Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Earth Week: Day 2 Water Tues April 22

Welcome to The 40th Earth Week, Day 2!

Today we will talk about WATER. Topics covered this week are:

• Monday: Energy and Energy Efficiency

• Tuesday: Water (The Water-Energy Nexus)

• Wednesday: Paper (The Paper in the Water-Energy Nexus)

• Thursday (Earth Day), April 22nd: Plastic … Dress GREEN-ish…

• Friday: What’s Next?


* Few water facts

* We use more than 1,000 gallons of water per day!

* How many gallons of water does it take to power a light bulb?

* How many gallons of water does it take to make food? Clothes?

* So what?

* Our EarthDay Water Tips.

* The World Water Day Quiz from March 22, 2010… with answers and comments. (below)

* What’s tomorrow: the nexus of paper, water and energy.


Water Facts: The Water Resources of Earth

Over 70% of our Earth's surface is covered by water ( we should really call our planet "Ocean" instead of "Earth"). Although water is seemingly abundant, the real issue is the amount of fresh water available.

• 97.5% of all water on Earth is salt water, leaving only 2.5% as fresh water

• Nearly 70% of that fresh water is frozen in the icecaps of Antarctica and Greenland; most of the remainder is present as soil moisture, or lies in deep underground aquifers as groundwater not accessible to human use.

• < 1% of the world's fresh water (~0.007% of all water on earth) is accessible for direct human uses. This is the water found in lakes, rivers, reservoirs and those underground sources that are shallow enough to be tapped at an affordable cost. Only this amount is regularly renewed by rain and snowfall, and is therefore available on a sustainable basis.

Source: http://www.globalchange.umich.edu/globalchange2/current/lectures/freshwater_supply/freshwater.html


How much water do you use per day?

Indirectly and directly, the average person uses more than 1,000 gallons of water per day:

• 510 for food production – includes irrigation, livestock, etc.

• 465 to produce household electricity – Range: 30 to 600 depending on technology

• 100 direct household use – includes bathing, laundry, lawn watering, drinking, etc.

How many gallons of water does it take to…?

Water to power a 60 Watt light bulb? It takes a lot of water to generate electricity using coal, diesel or nuclear power. Nuclear requires the most water to generate electricity. Estimates are that it takes between 3,000 and 6,000 gallons of water to produce electricity for a 60 watt light bulb, 12 hours per day, for a year! (Link to an article.) Wind power and photovoltaic solar power don’t use any water in operations to produce electricity. Ethanol requires a surprising amount of water during procession. Ethanol from corn, for example, requires about 10 gallons of water for every gallon produced; and that’s not counting the water required to grow the corn, if that’s what’s used.

Water to create a pound of food? (National Geographic, April, 2010). It takes a lot of water to grow crops, and a massive amount to produce animals for food. This has been referred to as virtual water. It takes 37 gallons of water for a cup of coffee counting everything from grow coffee beans, to cleaning them, and to brewing the coffee. To grow a pound of potatoes requires only 31 gallons; beans, 43; and corn, 109. BUT it requires a huge amount of water to produce animal products, since you have to grow the corn or hay first in order to feed it to animals. It requires 371 gallons to produce a pound of cheese; eggs, 400; chicken, 469; pork, 756; and 1,857 gallons of water to produce a single pound of beef. Wow! Not only is it healthier for you to eat lower on the food chain, but it would save massive amounts of water (and energy).

Oh, and it requires a huge amount of water to produce clothes -- to so much to grow the cotton, but the water intensive processing required to make cloth and ultimately clothes. It takes 2,700 gallons of water to produce one pair of blue jeans! Countries that are net importers of foods, clothes and other finished products are, essentially, also importing water.

The Nexus of Water and Energy. As you can see, power generation and food creation require large amounts of water. Similarly, water requires energy in many ways. Hydro electric generation from water in dams is a direct relationship. Other requirements of energy are simply to get water from wherever it is, to wherever it is needed. Energy is needed to purify water. With only about 1% of the world’s water as fresh, an obvious way to get fresh water is to process salt water. Unfortunately, desalinization is rather expensive. It’s much easier and cheaper to pump water from the mainland to islands (St. Petersburg and Key West).

Expect that water and water management will become far more important in the future. Probably as important as oil is currently. You should see more disputes over water by states and countries.

Couple cool Energy-Water Nexus sites: http://www.eeweek.org/water_and_energy_wise/connection and



So What?

