I have been meaning to write about this project for months now, just got around to it today. Back in September of 2011 I read about Isang Litrong Liwanag (A Liter of Light) project in Manila powered by pop bottles and bleached water! A bottle with water is enough to light up a small room. In the poor neighborhoods of Manila shacks have dark roofs and hardly any daylight. Many of the homes are not connected to the electric grid and in third world countries continuous power availability is not a given.
This year i.e 2012 is the year they plan to complete lighting 1 million homes using this green technology. The clear water disperses the light in all directions through refraction, which can provide a luminosity that is equivalent to a 55-watt electric light bulb, according to the MyShelter Foundation.
The idea behind the Solar Water Bulb is the brainchild of Alfredo Moser a mechanic from Sao Paulo, Brazil; who came up with it during the 2002 power shortage in Brazil to light up his workshop for working during the day! Like Plato said Necessity is indeed the mother of invention!
MIT students have been instrumental in spreading the usage of this simple and virtually free technology to the third world countries as a remedy to light up dark areas during the day without windows! They disperse light to all the corners of the room unlike skylights which are pretty much unidirectional.
How to Make Your Own Solar Bottle Bulb?
Raw materials Needed 1. 1 liter Pet Bottle 2. Galvanized iron corrugated or flat roofing sheet size 9″ x 10″ 3. Chlorine (10ml per liter) 4. Steel Brush or Sand Paper 5. Snipping tools to cut the sheet 6. Pliers to fold the sheet back 7. Rubber Sealant or Epoxy resin – to seal and attach the bottle 8. Screws to attach it to the roof securely 9. Filtered water
On the galvanized roof sheet piece cut a circle 2mm smaller than the diameter of the bottle. Make small cuts perpendicularly along the edge and fold them upwards. Take the bottle and rub the sides to make it rough enough for the glue to adhere. Pass the bottle through the hole and hold in place using the folded edges of the sheet (1/3rd of the bottle above the fold). Apply glue to the bottle and the folded edges to seal and attach them together. Now pour 10ml of Chlorine into the bottle and top it up with filtered water. Close the lid tightly.
Now cut a hole on the roof of the shack where the light is needed. Apply sealant or epoxy resin around the opening to cover an area equivalent to the 10″x9″ sheet. Press it down and secure with screws. The bottle top which will be exposed to the elements needs to be protected (use plastic tubing and sealant to protect it). The Solar Water Bulb is ready and spreading light. The bottle light is believed to have a life of up to 5 years!!
How Does it work?
Simple: water diffracts the light, letting it spread throughout the house instead of focusing on one point. The chlorine keeps the water clear and microbe-free.
Positive Attributes – One can make on ones own Solar Bottle Bulb from waste materials! It can be installed any place world over where there is a roof. It is easily portable and yes, there are a huge number of households world over which do not get enough light during the day.
For e.g 360million people in India lack access to electricity!!
Negative Attributes – Does not work during night when people do need light. The bottles sticking out of the roof is not very aesthetically pleasing
I am amazed at the possibilities such a simple idea provides – It is Green, Eco friendly, Cost effective and Practical! Try it out!
Things to watch out for or remember-
Make sure you seal the roof properly to avoid water damage.
Cover the bottle cap to make sure it does not disintegrate.
It only works during the day when there is sunlight.
In a world where 1 in 4 humans lives without access to electricity, and you and I pretty much can’t exist without it an economically viable solution to light up the nights is a blessing, no less. Nokero N200 is a small and effective solution for a large problem! Nokero (No kerosene!) was formed in June 2010 by inventor Steve Katsaros to develop safe and environmentally-friendly solar products that eliminate the need for harmful and polluting fuels used for light and heat around the world and most importantly, are affordable to the communities that need them.
Nokero lamps are an all-in-one solar system that is already completely and successfully replacing kerosene lamps and paraffin candles in places all around the world where electricity is not a given. Best of all, their lighting products are more economical than any other lights of the same kind.
A typical kerosene lamp emits about 10 lumens of light, similar to Nokero.
Nokero is made in a high-quality factory, has its CE certification, and is built to last 5+years when properly cared for.
Nokero’s battery lasts 2-3 years, and is replaceable for about $1 US.
Nokero is bulb-shaped, so it’s easy to identify what it is and how it works – anyone can use it.
