The Stream, January 16: Humans Degrading the Systems that Sustain Them

The  Global Rundown

The Global Rundown

Scientists have categorized the nine natural processes vital to life on earth, and determined that humans are throwing four of them dangerously out of whack. A diesel fuel spill into the St. Lawrence River left some Quebec residents under a tap water drinking ban this week. BP’s maximum fine for the Gulf of Mexico oil spill of 2010 is several billion dollars less than expected. In India, solar panels are being installed in some ingenious locations, and water shortages have reduced domestic oil seed production to the point that cooking oil imports are at an all-time high. Finally, the UN is holding its annual water conference in Zaragoza, Spain, in preparation for World Water Day 2015.

 “It’s fairly safe to say that we haven’t seen conditions in the past similar to ones we see today and there is strong evidence that there [are] tipping points we don’t want to cross.” – Professor Will Steffen, Australian National University and the Stockholm Resilience Centre, on two new studies indicating that humans are interrupting earth systems vital to our own survival(Guardian)

By the Numbers

By The Numbers

$US 13.7 billionMaximum fine British Petroleum will face under the Clean Water Act for its 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. A federal judge has ruled that the spill, estimated by the U.S. Government to have been 4.09 million barrels, was actually closer to 3.19 million barrels, reducing the maximum penalty for BP by several billion dollars. Reuters

28,000 liters – Amount of diesel fuel spilled into the St. Lawrence River Wednesday Morning from a generator at a waste water treatment plant in Longueuil, Quebec. Some surrounding areas instated a ban on drinking tap water as a precautionary measure. CBC


Science, Studies, And Reports

Two new studies have pinpointed nine processes that are essential for life on earth, and found that humans are dangerously messing with four of them. The research shows that environmental changes in the last 60 years are unprecedented in the last 10,000. Of the nine processes identified, the four that are being altered to unsafe extremes are “human-driven climate change, loss of biosphere integrity, land system change and the high level of phosphorus and nitrogen flowing into the oceans”. Guardian

On the Radar

On The Radar

India is exploring smart places to install solar panels – like on top of canals. Canal-top solar panel installation has two benefits: it reduces the amount of land used for solar panels, and it also decreases evaporation from the canals, preventing loss of valuable water. Reuters

Indian imports of cooking oil are at an all-time high, after this water shortages caused a drop in domestic oil seed productionBloomberg News

The 2015 UN-Water Annual International Zaragoza Conference is happening this week in Zaragoza, Spain. The conference is part of the UN’s preparations for World Water Day 2015, and this year’s theme is ‘Water and Sustainable Development: From Vision to Action.’ United Nations

0 replies

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply