Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Two meter sea level rise unstoppable-experts

A rise of at least two meters in the world's sea levels is now almost unstoppable, experts told a climate conference at Oxford University yesterday.

"The crux of the sea level issue is that it starts very slowly but once it gets going it is practically unstoppable," said Stefan Rahmstorf, a scientist at Germany's Potsdam Institute and a widely recognized sea level expert. There is no way I can see to stop this rise, even if we have gone to zero emissions."

Rahmstorf said the best outcome was that after temperatures stabilized, sea levels would only rise at a steady rate "for centuries to come," and not accelerate. Most scientists expect at least 2 degrees Celsius warming as a result of man-made greenhouse gas emissions, and probably more. The world warmed 0.7-0.8 degrees last century.

Rahmstorf estimated that if the world limited warming to 1.5 degrees then it would still see two meters sea level rise over centuries, which would see some island nations disappear. His best guess was a one meter rise this century, assuming three degrees warming, and up to five meters over the next 300 years.

"There is nothing we can do to stop this unless we manage to cool the planet. That would require extracting the carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. There is no way of doing this on the sufficient scale known today," he said. Scientists say that ice melt acquires a momentum of its own - for example warming the air as less ice reflects less heat, warming the local area. "Once the ice is on the move, it's like a tipping point which reinforces itself," said Wageningen University's Pier Vellinga, citing various research.

"Even if you reduce all the emissions in the world once this has started it may be unstoppable. I conclude that beyond 2 degrees global average temperature rise the probability of the Greenland ice sheet disintegrating is 50 percent or more. (That) will result in about 7 meters sea level rise, and the time frame is about 300-1,000 years."

Delegates from about 190 nations are meeting in Bangkok to try to speed up U.N.-led negotiations to replace the Kyoto Protocol with a tougher climate pact. Speakers in Oxford used history to back up their arguments on rising seas. Three million years ago the planet was 2-3 degrees warmer and the sea 25-35 meters higher, and 122,000 years ago 2 degrees warmer and 10 meters higher, they said.

"What we now see in Greenland, Antarctica could be a temporary phenomena but it could also be the start of what we saw 122,000 years ago," said Vellinga.

Sea levels have risen about 20 centimeters in the past century and that effect was accelerating, speakers said. That rise was adding to storms such as that in the Philippines, although that single event couldn't be attributed to climate change, said Rahmstorf. "Of course the flooding from a given storm event would be less severe if we hadn't added those extra centimeters."

About 40 million people worldwide live in flood plains, said Southampton University's Robert Nicholls. That is 0.6 percent of the global population and 5 percent of global wealth, because of valuable assets such as airports and power plants. He was confident that coastal protection could hugely reduce lost land and assets. The cost of that speakers put at anywhere from 50 billion euros ($72.85 billion) a year by 2020 to up to $215 billion a year by 2100.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Samal plans eco-park with landfill

The city of Samal, famous for its white-sand and powdery beaches, plans to build a multimillion-peso eco-park in an 11-hectare property that would also host the island’s very first sanitary landfill. The plan is to build both the landfill and the eco-park amid lush trees and a picturesque landscape.

"We can start this next year. Hopefully, we can be exempted from the election ban," Samal City administrator Cleto B. Gales Jr. said in an interview. The island, which used to have controlled dumping in a two-hectare property that has since been abandoned, sought assistance from the USAID-funded EcoGov2 program for the design of the sanitary landfill.

Mr. Gales said the island’s inhabitants generate about 11 metric tons of solid waste a day, with about 25% of that volume for recycling. The island’s 46 villages are already practicing re-use at source as part of the local government’s green program. "Only about 5% of our waste is residual that will be eventually put at the sanitary landfill," he said. The sanitary landfill will first occupy a third of the eco-park in the first phase and progressively expand.

The landfill will then be dotted with fruit trees, flowers and benches to mimic the design of a public park. The trees, he said, will help filter whatever odor will emanate from the landfill. Another portion of the eco-park will be allocated for composting to fertilize the trees and flowers surrounding the park.