Pivot technology allows for maximum efficiency – the solar panel can pivot toward the sun to increase insolation rates.
The most affordable solar light of its kind
Quality design and construction
The best commercially available solar panels
High-temperature battery works efficiently in all climates
About Worldwide Kerosene Use
A quarter of humanity still obtains illumination via fuel-based lighting, usually Kerosene or “Kero”.
Usage is expected to shrink only slightly by 2030 (from 1.6 billion in 2006 to 1.3 billion in 2030), and is on the rise in Sub-Saharan Africa.
Fuel lighting is widespread in well over 100 countries.
Typical kerosene users burn their lamps for 1.5 hours a night
The Nokero N100 lasts about 2 hours a night on one day’s charge.
The Nokero N200 lasts 6-plus hours a night on one day’s charge.
The average user spends 5% of their income on lighting fuel.
Off-grid lighting users spend $40 billion per year (about 20% of all global lighting expenditures) yet receive only 0.1% of total lighting services.
Nokero pays for itself within weeks or months (depending on region) when replacing a kerosene lamp.
Recent market research has shown these users’ willingness to pay $6-$15 for solar LED products.
Better light creates improved study conditions, leading to a better overall economy for the host nation. (One report stated that study time of students rose from 1.47 hours to 2.71 hours per day, with a positive effect on school performance, when using LED lighting rather than fuel lamp lighting).
Off-grid businesses rank “improved lighting” highest among a set of improvements desired for their premises.
Those who buy a product take more care of it than those who are given a product.
Traditional solar home systems cost $300 or more and require installation.
Typical “hurricane” lanterns cost about $5US in most regions.
Battery-powered LED flashlights are available in some areas for about $5, but 87% of users had problems within 6 months.
Inhalation of fumes from fuel lamps is equivalent to smoking 40 cigarettes a day.
Exposure to single-wick lamps exposes user to 10 times more particulate matter (PM) than ambient health guidelines.
More than 1 million people per year die in fires started by fuel-lamps and lighting materials.
Indoor air pollution is responsible for the death of 1.6 million people every year—that’s one death every 20 seconds.
Long-term inhalation of hydrocarbons, including kerosene fumes, results in central nervous system damage, including loss of cognitive functions, gait disturbances, and loss of coordination.
Other health risks include burns, complications from fires or explosions, child poisoning because of inadvertent consumption, exposure to unburned fuel, and compromised ‘visual health’ because of sub-standard luminance levels.
1.3 million Barrels of oil per day consumed by fuel lighting.
190 million tons of carbon dioxide released into atmosphere.
This is the equivalent of 30m cars.
One Nokero bulb can save 0.77 tons of CO2 during its lifetime.
Kerosene is not the only fuel used for light.
More than 7% of households in Tanzania burn wood for light.
20% of homes in Ethiopia burn biofuels (non-kerosene) for light.
Nokero N200 is the latest from Nokero and is a simple easy to use solution for most lighting issues at home or while camping.
Some interesting facts:
In most countries, the Nokero N200 pays for itself in 15 days to 2 months by eliminating the need for expensive candles or kerosene.
The Nokero N200 also makes an ideal camping light, or a portable RV light, emergency light, or marine light.
It brings 6 hours of light per night on “low” and 2.5 hours of light per night on “high”,* but it can be charged for multiple days in a row to extend its lighting time.
The battery will last for 1.5 years, and can be replaced to keep the bulb lasting for years.
Energy production and distribution has been a costly and polluting exercise world over. We all await a day when renewable energy can be produced in a cost effective way so that the nights will be lit world over. Nokero N200 is a step in the right way for more details and to buy check out Nokero N200
Semprius just unveiled an teenie solar cell that is half the size of a pinhead, which when combined with powerful inexpensive lenses can concentrate sunlight more than 11,000 times and convert it to electricity!
Semprius has been a leader in Concentrated solar research and development. In 2008 they had come out with a method to slice monocrystalline solar wafers thin enough to be flexible and partially transparent but still maintain their high solar efficiency. The slender silicon slices are then imprinted onto a substrate using Semprius’s patented microtransfer printing process.
Semprius’ patented micro-transfer printing technology brings for the first time, high performance semiconductors to virtually any surface, including glass, plastic or metal substrates or even other semiconductor wafers. By liberating the semiconductor devices from their traditional substrates, Semprius technology enables the construction of a wide variety of new products with large-area, thin, and lightweight form factors, high reliability and low cost. The resulting circuit devices have levels of performance comparable to the original semiconductor.
