Archive for the tag “water depletion”

News update

New coal plants most urgent threat to the planet, warns OECD head
The Guardian UK
Governments must rethink plans for new coal-fired power plants around the world, as these are now the “most urgent” threat to the future of the planet, the head of the OECD has warned. In unusually strong terms for the organisation – best known as a club of the world’s richest countries – its secretary general Angel Gurria, told governments to think “twice, or three, or four times” before allowing new coal-fired plants to go ahead.

Wars, Water Shortages & Heat Waves: Are You Prepared ?
Prachi Salve, IndiaSpend.com
Lives, properties and economies stand to be affected by climate change as we understand it. While debates on the significance and impact of climate change rage furiously, a new multi-nation study has argued that preparing for the risks of climate change is an imperative now. Particularly so for a country like India which is likely to have a greater economic impact as prosperity rises in the coming years.

Unnatural Disaster: How Global Warming Helped Cause India’s Catastrophic Flood
Daniel Grossman, Yale Environment 360
The flood that swept through the Indian state of Uttarakhand two years ago killed thousands of people and was one of the worst disasters in the nation’s recent history. Now researchers are saying that melting glaciers and shifting storm tracks played a major role in the catastrophe and should be a warning about how global warming could lead to more damaging floods in the future.

With One-Third of Largest Aquifers Highly Stressed, It’s Time to Explore and Assess the Planet’s Groundwater
National Geographic
One-third of the world’s 37 largest aquifers are highly stressed to over-stressed, according to a companion study published in the same issue of WRR. The eight most highly stressed aquifers receive almost no natural recharge to offset human use – including aquifers in Saudi Arabia, northwestern India and Pakistan.

Saudi Arabias solar-for-oil plan is a ray of hope
Damian Carrington, The Guardian UK
So what to make of the statement by Saudi Arabia’s oil minister that the world’s biggest oil exporter could stop using fossil fuels as soon as 2040 and become a “global power” in solar and wind energy? Ali Al-Naimi’s statement is striking as Saudi Arabia’s wealth and influence is entirely founded on its huge oil wealth and the nation has been one of the strongest voices against climate change action at UN summits.

Why a Leading Indian Politician Is Now an Environmental Hawk
Yale Environment 360
Former Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh believes the “cult” of unfettered economic growth has been ruinous for India’s environment. In an interview with Yale Environment 360, he talks about his vision of “green growth,” which he says is essential for his nation’s future.

The Limits to Growth and Greece: systemic or financial collapse?
Ugo Bardi
Could it be that all the financial circus that we are seeing dancing in and around Greece be just the effect of much deeper causes? The effect of something that gnaws at the very foundations not only of Greece, but of the whole Western World? Lets take a step back, and take a look at the 1972 study titled The Limits to Growth (LTG). Look at the base case scenario, the one which used as input the data that seemed to be the most reliable at the time. Here it is, in the 2004 version of the study, with updated data in input.

The Mystery of the Missing Carbon
Courtney White, A Carbon Pilgrim
It’s a whodunit with huge consequences for life on Earth. Somehow, a whole lot of atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) has gone missing and it’s becoming a scientific detective story to figure out where it went and why. The Principle Investigator into this mystery is NASA, which launched a satellite called the Orbiting Carbon Observatory-2 (OCO-2) on July 2nd, 2014, into an orbit around the Earth in hopes of cracking the case.

The Multi-Trillion Dollar Oil Market Swindle
Leonard Brecken, Oilprice.com
In the past, I documented the overstatements by both the IEA and EIA in 2014 & 2015 in terms of supply, inventory and understatements of demand. Others also noticed these distortions and, whether intentional or not, they exist and they are very large in dollar terms. These distortions, which are affecting price through media hype and/or direct/indirect price manipulation, are quite possibly the largest in financial history.

If everyone lived in an ‘ecovillage’, the Earth would still be in trouble
Samuel Alexander, The Conversation
According to the most recent data from the Global Footprint Network, humanity as a whole is currently in ecological overshoot, demanding one and a half planet’s worth of Earth’s biocapacity. As the global population continues its trend toward 11 billion people, and while the growth fetish continues to shape the global economy, the extent of overshoot is only going to increase.

Four Reports: Global Risks, Water, Food Policy Natural Capital

Environmental Risks Dominate the WEF Global Risks Report 2015
Edge Environment
Surveyed responses ranked the risks of ‘Water Crises’, ‘Failure of Climate Change Adaptation’ and ‘Extreme Weather Events’ among the topmost likely and impactful global risks in the World Economic Forums Global Risks Report 2015. These potential risks were considered of greater importance than other possible responses such as ‘Terrorist attacks’, ‘Fiscal Crisis’ and ‘Cyber attacks’. Of the 5 umbrella risks areas assessed (Economic, Geopolitical, Societal, Technological and Environmental), the report identifies ‘Environmental risks’ as the area in which there has been the least progress over the past 10 years.
Read the article   View the report

UN report: Earth is facing a 40% shortfall in water supply by 2030
India Environmental Portal
Earth is facing a 40% shortfall in water supply by 2030, unless we dramatically improve the management of this precious resource warns this latest edition of the UN World Water Development Report. The WWDR 2015 demonstrates how water resources and services are essential to achieving global sustainability.
View/download the report

