water shortage by 2040 ("hard choices for future water stability; drinking water or energy?")

Worldwide water shortage by 2040 ("hard choices for future water stability; drinking water or energy?") | The Water Steward | Scoop.it
Water is used around the world for the production of electricity, but new research results show that there will not be enough water in the world to meet demand by 2040 if the energy and power situation does not improve before then.

Two new reports that focus on the global electricity water nexus have just been published. Three years of research show that by the year 2040 there will not be enough water in the world to quench the thirst of the world population and keep the current energy and power solutions going if we continue doing what we are doing today. It is a clash of competing necessities, between drinking water and energy demand. 

In most countries, electricity is the biggest source of water consumption because the power plants need cooling cycles in order to function. The only energy systems that do not require cooling cycles are wind and solar systems, and therefore one of the primary recommendations issued by these researchers is to replace old power systems with more sustainable wind and solar systems.

The research has also yielded the surprising finding that most power systems do not even register how much water is being used to keep the systems going.

Combining the new research results with projections about water shortage and the world population, it shows that by 2020 many areas of the world will no longer have access to clean drinking water. In fact, the results predict that by 2020 about 30-40% of the world will have water scarcity, and according to the researchers, climate change can make this even worse.


Bert Guevara's insight:

Drinking water vs. (conventional) energy? We can't have both.

"How to solve the problem?

In the reports, the researchers emphasize six general recommendations for decision-makers to follow in order to stop this development and handle the crisis around the world:

Improve energy efficiencyBetter research on alternative cooling cyclesRegistering how much water power plants useMassive investments in wind energyMassive investments in solar energyAbandon fossil fuel facilities in all water stressed places (which means half the planet)"
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Climate model shows Australia’s rainfall decline due to human-caused climate change ("no other reason")

Climate model shows Australia’s rainfall decline due to human-caused climate change ("no other reason") | The Water Steward | Scoop.it
NOAA scientists have developed a new high-resolution climate model that shows southwestern Australia’s long-term decline in fall and winter rainfall is caused by increases in manmade greenhouse gas emissions and ozone depletion, according to research published today in Nature Geoscience.
[EasyDNNGallery|2254|Width|300|Height|600|position|right|resizecrop|True|lightbox|True|title|True|description|True|redirection|False|LinkText||] “This new high-resolution climate model is able...

NOAA researchers conducted several climate simulations using this global climate model to study long-term changes in rainfall in various regions across the globe. One of the most striking signals of change emerged over Australia, where a long-term decline in fall and winter rainfall has been observed over parts of southern Australia. Simulating natural and manmade climate drivers, scientists showed that the decline in rainfall is primarily a response to manmade increases in greenhouse gases as well as a thinning of the ozone caused by manmade aerosol emissions. Several natural causes were tested with the model, including volcano eruptions and changes in the sun’s radiation. But none of these natural climate drivers reproduced the long-term observed drying, indicating this trend is due to human activity.

Southern Australia’s decline in rainfall began around 1970 and has increased over the last four decades. The model projects a continued decline in winter rainfall throughout the rest of the 21st century, with significant implications for regional water resources. The drying is most severe over southwest Australia where the model forecasts a 40 percent decline in average rainfall by the late 21st century.

“Predicting potential future changes in water resources, including drought, are an immense societal challenge,” said Delworth. “This new climate model will help us more accurately and quickly provide resource planners with environmental intelligence at the regional level. The study of Australian drought helps to validate this new model, and thus builds confidence in this model for ongoing studies of North American drought.”

Bert Guevara's insight:

Scientific studies could not point to other reasons for the drought (ex. volcano eruptions and changes in the sun’s radiation) except human-caused climate change. This is another evidence of the obvious.

"Southern Australia’s decline in rainfall began around 1970 and has increased over the last four decades. The model projects a continued decline in winter rainfall throughout the rest of the 21st century, with significant implications for regional water resources. The drying is most severe over southwest Australia where the model forecasts a 40 percent decline in average rainfall by the late 21st century."