Smaller and more efficient! Wonderful news for Solar and alternative energy market; if only it were affordable sooner.
I received an email today with pictures of a home being constructed, wondering why that warrants a mention here? Well the home had walls made of mud and recycled plastic bottles! I remembered seeing it somewhere long time back, think it was either on Discovery or on Natgeo, not sure. Anyways the pictures had no details and the finished homes kind of had an adobe like South American flair, so thought the best way would be to do a web search. On searching I came across this website Eco-Tec Soluciones Ambientes based in Latinamerica.
Eco-Tec is the brainchild of Andreas Froese a German construction engineer who found his calling in helping the poor and disadvantaged build homes out of waste materials. Froese began to develop his technique in 2001 in Honduras and since then has made over 50 different bottle construction projects around the world. One article about him starts with the liens Andreas Froese is in love with trash! it could not be more simply put.
How is it built?
The method includes filling the bottles with sand and stacking them in rows on top of each other. On the walls, every bottle is tied to one another to create a network, with one tie at the neck and another tie at the base of the bottle. Agricultural twine (sisal or nylon) is widely available. Bottles are first cleaned out and the labels etc removed.
A mesh screen is used to screen rubble, earth, or foundry castings into usable grades. They always use local materials. In cities, they use rubble, while in rural areas river sand or earth is used. Clean plastic debris and plastic bags may be used to fill the bottle bricks. A funnel, made from the top half cut from a plastic PET bottle is used to fill the bottles. The drier the materials the easier it is to fill the bottles.
2 Pillars forming
On the walls they typically use a clay soil mix similar to adobe, however rice husk or grass may be added. To strengthen the structure in wet climates, every 4-6 rows a mixture of lime and cement is used to avoid problems. If one does not have sand, a soil mixture may be used with up to 1 part cement, 10 parts soil, and 0.5 part lime.
Eco-Tec says their PET-bottle buildings are very much like an adobe. In general, they say PET-bottle houses are bioclimatic in design, which means that when it’s cold outside is warm inside and vice versa.
Makes use of plastic bottles which mostly end up in land fills.
Reduces CO2 emissions from the non-usage of bricks (bricks need to be baked there by release a large amount of CO2 into the air).
Looks unique and being bio-climatic will help in reducing power consumption.
Check out the Eco-tec videos below 1. Why Eco-tec?
2. How to make a bottle brick – starring Andreas Froese:
Read this very interesting article in the National Geographic titled “Energy Diet” under the topic National Energy Challenge. It is based on the Dutch language book, The Ideal Energy Weight, by Klaas van Alphen, a researcher at Copernicus Institute for Sustainable Development, Utrecht University and Herman van der Meyden, a Shell engineer who has participated in the company’s future scenarios project.
He came up with the book in response to the Three quarters of Dutch people who want to save energy. But where would they start? And what really makes a difference? The Ideal Weight Energy is the solution says Herman.
An energy diet pretty much is like a normal diet; I would know for how many ever diets I have tried I am always fighting with what I can and can’t do with out… You listen to all the experts, read all the books etc, but the thought of starting a diet can be daunting. Once you have tried a diet a new one with the term diet always triggers an array of questions: Will I feel deprived? Can I stick to all the changes I’ll need to make? And where do I begin?
The Energy Diet aims to help you take a step-by-step approach toward a lifestyle that is healthier for the planet, and may even end up saving you money. National Geographic has simplified it for us in a 12 step program, one for each month of the year. So if you want to give it a try, you are getting a head start get set to make changes in the New year, after all it is only 3 months away!
These are the 12 steps:
January Check the age of your refrigerator – replacing an appliance older than 10 years with a new energy star one will pay for itself in a couple of years!
February Consider replacing your natural gas furnace or boiler with a high efficiency (HE) unit. Check out this link for helpful tips and links. Your power consumption and comfort level will improve substantially with the right HE furnace.
March - Check your power bill, Do you have Green Electricity? See if Renewable energy is available where you live and where you can get the best deal.
April – Summer is around the corner, planning your next vacation? Consider a green vacation, pick green hotels,Consider a “Staycation”. If traveling by flight consider buying carbon offsets A Green vacation is a good start to a Green year!