Ferdinand S. Esguerra, EcoGov2 regional coordinator, said the design of the sanitary landfill, which is placed under category 2, will cost about P4 million for the first phase. Category 2 is designed to accommodate 75 tons of residual waste a day.

Category 1 and 2 landfills, he said, can be operated using clay as lining to prevent leachate, which can be toxic, from seeping to water bodies. Higher categories of landfills, like what Davao City is constructing, use expensive plastics as lining.

"All the leachates will pass through the tubes and pipes going to the pond where they will be treated before they are released," Mr. Esguerra said. EcoGov is also helping the local government prepare its environmental impact assessment and environmental compliance certificate for the landfill.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Australian town in 'world-first' bottled water ban

An Australian town pulled all bottled water from its shelves Saturday and replaced it with refillable bottles in what is believed to be a world-first ban. Hundreds of people marched through the picturesque rural town of Bundanoon to mark the first day of its bottled water ban by unveiling a series of new public drinking fountains, said campaign spokesman John Dee.

Shopkeepers ceremoniously removed the last bottles of water from their shelves and replaced them with reusable bottles that can be filled from fountains inside the town's shops or at water stations in the street. "Every bottle today was taken off the shelf and out of the fridges so you can only now buy refillable bottles in shops in Bundanoon," Dee said.

The tiny town, two hours south of Sydney, voted in July to ban bottled water after a drinks company moved to tap into a local aquifer for its bottled water business. "In the process of the campaign against that the local people became educated about the environmental impact of bottled water," said Dee.

"A local retailer came up with this idea of well why don't we do something about that and actually stop selling the bottled water and it got a favourable reaction," he said. Dee said the 2,000-person town had made international headlines with their bid, which he hoped would spur communities across the world to action.

"Whilst our politicians grapple with the enormity of dealing with climate change what Bundanoon shows is that at the very local level we can sometimes do things that can surprise ourselves, in terms of our ability to bring about real and measurable change that has a real benefit for the environment," he said. The cash savings only made the project more compelling, he added.

"I think that's why this campaign is doing so well, because we're saying to people you can save money and save the environment at the same time," said Dee. "The alternative doesn't have a sexy brand, doesn't have pictures of mountain streams on the front of it, it comes out of your tap."

Activists say bottling water causes unnecessary use of plastics and fuel for transport. A New South Wales study found that in 2006, the industry was responsible for releasing 60,000 tonnes of gases blamed for global warming.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Chemical pollutants linked to fewer female births

High exposure to certain now-banned industrial chemicals may lead to fewer female births, a new study suggests. The findings, reported in the journal Environmental Health, add to evidence that the two groups of related chemicals -- polybrominated biphenyls (PBBs) and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) -- may affect human reproduction.

PBBs were once widely used as flame retardants in plastics, electronic and textiles, while PCBs were used in everything from appliances and fluorescent lighting to insulation and insecticides. While the chemicals were banned in the 1970s as potential health hazards, they remain a public-health concern because they linger in the environment and accumulate in the fat of fish, mammals and birds.

For the current study, researchers used data from a group of Michigan residents who, in the early 1970s, had been inadvertently exposed to high levels of PBBs; the chemicals had been accidentally mixed into animal feed, leading to human exposure through contaminated meat, eggs and milk. The researchers observed that, from 1975 to 1988, women in the study group had a higher-than-average rate of male births, relative to the national average.

There was also a suggestion of increased odds of a male birth when both parents' combined PBB exposure was particularly high -- above the midpoint for the study group -- compared with couples whose PBB exposure was lower. Similarly, couples with high PCB levels had a higher rate of male births.

What this all means for the public at large, however, is unknown, according to lead researcher Metrecia Terrell, of Emory University in Atlanta. "This was a unique situation, so it's very difficult to extend the findings to people with everyday exposures," she said in an interview. "Exposure in the general population would be much lower," Terrell pointed out, "and we just don't know if there are effects on sex ratio."

