Sacred Water, New Mine: Michigan Tribe Battles Corp.

Head in any direction on Michigan’s Upper Peninsula and you will reach gushing rivers, placid ponds and lakes – both Great and small.

An abundant resource, this water has nourished a small Native American community for hundreds of years. So 10 years ago, when an international mining company arrived near the shores of Lake Superior to burrow a mile under the Earth and pull metals out of ore, the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community of the Lake Superior Band of Chippewa had to stand for its rights and its water.

The Eagle Project mine is just inland from Lake Superior in the central part of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. Credit: Michigan Department of Environmental Quality.

And now, as bulldozers raze the land and the tunnel creeps deeper, the tribe still hasn’t backed down.

“The indigenous view on water is that it is a sacred and spiritual entity,” said Jessica Koski, mining technical assistant for the Keweenaw Bay community. “Water gives us and everything on Earth life.” Далее

Working Wonders Without Water Out West

SEATTLE – In the long rain shadow of the Cascade Mountains, where dryland wheat farmers have eked out livings for more than a century, climate change is very much an issue of the present.

The rain gauge is always in the back of the mind for Mike Nichols, a wheat farmer cultivating 20,0000 acres across two counties in south-central Washington state.

It has to be: Nichols doesn’t irrigate, and with less than six inches of precipitation a year, his wheat crop is already on the edge of what’s considered possible for dryland farming. When drought hits or if, as expected, the West gets drier, his operation will be in trouble.

A wheat field outside of Palouse, Wash. is dusted by a January snow. Most of Washington’s wheat crop is watered only with rain falling from the sky – a future facing many farmers across the West as water supplies dwindle and the climate shifts to drier conditions. Credit: Josh Smith/flickr.

“The last eight years have been pretty good,” said Nichols. “But we are putting some [cash] aside, because down the line we know we’re going to go through another drought.” Далее

Schotland: Torridon 2012 – 1

Afgelopen week heb ik nogmaals een week doorgebracht in mijn tweede huis, Schotland. Dit keer heb ik gekozen voor het gebied Torridon in het Noord-Westen van Schotland. Hier ben ik eerder een dag geweest, maar heb er nooit een hele week doorgebracht. Het gebied is echter meer dan de moeite waard. In de aankomende blog berichten deel ik graag de resultaten met jullie. Далее

Coral Reefs of the Caribbean Facing Collapse

Caribbean coral reefs — which make up one of the world’s most colorful, vivid and productive ecosystems — are on the verge of collapse, with less than 10% of the reef area showing live coral cover.

With so little growth left, the reefs are in danger of utter devastation unless urgent action is taken, conservationists warned. They said the drastic loss was the result of severe environmental problems, including over-exploitation, pollution from agricultural run-off and other sources, and climate change.

The decline of the reefs has been rapid: in the 1970s, more than 50% showed live coral cover, compared with 8% in the newly completed survey. The scientists who carried it out warned there was no sign of the rate of coral death slowing.

A pair of French angelfish enjoy the coral reef in the Caribbean Sea. Credit: Marcus Mays/The Guardian

 

Coral reefs are a particularly valuable part of the marine ecosystem because they act as nurseries for younger fish, providing food sources and protection from predators until the fish have grown large enough to fend better for themselves. They are also a source of revenue from tourism and leisure. Далее

‘Virtual Water’ – A New Way to Look at Climate Impacts

While international trade results in carbon emissions thanks to the fossil fuels burned by planes, trucks and ships, a Princeton University research team has found that world trade could also mean more efficient water use as a side benefit. And since water is a key resource in the production of climate-friendly energy sources, including hydroelectric and nuclear power, that could at least partially offset trade’s negative impact.

Focusing on agriculture, which accounts for 80 percent of freshwater consumption worldwide, the researchers examined trade through the lens of what they call “virtual water” — a measure of how much water goes into the production of a bushel or a kilogram of a given crop. “It’s like the carbon footprint concept, but for water,” Princeton civil and environmental engineering graduate student Carole Dalin, lead author of a paper on the topic in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, said in an interview.

Watering soybeans, Keya Paha County, Nebraska.

According to Dalin and her colleagues, it turns out that nations with inadequate water resources also have lower crop yields per acre. In these places, in other words, it takes more water to produce the same amount of corn or soy or barley. Food exported from water-rich areas to water-poor areas, therefore, amounts to a transfer not just of food, but of water efficiency. Overall, Princeton civil and environmental engineering professor Ignacio Rodríguez-Iturbe said, “This lowers the average water footprint of the whole world population.” Далее