How to Conserve Water

Although nearly three-quarters of our planet is covered in water, only 1 to 2 percent can support terrestrial life. Growing human demand, the proliferation of urban sprawl, and wasteful agribusiness consumption are draining our reservoirs and straining water treatment, distribution, and disposal systems. As water is hijacked from rivers and streams, the amount of sand that accumulates on beaches also diminishes, threatening the health of vital coastal wetlands and wildlife.


Droughts, flooding, and other extreme weather events exacerbated by climate change are also making fresh water an increasingly scarce commodity. In fact, the struggle over the world’s depleting water resources, much like with oil today, is a crisis that will likely come to a head some time this century.But even if you live in an area with abundant water resources, helping to conserve what comes out of your faucet will also save you money and energy. Here are some ways you can help, excerpted from 50 Ways to Save the Ocean (2006, New World Library) by David Helvarg. Read more

How to Make Fire With Water

From cooking fish on a rock to building a DIY wood gasifier from old cans, Paul Osborn of BC Outdoor Survival has shown us some pretty cool little survival tricks in his time. 

But the title of his latest video had me a little flummoxed—can you really start a fire with water? Fire-WaterIt turns out that what Paul is talking about is creating a lens using nothing but water and household plastic wrap—and then using that lens to focus the sun’s rays on a piece of paper or other flammable material. (Like these DIY firelighters Paul showed us how to make before.)

It turns out that his water trick is not only possible, but relatively simple. The biggest challenges appear to be keeping the light focused, stopping your lens/balloon from dripping on the fledgling fire, and of course if you are a survivalist video blogger, maintaining steady camera work as you do it. Read more

Scientist drinks billion-year-old water: “It tastes terrible”

Didn’t age like a fine wine…

drinking-water-glass-strawOne of the great scientific questions has now been answered. No, it’s not something about the Higgs Boson or the Riemann hypothesis… Rather, we now know what the water that has been sequestered 1.5 miles underground in Timmins, Ontario, for between 1 and 2.6 billion years tastes like. Barbara Sherwood Lollar, an Earth sciences professor at the University of Toronto, closed her eyes and took a sip of the world’s oldest water discovered so far for science. Read more

Better Understanding of Water’s Freezing Behavior at Nanoscale

The results of a new study led by George Washington University Professor Tianshu Li provide direct computational evidence that nucleation of ice in small droplets is strongly size-dependent, an important conclusion in understanding water’s behavior at the nanoscale. The formation of ice at the nanoscale is a challenging, basic scientific research question whose answer also has important implications for climate research and other fields.


Ice cube (stock image). According to a new study, nucleation of ice in small droplets is strongly size-dependent, an important conclusion in understanding water’s behavior at the nanoscale.

The crystallization of ice from supercooled water is generally initiated by a process called nucleation. Because of the speed and size of nucleation — it occurs within nanoseconds and nanometers — probing it by experiment or simulation is a major challenge. Read more

Is Enough Being Done to Make Drinking Water Safe?

There is a lack of evidence regarding the effectiveness of technologies used to reduce arsenic contamination finds research in BioMed Central’s open access journal Environmental Evidence. More studies assessing the technologies themselves and how they are used in the community are needed to ensure that people have access to safe, clean water.

christopher-saintArsenic is now recognised to be one of the world’s greatest environmental hazards, threatening the lives of several hundred million people. Naturally occurring arsenic leaches into water from surrounding rocks and once in the water supply it is both toxic and carcinogenic to anyone drinking it. It is colourless and odourless and consequently people use it instead of more obviously polluted surface water. Natural arsenic pollution affects 21 countries across the world sometimes reaching a concentration more than ten times the WHO guidelines. Read more