Staycation courtesy the New Ecologist
May – Energy saving power strips for all your electric gadgets from mobile phones to TV’s and Computers. Make sure you turn them off or unplug them when not in use. The plugged in devices drain power even when not used.
June – Investigate the possibilities for installing your own alternative power source – Solar, wind etc… The US Government has many subsidies for individual Alternative energy production. There are also some Solar manufacturers who are willing to work with you to make owning Solar power affordable and viable. Check out Sungevity they have leasing options too!!
July – Check your driving habits. Is your car giving you enough mileage? Are you doing the best you can about using public transport? Calculate how much you could save with buying a new car? Will a Hybrid be a prudent buy?
August – We are half way through, so this month is for Sun, Sand, beach and fun!
September – It is almost fall, days are getting shorter that means more lights. Switch your bulbs to energy efficient CFLs, save energy and money in the long run guaranteed.
October – Summer is a memory and cold fronts moving in slowly, perfect time to winterize your home. It will keep you warm and your heating bills low. Check for drafts near windows doors etc. The Insulation guide from US Energy department is of immense help.
November – Winter is at the door step, check for holes etc which need closing. Use caulk or weather stripping. Remember to keep the fire-place damper closed when not in use. Also try and replace your decorative lights with LED strings will help in the long run. I am doing it one string at a time, so the amount I spend is not too hefty.
December – It’s the holidays! Share your successful diet with friends and family! Enjoy your Green Holiday Season!
So are you going on an Energy diet in 2011? It would be fun to hear back from you, if it does work out for you. I will update the post with my experiences next year. For my part I am almost done with the transition to CFL bulbs. I need to take care of the insulation before it gets too cold.
You can check out the National Geographic article HERE
February Consider replacing your natural gas furnace or boiler with a high efficiency (HE) unit. Check out this link for helpful tips and links. Your power consumption and comfort level will improve substantially with the right HE furnace.
Solar water heaters are probably the most widely used solar product worldwide, especially in Asia and other parts of the developing world it is a constant with any new construction. Out of Brazil comes this plastic water bottle based water heater created by Jose Alano a retired mechanic. He created a simple, cheap, energy saving rooftop solar water heater which is benefiting thousands of people across Brazil. Alano refused to throw away plastic bottles and packaging to end up in the landfills. In his words “Being 59 years old, I have had the opportunity to witness the technological advances of science, which improved food storage. But nowadays, some packaging weighs almost the same than the food itself! Years ago, my wife and I realized that we were not prepared for this new form of consumption.”
Using his basic knowledge of Solar water heaters he and his wife created the green alternative version making use of 100 plastic (PET) bottles and 100 Milk Cartons there by getting rid of their waste responsibly.
Alano’s water heater won the Superecologia prize, offered by the Superinteressante magazine for renewable projects in the not-for-profit sector. He has made his design patented and available to use as a not for profit design. The only restrictions are on industrial production and politicians claiming credit for it!
The standard solar water heaters cost a couple of 1000$ and have copper as a main element. The Plastic Bottle solar water heater is based on the thermosyphon technology which is used in many solar water heaters. It makes use of the circulation of water based on density; hot water which is less dense moves upwards while the cold water which is denser moves down. Alano estimates that to heat water for a shower of one person, a 1m² panel would be enough.
Materials needed for construction:
The only material required to build a recycled water heater are:
2L plastic bottles (60),
100mm PVC pipe (70 cm)
20mm PVC pipe (11.7m)
90-degree 20 mm PVC elbows (4)
20mm PVC T-connectors (20)
20 mm PVC end caps (2)
Black matt paint
Tools – Rubber hammer, saw, wood or other material for the support.
Once you get everything ready check out the diagrams in this DIY Leaflet online (PDF format in Portuguese, but the diagrams are easy to follow). use the 100mm PVC pipe as a mold and cut off the bottom of the bottles. Cut the 20mm PVC pipes into 10 x 1m and 20 x 8.5 cm pieces, and assemble with the T-connectors. Cut and paint the cartons (page10-12), as well as the one-meter long pipes. Assemble according to figure B.