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US water stress may drive energy shift to renewable power ("water-to-energy link vital")

US water stress may drive energy shift to renewable power ("water-to-energy link vital") | The Water Steward | Scoop.it
NEWS: Thermoelectric power including gas, coal and nuclear responsible for 40% of US water use
Climate change may drive a shift to more wind and solar power generation, to conserve water, a U.S. Department of Energy report said this week. The report found a risky mutual dependence between water and energy. Energy was needed to pump, treat and transport water, while water was needed to cool electricity generating equipment in thermal power plants such as gas, coal, nuclear and concentrated solar power. Such thermoelectric power accounts for 40% of all U.S. freshwater use. Climate change including more storms and droughts would intensify those mutual risks, the report said. “When severe drought affected more than a third of the United States in 2012, limited water availability constrained the operation of some power plants and other energy production activities,” said the report, “The Water-Energy Nexus: Challenges and Opportunities”. “Shifts in precipitation and temperature patterns—including changes in snowmelt—will likely lead to more regional variation in water availability for hydropower, biofeedstock production, thermoelectric generation and other energy needs. Rising temperatures have the potential to increase the demand for electricity for cooling. “These changes and variations pose challenges for energy infrastructure resilience.”
Bert Guevara's insight:
Water-dependent cooling systems of coal, gas and nuclear power plants are now under scrutiny because of water scarcity. The current drought and water stress in many countries of the world is putting into question the sustainability of these conventional power plants. In the Philippines, we are very much dependent on coal and are mulling nuclear power.
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Obama May Make Biggest Marine Sanctuary ("marine conservation makes big stride in Pacific")

Obama May Make Biggest Marine Sanctuary ("marine conservation makes big stride in Pacific") | The Water Steward | Scoop.it
And fight seafood fraud.

Obama’s America will potentially expand to a large section of the central Pacific Ocean. The president is set to announce Tuesday a proposal that could create the world’s largest marine sanctuary by barring fishing, energy exploration, and other activities from a swath of the Pacific Ocean. It could also double the area of the ocean that is fully protected. The marine endeavor will also utilize federal agencies to tackle seafood fraud and the global black market for fish. The plan is being led by Secretary of State John Kerry and White House counselor John Podesta. Obama has used executive powers 11 times during his tenure to secure federal lands, most recently to the chagrin of cattle ranchers and Cliven Bundy. Hopefully, tensions with the feds will remain in check before anyone is sleeping with the fishes.

Bert Guevara's insight:

Pres. Obama is on a roll!

After setting his sights on carbon emission limits, now he is setting up a Pacific marine sanctuary. Credits also go to Sec. of State John Kerry and White House counselor John Podesta.

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PH may face import ban over illegal fishing ("a verdict that PH has failed to curb illegal fishing")

PH may face import ban over illegal fishing ("a verdict that PH has failed to curb illegal fishing") | The Water Steward | Scoop.it
The Philippines, one of the world's biggest fishing nations, is in danger of facing an import ban from the European Union, the world's biggest fish importer, if it fails to curb illegal fishing. Th...

This came after the European Commission announced on Tuesday that it has decided to issue a “yellow card” against the Philippines after the country failed to fulfill its duties as flag, coastal, port or market state in line with international law, such as the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) or United Nations Fish Stocks Agreement.

The EU has taken a decision which highlights areas where the Philippines is not yet doing enough to fight illegal fishing. It identifies certain shortcomings, such as lack of actions to address deficiencies in monitoring, controlling and surveillance of fisheries, and suggests corrective actions to resolve them.

The decision will not, at this stage, entail any measures affecting trade.

“We want the Philippines as partner to combat illegal fishing,” Damanaki, said. “We want the country to improve its legal and control systems as required by international rules. But we also want to signal to the world that the EU will not tolerate illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing – a criminal activity which undermines the livelihood of fishing communities and depletes fish stocks. It must be eradicated by all means.”

Bert Guevara's insight:

EU Big Brother is watching our fishing industry. At stake is about P9.8B worth of fish exports.

"It follows a long period of informal discussions that started in 2012. The decision starts a formal procedure of dialogue and cooperation with the Philippines aimed at solving the established shortcomings.

The position will be reviewed in six months time to see if the Philippines have made enough progress on action plans drawn up by the EU, the Commission said."

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Scientists Warn of Rising Oceans From Polar Melt ("decades from now, remember they told you so")

Scientists Warn of Rising Oceans From Polar Melt ("decades from now, remember they told you so") | The Water Steward | Scoop.it
The depletion of large parts of the ice sheet in West Antarctica is almost certainly unstoppable, with global warming accelerating the disintegration, two groups of scientists reported Monday.

If the findings hold up, they suggest that the melting could destabilize neighboring parts of the ice sheet and a rise in sea level of 10 feet or more may be unavoidable in coming centuries.