IFPRI: Global Food Policy report 2014-2015
International Food Policy Research Institute
This 2014–2015 Global Food Policy Report is the fourth in an annual series that provides a comprehensive overview of major food policy developments and events. In this report, distinguished researchers, policymakers, and practitioners review what happened in food policy in 2014 at the global, regional, and national levels, and—supported by the latest knowledge and research—explain why. This year’s report is the first to also look forward a year, offering analysis of the potential opportunities and challenges that we will face in achieving food and nutrition security in 2015.
View/download the report

TEEB Report: No top industry would be profitable if it paid for natural capital
Shareable.net
This recent report was undertaken by environmental consultancy Trucost on behalf of The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity (TEEB) program sponsored by United Nations Environmental Program. TEEB asked Trucost to tally up the total “unpriced natural capital” consumed by the world’s top industrial sectors. (“Natural capital” refers to ecological materials and services like, say, clean water or a stable atmosphere; “unpriced” means that businesses don’t pay to consume them.)

Trucost’s big finding is that of the top 20 region-sectors ranked by environmental impacts, none would be profitable if environmental costs were fully integrated. Ponder that for a moment: None of the world’s top industrial sectors would be profitable if they were paying their full freight. Zero. That amounts to an global industrial system built on sleight of hand. As Paul Hawken likes to put it, we are stealing the future, selling it in the present, and calling it GDP.
Read the article   Download the report (pdf) 

Four Reports: Global Risks, Water, Food Policy & Natural Capital

Environmental Risks Dominate the WEF Global Risks Report 2015
Edge Environment
Surveyed responses ranked the risks of ‘Water Crises’, ‘Failure of Climate Change Adaptation’ and ‘Extreme Weather Events’ among the topmost likely and impactful global risks in the World Economic Forums Global Risks Report 2015. These potential risks were considered of greater importance than other possible responses such as ‘Terrorist attacks’, ‘Fiscal Crisis’ and ‘Cyber attacks’. Of the 5 umbrella risks areas assessed (Economic, Geopolitical, Societal, Technological and Environmental), the report identifies ‘Environmental risks’ as the area in which there has been the least progress over the past 10 years.
Read the article   View the report

UN report: Earth is facing a 40% shortfall in water supply by 2030
India Environmental Portal
Earth is facing a 40% shortfall in water supply by 2030, unless we dramatically improve the management of this precious resource warns this latest edition of the UN World Water Development Report. The WWDR 2015 demonstrates how water resources and services are essential to achieving global sustainability.
View/download the report

IFPRI: Global Food Policy report 2014-2015
International Food Policy Research Institute
This 2014–2015 Global Food Policy Report is the fourth in an annual series that provides a comprehensive overview of major food policy developments and events. In this report, distinguished researchers, policymakers, and practitioners review what happened in food policy in 2014 at the global, regional, and national levels, and—supported by the latest knowledge and research—explain why. This year’s report is the first to also look forward a year, offering analysis of the potential opportunities and challenges that we will face in achieving food and nutrition security in 2015.
View/download the report

TEEB Report: No top industry would be profitable if it paid for natural capital
Shareable.net
This recent report was undertaken by environmental consultancy Trucost on behalf of The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity (TEEB) program sponsored by United Nations Environmental Program. TEEB asked Trucost to tally up the total “unpriced natural capital” consumed by the world’s top industrial sectors. (“Natural capital” refers to ecological materials and services like, say, clean water or a stable atmosphere; “unpriced” means that businesses don’t pay to consume them.)

Trucost’s big finding is that of the top 20 region-sectors ranked by environmental impacts, none would be profitable if environmental costs were fully integrated. Ponder that for a moment: None of the world’s top industrial sectors would be profitable if they were paying their full freight. Zero. That amounts to an global industrial system built on sleight of hand. As Paul Hawken likes to put it, we are stealing the future, selling it in the present, and calling it GDP.
Read the article   Download the report (pdf) 

News update

Editors note: The ongoing oil price war that pits a shale-boom riding U.S. and their allies OPEC against arch rivals Russia, Iran and Venezuela could have far-reaching consequences. It has begun to seriously impact a Russian economy already isolated by U.S. and EU sanctions. At a time when Ukraine is a flashpoint between the West and Russia, such high stakes economic warfare could have serious consequences. Russias leading newspaper Pravda had suggested this as early as April this year, in a report titled Obama wants Saudi Arabia to destroy Russian economy, recalling that it was a similar event that helped bring about the collapse of the Soviet Union.

Writing about this in The New York Times, columnist Thomas Friedman quotes Yegor Gaidar, who between 1991 and 1994 was Russia’s acting prime minister: “The timeline of the collapse of the Soviet Union can be traced to Sept. 13, 1985. On this date, Sheikh Ahmed Zaki Yamani, the minister of oil of Saudi Arabia, declared that the monarchy had decided to alter its oil policy radically. The Saudis stopped protecting oil prices. During the next six months, oil production in Saudi Arabia increased fourfold, while oil prices collapsed. The Soviet Union lost approximately $20 billion per year, money without which the country simply could not survive.” Its unlikely that the Russians will let that happen again without a fight.