The panels must be placed at least 30 cm below the tank and be sited on a south facing wall or roof. To optimize heat absorption, the panels must be mounted at the angle of your latitude, plus 10°. In London, for instance, the panel’s inclination should be 61°. Alano recommends that the plastic bottles in the panels should be swapped for new ones every 5 years: ‘Over time, the plastic becomes opaque, which reduces the heat caption, while the black cartons can be repainted.’ So once the bottles become opaque it is time to replace the bottles and send the used ones to the recycle dump.
Check out a video of a Alano’s bottle solar heaters below:
Such a useful way to utilize plastic bottles: green, clean and energy efficient! Reduce Reuse Recycle the 3 R’s at work! Live Green!
I was at the library the other day browsing through the returns section when a title caught my eye “101 ways You can Help Save the Planet Before You’re 12!” Loved the premise and checked out the book to read at leisure. The book reminded me of the kids I come across at the zoo who are really knowledgeable about the environment, recycling et al… I am pleasantly surprised when a 6 year old asks for a recycle sign when am doing face painting! and of course it makes me feel hopeful to see them being so aware at such a young age.
At the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium there is an exhibit called “My House at the Habitat Hollow” It is a house which has made use of recycled materials and showcases recycling, and reusing things, alongside recreation of Ohio’s native wildlife environment inclusive of fox holes and other fun stuff kids can climb through. There is a lot of interactive learning stuff inside which kids get to touch and feel, and I believe gets them introduced to the concept of the 3R’s “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle”. Looking from the outside one tends to think it looks kind of bare and does not look like there would be animals in there and give it a pass… but once a kid makes a visit inside they invariably come back the next time they are at the zoo.
So I picked up the book with the intention of getting some pointers when volunteering at the zoo. The book compiled by Joanne O’Sullivan covers a broad variety of topics children can pay attention to. The book is simple enough that a tween can read and understand it. It would be a wonderful addition to any child’s library.
What did I like about it?
It is an easy read, simple instructions. Kids have enormous potential to bring about change and they are more receptive to change when they understand the how and why. The book helps kids in getting involved in day to day decisions where there is a green alternative. Websites and other helpful links are provided. DIY projects ranging from gardening to making stuff out of waste. Simple changes which make kids think before consumerism gets to them 100%. Thought provoking. I believe it is a good first step for any child who likes to read.
Some pointers which I found especially interesting:
Green Your Games – She suggests that kids pick up Save your planet games instead of repetitive electronic games. Examples - Planet Green game Free online Game by Global Green USA in Collaboration with Starbucks. Starbucks and Global Green USA collaborated on the Planet Green Game to educate the public about climate change through engaging and informative game play while encouraging individuals to become part of the solution in their own lives. The game also assists individuals – through simple tools and links – in advocating action by elected officials, business and community leaders. I love the way they display tips when one completes a task. Check it out!
Simcity SocietiesPaid Game – Use your Wii to create your ideal world. The game is from Electronic arts in collaboration with Tilted Mills. EA and Tilted Mill are excited to announce the most significant update to SimCity Societies yet, with six scenarios, city-wide policies, budgetary controls, and more. In this update, we introduce powerful new ways of playing SimCity Societies, as well as further refinements to both Creative and Strategic modes of play. This update wouldn’t have been possible without feedback from our users on Tilted Mill’s, EA’s and other gaming forums, and we are grateful for everyone’s input.
Xeko The Endangered animal trading game – Gaming for Good is a new trend in gaming! Play Exclusive Games. Activate a Portion of Proceeds to a Nonprofit. Save Real Animals, People & the Earth.
Adventure Ecology is a free online game. A Virtual world where you can take a grueling 100-day expedition traversing one of the earth’s most dangerous and environmentally challenged regions. Mix in 14 million sq kilometers of rapidly melting sea ice, 16 Inuit sled dogs, 4 polar adventurers, 3 hungry polar bears, 2.5 tonnes of expedition gear, 5 pairs of snapped ski’s, 6000 photos, 45 kg of chocolate, 2 world records and 1 important message. Launched in 2006 it is a very informative game. Founded by David de Rothschild, Adventure Ecology is a free, extensive online resource that aims to create and promote a greater connection with the natural world through a series of high profile expeditions.
Be A Picker Upper – Find Trash around the school, on the way to school etc… pick it up, drop it in the garbage can and don’t forget to wash your hands. Seeing you do it will make trash droppers realize their foolishness and of course it helps keep the environment clean.