Global warming caused by the human-driven release of greenhouse gases has helped to destabilize the ice sheet, though other factors may also be involved, the scientists said.

The rise of the sea is likely to continue to be relatively slow for the rest of the 21st century, the scientists added, but in the more distant future it may accelerate markedly, potentially throwing society into crisis.

Two scientific papers released on Monday by the journals Science and Geophysical Research Letters came to similar conclusions by different means. Both groups of scientists found that West Antarctic glaciers had retreated far enough to set off an inherent instability in the ice sheet, one that experts have feared for decades. NASA called a telephone news conference Monday to highlight the urgency of the findings.

The West Antarctic ice sheet sits in a bowl-shaped depression in the earth, with the base of the ice below sea level. Warm ocean water is causing the ice sitting along the rim of the bowl to thin and retreat. As the front edge of the ice pulls away from the rim and enters deeper water, it can retreat much faster than before.

Bert Guevara's insight:

The older generation may not live long enough to bare the brunt of sea level rise, but what about the next generation? 

“Today we present observational evidence that a large sector of the West Antarctic ice sheet has gone into irreversible retreat,” Dr. Rignot said in the NASA news conference. “It has passed the point of no return.”

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A Simple, Elegant Invention That Draws Water From Air ("for $550, daily water for a family of 7")

A Simple, Elegant Invention That Draws Water From Air ("for $550, daily water for a family of 7") | The Water Steward | Scoop.it
The WarkaWater is shaped like a vase and looks like an art exhibit. By gathering condensation, it's providing water to Ethiopian villages and could be a solution for thirsty communities worldwide.

WarkaWater, which is named after an Ethiopian fig tree, is composed of a 30-foot bamboo frame containing a fog-harvesting nylon net that can be easily lowered for repairs and to allow communities to measure the water level.

Collecting water through condensation is hardly a new technique, but the creators of WarkaWater say their tree-inspired design is more effective, maximizing surface and optimizing every angle to produce up to 26 gallons of drinkable water a day — enough for a family of seven.

This is where WarkaWater could stand apart — as a lower-tech solution that is easy to repair and far more affordable than digging wells in the rocky Ethiopian plateau.

Each water tower costs $550 — a Playpump is $14,000 — and its creators say the price will drop significantly if they start mass-producing it. The structure takes three days and six people to install and doesn't call for any special machinery or scaffolding.

"Once locals have the necessary know-how, they will be able to teach other villages and communities to build the WarkaWater towers," says Vittori, who is already working on WarkaWater 2.0, an upgraded version that may include solar panels and LED bulbs to provide light after dark.

Bert Guevara's insight:

Water is in our air; harvesting it can be done in a relatively cheap manner without hi-tech gadgets. Here is a successful model, called WarkaWater, which costs around $550 for a family of 7. Technology transfer is also possible.

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Mass Fish Deaths: Millions Have Been Found Dead All Over The World In The Past Month | InvestmentWatch

Mass Fish Deaths: Millions Have Been Found Dead All Over The World In The Past Month | InvestmentWatch | The Water Steward | Scoop.it
By Michael Snyder Millions of fish are suddenly dying all over the planet.  In fact, there have been dozens of mass fish death events reported in the past

So why is this happening?  Why are fish dying in unprecedented numbers all over the world?  When more than six tons of fish died in Marina Del Ray over the weekend, it made headlines all over the United States.  But the truth is that what just happened off the southern California coast is just the tip of the iceberg.  In 2014, mass fish die-offs have pretty much become a daily event globally.  Individually, each event could perhaps be dismissed as an anomaly, but as you will see below when they are all put together into one list it truly is rather stunning.  So is there a reason why so many fish are dying?  Is there something that connects these mass fish death events?  Has something about our environment changed?  


Bert Guevara's insight:

So what is causing all of these mass fish death events (in different parts of the world)?

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Solar-Powered Pump System Could Bring Clean Water to 800 Million People | EarthTechling

Solar-Powered Pump System Could Bring Clean Water to 800 Million People | EarthTechling | The Water Steward | Scoop.it
An Austrian company hopes to play a large role in ending the water crisis with a technology powered by renewable energy.

“There are two main obstacles faced by the communities in this crisis—either communities have no access to clean drinking water at all or they have to rely on water pump systems that require a lot of maintenance, which in many cases is simply not available locally,” Dr. Birgit Stuck, field researcher for Pumpmakers, said in a promotional video.