So energy and water are very closely interconnected. It’s important to conserving water and to use it wisely. Unfortunately, as with most things sustainability related, the people who deal with energy, don’t generally deal with water management, and vice versa. Sustainability requires an integrated approach to most things, especially water and energy.

The World Water Day Quiz from March 22, 2010 (see below)

What’s Next?

Stay tuned for Wednesday’s discussion on the how Paper fits into the Energy-Water nexus.

Save energy, save water…


• www.WaterMatters.org (Great, including Florida specific info.)

• http://www.worldwaterday.org/

• www.UNWater.org

• www.savewaterfl.com (For details & water-saving tips.)

• Bottled Water and Energy: A Fact Sheet http://www.pacinst.org/topics/water_and_sustainability/bottled_water/bottled_water_and_energy.html

• EPA on Water http://www.epa.gov/WaterSense/pubs/waterenergy.html

• Save Water Save Energy brochure: http://www.epa.gov/WaterSense/docs/drops-to-watts508.pdf (including facts).


REPRINT From March 22nd, World Water Day Quiz, with answers

World Water Day Quiz (March 22, 2010)

Quiz winners won a Warner Water Bottle.

1) What percentage (by volume?) of the human body is water (H2O)? __55 to 65__ %

NOTES: Babies start out as mostly water, say 80+ water. Adults vary M/F, weight, etc between about 50% and 70%. (See WebMD for more on this.)

2) Is Florida currently “officially” in a Drought? Yes ….

{Extra note, April 20, 2010: with el Nino weather the rain has been abundant and water levels are pretty good, but water restrictions are still being maintained in many counties/cities.}

South Florida Water Management (called “Swift Mud”) just instituted new year-round water restrictions on March 15, 2010.

3) What number of the world’s 6B+ population have poor/contaminated drinking water?

d. > 1B (www.UNWater.org)

4) Related to human waste (sewage) about how many of the world’s population lack adequate sanitation?

d. >2.0B (2.5 B actually, www.UNWater.org)

5) All of the following are water-related primary cause of death world-wide except:

(diarrhea, malaria and dehydration are all major causes of death. 3.5% of world deaths)

d. (wrong) Texting/phoning and driving into lakes, rivers and oceans.

6) Florida water restrictions (in Tampa, for example) are:

c. Currently in effect because of years of less-than-average rainfall and overuse. (For details & water-saving tips, please visit www.savewaterfl.com.)

7) On average, which uses less water? (Shower or bath, depends…)

a. Taking a shower, if you take shorter showers, especially if low-flow shower.

b. Bath (takes about 30+ gals). Uses less water when compared to longer showers especially in homes built before 1992 (before low-flow requirements).

TIP: Next time you are in a combined tub/shower, take a shower with the pug in to see how full the tub is when you are done taking a “normal” shower. That will answer the question for you which is better, bath or shower.

8) A gallon of tap water (vs. bottled water) costs about? (varies per area & customer)

a. 0.5 cents (numbers rang from fractions of a cent to pennies. A $25 bill for 4,000 gal would be about 6/10 of a cent ($.006 or .6ct). Published computations show less than .1ct for some commercial users to about .7cts.

The cost of bottle water is huge: $5-$12 per gallon if you buy in small bottles; the costs of plastic, transportation and landfill increase this cost with huge externality costs. PLUS at least 25% of bottled water comes from public water sources (PWS on the label) – that’s safe tap water to you and me!

TIP: Water is free in most case, so carry a water bottle around and enjoy clean, clear water; that’s a luxury that a quarter of the world’s population doesn’t enjoy.

9) What classes/course at Warner teach how to drill wells, sanitation and water conservation?

The H.E.A.R.T. program offers really cool education and training for someone going on a mission to a poverty area to help with health & infrastructure building.

Visit www.Warner.Edu/heart/.

10) What idea(s) do you have for Warner to save water?


Tips and easy means to save water. (Thanks Jose S)

• In your house check for leaks from faucets and pipes; even the smallest drip can waste as much as 75 liters a day.

In the bathroom:

• Flush less — remember the toilet is not an ashtray or wastebasket.

• While brushing teeth, shaving, etc., turn off the water.

• When cold water will do, avoid using hot water.

• Take shorter showers — 5 minutes or less.

• In the shower, wet yourself down, turn the water off, lather up, then turn the water on to rinse off soap.

