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Posts Tagged ‘water’

Ecological Cooperation in South Asia by Saleem H. Ali

In Asia, politics, society on October 19, 2015 at 02:16

From: Ecological Cooperation in South Asia: The Way Forward by Saleem H. Ali, Policy Innovations, http://www.policyinnovations.org

The greatest loss of human life and economic damage suffered by South Asia since 2001 has not been due to terrorism and its ensuing conflicts but rather due to natural disasters, ranging from the 2005 Kashmir earthquake and the Indus floods of 2010 to seasonal water shortages and drought. Although such calamities themselves might not be preventable, their human impact can certainly be mitigated.

The most consequential ecological features in South Asia are the Himalayas and the rivers that are largely derived from their geography. Some of the worst territorial disputes in the region also span these mountains. Hence, scientific and sociocultural research on mountain ecosystems is likely to play a pivotal role in galvanizing regional cooperation and reaping peace dividends.

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Reposted with permission from: Policy Innovations

Water Works by Cynthia Barnett

In architecture, community, ecology, infrastructure, North America on July 30, 2013 at 17:52

From: Water Works: Communities imagine ways of making every drop count (Reimagining Infrastructure series) by Cynthia Barnett, Orion Magazine, http://www.orionmagazine.org

On a winter’s day in Seattle, a leaden monotony hangs over the Central Business District, dispiriting to this part of downtown. Contrary to reputation, the urban pallor is not born of rain, which falls almost imperceptibly from silvery clouds that match the nearby waters of Puget Sound. Rather, the gloom rises from the cement hardscape. The busy streets are paved dark gray, the wide sidewalks beside them light gray. The skyscrapers rise in shades of gray. The hulking freeways, ramps, and overpasses: gray. The monorail track and its elephantine pillars: gray.

The gray shellac of a city repels more than the imagination. When rain flows along streets, parking lots, and rooftops rather than percolating into the ground, it soaks up toxic metals, oil and grease, pesticides and herbicides, feces, and every other scourge that can make its way to a gutter. This runoff impairs virtually every urban creek, stream, and river in Washington. It makes Pacific killer whales some of the most PCB-contaminated mammals on the planet. It’s driving two species of salmon extinct, and kills a high percentage of healthy coho within hours of swimming into Seattle’s creeks, before they’ve had a chance to spawn.

Returning some of nature’s hydrology to the cityscape can make an enormous difference —or could—as more individuals, businesses, and neighborhoods remake their bit of the terra firma. Washington State University scientists have found that streets with rain gardens clean up 90 percent or more of the pollutants flowing through on their way to the sound. Green roofs reduce runoff between 50 and 85 percent and can drop a building’s energy costs by nearly a third. Cisterns like the one on Vine Street solve two problems, reducing runoff and capturing water for outdoor irrigation—which in summer can account for half a city’s freshwater demand.

Seattle was among the first major American cities to accept that it had hit the limit. The Emerald City taps a clear mountain river called the Cedar, and a smaller river, the Tolt, to quench the thirst of 1.4 million urbanites and corporate giants from Amazon to Microsoft. The Cedar River begins in the cloud-laced foothills of the Cascade Range, flows forty-five miles south to Seattle’s iconic Lake Washington, and ultimately to Puget Sound. Seattle’s leaders had the foresight to begin buying up the river’s watershed for drinking water in the late 1800s; over a century, they’d preserved more than ninety thousand acres. At the upper reaches of the watershed, snowpack collects in winter, then fills the city’s reservoirs for the dry summer. At the lower end, the Landsburg Dam diverts the river for drinking water.

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Reposted with permission from: Orion Magazine

Books of Ice: Sculptures by Basia Irland

In art, books, ecology, nature, video, visual arts on March 12, 2013 at 15:32

From: Books of Ice: Sculptures by Basia Irland & Text by Kathleen Dean Moore, Orion Magazine, http://www.orionmagazine.org

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Balls of ice sowed seeds of life on Earth. That’s what comets are, just clumps of ice holding interstellar rocks and dust. But in that dust are amino acids and nucleotides that build living things. Many scientists think that this might be one way life began on Earth, 4 billion years ago, when the spinning arms of the galaxy cast comets over the planet, comets and comets and comets, protolife smacking onto the broken lava plains, until basins gathered the meltwater into oceans, and the oceans nurtured onrushing life.

Ice sows ice, too. The first grains gleamed in white sunshine, throwing back the sun’s heat and cooling their own small shadows. More ice formed in the cool places, and the shine of it cooled a larger shadow, until the reflectivity of the growing ice sheets cooled the whole planet, finally draped in dazzling layers of ice. Now the glaciers that remain in mountain valleys give life to rivers—the Ganges, the Fraser, the Colorado—as meltwater slides down blue rills and finally cuts a channel through gravel and till.

Reposted with permission from: Orion Magazine

The Future of the Internet by Vint Cerf

In government, information science, internet, interview, politics, privacy, society, space on February 26, 2013 at 05:28

From: The Future of the Internet “Freshwater Will Be the New Oil” by Vint Cerf, The European Magazine, http://www.theeuropean-magazine.com

The European: When you started working on the Internet, did you have an idea of how big it would become one day?
Cerf: Bob Kahn and I had a sense of how powerful technology is. But we couldn’t possibly imagine what it would be like when 1/3 of the world’s population would be online. When we came up with an original design in 1973, we knew that new communication technologies would come along. At that time we couldn’t think of what they would be like – but we wanted the Internet to work on top of them.