Pumpmakers’ inexpensive system incurs no running costs while using solar energy to pump water from as deep as 300 feet, even on cloudy days. The company, which began working on the project in 2011, used “maintenance-free” materials to make it easy to construct and use.

While the solar pumps have been providing clean water for the people of Ndzofuine, a remote village in Mozambique, since 2012, Pumpmakers now envisions people and other companies strengthening their own local economies by providing the systems to their communities. Most of the components for the pump can be manufactured locally. Once Pumpmakers latest round of crowdfunding is complete, the company will be able to offer some of the hard-to-find components on its website, like the gear unit.


Bert Guevara's insight:

Solar power can go a long way in pumping water to upland communities which have no electricity. 

“Our goal is to establish Pumpmakers.com as the platform that connects local pumpmakers with underserved communities and with organizations such as NGOs and private supporters,” according to the company video.

“With the power of the crowd, we can create a meaningful tool to prevent the shortages of water and poverty worldwide.”

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Tide turns for shark fin in China ("when the buying stops, the killing can too")

Tide turns for shark fin in China ("when the buying stops, the killing can too") | The Water Steward | Scoop.it
A sprawling market floor in Guangzhou was once a prime location for shark fin, one of China's most expensive delicacies. But now it lies deserted, thanks to a ban from official banquet tables and a celebrity-driven ad campaign.

Environmental and animal rights groups have campaigned for decades against consumption of shark fin, arguing that demand for the delicacy has decimated the world's shark population and that the methods used to obtain it are inhumane.

China consumes more shark fin than any other country in the world, according to the campaign group WildAid.

The tide began to turn in 2012, when the ruling Communist Party announced a government ban on serving shark fin, bird's nest soup and other wild animal products at official functions, saying that it would set a precedent that would help protect endangered species.

Demand has since decreased dramatically, the group says, with the biggest impact in Guangzhou, the capital of Guangdong province and the heart of China's shark fin industry.

A WildAid survey released this month said shark fin sales had slumped in the city, with retail prices slumping an average 57 percent and wholesale costs dropping by 47 percent.

In neighbouring Hong Kong, a major transit point for the trade, import-export volumes have plunged.

The largest category, undried fins with cartilage, went from almost 6,800 tonnes in 2011 to less than two tonnes last year, government statistics showed -- although dried fins with cartilage still stood at around 3,800 tonnes.

Several major hotel chains and airlines in the region have banned it and WildAid's executive director Peter Knight said: "Demand reduction can be very effective. The more people learn about the consequences of eating shark fin soup, the less they want to participate in the trade."

Government bans on the dish, he added, "helped send the right message and this could be a model to address issues such as ivory".

Bert Guevara's insight:

Some good news for the beleaguered shark. Fin eaters have started to lose their appetite. 

"The tide began to turn in 2012, when the ruling Communist Party announced a government ban on serving shark fin, bird's nest soup and other wild animal products at official functions, saying that it would set a precedent that would help protect endangered species.

"Around the same time new leader Xi Jinping launched a much-publicised austerity drive for the ruling classes, in tandem with an anti-corruption push that has claimed notable scalps despite a lack of systemic reforms."

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Map: All the places where the CDC says you can't drink the water ("water pollution almost everywhere")

Map: All the places where the CDC says you can't drink the water ("water pollution almost everywhere") | The Water Steward | Scoop.it
The US, Australia, Japan, Korea, Israel, and Western Europe are solid. Everyplace else has problems.

As you can see, the CDC is very cautious, essentially arguing that only the richest countries have safe drinking water. In my personal experience, drinking tap water in Argentina, Vietnam, Cambodia, China, Costa Rica, Slovakia, Russia, and even the dread Mexico has worked out just fine. But your mileage may vary.

The World Health Organization uses a looser criteria for access to safe water, and by their standards it is a very serious problem in quite a few very poor countries but not many of the middle-income ones on the CDC map.

Bert Guevara's insight:

This is the extent of water pollution in the world, based on the CDC criteria.

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Mercury Levels In The Ocean Are Now 3 Times Higher Than Before The Industrial Revolution ("due to man")

Mercury Levels In The Ocean Are Now 3 Times Higher Than Before The Industrial Revolution ("due to man") | The Water Steward | Scoop.it
The study also determined where the mercury was coming from: human activities, including burning fossil fuels like coal, and mining for gold and coal.

