Building the World

June 30, 2017
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Badu Gili: Water Light

Sydney Opera House: public art with a message. Image: Adam J.W.C., wikimedia.

Sydney, Australia, location of the legendary Opera House, has launched a series called Badu Gili or ‘Water Light’ in the language of the original Gadigal people. Video art, displayed on the Sydney Opera House every night at sunset, honors the First Nations; soundscapes echo across the harbor. The land of Snowy Mountains will host the series year-round.

Iconic monuments like the Sydney Opera House, and the Eiffel Tower, often serve as signposts for important messages of our world. During the Paris Climate Conference of the Parties, La Tour displayed the goal of 1.5 Celsius. Recently, activist artist Robin Bell displayed messages on buildings bearing the name of a certain politician. In Boston, the Zakim Bridge has changed color as a sign of the times.

Iconic monuments may find a voice in sharing ideas that color our future. What iconic monuments in your area can speak?

To watch and listen to Badu Gilihttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VMmLRIc6Sgg

Building the World Blog by Kathleen Lusk Brooke and Zoe G Quinn is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported Licen

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April 26, 2017
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Fountain of Hope

Water is the hope of the MOF-801. Here, the largest floating fountain in Europe, Multimedia Fountain Roshen, Ukraine. Image: wikimedia.

Two-thirds of the earth’s population may soon need more water, especially in arid regions. Australia, India, North Africa, and areas of the United States and Mexico, to name but a few, are rich in sun but poor in water. Using the sun to power a metal-organic framework (MOF) that acts like a sponge to soak up humidity, Omar Yaghi of the University of California Berkeley and Evelyn Wang of MIT, and team, have developed MOF-801 that could be carried in a suitcase, set up in a solar view, and immediately produce enough water for a family of four.

Hyunjo Kim, Sungwoo Yang, Sameer R. Rao, Shankar Narayanan, Eugene A. Kapustin, Hiroyasu Furukawa, Ari S. Umans, Omar M. Yaghi, Evelyn N. Wang. “Water harvesting from air with metal-organic frameworks powered by natural sunlight.” Science, 13 April 2017: eaam8743. DOI: 10.1126/science.aam8743. http://science.sciencemag.org/content/early/2017/04/12/science.aam8743/tab-figures-data/

Urieff, Kaya. “New solar-powered device makes water out of desert air.” 19 April 2017, CNN.com. http://cnnmon.ie/2pg50FR/

Building the World Blog by Kathleen Lusk Brooke and Zoe G Quinn is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

 

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April 14, 2017
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Why is an Orange like a Light Bulb?

The water-energy-food nexus may influence the growing of oranges, in competition for lightbulbs and drinking water. Image: wikimedia commons.

Did you know that growing one orange requires 13.8 gallons of water? Next time you crunch into an almond, you’ll consume the result of one gallon. California grows both: a result, in part, of the Colorado River Compact. Edward Spang of the University of California Davis, as well as colleagues including David H. Marks of MIT, predict competition for water use will increase in the water-energy-food nexus. Spang developed a water consumption for energy production (WCEP) indicator, comparing the use of water for different forms of energy in over 150 countries. Fossil fuels and biofuels require the most water; wind is less thirsty. The United Nations cites the World Water Development Report: “If water, energy, and food security are to be simultaneously achieved, decision-makers, including those responsible for only a single sector, need to consider broader influences and cross-sectoral impacts. A nexus approach is needed.”

For more: Spang, Edward. “A Thirst for Power: A Global Analysis of Water Consumption for Energy Production.” GWF Discussion Paper 1246. Global Water Forum, Canberra, Australia. http://www.globalwaterforum.org/2012/10/23/a-thirst-for-power-a-global-analysis-of-water-consmption-for-energy-production/and also see: http://cwee.ucdavis.edu/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/10-25-2013-ThirstforPower_Final.pdf

“Multiple metrics for quantifying the intensity of water consumption of energy production.” E.S. Spang, W.R. Moomaw, K.S. Gallagher, P. H. Kirshen, and D.H. Marks. 8 October 2014. Environmental Research Letters, Volume 9, Number 10. http://iopscience.iop.org/article/10.1088/1748-9326/9/10/105003/meta

Ahuja, Satinder, Editor. Food, Energy, and Water. Elsevier 2015. https://www.elsevier.com/books/food-energy-and-water/ahuja/978-0-12-800211-7

Building the World Blog by Kathleen Lusk Brooke and Zoe G Quinn is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

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February 3, 2017
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Glass of Air

“A glass of water” by photographer Derek Jensen, Tysto, 2005. Image: wikimedia commons.