In the kitchen:

• Operate the dishwasher only when you have a full load.

• Scrape, don’t rinse, your dishes before loading in the dishwasher. Run when full.

• When purchasing a dishwasher, consider a water-efficient model.

• Thaw frozen food in the refrigerator or microwave, not under running water.

• Store drinking water in the refrigerator instead of letting the tap run while you wait for cool water to flow.

• When washing dishes by hand, fill one sink or basin with soapy water and fill the rinsing sink to one-third or one-half full

— avoid letting the water run continuously in the rinsing sink.

In the laundry:

• For washers with variable settings for water volume, select the minimum amount required per load.

• If load size cannot be set, operate the washer with full loads only.

• Use the shortest wash cycle for lightly soiled loads; normal and permanent press wash cycles use more water.

• Check hoses regularly for leaks.

• Pre-treat stains to avoid rewashing.




Earth Week Posts: Energy... Monday, 19th

Welcome to Earth Week!

Today we will talk about ENERGY. Topics covered this week are:

* Monday: Energy and Energy Efficiency (today)

* Tuesday: Water (The Water-Energy Nexus)

* Wednesday: Paper (The Paper-Water-Energy Nexus)

* Thursday (EarthDay), April 22nd: Plastic … Dress GREEN-ish…

* Friday: What’s Next?


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vLtcpyY4fh4&feature=related <--- Fun

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bxpgO386JYI&feature=related <--- Fun

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mJlBisaAR8Y <--- Balloons

http://ge.ecomagination.com/smartgrid/#/landing_page <--- Smart Grid

http://www.clintonfoundation.org/earthday/quiz.php <--- Cool Climate quiz. Each person who takes it will have $2 donated toward solar lights in Haiti!

Sections listed below:

* Cash for junker appliances. Geat rebates for EnergyStar Appliances.

* The BIG picture of Sustainability

* Action needed, and why.

* Sources of power: the not-so-clean coal, oil, natural gas, renewables and nuclear.

* Coming up next is the nexus of water and power…

* Our EarthDay Energy Tips.

* Things going on earth day

Energy & Energy Savings

Cash for clunkers appears to have been surprisingly successful for cars… Cash for appliances is a 2-week extension in Florida of the hugely successful EnergyStar program by the federal government. It allows people to get discounts and rebates for installing energy efficient appliances, especially refrigerators and air conditioner/heaters. Visit www.myFloridaClimate.com to see more on this for Florida and www.EnergyStar.gov for info on the whole program. This program brought us the compact florescent light (CFL) bulbs that use only about 20% of the power as a regular incandescent light. They are also bring us the LED light which 90% less electricity and last even longer than CFL.

The BIG picture of Sustainability. The global recession was good news for the environment, kinda. The contraction of the world economy during the great recession of 2008-2009 caused the global demand for oil and electric to reduce. Companies produced less and (unemployed) people traveled less. But now with China is growing at more than 10% and the US is going strong at 5% growth, that two year respite has ended.

In the US and Europe, jobs should be slow in coming so, for most people, it should feel like we still have a recession for several more years. During those times, it is unlikely that major environmental-type initiatives would be undertaken.

Action needed, BECAUSE of the uncertainty. The Economist magazine (March 20, 2010) argues that action is necessary now precisely because of the uncertainty surrounding global warming and climate change. A little action now could make a huge difference in 10 years when the science about the degree of impact that humans are having on our environment is more certain. Think of this as an insurance policy -- take a little action now, just in case.

Energy Efficiency alone could save us huge amounts of energy – and money! Doing an energy audit and getting energy efficient appliances could easily save homeowners and businesses 25% to 50% on their utilities. A recent study by McKinsey said that a $0.5T investment in energy efficiency should yield about three times that in savings over a 10-year period. That could be a great cure for the economy and an improvement for the environment as well.

Sources of Power (of our total energy consumption in quadrillion Btu of 99.1 qBtu in 2008). With 4.5% of the world’s population, we in the US consume about 25% of the world’s power. Power for the US comes from the following sources, in this order:

• Oil (37.1 qBtu; 37%±). Oil is the primary source of power in the US. Most of it goes for transportation including gas, diesel and jet fuel. It is also used to produce plastics and many other things. Most of our oil is imported, even though we are a huge producer as well.

