Posts tagged ‘Conservation’

Clear Gold

Michigan is proposing build a pipeline to drain 322 million litres of water from Lake Huron. Ontario hasn’t agreed to it yet, because the proposal doesn’t contain assurance that the water “will stay in the Great Lakes basin and be used efficiently.” Since moving water from the Great Lakes sounds a lot like the plan for solving Lake Mead’s problems without addressing the issues of wasted water.

The people murmuring about Water Wars are starting to look less and less crazy as time goes on.

Sarnia solved the issue of water conservation. They raised water prices and imposed watering restrictions, and a miraculous thing happened. “The water is so bloody expensive, that’s why people are not using it,” according to Coun. Anne Marie Gillis. They cut their water down to 81,000 cubic metres/day from the 181,000 it’s licensed to sell. So, to celebrate, they are begging people to waste more water, because the loss of revenue is putting them in the red.

Water is more valuable a resource than coal, oil, or gold. Three days without it and you die. Period. And as we start to watch folks around the world try to deal with their water shortages, it’s probably a good idea to look at our relationship to it. The average American uses 4500 litres of water per day (and I can’t imagine the Canadian numbers are much different—but if you know your food consumption in kilograms, you can calculate your water footprint). It’s not so surprising when you realize that it takes 200 litres to make 1kg of plastic, or that it requires 2-4 barrels of water to extract a barrel of oil from the tar sands. And then, of course, there’s food.

(more…)

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August 1, 2009 at 8:14 pm 1 comment

Ontario Energy Audit

If you or anyone you know lives in an old house, check out the ecoENERGY retrofit program. They just increased their grants by 25% (and if you’re in Ontario, the provincial government will double your grant payments), so even if you’re renting, i’m sure your landlord will be interested.  The grants totally covered the cost to insulate our walls and attic, and helped us replace our obsolete furnace with a high-efficiency one, so we’ll be laughing when we get our gas bill this winter. Plus, they’re letting us apply for an extension (but still sending the cheque for the work completed did so far), so hopefully we’ll be able to do more.

July 31, 2009 at 10:26 pm Leave a comment

Growing Bananas in -40 degree weather

The thing people always ask me when I say I’m on the 100 mile diet is, don’t you miss bananas? [Full disclosure: I can’t kick avocados, which have their tasty hooks in me] I was never that big on bananas, but I’ve tried unsuccessfully to start a dwarf variety from seed a few times (they can take up to 3 years to germinate). Amory B. Lovins (great name!) has done even better. He harvests full sized banana crops grown indoors in a -40 degree climate, without even heating the space. And the technology he used is 20 years old.

Watch this video. It’s not just about the bananas, it’s about intelligent energy-saving design, and it brought me back from the depths of GMO dispair last night.

Because I can’t endorse the Chevron PR ad preceding the vid, here’s a bonus image:
chevron bs

May 22, 2009 at 5:48 pm Leave a comment

Is Your Lawn Worth Someone’s Ability to Live?

How about desert produce?

According to this disturbing article, America’s largest reservoir is drying up. It’s really simple math: the amount of water being removed from Lake Mead every year excedes the amount being fed into it by the Colerado river.
photo by Tim Pearce

In 2008, the Scripps Institute of Oceanography issued a paper titled “When will Lake Mead go dry?” which set the odds of Lake Mead drying up by 2021 at 50-50. No more water, no more electricity, no more pumping power.

This is bad news for the million acres of crops being irrigated by the water source accross the U.S. and Mexico. Oh, and the tens of millions of people who depend upon the reservoir for their water supply, and the half-million homes that are powered by “its mighty Hoover Dam”.

How did this happen?

Well, for starters, there’s the farmers who flood arid farmland with water to grow rice (what?). There’s the fact that we depend on veggies grown in the desert (how much are those California strawberries worth to you?). And then there’s the fact that residents of desert communities maintain beautiful green grass lawns, and “golfers demand courses in areas where the temperature exceeds 100 degrees Fahrenheit”.

Is the status of a green lawn or the convenience of out-of-season food really worth “turning the tap off for 800,000 households”?

At least they’ve started “grass buyback” programs to convince people to consider drought-tolerant landscaping. They’re offering tax incentives to people who use pool covers. Lovely.

Of course, when Las Vegas residents tried to pass a bill to allow homeowners to install graywater systems, Southern Nevada Water Authority blocked it, saying that “legalizing graywater will cause people to use more fresh water and return less dirty water to the reclamation plant”. Sorry? It’s like the laws making rain barrels illegal.

Instead of considering a shift in thinking/lifestyle, the best solutions that the Big Thinkers could come up with for the problem are either to pump water in from eastern states or to de-salt seawater.

The power requirement for either proposal—desalting seawater or transporting water over great distance—is enormous. But if the only other alternative is a mass evacuation from the western United States, what other choice do we have?

Pardon me?

May 7, 2009 at 11:26 am 2 comments


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