Eating Slow Food Instead of Fast Food – Healthier for you and the Planet, creates less waste and uses lesser amount of fuel too…
Check out the book it has a lot of simple, easy to do projects for kids of all ages, 101 Ways to be precise . Starting a green informed life early I believe is the best way, Live Green!! Have A Green week ahead
No, I did not mean recycling them together! I am talking about 2 amazing green building products available in our markets. The recycled rubber tire flooring Bounce back and recycled glass faux stone Icestone. 2 Green Products Both Made In the USA!
Annually 4.5 million tires are recycled and converted into flooring and rubber mulch which again can be recycled, by RB Rubber Products The Bounceback flooring is perfect for outdoors or indoor play grounds and high traffic areas and it meets the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) and American with Disability Act (ADA) requirements tested by the American Society for Testing and Material (ASTM) methods. All RB Bounce Back tiles meet the Head Injury Criteria (HIC) tests for applicable fall heights and are certified by the International Play Equipment Manufacturers Association (IPEMA). The product is manufactured in the U.S.A.
It comes in 5 colors / finishes Black,Red, Blue, green and Fleck. To buy the product contact the company here
If you think all slabs are created equal, it’s time to look deeper. Is your countertop coated with plastic resin? Does it contain harmful petrochemicals? Is it made from stone or granite mined half way around the world in unknown and unregulated labor conditions? Extracted or manufactured without concern for the environment?
IceStone is the most healthy and environmentally responsible material on the market – 100% free of harmful plastics, toxic resins, and VOCs . Each slab is pre-cast in a day-lit factory that meets OSHA standards, and IceStone employees receive a living wage.
The mixing of non-toxic pigments with various glass colors and sizes results in IceStone’s versatile color palette. We have 28 available colors, but the palette is infinite. Custom color options are available for commercial projects only.
All IceStone slabs are manufactured in Brooklyn, NY. It is available in many colors check out the variety here. You can find a dealer/store near you here
Next time you are thinking about a DIY project check to see whether there is an alternative to the existing finishes and surfaces which may not be environmentally friendly. There are new products coming out every day and they need our support to stay alive in the market flush with non-envrionmentally friendly products. Live Green!
For more information on Icestone check our their website HERE
To know more about the Bounceback Safety surfaces check their home page HERE
One site I depend on to find Green products is GPII Green Products Innovation, They certify and list products which have already adopted the Cradle to Cradle® standard to ensure human and environmental health and safety.
My better half who is immersed in the markets up ticks and down falls has told me many times over the years that in our life time we may see fights or wars over water, to me it sounded very far fetched 10 years ago, and then I started reading up on it. He send me the link to the Forbes magazine website early this year with an article titled “The Next Oil-Water” The article in reference was from the Mother Nature Network and was published on March 22nd which was incidentally World Water Day. WHO has been celebrating world water day since 2005.
Albert Szent-Gyorgyi the Nobel Prize winning Hungarian Biochemist said “Water is life’s mater and matrix, mother and medium. There is no life without water.”
Water- the elixir of life which makes life possible on Earth, and that which makes Earth unique amongst the other planets in our solar system. We are by all estimates 75% water, our brain in itself is 85%water! Without water there would be no life and that is a fact. It is the reason why we send missions to the moon, mars and planets beyond searching, hoping that may be somewhere out there is another place like ours, special because it has water the sustainer of Life.
What really opened my eyes?
I grew up in Cochin a small coastal city in the Southern most part of India. I have lived my life without major issues related to water shortage, there were a few times when there would be a pipe that burst or something and we would go get water from a nearby well. Then I moved to the US and the only issues we have ever had has been when hurricane Ike’s remnants lashed through a couple of years back and brought down trees and power lines along its path… for a couple of weeks we were left without power and potable drinking tap water.
Early this year when I went to India to visit my folks, there were riot like situations happening in some islands adjacent to the city of Cochin and the cause was drinking water. The wells and the water tables in the islands are saline, leaving them dependant on the mainland for potable drinking water. With the city growing in leaps and bounds and the population bursting at the seams whatever water is available gets consumed before it makes its way to the islands. The people in the islands were fuming over the injustice they have been putting up with for decades… I remembered then that this was an issue when I was in school in the 80’s and probably even before that. For us mainlanders as long as it was not affecting us the issue seemed remote and something one the inside pages of the newspaper that we read and forgot.