In a world where water is increasingly scarce, can the answer be in the air? In a time when streams may be endangered, where can clean water be found? Water has occasioned innovation from ancient times to present; China, Italy, England, Australia – the most arid country on earth – have all transformed their lands and economies through water innovations. Chilean innovator Hector Pino pursued a new idea when his baby daughter was born with a kidney condition requiring sodium-free water. Now, a parent’s love may change the world.

Pino and co-founders Carlos Blamey, engineer, and Alberto González, designer, are utilizing technology originally developed in Israel to draw water from air. It can run on solar, too. The 748 million people without water infrastructure could now draw clean water in amounts sustaining a household. In cities where old water systems leak lead or in streams once protected now compromised, where could consumers turn? The household FreshWater device produces 28 liters of water per day. A mochila version is in development, making air the ‘magic water bottle’ in your backpack.

For Fresh Water Solutions’ video: http://www.freshwatersolutions.org/#new-page

For more: “How to pull clean water from air.” Bloomberg, Businessweek, 12 January 2017, https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-01-12/pulling-clean-water-from-thin-air

For the Stream Protection Rule, protecting 6,000 miles of streams and 52,000 acres of forest, added as clarification to 1977 Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act:https://www.regulations.gov/document?D=OSM-2010-0018-10631

Building the World Blog by Kathleen Lusk Brooke and Zoe G Quinn is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

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September 23, 2016
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Welcome

How can the world welcome 65 million people in new settings? Image: wikimedia commons.

The United Nations reports that 65.3 million people are refugees, asylum seekers or displaced: 1 in 113 of all the people on the planet. In the year 2015, every minute saw 24 people forced to flee; half under 18 years old. Conditions for millions are perilous. The first-ever United Nations Summit for Refugees and Migrants this week produced a Declaration, building upon the 1951 Refugee Convention that defines ‘refugee’ and the rights of the displaced. Education and employment are urgently needed. Can macro-scale infrastructure projects offer an opportunity? After World War II, Australia invited displaced skilled people to join the Snowy Mountains Hydroelectric Project; over 100,000 moved to a new land. Housing for families included schools where children learned together, adding diversity to the curriculum. How can the world welcome 65 million new arrivals today? Will Alex set an example of welcome?

Building the World Blog by Kathleen Lusk Brooke and Zoe G Quinn is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

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May 13, 2016
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Water and Power

Gateway of India at night; will electric power continue during India’s drought? Image: wikimedia commons.

Climate change threatens the world’s water, not only for drinking and sanitation, not only for agriculture and industry, but for power. Tehri hydroelectric dam, tallest in India, is running dry, and Maharastra’s 1,130MW Parli had to be shut down due to lack of water needed to operate. Australia, most arid country on earth, addressed rapid population growth through Snowy Mountains Hydroelectric, providing over 100, 000 jobs. India has responded to the water crisis by truck and train; 10 of India’s 29 states are suffering severe drought. In 1951, India’s population was 350 million, and each person had access to 5,200 cubic meters of water per annum; in 2016, water availability dropped to 1,400 cubic meters, as the population rose to 1.3 billion. Water may be one of the most severe results of climate change. Safe drinking water and sanitation are offered to 11 states in India through grant and WaterCredit programs by Water.org. How can the world pursue further improvements and access, for all, to water?

Mallet, Victor. “India’s power stations are hit as big dams run dry.” 5 May 2016. The Financial Times.

Building the World Blog by Kathleen Lusk Brooke and Zoe G Quinn is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License

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December 11, 2015
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River from the Sky

Puja, ceremony of honoring the sacred, as seen in “Durga Puja” by Sevak Ram, 1809. Image: British Library Add.Or. 29

Jalwa Puja is a water ceremony, sacred to India, in which mothers welcome a new child with blessings at the village well. Baghwati Argrawal incorporated this and other customs, including naming reservoirs after community leaders, in the Rajastan project that collects and distributes rainwater. Argrawal calls the program, administered by Sustainable Innovations,  Aakash Ganga or River from the Sky. The system collects monsoon rains, channeling potential floods into treasured reservoirs. A rain collection system also irrigates gardens of the Taj Mahal. But what of areas where there is scarce percipitation? Will Graciela Schneier-Madanes and the University of Arizona’s Institute of the Environment, as presented at Fulbright Water Act 2015, guide the world’s dry regions? Can the University of Massachusetts Boston’s School for the Environment open a new vision? Most arid country on earth, Australia changed agriculture and irrigation while providing electricity via Snowy Mountains Hydroelectric. As UN Climate Change conference COP21 concludes, how can we sustain shared resources including water?

Kathleen Toner, CNN. “‘River from the Sky’ brings life-changing water.” 7 December 2015.

Building the World Blog by Kathleen Lusk Brooke and Zoe G Quinn is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License

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September 8, 2015
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Migration

LE Eithne Operation Triton, June 2015. Image: Irish Naval Service.