Why oil prices keep falling — and throwing the world into turmoil
Brad Plumer, Vox.com
The plummeting price of oil is the biggest energy story in the world right now. Its bringing back cheap gasoline to the United States while wreaking havoc on oil-producing countries like Russia and Venezuela. But why does the price of oil keep falling? (Also read the Stratfor report: Lower Oil Prices Carry Geopolitical Consequences)

The high cost of low-priced oil
Kurt Cobb, Resource Insights
Is the price of oil falling because we can no longer afford it? This is not an idle question. Record high average daily prices for oil in the last three years have been an unrecognized cause of sluggish overall worldwide economic growth. That subpar growth appears to be exhausting itself now, particularly in Asia and Europe. In dampening growth, high oil prices sewed the seeds of their own demise by ultimately dampening demand.

The Shocking Data Proving Shale Oil Is Massively Over-hyped
Peak Prosperity
Hooray, oil is suddenly much cheaper than it used to be. Thats great news, right? Not so fast. For certain its not good news for those counting on a continued rise in US oil production from the shale miracle. Many drillers were challenged to operate profitably when oil was above $70 per barrel. Very few will remain solvent with oil in the $50s (as it is as of this writing).

Fossil fuels should be phased out by 2100 says IPCC
BBC News
The unrestricted use of fossil fuels should be phased out by 2100 if the world is to avoid dangerous climate change, a UN-backed expert panel says. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change says in a stark report that most of the worlds electricity can and must be produced from low-carbon sources by 2050. If not, the world faces severe, pervasive and irreversible damage.

Cities could be the secret to fighting climate change
The Conversation
Currently cities consume 78% of the world’s energy and produce more than 60% of all carbon. Recent research by the ESRC Centre for Climate Change Economics and Policy at the University of Leeds and London School of Economics and Political Science found that cities could help cut global energy-related emissions by 34% at absolutely no net cost.

What did the Romans ever do for us? They left a water warning
Jonathan Bridge, The Conversation
In the next 30 years we are facing a critical combination of inter-related stresses on the core resources that keep our civilisation running. As it happens, the Romans gave us a word for that too – the “food-water-energy nexus” (from the Latin nectere, to bind together). So are we doomed to the same fate as the Romans?

Nature at My Doorstep Reviving Traditional Building Practices
GOI Monitor
From climate-friendly homes of yore to monotonous concrete and glass structures of today, we are losing out on aesthetics and warmth. Thankfully, there are people who are reviving the time-tested practices.

News update

Amid Global Turmoil, Oil Prices Surprisingly Stable
From Forbes Magazine
The world has entered a zone of maximum upheaval. From the Atlas Mountains of North Africa to the Hindu Kush, in Afghanistan, the Middle East is in flames. The destruction of a Malaysian airline over Ukraine, almost certainly shot down by Russian-backed separatist rebels, threatens war in the Black Sea region. At no time since the terror attacks of 2001 has the world seen such conflict and instability. So why aren’t oil prices higher?

ISIS creates an oil shock, but why? 
By Tobias Vanderbruck, Oil-price.net
Followers of international politics were mostly taken by surprise early this month, when a hitherto unreported rebellion in Iraq suddenly threatened to shake the worlds oil markets. Throughout the year, the newspapers of the Western world were focused on Syria, then the Ukraine. No one seemed to have their eye on Iraq. Where did these Iraqi rebels, called ISIS, come from? The truth is, they are the latest tool in the foreign policy of a hidden puppet master Saudi Arabia.

Rigged: Who is undermining India’s national oil company?
From The Caravan
An extensively researched report on the ailing ONGC and how the Central government and private players have colluded to bring it to this state.

While the sun shines
From Government of India Monitor
Solar power has emerged as the best off-grid energy option but why is it still all talk and no substance?

Who will sow those seeds? (Video)
From Government of India Monitor
Over 15 million farmers left agriculture between 1991-2011 due to rising input costs and little profit. Food and trade policy analyst Devinder Sharma talks about the current model of development which is pushing farmers to low-paying daily wage jobs in cities.

Environmental impact appraisal Study of NTTPS
From The Hindu
Questions are raised on the Energy department’s plans for expanding Dr. Narla Tatarao Thermal Power Station (NTTPS) notwithstanding the environmental clearances secured for the project. An environmental impact assessment study led by Sagar Dhara of Hyderabad-based Cerana Foundation (and founder member of Peak oil India) recommended scrapping of the plans considering “the injury to the environment and people” by the existing power station.

Why Does Politics Keep Getting in the Way of Pricing Carbon?
From www.theenergycollective.com
While a carbon price is every economists favorite climate plan, real-world political constraints get in the way (just ask Australia!)
In a new paper in Energy Policy, I examine a variety of political economy constraints that limit the environmental efficacy and economic efficiency of real-world carbon pricing policies.

Water Resources Fact Sheet
From Earth Policy Institute
Water scarcity may be the most underrated resource issue the world is facing today.

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