Tuesday, November 10th, 2009
Earlier in the week, Jonathan Axelrad, Co-Chair of this past weekend’s Jewish Response to the Energy Challenge (J-REC) conference held in San Francisco and broadcasted through out the United States and Israel, was asked if a “Jewish response to energy” wasn’t as superfluous as the Korean response to hurricanes.
As one of the few, if not only, gentiles I began the morning a bit skeptical, though after a day of thought provoking lectures and panels, I feel it was not another superfluous conference, and the concept of a concerted Jewish response could indeed be the seed of a terrifically successful piece of the large puzzle that will be the energy (and consumption) solution of the future. The core ideas behind why I agreed with the many bright panelists and moderators for why there should be a particularly Jewish response is because of the interdisciplinary and international nature of the energy challenge, the acute water and related energy challenge within Israel, and the Jewish concept of tikkun olam (loosely translated from Hebrew: the pursuit of things that avoid social chaos).
Monday, September 28th, 2009
Water agencies facing droughts and shortages of freshwater, such as in coastal California, have been turning increasingly to desalination this year.
However, current desalination methods can be expensive and energy inefficient. Watchdog groups prefer water conservation and efficiency efforts, and charge that tapping the oceans for potable water can pollute waterways and kill marine creatures.
Yet could desalination become more viable and efficient? The Global Cleantech 100 list anointed several companies with that aspiration as technology innovators earlier this month. (more…)
Friday, September 4th, 2009
A $17 million renewable energy project designed to tap into the earth’s heat more than 2 miles deep has been suspended because of difficulty drilling through rock formations.
The project, run by AltaRock Energy and partially funded by Google, was designed to drill down to about 12,000 feet, fracture rock at the bottom of the hole, and then circulate water to create steam.
But the company reported that it had encountered “anomalies” in the rock that had prevented it from drilling deeper than 4,000 feet.
Tuesday, September 1st, 2009
Israeli solar energy companies such as Solel Solar, Aora, Ormat technologies, and a host of others are now world leaders in the development of sun power to produce electricity. But Israel, a small country of 7 million, with more than half its land area being desert, has been a solar energy pioneer virtually since its beginning in 1948.
What is now fondly known to many Israelis as a “dude shemesh” or sun boiler, was invented by a guy named Levi Yissar back in the early 1950’s, when electricity was very expensive due to a severe energy shortage.
Thursday, August 20th, 2009
Tonight, Imagine H2O will be hosting a Water Efficiency Ideation Workshop in Palo Alto, California. While this announcement might come at short notice to you, it’s worth considering participation.
When: Thursday August 20, 2009, 6:00-8:30pm
Where: Cooley Godward Kronish LLP, 3715 Hanover St., Palo Alto, CA 94304
Imagine H2O is a non-profit organization that spurs entrepreneurship and investment in the water sector by running business plan prize competitions with an incubator program for water entrepreneurs. This year’s inaugural competition is a $50k prize for water efficiency businesses, and Imagine H2O is kicking this off with tonight’s event. The workshop offers entrepreneurs, innovators, and the public a chance to hear from customers of water efficiency products and services. You’ll be identifying water customers’ needs, brainstorming ideas and building teams.
Monday, August 17th, 2009
The NATO Science for Peace Program and the Middle East Desalination Research Center (MEDRC) recently awarded grants to researchers at Ben Gurion University of the Negev to continue working on a novel desalination method. In a region where potable water sources are so scarce, these methods are crucial to water independence and reducing reliance upon imported water sources (which require a lot of fossil fuels).
The team, lead by Dr. Jack Gilron (Zuckerberg Institute for Water Research) and Professor Eli Korin (Department of Chemical Engineering), has developed a desalination method by reverse osmosis that exploits “the finite kinetics of membrane fouling processes by periodically changing the conditions leading to membrane fouling before it can occur.”
Tuesday, August 4th, 2009
Update: This article has been modified since its initial publication. Please note that the report mentioned in this article is not a United Nations publication. More information about the authors and the report can be found here.
A major report issued by the United Nations Millennium Project has just been released. It finds that half the world appears vulnerable to social instability and violence due to increasing and potentially prolonged unemployment from the recession as well as several longer-term issues: decreasing water, food, and energy supplies per person; the cumulative effects of climate change; and increasing migrations due to political, environmental, and economic conditions. It also finds some good in the global financial crisis, which may be helping humanity to move from its often selfish, self-centered adolescence to a more globally responsible adulthood.
After 13 years of the Millennium Project’s global futures research, it is increasingly clear that the world has the resources to address its challenges. Coherence and direction has been lacking. But recent meetings of the U.S. and China, as well as of NATO and Russia, and the birth of the G-20 plus the continued work of the G-8 promise to improve global strategic collaboration. It remains to be seen if this spirit of cooperation can continue and if decisions will be made on the scale necessary to really address the global challenges discussed in this report.
Saturday, June 27th, 2009
The US Federal government released a major report this week. The report summarizes the science and the impacts of climate change on the United States, now and in the future. It focuses on climate change impacts in different regions of the US and on various aspects of society and the economy such as energy, water, agriculture, and health. The report is the work of 12 federal agencies including the EPA, DOD, DOC, NASA, and others. It’s written in plain language, with the goal of better informing public and private decision making at all levels.
The Key Findings of the report are:
Thursday, May 28th, 2009
Bernie Focker, aka Dustin Hoffman of Meet The Fockers, once said, ”If it’s yellow let it mellow, if it’s brown flush it down.”
Bernie Focker, though an imaginary character, spoke of real life issues: water conservation. Even though the water crisis has taken a backseat to other issues such as carbon emissions, the problem is real: By 2025, the world will experience major freshwater shortages. Though 97% of water comes from oceans, only about 3% of it is freshwater. From that, 2.4% is permanently frozen in glaciers and ice caps, 0.5% of Earth’s water is ground water, and the rest can be found in rivers and lakes (also known as surface water).
Since our water comes from ground and surface water, that’s a small percentage overall. And because of our ever-growing population and water needs, rising temperatures and droughts, the US government estimates that about 36 states will face water shortages by 2013.
Monday, April 27th, 2009
You know the song: “Rain, rain, go away/Come again some other day.”
Heavy rain in places with older sewer systems (Michigan and elsewhere), often results in combined sewage overflows. But it doesn’t have to be that way. And the solution doesn’t have to cost billions of dollars.
First off, combined sewage systems are problematic because they take in sanitary sewage (toilet) in the same pipes as stormwater runoff (manhole). When it rains, water that runs off of impervious surfaces like rooftops and parking lots can overwhelm combined systems.