Saturday, September 23, 2006

Mountain Water Resources Threatened

I suppose it would be sinful to suggest that ski resorts shorten their seasons.

Mountain Water Resources Threatened By Global Warming

Emmanuel Angleys
Fri Sep 22, 4:05 PM ET

MEGEVE, France (AFP) - Mountain water resources are under threat from global warming and increased usage of the precious resource by ski resorts, scientists warned at a conference in the French Alps.

"Mountains concentrate an important chunk of precipitation. All the great rivers of the world take their source from them. They are the planet's water castles," said Jean-Francois Donzier, director general of the International Office for Water.

TheUnited Nations forecast an increase in global temperatures of 1.4-5.8 degrees Celsius (34.5-42.4 degrees Fahrenheit), and implications for mountain water resources could be massive, the experts warned at the four-day conference in the French ski resort of Megeve.

The effects are already evident in the reduction in size of glaciers, with close to half of those in France forecast to disappear by the end of the century, according to Pierre Etchevers from the French weather office.

"We add eight to 10 meters (26 to 33 feet) of ladder every year to get to the Mer de Glace (glacier) in Chamonix," said Martial Saddier from the French Association of Mountain Water.

And a reduction in the volume of snow has been noted over the past 20 years, as well as a shortening of the period when snow falls, threatening the future of ski resorts below 1,800 metres and prompting the increased usage of snow cannons, machines turning water in snow which is then sprayed onto the pistes.

For ski resorts, the recourse to man-made snow has obvious economic advantages, attracting more and more visitors and extending the season -- despite complaints from purists.

Resorts now want to "guarantee that everyone who comes to the mountains has the possibility to ski from December to March/April," said Jean-Claude Domenego, head of the French Alpine Club.

But both the increase in the number of winter sports tourists and the greater recourse to snow machines have also added to pressure on mountain water resources, depleting resources and leaving less for other human uses such as agricultural irrigation downstream and hydro-electric power stations.

As a result around 20 artificial water reservoirs are being constructed in the Alps, said Alain Marnezy, professor at University of Savoie, including one for 400,000 cubic metres (14 million cubic feet) at Grand Bornand.

With mountains covering around a third of Europe's surface, there were also calls for greater support from European Union authorities.

The scientists also discussed the European directive aiming for a "good ecological state" of Europe's water by 2015, although there were differences over the definition of such a term.

"No one is in agreement on the definition of a good ecological state of water," said Jean-Marie Wauthier, international director at the water ministry in the Walloon region of Belgium.

There has to be a distinction between the biological state, characterised by a minimum presence of animal and plant life, and a good chemical state, meaning a lack of pollutants in the water, Wauthier said.

Further difficulties are created by the fact that many of Europe's rivers flow through more than one country, making cooperation between states imperative. The Danube, for example, flows through 18 countries.
Global Warming Threatens Snow

It's Happening In The U.S. As Well

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Thirsty Africa Digging Deep For Water

This illustrates perfectly what I was trying to explain in the entry before this one. How does having children do the work disguised as play to run a pump teach them about conservation, irrigation, management, and self sufficiency? This is an absolute CRISIS that is being faced in Sub-Saharan Africa because the lack of water is causing a famine that has put millions of people at risk of death, and already killed thousands including livestock. And while politicians go to initiatives to make feel good speeches and pledge money that doesn't even come close to solving anything, the crisis deepens. They don't need "pledges," they need ACTION NOW because they are running out of time.
Thirsty Africa Digging Deep For Water

Friday September 22, 07:13 AM

Thirsty Africa 'digging deep for water'

New water sources are desperately needed in Africa where around 300 million people lack access to safe drinking water, the head of the World Water Council said.
Sub-Saharan Africa, with the exception of a few countries, is failing to meet UN targets set at the start of the millennium to halve the number of people without access to clean water or sanitation by 2015.

Of an estimated population of more than 700 million, about 313 million Africans lack access to basic sanitation with drought, war, pollution and fast urban growth hindering access.

"Africa represents about 24 per cent of land surface yet has only 9 per cent of water resources," said Loic Fauchon, head of the World Water Council, an international organisation that groups governments, firms and civil groups.
"That means we have to better the capacity we have to find other water sources maybe with new techniques. ... You have to help Africa draw water deeper just like it is done for petrol and gas," he said.

