WASHINGTON, May 20 (Reuters) - Water levels in U.S.aquifers, the vast underground storage areas tapped foragriculture, energy and human consumption, between 2000 and 2008dropped at a rate that was almost three times as great as any time during the 20th century, U.S. officials said on Monday.
The accelerated decline in the subterranean reservoirs is due to a combination of factors, most of them linked to rising population in the United States, according to Leonard Konikow, a research hydrologist at the U.S. Geological Survey.
The big rise in water use started in 1950, at the time of an economic boom and the spread of U.S. suburbs. However, the steep increase in water use and the drop in groundwater levels that followed World War 2 were eclipsed by the changes during the first years of the 21st century, the study showed.
As consumers, farms and industry used more water starting in 2000, aquifers were also affected by climate changes, with less rain and snow filtering underground to replenish what was being pumped out, Konikow said in a telephone interview from Reston, Virginia.
Depletion of groundwater can cause land to subside, cut yields from existing wells, and diminish the flow of water from springs and streams.
He’s been called the Jedi master of data visualisation, dubbed a statistics guru and introduced as the man in whose hands data sings. When it comes to celebrity statisticians, Hans Rosling is firmly on the A-list.
In the years since his first TED talk (Stats that reshape your worldview), which thrust him into the spotlight in 2006 with millions of online views, Rosling’s now signature combination of animated data graphics and theatrical presentations has featured in dozens of video clips, a BBC4 documentary on The Joy of Stats, and numerous international conferences and UN meetings.
Instead of static bar charts and histograms, Rosling, professor of global health at Sweden’s Karolinska Institute, has used a combination of toy bricks, cardboard boxes, teacups and vibrant, animated data visualisations to breathe life into statistics on health, wealth and population. With comic timing and a flair for the unusual, Rosling’s style has undoubtedly helped make data cool.
When Time magazine included him in its 2012 list of the world’s 100 most influential people, it said his “stunning renderings of the numbers … have moved millions of people worldwide to see themselves and our planet in new ways”.
However, Rosling, 64, is less convinced about his impact on how people view the world. “It’s that I became so famous with so little impact on knowledge,” he says, when asked what’s surprised him most about the reaction he’s received.
“Fame is easy to acquire, impact is much more difficult. When we asked the Swedish population how many children are born per woman in Bangladesh, they still think it’s 4-5. I have no impact on knowledge. I have only had impact on fame, and doing funny things, and so on.” He’s similarly nonplussed about being a data guru. “I don’t like it. My interest is not data, it’s the world. And part of world development you can see in numbers. Others, like human rights, empowerment of women, it’s very difficult to measure in numbers.”
Belizean police are investigating a construction company that has destroyed most of one of the largest Mayan pyramids in the Caribbean nation to make gravel to dump on village roads, according to reports from the Caribbean.
Archaeologists and a local TV station witnessed the destruction Friday as bulldozers and excavators continued to demolish the 60-foot-tall main temple at Nohmul — “great mound” — one of the tallest structures in northern Belize, along the Mexican border in the Yucatan Peninsula.
“We can’t salvage what has happened out here,” John Morris, of the Institute of Archaeology, told 7 News Belize. “It is an incredible display of ignorance. I am appalled.” A news crew was threatened by a man with a machete as dump trucks hauled away rock and limestone from the temple, which has been “whittled down to a narrow core,” the TV station said.
A Caterpillar excavator was photographed tearing down what was left of the limestone-rich ruins. “It’s like being punched in the stomach, it’s just so horrendous,” Jamie Awe, head of the institute, told the Associated Press. “These guys knew that this was an ancient structure. It’s just bloody laziness.”
The pre-Colombian site is about 2,500 years old and consists of twin ceremonial clusters surrounded by 10 plazas and connected by a raised causeway. Mayans used stone tools to quarry the rock and build the complex by hand. An estimated 40,000 people are believed to have lived there between 500 and 250 BC.
More of these incidents to come in the years ahead as population growth outweighs the need to protect resources.
For the first time in human history, carbon dioxide levels reached an average daily level of 400 parts per million, as reported this week. The last time the atmosphere contained this much carbon dioxide was 3 million years ago.
This new data comes from the Mauna Loa observatory and a set of data continuously collected since 1958: The Keeling curve. This represents almost a 50% increase since the beginning of the industrial age. Although there is some seasonal variability (that little jagged edge) due to seasonal vegetation sucking up a bit of the CO2 every year, the trend is clear … and it’s not good.
