Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Ogallala aquifer under stress

The Ogallala aquifer is the largest underground water system in the world, providing drinking and irrigation water for Colorqado, Kansas, Nebraska, New Mexico, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Texas, and Wyoming.

But heavy usage combined with persistant drought have made parts of it the fastest disappearing aquifers in the world.

In parts of Kansas, the water table has dropped 25 feet in the last ten years. Streams disappeared years ago while rivers are drying to gravel.

In some areas, farmers are no longer allowed to irrigate their crops, saving the water for growing population needs. Some farmers have switched from corn to cotton which needs less water.

Unlike energy, there is no solar or wind alternative to water.

Friday, February 10, 2006

Canada Has 8 Years of Natural Gas Left

Dave Hughes, who works for Natural Resoruces Canada, has been speaking out about the coming energy crisis. At a recent speach, hosted by The University of Calgary's Geology Department, Hughes described the "resource pyramid," with high quality resources at the top and more abundant but lesser quality resources at the bottom. The farther down the pyramid you go, the more energy it takes to extract the resources, until you reach a point where you are using more energy than you are getting back.

Hughes claimed that North America is on an "exporation treadmill" when it comes to natural gas. More and more gas wells need to be drilled each year just to keep production steady. The number of new wells drilled in Canada has increased steadily from 4,842 in 1997 to 15,126 in 2004. Production peaked at 17.4 Bcf/d in 2001 and 2002, then fell to 16.9 Bcf/d in 2003 and 17.0 Bcf/d in 2004.

Worldwide, energy production is being strained by the dramatic growth in demand from emerging economies. Since the 1960s, China's energy consumption has grown 600%, India's has grown 600%, and Indonesia's has grown 1,400%.

Awareness of our energy limitations is becoming mainstream. What is still lacking is a serious program to conserve our remaining energy resources and bring renewable sources online.

Monday, February 06, 2006

Greece is becoming a desert

When we think about advancing deserts, we don't normally think about Greece, but a conference in Thessalonika revealed that 84 percent of Greece's land is at risk of desertification and another 8 percent is already arid but is still being cultivated by farmers reluctant to lose their subsidies.

The hardest hit areas are believ4ed to cover a large section of mainland Greece, most of the Peloponese, mountainous parts of the Ionian islands, eastern and central Crete as well as parts of Thessaly, Macedonia and Thrace.

Areas in greatest danger are hilly land where soil erosion drasticly reduces depth, fertility and productivity of the earth. Agricultural machines are also a major culprit; they are believed to have caused a loss of about 40 centimeters of earth in the hilly sections of the Thessaly plain.

Desertification is another factor in the equation that pits growing population and economies against increasingly stressed resources. We must find ways out of this equation and find them soon.