Speaking on the sidelines of an Africities summit in Nairobi where mayors and planners are meeting to seek solutions to the problems caused by swelling populations in African cities, Fauchon said the 2015 target was too lofty.
"(You need) a lot more time. ... What was forecast in terms of clean water and sanitation was too ambitious," he told Reuters.

"We do not even know at what pace we are going at."

He said Africa's obstacles to achieving the UN Millennium Development Goal (MDG) for water and sanitation were financial, institutional and the "know-how".

"The amounts dedicated to water and sanitation are ridiculously low," he said, adding that only 5 per cent of public aid and 6 per cent of investments were allocated to such projects.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Australia Must Invest In Water Infrastructure

This is a common problem that is faced by more countries than the continent of Australia, but Australia is a clear example of how the effects of climate change combined with wasteful water practices will leave many countries literally high and dry if they do not get serious about investing in water infrastructure and managing waste of water.

And according to this report from 2003:

Human Induced Climate Change Causing Drought

Yet, PM Howard will not be willing to take the necessary steps regarding this crisis, because he parrots Bush's lame excuse that signing the Kyoto Protocol will hurt the economy. Apparently he hasn't been paying attention to world events, where the drought in China has cost them dearly in lost crops (as it has also right here in the U.S.A.) because of human induced drought. There does NOT have to be a sacrifice of economy for sustainability. WAR is what costs us PM Howard, not actually using our resources for SUSTINENCE.

And this:
Drought Kills Eight Million Cattle

The pictures here will break your heart. Cattle, shrimp, wheat, and other crops have been effected by this drought that has been going on for three years now, and is only predicted to get worse for the winter months. Just what has to happen before the leaders of Australia realize that the economy of this contneint IS suffering BECAUSE they need to have a plan to mitigate the effects of drought and other effects of human induced climate change and waste?

Worsening Drought In Australia
Earth Observatory

Australia Told To Reform Water Systems
By Rob Taylor
Mon Sep 18, 4:24 AM ET

CANBERRA (Reuters) - Australia is the driest continent, but chronic water problems in its cities and rural areas are the result of poor management rather than water scarcity, a new report said Monday.

As Australia braces for another searing summer and a worsening drought, a report for a business lobby group said rather than restrict water use, governments should fix water supply flaws, which would boost the economy by as much as A$9 billion.

"Australia's water supply system is broken and needs urgent solutions," Business Council of Australia chief executive Katie Lahey said. "Unavoidable water scarcity is one of Australia's greatest myths."

Since 2002, Australians have endured one of the worst droughts in recorded history, with governments imposing restrictions on householders watering their gardens and banning people from using hoses to wash their cars.

The long dry spell has given rise to multi-billion dollar proposals to "turn the rivers around" and pipe water thousands of kilometers from the wet tropical north to the drought-affected southeast where most of Australia's 20 million people live.

The country's weather bureau is now predicting a drier and hotter than average spring from September to November, with a possible drought-inducing El Nino in its early stages.

Lahey said water restrictions in many communities would be unnecessary if a competitive water-trading scheme was introduced and there was more investment in water infrastructure.

"Water use in our major cities has declined by nine percent since 2001, but our water supply problems are getting worse," she said.

Visiting Australia last week, former U.S. Vice-President Al Gore warned Australia had more to fear from global warming than almost any other nation given the scarcity of water.

The Business Council said to help address problems, the price of water needed to rise, with Australians willing to pay 540 times more for bottled drinking water than they were for water through the tap.

Water expert Peter Cullen from the University of Canberra said the BCA paper was a wake-up call for governments at all levels across Australia.

"Water trading is necessary and we must all expect to pay more for water," he said, adding Australia had been caught out by the pace at which climate change had hit water resources.

"Much of what is happening now we were not expecting to see until 2050," he said.

But Mike Young, an environmental scientist at the University of Adelaide, said despite its sun-parched image, Australia ranked 40th in the world for availability of water per head of population, with more 150 nations worse off.

Humanitarian Disaster in the Sahara

Algeria has stranded 13,000 migrants in the Sahara forcing them to walk across it in response to EU directive to North Africa to lessen mi...