The End of Cheap Oil. Many oil fields are being depleted. The estimates that existing fields reduce their production at about 4% each year. Meaning that we need to find another 4% just to stay even. Countries such as Mexico and the United Arab Emirates are running out. Estimates are that the world production of oil will never exceed 85 million barrels per day. That is almost where we are at now. Expect oil to become more expensive over the next 5 to 20 year, maybe outrageously expensive.

• Coal (22.5 qBtu, ~ 22%).. About half of our energy goes toward electricity and about half of that comes from coal. You should cringe when you hear the words “clean coal”. First off, there are the miners who die every year, recently in Virginia and in China. Our coal plants have lots of filtering and scrubbers so the emissions from them are not too bad (but some estimates are that thousands of people still die each year from health issues from these emissions). China doesn’t have the same cleaning/filtering and it is brining on many new coal-powered plants every week. The smog from coal power and vehicles is overwhelming cities and even surrounding countries. Oh, and the coal ash is highly toxic, as seen in the recent ash spill in Tennessee.

• Natural Gas (23.8 qBtu; 24%±).. New technology has really opened up the ability to find and to retrieve natural gas in the US. Fracturing (Fracking or fracing) and horizontal drilling makes huge gas reserves in the US available with very little known impact to the environment and risk to the population. Estimates are the we in the US have a couple hundred years worth! Many times the available energy as Saudi has in oil. It currently costs about one-fourth of the price of gas. It’s cleaner; it’s domestic; and it will create lots of US jobs.!

The wealthy oilman Boone Pickens (www.PickensPlan.com) argues that we have to get off of imported oil and we have to get off of coal. He suggests moving to natural gas as a bridge fuel; NatGas is 30% to 40% cleaner and lower in greenhouse gas emissions than oil and coal. Pickens also really likes wind power for electricity which is currently competitive with coal/oil, but distribution lines are missing from windy plains and mountains to the power grid.

• Renewable (7.3 qBtu; 7%±). Ultimately we need to get to renewable energy. Wind is competitive, but only in windy areas. That requires building the power grid to connect wind to population centers. Solar continues to be more competitive, especially with subsidies… But, funding for subsidies has run out, so many people have already installed solar panels in Florida and they are waiting to get rebates. We produce only a fraction of our power from renewable sources and hydro-electric.

• Nuclear. (8.5 qBtu; 8.5%±). Nuclear is good in that it is a “clean” power source producing very low greenhouse gas emissions. Although, nuclear is now being viewed much better, it too has some issues. The US still has no useful plan on what to do with the radioactive waste.

No matter how you look at power, the best – most efficient kilowatt – is the one saved and, therefore, never produced. Start with energy audits, programmable thermostats and smart meters. Each of us, at home and at business, can substantially save energy. It saves us money and it saves the environment.

It even saves water. Stay tuned for Tuesday’s discussion on the Energy-Water nexus.

Save energy…

Reduce, reuse, recycle

OUR ENERGY TIPS (See links below as well):  (Thanks Raul M)

1. Phantom Electricity. Things that seem to be off (TVs, Sound systems, etc.), but are still running so they can be activated by a remote should consume about 25% of home electricity in the future. Pull the plug or put these electronics on a power strip.

2. Your mobile phone only takes a couple of hours to charge, so don't leave it plugged in overnight. In fact, don’t leave the charge plugged in with nothing attached; it still uses some electricity.

3. As the days get chillier, closing your curtains at dusk, it will stop heat from escaping through windows.

4. Give your computer a good night's rest too, and you'll save money and CO2. The screensaver on your computer uses the same amount of power as when it's on and being used. Switch your PC off if you're going to be away for a while.

5. As the days get hotter, close curtains to block out the sun and stop it from heating up your home.

6. Replace ordinary light bulbs with energy saving compact florescent bulbs or even LED lights. CFL use a quarter of the electricity to produce the same amount of light; LEDs use about 10%.

7. Get a programmable thermostat and use it well. It can easily save you 10-20% on your utilities. As smart meter can also help people analyze their power usage.

8. When out, turn the lights n such off.


• For all incentives, by state go to: http://www.dsireusa.org/

• EnergyStar, http://www.energystar.gov/, checkout KIDS Section.

Also see www.myFloridaClimate.com including the current 2-week special program.

• www.EPA.gov

• www.EIA.gov (US Energy Information Administration.)