Our world faces a refugee and migration crisis. What solutions can be found? Greece, now a center of activity, pioneered a new vision when people boarded boats from Thera to found ancient Cyrene. In Australia, from 1947-55, over 75,000 industrious, innovative individuals and families left two dozen European countries to relocate and build the Snowy Mountains Hydroelectric Power Project, a multi-reservoir hydroelectric system of 16 dams, seven power stations, and 140 miles of interconnected tunnels, pipelines, and aqueducts in the most arid country on earth. Australia remembers: #LighttheDark gathered support for the world’s current migration crisis. Europe has also opened doors to freedom and opportunity. Major infrastructure projects to combat drought are still needed today. Can our world find inspiration in the examples of Greece and Australia to offer opportunity to the industrious, innovative, pioneering migrants and refugees of our times?

Building the World Blog by Kathleen Lusk Brooke and Zoe G Quinn is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

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May 29, 2015
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The Art of Change

 

“Pitiless blue sky” image: photos-public-domain.com

“I love a sunburnt country,” wrote poet Dorothea Mackellar, OBE, about Australia where “a pitiless blue sky” parched farms and withered forests in a drought so long and severe that the Murray River, part of the Murray and Murrumbidgee irrigation project of Snowy Mountains Hydroelectric, needed emergency dredging to reach the sea. Australia is the most arid country on earth. When the rains returned, relief brought a new era of conservation. Today, Australians use 55 gallons of water per person per day; Californians, 105. Will the US Environmental Protection Agency’s Administrator Gina McCarthy and Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works Jo-Ellen Darcy persuade Americans that the Clean Water Rule is everyone’s responsibility? Can the United States benefit from Australia’s experience, perhaps in part by commissioning poets and artists to engage both minds, and hearts, in the conservation of precious water?

“My Country,” by Dorothea Mackellar, OBE.

Kristen Gelineau and Ellen Knickmeyer, “California looks to Australia for tips on surviving drought,” May 25, 2015, Associated Press. http://hosted2.ap.org/apdefault/386c25518f464186bf7a2ac026580ce7/Article_2015-05-25-AS-California-Drought-Lessons-from-Down-Under-Abridged/id-f2a4df4291f641109b91710d2a36f83a

Gina McCarthy and Jo-Ellen Darcy, “Reasons We Need the Clean Water Rule.” May 27, 2015. With appreciation to Sheila M. Turney. http://blog.epa.gov/blog/2015/05/reasons-we-need-the-clean-water-rule/

Building the World Blog by Kathleen Lusk Brooke and Zoe G Quinn is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

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May 12, 2015
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Frackin’ Bakken

Photographer: Alfred T. Palmer. Image: Library of Congress.

Hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” pierces land to access oil and gas in rock formations by injecting chemicals mixed with water, drawn from underground aquifers. To fracture rock, water must gush: a virtual firehose spitting harsh chemicals, propelled by as many as 10,000,000 gallons before the well is even operational. Aquifers are already challenged, in an increasingly thirsty world.  In North Dakota, Bakken may be the test case for what works (and doesn’t). Drinking and agricultural water have, in some locations, become contaminated, even radioactive.

Artists led by Yoko Ono successfully protested New York State’s possible participation, but, despite such victories, the war might heading in fracking’s favor. Proponents of the propellant technology claim shale energy is cleaner than coal, and large deposits, like Bakken, Marcellus or Eagle Ford, could make the United States energy independent for the next 100 years. But then what?

Michael McElroy and Xi Lu propose a strategy of natural gas as a transition to renewable energy (with CO2 emissions reduced 80% ) by 2050. What can we learn from water energy agreements, such as the Colorado River Compact or Snowy Mountains Hydroelectric, regarding the future of fracking? Will 2015, culminating year of the United Nations Decade of Water, occasion progress?

For more:

Chester Dawson, “Leak of Oil-Well Wastewater Taints River in North Dakota.” The Wall Street Journal, Jan 22, 2015.http://www.wsj.com/articles/bakken-shale-oil-well-wastewater-leak-taints-river-in-north-dakota-1421977006

http://artistsagainstfracking.com/

Joseph Stromberg, “Radioactive Wastewater From Fracking Is Found in a Pennsylvania Stream.” Oct 2, 2013, Smithsonian.com.http://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/radioactive-wastewater-from-fracking-is-found-in-a-pennsylvania-stream-351641/?no-ist

Michael McElroy and Xi Lu, “Fracking’s Future: Natural gas, the economy, and America’s energy prospects.” Harvard Magazine, Jan-Feb 2013.http://harvardmagazine.com/2013/01/frackings-future

Building the World Blog by Kathleen Lusk Brooke and Zoe G Quinn is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

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