The study, published this week in Nature, is the first to create a comprehensive overview of the mercury in the ocean. The study also determined where the mercury was coming from, finding that human activities, including burning fossil fuels like coal, and mining for gold and coal, are the main drivers for the increase in the ocean’s mercury, causing the substance toincrease by a factor of 3.4 in the ocean’s upper levels since the Industrial Revolution started.

Because the increase in mercury is driven by human activities — settling into the ocean from air pollution or being carried via streams and rivers — the upper 100 meters (328 feet) of the ocean is the region that’s most quickly accumulating the dangerous element. But the increase in the ocean’s surface levels means that, as humans emit more mercury, the deep ocean is going to be less and less able to store the mercury, study co-author Carl Lamborgtold Nature.

“You’re starting to overwhelm the ability of deep water formation to hide some of that mercury from us, with the net result that more and more of our emissions will be found in progressively shallower water,” he said. Lamborg also said that, at the rate humans are going now, we’re projected to emit as much mercury in the next 50 years as they did in the last 150 years.

Mercury is a neurotoxin, and ingesting too much of it can cause developmental defects in fetuses and, at extreme levels, death. Typically, people ingest mercury through eating fish, with larger, predatory fish containing more mercury than smaller prey fish. Right now, the scientists aren’t sure how these increased levels of mercury affect the health of ocean fish or the health of people consuming them

“I would not stop eating ocean fish as a result of this,” Simon Boxall, lecturer on ocean and Earth science at the University of Southampton, told the Guardian. “But it is a good indicator of how much impact we are having on the marine environment. It is an alarm call for the future.”


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Severe water pollution in China - The Darkroom - The Baltimore Sun ("resurrecting the dead; too late?")

Severe water pollution in China - The Darkroom - The Baltimore Sun ("resurrecting the dead; too late?") | The Water Steward | Scoop.it
China aims to spend $850 billion to improve filthy water supplies over the next decade, but even such huge outlays may do little to reverse damage caused by decades of pollution and overuse in Beijing's push for rapid ...

Growing cities, overuse of fertilizers and factory wastewater have degraded China’s water supplies to the extent that half the nation’s rivers and lakes are severely polluted. China aims to spend $850 billion to improve filthy water supplies over the next decade, but even such huge outlays may do little to reverse damage caused by decades of pollution and overuse in Beijing’s push for rapid economic growth.

Bert Guevara's insight:

The money earned by killing the water bodies is now being used to bring it back to life. Is it still possible within their lifetime?

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10 ways to stop being a water waster ("many daily habits waste water; it's time for pro-activity")

10 ways to stop being a water waster ("many daily habits waste water; it's time for pro-activity") | The Water Steward | Scoop.it

There is no resource more precious than water. There is also no resource that is misused, abused, misallocated, and misunderstood the way water is. Safe drinking water, healthy and intact natural ecosystems, and a stable food supply are a few of the things at stake as our water supply is put under greater and greater stress.

1. No drips

2. Install new water-saving fixtures

3. Cultivate good water habits

4. Stay off the bottle

5. Go beyond the lawn

6. Harvest your rainwater

7. Harvest your greywater

8. At the car wash

9. Keep your eyes open

10. Don't spike the punch


Bert Guevara's insight:

We are all duty-bound to conserve water.

"The picture might look grim, but opportunities to be more efficient abound. Many people have had water-saving etiquette pumped into them at one point or another, so hopefully we can make a good case for conserving the stuff with practical, everyday water-saving strategies as well as some more high-tech approaches."

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Mountaintop Removal Coal Mining Decimates Fish Populations in ... ("too many downsides for dirty coal")

Mountaintop Removal Coal Mining Decimates Fish Populations in ... ("too many downsides for dirty coal") | The Water Steward | Scoop.it
A study from researchers at the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) published this month provides strong new evidence that mountaintop removal coal mining in Appalachia is devastating downstream fish populations.

That’s hardly news for long-time followers of the controversy surrounding mountaintop removal, a coal mining practice that involves blowing off the tops of mountains to access thin seams of coal and dumping the waste into valleys below. In 2010, a group of 13 prestigious biologists published a paper in Science, the nation’s premier scientific journal, that found:

“Our analyses of current peer-reviewed studies and of new water-quality data from WV streams revealed serious environmental impacts that mitigation practices cannot successfully address… Clearly, current attempts to regulate [mountaintop removal mining] practices are inadequate.”