So what does that mean? The effects are not something to look forward to. The last time the CO2 level was this high, way back when, here’s what the world was like:
Back then, it was a different world. Global average temperatures during the period were between 5.4 and 7.2 degrees Fahrenheit (3 to 4 degrees Celsius) higher than today, and sea level was as much as 131 feet (40 meters) higher in some places.
While the average (which is calculated from levels over the past several days) has since dropped back to 399 (as of today), the saddest part is that both of those numbers are unacceptable. 400 is just a little more catchy. With 401 and beyond right around the corner, what now? We must cut emissions as fast as humanly possible.
What do you think is the #1 thing we can do to change? What are YOU willing to do?
This milestone got some buzz this week. These articles don’t show the harsh reality that billions of people are going to buy cars, laptops, cell phones, homes with lightswitches, heat, and A/C, and all the luxury goods we westerners enjoy.
Countless tens of millions of miles of roads, power lines, fiber optic cable, drinking water and sewer pipes, gas pipelines, and other infrastructure are slated to be built for decades on end.
The question is not, What are you willing to do? No, it’s Who is going to deny billions and billions of people in China, south Asia, Africa, India, South America, and eastern Europeans from accessing these goods and services in the coming years? Who’s going to stop growth?
More elephant slaughters. We’re up to 30,000 kills every year now. Assault rifles are the kill tool of choice. Ivory collectors in Japan and China are major drivers of this poaching trend.
Durban - Gunmen allied to the Seleka rebel group, who killed 13 South African soldiers six weeks ago in the Central African Republic (CAR), have started to massacre forest elephants in a World Heritage Site.
Rod Cassidy, a South African tour operator who fled the CAR by boat the day after the military coup, said he had received information that a group of at least 17 heavily armed men entered the Dzanga-Sangha national park this week. Gunfire was heard on Tuesday night.
The gunmen appeared to be targeting forest elephants at Dzanga-Bai, a world-famous forest clearing and salt-lick where elephants gather every night.
A former Durban man, Cassidy set up a tourism lodge in the elephant sanctuary four years ago. He fled from the park with his wife and son on March 24, shortly after the Seleka rebel group entered Bangui, the capital of the republic.
“Gunshots were heard throughout the night. The situation is very worrying for the future of our heritage,” a senior park official pleaded in an e-mail.
“The government is aware of the massacres. Please put pressure on the NGOs and other partners to save the situation.”
Dzanga-Sangha national park, in the south-western corner of the country bordering Cameroon and the Republic of Congo, was declared part of a three-nation World Heritage Site last year.
Officials at the World Heritage Centre in Paris could not be reached for comment on Tuesday night. Late last week, however, Unesco director-general Irina Bokova voiced “deep concern” about the looming threat to the park’s population of forest elephants, gorillas and bongo antelope.
Noting that almost 30,000 elephants were being shot for ivory every year across Africa, Bokova said her organisation was alarmed by the surge in elephant poaching in central Africa and she noted that there had been a series of attacks by armed men in the vicinity of Dzanga-Sangha in recent weeks.
The park has more than 3 000 forest elephants, whose “pink” ivory is prized in Japan.
How to produce more wealth with less resources? Some argue it’s through technology and newer regulations. The simple concepts in this video show how technology can (or at least should) be able to help cities become more sustainable. Stick with it.
“Design Matters: Doing Better with Less” is a short but powerful animated story about using design to create sustainable wealth, and it provides essential insights into the future of business and innovation.
School children use an inflated tire tube to cross a river to go to a public school in Rizal province east of Manila, Philippines, on Oct. 12, 2012. Access to education is a problem in the Philippines, especially in rural areas, but enrollment rates remain relatively high. According to UNICEF, 85% of Filipino children are enrolled in elementary school, though only 62 percent finish high school.
Poaching and illegal trade of endangered animals worth $6 to 8$ billion, and expected to rise as China’s economy continues to advance. This report by Bloomberg eludes to ‘research tiger farms’ are actually cover for a trading infrastructure of illegal tiger parts.
A Filipino wildlife official shows seized elephant tusks and dried sea turtles estimated to be worth more than $2m from a shipment that came from Tanzania in 2009. The Philippines has launched an investigation into the alleged involvement of Catholic priests in the illegal trade of African ivory in the country, officials said. Elephant tusks are commonly used in the manufacture of statues, figurines and image replicas of saints | image by Dennis M. Sabangan
A blog about the interactions between the built environment, people, and nature.
I'm a climate change consultant specializing in climate adaptation, environmental law, and urban planning based in the U.S. In addition to traveling and hiking, I research, publish, and lecture on how cities can adapt to climate change.
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