• http://www.energy.siemens.com/entry/energy/hq/en/?tab=energy

• Campus Consortium for Environmental Excellence (www.C2E2.org).

• 5 ways to save the environment: (really good). http://environment.about.com/od/greenlivingdesign/a/30_minutes.htm

• 51 things you can do to save the planet: http://www.time.com/time/specials/packages/completelist/0,29569,1602354,00.html

• http://science.howstuffworks.com/save-earth-top-ten.htm

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Sustainable Taxes... No laughing matter.

Sir Tax-a-LOT...

Lots of people are debating the argument that the US has taxes that are too high and that the current deficit will have to be cured by raising huge taxes.

Mankiw is the author of the leading text book on economics: http://gregmankiw.blogspot.com/

Check out his current post on our tax levels (permanent link): http://gregmankiw.blogspot.com/2010/03/taxes-per-person.html

What do you think. Are we overtaxed as a nation? And what's with the pundits that say we have the highest tax rates in ?world?... I haven't been able to find evidence on that assertion. If you count double taxation: Business max tax + Personal max tax (on dividends?) and you have a pretty good case for really high taxes, but eventually, really high taxes cause a shift in investment decisions into muni's etc. US people in the highest income levels have surprisingly low overall tax rates...

BUT as Laffer would tell ya, you put enough taxes on the golden goose and eventually it stops producing golden eggs. And the federal deficits are massive storm clouds hanging over the US and the World economies. That'z really no Laughing matter. EH.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

EarthHOUR 2010

It's EarhHOUR tonight.  (Sat March 27th at 8:30pm, local time).

What are you doing with this time in the dark??? If it is publishable in public, let us know.

What if you're driving at 8:30????

You still have to turn your lights out, Right??? ...!:-)

Visit http://www.earthhour.org/
Check out the cool pix from years past. Expect cool pics from this year as we start down under and work the clock to you!...

Monday, March 22, 2010

World Water Day - March 22

International World Water Day


UN-Water is dedicating World Water Day 2010 to the theme of water quality, reflecting its importance alongside quantity of the resource in water management.

International World Water Day is held annually on 22 March as a means of focusing attention on the importance of freshwater and advocating for the sustainable management of freshwater resources.

Each year, World Water Day highlights a specific aspect of freshwater. This year, the theme is "Shared Water - Shared Opportunities" with special focus on transboundary waters.


Sunday, February 21, 2010

Bloombox... Fuel Cell in every household.

Give a look at the cool Fuel Cell technology that was announced tonight on CBS. They have 20 companies, including Google, FedEx and Wal-Mart testing units. BloomEnergy will have to get its mass production in place. The cool thing about fuel cell technology is that it can use a multitude of fuels and it can function as a power generator as well as an uninterruptible power supply (but without the issues associated with batteries).

Also see some discussion on this issue at Earth2Tech.

Pretty cool. Let's see how reviews sound now that the technology has been unveiled.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

IT Technologies in a Sustainability World

We have some guest posts coming up related to Information Technology and the Sustainablity uses thereof. Expect them here soon.  I can't wait.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Sustainability in Education?

Even though campuses are getting greener, the classes are not.

A big study of campuses, the Campus Report Card, by the NWF (with others) showed how much various schools are doing in terms of sustainability. They are doing a lot on campus but not much teaching of the concepts in the classroom. (Also see some recent research on Generation E.)

The Campus Report Card is actually two similar studies, on in 2001 and one in 2008. They show that the course offerings of environmental and sustainability programs essentially reduced by half. That is, the average student in 2001 had an 8% chance of having an sustainability/environment class, but that dropped in half to 4% chance by 2008.

In fact the worst educational department was teachers education. "Teacher education, that program that trains K-12 teachers, has about a 15% chance of being able to take a course on sustainability within their major" (Hall et al., 2009, p. 17).

The best guess as to why this drop happened is because of two forces. First, and probably foremost, the prices of oil were really low until after this 2008 study was completed (and then they shot up to ~$150 per barrel). Second, the Bush/Chaney administration was friendly to oil interests and not so friendly to environmental interests (no links to environmental sites comments on this since this is a family-friendly site).

Can we move forward with Sustainability in the US without educating on the subject?
Tell us what you think?

Hall, E., Taylor, S., Zapalski, C., & Hall, T. (2009). Sustainability in education: Green in the facilities, but not in the classrooms. Proceedings of the Society for Advancement of Management, USA.