The authors of the study published last week found a 50 percent decline in the number of fish species and a two-thirds decline in the total number of fish in streams below mountaintop removal mines in West Virginia’s Guyandotte River drainage. They made this important contribution to the science by using rigorous methodology to isolate several types of waterpollution most likely to have caused these staggering declines.

But a more important contribution of the study may be that it draws the focus of water pollution impacts away from mayflies and other aquatic insects and onto a far more popular and charismatic organism that not only is important to rural people’s way of life, but supports a multi-billion dollar sportfishing industry in Appalachia.

Bert Guevara's insight:

Aside from killing the fish population, it is killing a major job creator on this mining site - sport fishing. Coal mining becomes a losing proposition for the host community.

"Widespread damage to fish populations could also be important from the pocketbook perspective that political leaders in Kentucky and West Virginia take seriously. According to data from the American Sportfishing Association, recreational fishing creates a lot more jobs than mountaintop removal does in the states where it occurs:"

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Pacific Nation Bans Fishing in One of World's Largest Marine Parks ("another Pacific fish sanctuary")

Pacific Nation Bans Fishing in One of World's Largest Marine Parks ("another Pacific fish sanctuary") | The Water Steward | Scoop.it
Kiribati announces "very significant" step at U.S. Our Ocean conference.

Anote Tong, the president of Kiribati—a chain of islands about halfway between Hawaii and Fiji—announced Monday that commercial fishing will end in the country's Phoenix Islands Protected Area on January 1, 2015.

"We will also close the area around the southern Line Islands to commercial fishing to allow the area to recover," said Tong, who spoke at the Our Ocean conference hosted by the U.S. State Department in Washington, D.C. The southern Line Islands also will be closed to fishing by the beginning of next year.

The Phoenix Islands and the southern Line Islands represent some of the most pristine coral reef archipelagos in the Pacific, says National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence Enric Sala, who led the first underwater expedition to the five uninhabited southern Line Islands in 2009 as part of National Geographic's Pristine Seas project.

Sala's team of scientists found healthy coral reefs, abundant predator populations, and pristine lagoons carpeted with giant clams and shark nurseries.

Bert Guevara's insight:

A tiny island nation that controls a vast area of the Pacific Ocean has announced it will ban all commercial fishing in a massive marine park that is the size of California.

"... Kiribati's announcement -- "very significant." Decreasing the impact of fishing will "preserve biodiversity, large predators, and reefs,..." 

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Infographic: Climate change and our ailing oceans

Infographic: Climate change and our ailing oceans | The Water Steward | Scoop.it
Bert Guevara's insight:

What do you think will happen to the fish population and marine world if oceans in the world get warmer and more acidic? Can we turn it back if it becomes too warm or too acidic?

Check out this infograph.

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10 facts about our amazing oceans › Science Features (ABC Science) ("care more by understanding first")

10 facts about our amazing oceans › Science Features (ABC Science) ("care more by understanding first") | The Water Steward | Scoop.it

1. Earth's oceans are unique in the Universe — as far as we know

2. For every species of marine life we know of, at least another three are yet to be discovered

3. Water takes around 1000 years to travel all the way around the whole globe

4. Half of all the oxygen we breathe is produced in the ocean

5. The oceans may seem vast, but they're small compared to the overall size of our planet

6. Rogue waves really do exist

7. Oceans hold around 50 times more carbon than the atmosphere

8. The great garbage patch is more like a plastic soup

9. The Atlantic Ocean is getting bigger and the Pacific Ocean is getting smaller

10. The most remote point in the oceans is called Point Nemo

 

Bert Guevara's insight:

Oceans cover most of our planet, but we still have a lot to learn about this incredible ecosystem. Brush up on your knowledge of our watery world for World Oceans Day - June 8.

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Guardians of ancient ‘mangrove highway’ ("guarding the coastal lifeline as volunteers is amazing!")

Guardians of ancient  ‘mangrove highway’ ("guarding the coastal lifeline as volunteers is amazing!") | The Water Steward | Scoop.it
As sunlight faded that late afternoon, Zaldy Casidsid dipped his paddle again into the brackish waters of the mangrove forest in Barangay (village) Tigbao in Aroroy town, Masbate province.