The European: How will we debate truth, or argue about what is most important to us?
Cerf: I would ask: what will be our utopia? We don’t know. People call me chief Internet envangelist. Some misunderstood this and thought that it meant I was using the Internet to promote religion. I have to explain that I’m geek-orthodox. I see many good things in the world, but I also see some bad things. I believe that we really have the choice to use technology and the infrastructure of the Internet towards very positive ends. But like any infrastructure, it is open to abuse. We are reaching a point now where governments are concerned about the impact of the Internet infrastructure on citizens and on society.

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Reposted with permission from: The European Magazine

Life’s Matrix by Philip Ball

In astronomy, biology, literature, nature, philosophy, research, science on January 14, 2013 at 06:41

From: Life’s Matrix by Philip Ball, http://www.philipball.co.uk

In myth, legend, literature and the popular imagination, then, water is not a single thing but a many-faced creature: a hydra, indeed. This is the essence of water’s mystery, and it remains even when water is picked apart by science. Water is the archetypal fluid, the representative of all that flows, and yet science shows it also to be a profoundly anomalous liquid, unlike any other. Some scientists doubt whether water inside living cells, the very juice of life, is the same stuff as water in a glass; at the molecular scale, they think its structure may be altered; perhaps cell water even congeals into a kind of gel. Water behaves in unexpected ways when squeezed or cooled below freezing point. Life needs water, but it remains a profound mystery why water, a lively and reactive substance, didn’t break apart the complex molecules of the earliest life forms on Earth almost as soon as they were formed.

When a substance becomes mythical, it works curious things on our imagination, even without our knowing it. Substances like this are ancient, and they have magical powers. Gold and diamonds, bread and wine, blood and tears are agents of transformation in story and legend. But none, I think, surpasses the beauty, the grandeur, the fecundity and the potency of water. This is why water is, and must always be, much more than a simple compound of hydrogen and oxygen, or a dance of molecules. To explain its role in our imaginations, its life-giving potential, its bizarre and perplexing properties, its sweet nourishment and its glittering surface-to fully explain these things, we do perhaps have to reduce water to its mundane constituents. But even when we do so, we have to remember what we are dealing with: not just a chemical compound, but a fundamental part of nature, with aspects that are serene, enchanting, enlivening, profound, spiritual and even terrible. In the voice of the babbling stream, says Wordsworth, ‘is a music of humanity’. And Bachelard bids us listen well to this music: ‘Come, oh my friends, on a clear morning to sing the stream’s vowels! Not a moment will pass without repeating some lovely round word that rolls over the stones.’

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Reposted with permission from: Philip Ball

Two Views of the Storm in Brooklyn by Anya Ulinich and Anya Yurchyshyn

In community, nature, North America, society on November 19, 2012 at 22:25

From: Two Views of the Storm in Brooklyn by Anya Ulinich and Anya Yurchyshyn, n + 1, http://nplusonemag.com

I knew the water came because I saw it from my new apartment, where the lights never went out, not once. I spent the beginning of the storm trying to work while my roommates watched movies. The wind was thumping our rickety windows enough for me to move away from them, but I felt safe. “I love a good storm!” I thought, and I do. I also thought I was going to get a lot of work done. I didn’t.

Why didn’t I leave? I thought I’d be safe—I figured that if the water came up to the fourth floor we’d all be so fucked that it wouldn’t matter where I was. Also, I love Red Hook, and I wanted to be there if something happened to it. People always talk about its incredible community, how it’s a village, and all that’s true. But it’s not like I know everyone there, go out all the time, or am on a first name basis with the old guard, or even the new one. I’m no shut in, but that level of exposure makes me shy. But I’ve always recognized what it is and knew I was living in the best neighborhood in New York City and was surrounded by the best neighbors. Red Hook was the only place I wanted to live, even though, or precisely because, it’s kind of a pain-in-the-ass to live there.

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Reposted with permission from: n + 1

Water by John Protevi

In government, history, philosophy, society on July 10, 2012 at 01:15

 

From: Water by John Protevi, rhizomes.15 winter 2007, http://www.rhizomes.net

[3] For Deleuze and for Deleuze and Guattari, being is production. The production process (intensive difference driving material flows resulting in actual or extensive forms) is structured by virtual Ideas or multiplicities or “abstract machines.” Multiplicities are composed of mutually defined elements with linked rates of change [“differential relations”] peppered with singularities. In mathematical modeling of physical systems, singularities are points at which the graph of a function changes direction. Singularities in models represent thresholds in intensive processes, where a system undergoes a qualitative change of behavior.  Being as production is symbolized in Difference and Repetition by the slogan, “the world is an egg” (251). What this means is that “spatio-temporal dynamisms” or intensive processes are that which actualizes or “differenciates” Ideas. These processes, however, are hidden by the constituted qualities and extensities of actual products. The example of embryology shows this differenciation of differentiation, as the dynamic of egg’s morphogenesis implies a virtual Idea unfolding in such a way that there are things only an embryo can do or withstand. The world is thus a progressive determination going from virtual to actual. Thought, however, is vice-diction or counter-effectuation: it goes the other way from production. It is a matter of establishing the Idea / multiplicity of something—”constructing a concept”—by  moving from extensity through intensity to virtuality.

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