One of the interesting things that caught my eye on the road in Cochin were the Tankers with “Drinking Water” boldly emblazoned on the sides. There seemed to be so many of them around! Each tanker carries Precious water for the residents who pay premium to get it 3-4 times a week! I was talking to a friend of mine who has always had a well with a never drying water table beneath, who mentioned that wells around were drying up in the wink of an eye without no reason at all… What we concluded was that probably the huge flats around had something to do with it?? Water tables are interconnected and when we break them I feel there must be some repercussion. Anyways so when I got back home and my husband gave me the link to the Forbes article, I started trying to find out how much water I was using in a day. I collected water in buckets to shower with, and kept track of the water I used to cook, tried to minimize use etc and when I triumphantly mentioned my effort to my better half her suggested I take a look at my water foot print a little more in detail. He said remember almost everything that we consume comes in contact with water before it makes its way to us!
So I thought well I need to find out for real how much water approximately I consume or use. On searching I found this website water foot print and I was astounded by the numbers and the realization of how far off my calculation was from reality. For me a cup of coffee was 1 cup of water, where as in reality to make that cup of coffee it takes approximately 140 liters of water! The sheer magnitude shocked me and made me realize like everything else the onus falls on us to take a stand and make sure we are making use of this elixir thoughtfully.
My water footprint was 801 cubic meter per year, what is yours? Find out here
Interesting and thought provoking Water Facts:
In the population of around 6billion plus people on our earth, 1 billion plus have no access to drinking water.
Around 1000 children die a day due to sicknesses from drinking non-potable water.
Oceans dominate the earth but only 1% of that water is fresh, accessible and potable.
Dry nations will increasingly abandon agriculture because of water scarcity, as is now happening in the Middle East and North Africa, and will turn to the water-rich countries for grains and other foods. This trade in comestibles—flowing from lush lands to parched places—has earned wheat, rice, and other crops the sobriquet “virtual water.”
The World Bank reports that a third of public utilities in developing countries lose up to 40 percent of their water due to poor infrastructure and mismanagement.
In 2007 the city of Atlanta was nearly brought to a standstill when Lake Lanier, the area’s primary water supply, dropped to its lowest levels in a century.
Every time you open a faucet, remember that you’re doing something beyond the reach of almost 3 billion people.
2005–2015 is the International Decade for Action Water for life, we are half way through it is high time there is action. Like everything else every small step counts.
4 of every 10 people in the world do not have access to even a simple pit latrine and nearly 2 in 10 have no source of safe drinking-water.
Harvesting rain water is a very sustainable way to save water.
Planting local plants and drought resistant varieties helps.
Taking shorter showers helps, keeping the tap closed while brushing teeth or shaving helps…
The steps we can take are myriad it is just that we need to do it, pay attention to the small things and make sure to follow through when we care about something which in this case is survival.
China, with 1.26 billion people, is the one area worrying most people most of the time, In dry Northern China, the water table is dropping one meter per year due to over pumping, and the Chinese admit that 300 cities are running short. Some Chinese rivers are so polluted the water can’t be used for irrigation!!
In India, home to 1.002 billion people, key aquifers are being over pumped, and the soil is growing saltier through contamination with irrigation water.
Israel (population 6.2 million), invented many water-conserving technologies, but water withdrawals still exceed resupply. Over pumping of aquifers along the coast is allowing seawater to pollute drinking water.
Egypt, whose population of 68 million may reach 97 million by 2025, gets essentially no rainfall. All agriculture is irrigated by seasonal floods from the Nile River, and from water stored behind the Aswan High Dam. Any interference with water flow by Sudan or Ethiopia could starve Egypt.
Mexico City (home to 20 million people) is sinking because the city sucks out underground water faster than the aquifer can be refilled.
In Bangladesh, what’s been called the “largest poisoning of a population in history” has 35 to 77 million people drinking arsenic-laced water.
Smart Dishwashing – If you’re doing dishes by hand, don’t rinse under an open faucet. Buy an in-sink rack, load your soapy dishes, and rinse by pouring hot water over the top or using a handheld spray nozzle. Have a dishwasher? Use the short cycle for all but the dirtiest dishes.
In developed nations such as Japan, the USA and in Europe, most water shortfalls arise from politically popular but inefficient subsidies and protections of agriculture, which accounts for 85% of freshwater consumption worldwide.
