The week that was, 12/13-19/2009

Posted on | December 20, 2009 | No Comments

"River 2, Position 4," July 2008. Photo: Olaf Otto Becker. These pictures are not about New York. They are about the rivers of meltwater that form on the surface of the glaciers in Greenland during the summer. In the summer heat, the ice melts, and the little rivulets flow into bigger and bigger streams until eventually they become rivers. The water is a deep aquamarine. It wends its way through a landscape of white ice with blue tints, and of small black holes formed by atmospheric soot. The sky is crowded with low-hanging white clouds and only occasional breaks of blue or gray. There are no trees or telephone poles or anything, really, to give a sense of scale. How wide is the stream in "River 2, Position 4, 07/2008"? There is no way of knowing. Whether narrow or wide, it flows serenely around a bend, a fairy river in a fairytale land."Reviewed by William Meyers in the Wall Street Journal

"River 2, Position 4," July 2008. Photo: Olaf Otto Becker from "Above Zero" at the Amador Gallery in New York through January 9, 2010. Click on the image to be taken to the gallery website and other images of the summer rivers of Greenland.

These pictures are … about the rivers of meltwater that form on the surface of the glaciers in Greenland during the summer. In the summer heat, the ice melts, and the little rivulets flow into bigger and bigger streams until eventually they become rivers. The water is a deep aquamarine. It wends its way through a landscape of white ice with blue tints, and of small black holes formed by atmospheric soot. The sky is crowded with low-hanging white clouds and only occasional breaks of blue or gray. There are no trees or telephone poles or anything, really, to give a sense of scale. How wide is the stream in River 2, Position 4? There is no way of knowing. Whether narrow or wide, it flows serenely around a bend, a fairy river in a fairytale land. — Portraits in dignity, the Wall Street Journal, December 19, 2009

Glaciers are part of the majestic landscape here, visible from almost everywhere in the neighboring cities of La Paz and El Alto, each with one million people. Their disappearance from certain vistas is as startling to Bolivians as the absence of the twin towers is to New Yorkers. — In Bolivia, water and ice tell a story of a changing climate, New York Times, December 13, 2009

“The local people and farmers know the environment is changing, but what they don’t know is how they will adapt.” — Kashmir University geologist Shakil Romshoo on havoc caused by the melting of Himalayan glaciers that traditionally fed industries such as the saffron trade, Kashmir’s climate frontline, Al Jazeera English, December 13, 2009

Most farmers, the biggest losers as the river shrinks, simply do not buy the notion that southern Australia’s climate is changing in a way that is probably irreversible. — Australia’s drought-hit farmers still skeptics on climate change, Washington Post news service, via the Seattle Times, December 19, 2009

“Another way to think of ocean acidification is as osteoporosis of the seas.” — Jane Lubchenco, head of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Acid oceans ‘evil twin’ of climate change, AP / Seattle Times, December 18, 2009

Tokyo, Japan: An image of swan is projected onto a screen created by a water fountain during a press preview of the Odaiba water illumination show Photograph: Yuriko Nakao/Reuters. Source: 24 Hours in Pictures, London Guardian, December 18, 2009. Click on the image to be taken to the gallery.

Tokyo, Japan: An image of swan is projected onto a screen created by a water fountain during a press preview of the Odaiba water illumination show Photograph: Yuriko Nakao/Reuters. Source: 24 Hours in Pictures, London Guardian, December 18, 2009. Click on the image to be taken to the gallery.

The researchers note that more work is needed before public policy makers can consider adding lithium to water supplies. — Lithium in the water, New York Times Magazine, December 13, 2009

Down at the bottom, the rain never stops. — Water authority digs deep for third intake pipe at Lake Mead, Las Vegas Review Journal, December 13, 2009

Water utilities spend 19 times more on water treatment chemicals every year than the federal government invests in protecting lakes and rivers from pollution in the first place. — Environmental Working Group introduction to its new report and city ranking data base on tap water quality, December 12, 2009*

“We’ve never had any drinking-water violations. Our water is perfectly safe to drink.” — Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission spokesman Jim Neustadt, Fairfax tops others in tap water report — Environmental group ranks Maryland low in pollutant control, the Washington Post, December 13, 2009

“We just don’t happen to have the standards they would like us to.” — Las Vegas Valley Water District spokesman JC Davis, Las Vegas water rated among worst in nation; local officials disagree, Las Vegas Review Journal, December 14, 2009

“Remember cholera … You had typhoid. You don’t hear about that stuff anymore, which is a good thing.” — Jacksonville Electricity Authority director of environmental compliance Kevin Holbrooks, JEA water among worst in US, group says, Florida Times Union, December 15, 2009

“If it doesn’t violate the law, I don’t really pay much attention to it.” — Stephen Sorrell, executive director of Emerald Coast Utilities Authority, Millions drink tap water that is legal, but maybe not healthy, New York Times, December 16, 2009kpNYQz

Forty-five pollutants — ranging from radioactive material to industrial degreasers — were detected in Emerald Coast Utilities Authority drinking water, according to the study. The national average was eight, the report said. — ECUA water quality worst in nation, group says, Pensacola News Journal, December 14, 2009

“We recognize that much of the water we pump out of the ground is contaminated, and we have spent millions of dollars over the past 20 years building treatment facilities to mitigate that.” — Kevin Milligan, assistant general manager for Riverside utilities, Two inland water agencies take issue with report, Riverside Press-Enterprise, December 14, 2009

[Riverside Utilities general manager David] Wright called the group’s analysis erroneous and untrue, saying the figures released by the organization were for untreated groundwater, not what comes out of the tap. — Riverside officials say environmental report on city’s water is erroneous, Riverside Press-Enterprise, December 16, 2009

… none of the numbers matched the findings the water utility has reported to the state. — Some skeptical of data in water purity report, Santa Fe New Mexican, December 18, 2009

“We stand behind the safety of our water supplies.” — Bob Muir, spokesman for the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, LA water quality low; report gives supply a bad ranking, Pasadena Star News, December 15, 2009

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Approximate location of maximum subsidence in the United States identified by research efforts of Dr. Joseph F. Poland (pictured). Signs on pole show approximate altitude of land surface in 1925, 1955, and 1977. The site is in the San Joaquin Valley southwest of Mendota, California. Source: USGS. Double click on the image to be taken to a groundwater subsidence fact sheet.

… no one actually measures, monitors, or reports groundwater use. Whoever can pump it can have it, to the detriment of everyone else, our wetlands, and runoff into our rivers and streams. — Peter Gleick, California’s massive groundwater overdraft newly revealed, San Francisco Chronicle, December 15, 2009

“You can change as many toilets as you want to, you can change as many shower heads as you want to, but until something is done about the landscapes we’re not going to have a significant impact with regard to conserving California’s potable water.” Patrick Larkin, executive director, Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden, Claremont planners approve tighter landscaping, irrigation rules, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin, December 16, 2009

The loss of 45 percent of the supply provided by Camden’s largest water operator — due to leakage, overflow, meter inaccuracies, and billing errors — is more typical of systems in developing nations … Audit finds much of Camden’s water supply missing, Philadelphia Inquirer, December 17, 2009

“This is mostly a legal argument rather than one of facts.” Nebraskan attorney Don Blankenau, Judge ready to weigh Republican River evidence, Lincoln Journal Star, December 14, 2009

*Though the Environmental Working Group tap water rankings were released on December 12th, they are linked here because of the number of press reports that they provoked from 12/13 to 12/19/2009.


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