Virgilio Natural Jr. of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Integrated Coastal Resource Management Project (ICRMP), said Buklod had been tasked by the government with guarding and conserving the mangrove in preparation for its declaration as a marine sanctuary in 2015.

Casidsid said he and his fellow members took up the challenge before they were formally registered as an association in 2011.

The DENR and the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) provided the group with assistance worth more than P380,000 to buy high-grade life vests, small boats for paddling through the tunnel of mangroves and two bigger ones, and to build a tree house, complete with kitchen, which the members use as a gathering place and reception area for tourists and visitors.

After pledging to protect the ancient trees, Buklod members refrained from using nails and concrete on the bamboo walks that weave through tree branches. “We do not want to hurt these trees,” Casidsid said.

The place used to be the habitat of alligators, many bird species and mudskippers before some farmers began cutting the trees to make charcoal. Casidsid used to be one of them before he became aware of the importance of mangroves during a DENR campaign.

In Matalangtalang, Erlito Tupas heads the Sama-Sama Fisherfolk Association, a group tasked by the DENR-ICRMP with safeguarding the 37-hectare Matalangtalang Marine Sanctuary from illegal fishers. Tupas and the 57 members of his group take turns in inspecting the boundaries to discourage fishermen from fishing there.

Bert Guevara's insight:

This is a prime example of a healthy partnership between the local community and the government in protecting the environment. This is how it should be done. Read on.

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E. Coli Contaminates Portland, Ore., Tap Water - NBC News ("how vulnerable is our water supply?")

E. Coli Contaminates Portland, Ore., Tap Water - NBC News ("how vulnerable is our water supply?") | The Water Steward | Scoop.it
All of Portland, Ore., was told Friday to boil its tap water after the city found E. coli in water samples.An alert sent to people who live in the city and n...

An alert sent to people who live in the city and nearby warned that they "should boil all tap water used for drinking, food preparation, tooth brushing and ice for at least one minute. Ice or any beverages prepared with un-boiled tap water on or after May 20 should be discarded."

 

In all, 670,000 customers are under the order, health officials said at a news conference. "Animal waste" — fecal matter — in the water was the likely source of the E. coli, they said.

There were no immediate reports that anyone had been sickened by drinking the water.

Samples taken three times between May 20 and May 23 "confirmed the presence of total coliform and E. coli in routine drinking water samples," the Portland Water Bureau said.

This is the second water problem in two months for Portland. In April, the Portland Water Bureau diverted nearly 36 million gallons of water from a reservoir after officials feared it was tainted by a teenager's urine.

Bert Guevara's insight:

How vulnerable to contamination is your water supply? If it comes from dams, how safe are the water sources?

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Rio Pollution Latest Problem in Olympic-Bound City - Guardian Liberty Voice ("lessons of pollution")

Rio Pollution Latest Problem in Olympic-Bound City - Guardian Liberty Voice ("lessons of pollution") | The Water Steward | Scoop.it
Guardian Liberty Voice
Rio Pollution Latest Problem in Olympic-Bound City
Guardian Liberty Voice
Now, the latest problem coming out of Rio is that there is a pollution problem in the waters of the Olympic-bound city that has many worried.

Over the last week a document was obtained, courtesy of the Associated Press that confirmed a highly polluted area in Guanabara Bay, the location where the 2016 sailing events will take place. In the document addressed to Sports Minister Aldo Rebelo, environment secretary Carlos Francisco Portinho stated that by the time of the Olympics, the bay might be able to cut pollution just over 50 percent. This is problematic as there was a promise of 80 percent by the time of the Olympic Games.

The contaminates found in the waters of Guanabara Bay includes various sewage, which has been found to be a cause of diseases such as dysentery, cholera and hepatitis A, among many others. For this reason alone, it is not surprising that the sailing’s governing body does not want to risk athletes’ lives by competing in the bay. As a matter of fact Allan Norregaard, a Danish bronze medal winner, has said the body of water was the most polluted place he had ever been.

Bert Guevara's insight:

Rio is paying the price for lax pollution policies. The Olympics hangs in the balance.

"... Debris in the waters is not a good thing. For the canoeing event, imagine if debris gets in the way of the competition. ... However, it is a whole other story if athletes have to maneuver around garbage in a body of water that should be environmentally safe.

"The worst of Rio’s environmental problems is the fact that the contaminants found in the bay could cause recurring or fatal diseases to athletes. This would be a major liability for not only Rio officials, but for the Olympic Committee as well."

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