An apple is the result of 70 liters of water! and Wheat uses less water than rice to cultivate, almost 50% less! Can you believe that!
Why there can be strife over water? Consider: More than a dozen nations receive most of their water from rivers that cross borders of neighboring countries viewed as hostile.
A prime cause of the global water concern is the ever-increasing world population. As populations grow, industrial, agricultural and individual water demands escalate. According to the World Bank, world-wide demand for water is doubling every 21 years, more in some regions. Water supply cannot remotely keep pace with demand, as populations soar and cities explode.
The reality is that the water we take for granted can and will become not so cheap in a not so distant future unless we wake up to the fact that it is indeed a precious commodity now, not an unending source which will keep on giving. We need to take steps to make sure drinking water shortages do not start the next cold war scenario or unrest world over.
Our first step like everything else starts with ourselves, that small step we take in the right direction… like deciding whether to plant drought resistant vegetation, if guided by awareness that water is a very limited and precious natural resource… To get started check out your water footprint here am sure you will be as surprised as I was. Live Green!
Check out this presentation by professor Scott Fendorf of Stanford University about Southeast Asian water shortage:
Interesting reads and sources for the data in water facts:
When I read “Solar Power is Cheaper than Nuclear Power” I seriously thought someone was trying to pull a quick one by talking about 20 years into the future as if it was happening in the present. Then I read the article on The Green Energy Collective Website in detail and was thrilled by the realization that 2 researchers at Duke University have come to the conclusion that Solar Energy may have reached grid parity!
It’s no secret that the cost of photovoltaic cells (PV) have been dropping for years. A PV system today costs just 50 percent of what it did in 1998. Breakthroughs in technology and manufacturing combined with an increase in demand and production have caused the price of solar power to decline steadily. Nuclear Power plants are being pushed as the only viable alternative economically right now. But now the Duke researchers are saying that Solar power has attained price parity in regards to Nuclear power.
The Study authors John Blackburn and Sam Cunningham say “Electricity from new solar installations is now cheaper than electricity from proposed new nuclear plants.” They have their study based in North Carolina.
According to Osha Davidson of Energy Collective, if the data analysis is correct, the pricing would represent the “Historic Crossover” claimed in the study’s title.
Two factors not stressed in the study bolster the case for solar even more:
1) North Carolina is not a “sun-rich” state. The savings are likely to be even greater for states with more sunshine –Arizona, southern California, Colorado, New Mexico, west Texas, Nevada and Utah.
2) The data include only PV-generated electricity, without factoring in what is likely the most encouraging development in solar technology: concentrating solar power (CSP).
Power costs are generally measured in cents per kilowatt hour – the cost of the electricity needed to illuminate a 1,000 watt light bulb (for example) for one hour. When the cost of a kilowatt hour (kWh) of solar power fell to 16 cents earlier this year, it “crossed over” the trend-line associated with nuclear power.
Currently US energy supply depends 70% on Fossil Fuels (including Coal) and 20% on Nuclear Energy. The researchers say that mass produced Solar energy is being offered to customers at 14cents per kilo Watt Hour, which would make Solar energy one of the least expensive energy sources in America.
As I looked it up for more details I came across articles in NYTimes and a discussion on Slashdot both make some very interesting reading.
If what the researchers say hold true, we should have greener energy powering our day to day activities within a decades time. Sounds good will have to wait and see how it pans out. Live Green!
Some interesting facts:
From 1943 to 1999 the U.S. government paid nearly $151 billion, in 1999 dollars, in subsidies for wind, solar and nuclear power, Marshall Goldberg of the Renewable Energy Policy Project, a research organization in Washington, wrote in a July 2000 report. Of this total, 96.3 percent went to nuclear power, the report said.
According to credit rating agency Moody’s Nuclear installations invariably lower the credit rating of the company. “Of the 19 applications at the N.R.C.(US Nuclear Regulatory Commission) , 90 percent have had some type of delay or cancellation, run into a design problem, suffered cost increases and/or had the utility bond rating downgraded by Wall Street.”
Nuclear subsidies in the Senate proposal include five-year accelerated depreciation; tax credits for investments and production and eligibility for the advanced energy tax credit; an increase in government insurance against regulatory delays; access to private activity bonds; and a $36 billion increase in loan guarantees, bringing the total to $56 billion. (The Nuclear Energy Institutes Goal was a $100 Billion!)