The US Geological Survey has released a report highlighting the alarming rate of groundwater depletion in the United States. The report says that between 1900 and 2008, the US lost 1,000 cubic kilometers of water from its 40 major aquifers – that's an average rate of 9.2 cubic kilometres a year. Even more alarming is the increasing rate of loss – between 2000 and 2008, it had jumped to an average of 25 cubic kilometres a year. Much of the water pumped from aquifers ends up running into the sea. The US Geological Surrvey estimates that US groundwater depletion between … Continue Reading
Scientists from Australia's Deakin University, together with French colleagues, say that they have manufactured a lightweight and reusable material that can absorb up to 33 times its weight in a wide range of spilt oils, chemical solvents and dyes, while repelling water. Deakin University's Dr Wei Wei Lei said that "The effective removal of oils, organic solvents and dyes from water is of significant, global importance for environmental and water source protection.” The absorbant material consists of sheets of boron nitride, also called "white graphene". The sheets are highly porous, have a high surface area and float on water. When the … Continue Reading
Green walls and roof gardens have become extremely fashionable. One New York supermarket is taking the idea two steps further. Rather than just plant any greenery on the roof, Whole Foods is partnering with Gotham Greens to construct an 1,860 square metre greenhouse on its roof. As well as the usual benefits of a green roof and of providing food, the project will reduce foe food miles of the produce to mere "food footsteps".
Back in 2008, we wrote about the Sahara Forest Project – a plan to use solar power and seawater desalination to produce renewable energy, food and water in an area of desert. As shown in this video, the first fully operational pilot plant has now been built. A documentary about the people and progress of the Project is being made using Kickstarter funding.
Engineers at Lockheed Martin Corp say that they have developed a desalination process which requires just 1% of the energy needed in the best systems currently available. The process enables the engineers to produce thin graphene carbon membranes with regular holes about a nanometer in diameter. These holes are large enough to allow water to pass through but small enough to block the molecules of salt in seawater. The sheets of graphene are just one atom in thickness. Because they are so thin, it takes much less energy to push the seawater through the filter to separate the salt from … Continue Reading
Large areas of grasslands in the United States, Canada, Mexico, China, Australia, Africa, Pakistan, Afghanistan and many other countries are turning into barren deserts. An estimated one-third of the Earth’s surface is covered with grasslands that are facing the threat of desertification. Allan Savory, a Zimbabwean biologist who has been working on this problem since the 1950s, has set up the Savory Institute to promote his belief that one of the major causes of desertification is agricultural practices. He argues that, in the past, large wild herds of herbivores migrated over the land grazing, defecating and stomping the grasslands. This … Continue Reading
Peru's capital, Lima, has very high humidity but hardly any rain. Engineers from the University of Engineering and Technology have taken advantage of the high humidity to build a billboard which gathers the water through reverse osmosis and purifies it to give clean drinking water.
Using a technique deriving from work started in the 1960s by a French priest, Henri de Laulanié, in Madagascar, farmers in many developing countries have increased their paddy field rice yields by 50 to 100% – and often much more. The worldwide average rice yield is about 4 tonnes per hectare. Using modern fertilizers and practices, this can be increased up to about 8 tonnes per hectare. The System of Rice Intensificatation (SRI) has produced much better yields – up to a record of 22.4 tonnes per hectare – in countries around the world, including India, Pakistan, Indonesia, Cambodia, Afghanistan, … Continue Reading
Lester Brown, founder of the Worldwatch Institute, and founder and president of the Earth Policy Institute, discusses the global struggle for food security, which is the subject of his latest book "Full Planet, Empty Plates".