Male births have always outnumbered female ones, but some research suggests that the male-to-female birth ratio is declining in the U.S. and elsewhere. One recent study found that in the U.S. in 2001, there were 104.6 boys born for every 100 girls; that compared with a ratio of 105.5 male births for every 100 female ones in 1970. The researchers speculate that environmental toxins might be playing a role. Certain chemicals may, for example, affect the viability of sperm that bear the Y chromosome -- which determines male sex -- or the viability of male fetuses.

In this study, however, high exposure to PBBs and PCBs was linked to an increase in male births. Exactly why is unclear, according to Terrell. Certain PBBs and PCBs have been shown to alter levels of male and female sex hormones, she and her colleagues note. But whether they promote the survival of Y-bearing over X-bearing sperm, or affect the survival of female fetuses is unknown. Terrell said that continuing research on the chemicals' potential reproductive effects is needed.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Sydney glows red under outback dust storm

A huge dust storm yesterday enveloped Sydney, forcing flights to be diverted, closing roads and prompting a health warning from doctors and government officials. The city, famous for its spectacular harbour views, woke up to an orange blanket causing poor visibility. Residents declared they had never seen anything like it before - one described it as like waking up on Mars. The Sydney Harbour Bridge was shrouded, making it invisible from most vantage points.

Strong winds had swept the outback dust into the Australian capital Canberra on Tuesday and other parts of the country are familiar with the red storms, but it is extremely unusual for Sydney to be hit in such a way.

Bureau of Meteorology spokeswoman Jane Golding said gale force winds from the northeast of New South Wales had whipped up the dust from Australia's drought-stricken interior and spread it across the country's most populous state.

"This dust is acting like a cloud layer," said Ms Golding. Several international flights were diverted to Brisbane 550 miles away and ferries, which usually carry commuters into Sydney's city centre, were cancelled because the reduced visibility could lead to collisions. Motorists were warned to take care during the busy rush hour.

Asthma sufferers were advised not to go to work, and early morning joggers were told to take a break for the day. "People who have any breathing issues stay inside and keep the windows closed," said New South Wales Emergency Services Minister Steve Whan.

It capped an extraordinary day of wild weather across Australia, with heavy rain producing flooding in Adelaide, and hail stones as big as cricket balls hit the town of Crookwell in New South Wales. Meanwhile in Queensland, fire-fighters were tackling ten bushfires, with dry and dusty conditions sweeping the state. And as if that was not enough, two small earthquakes, one registering 3.0 on the Richter Scale, struck near Melbourne causing minor damage.

Dust storms are not unusual in Australia, which is the world's driest inhabited continent. However, they are normally restricted to the inland areas, only reaching the coast during widespread drought. Australia is battling one of its worst droughts and weather officials say an 'El Nino' is slowly developing in the Pacific which will mean drier conditions for eastern states.

The country is one of the most vulnerable nations to climate change, but also the world's biggest greenhouse gas emitter per capita, as it relies on coal-fired power stations for the bulk of its electricity.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Obama urges fight against climate change

US President Barack Obama has challenged the world to act swiftly to fight global warming. Speaking at a special UN meeting, Mr Obama said time was running out to reverse climate change.

He said: "Our generation's response to this challenge will be judged by history, for if we fail to meet it - boldly, swiftly, and together - we risk consigning future generations to an irreversible catastrophe. The security and stability of each nation and all peoples - our prosperity, our health, our safety - are in jeopardy. And the time we have to reverse this tide is running out."

China's President Hu Jintao said China would reduce the amount of greenhouse gasses produced for each dollar of national economic output by a "notable margin" by 2020 from 2005 levels. But neither head of state outlined specific new targets.

Green activists hope action by the US and China will inject momentum into the fight against climate change ahead of the Copenhagen summit in December. But UN Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon, who called the meeting, said talks were moving too slowly. He said: "Failure to reach broad agreement in Copenhagen would be morally inexcusable, economically short-sighted and politically unwise."

"We cannot go down this road. If we have learned anything from the crises of the past year, it is that our fates are intertwined," he said.

Watch the video here

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Sustainable design and development night

Social enterprise Qi Global will be holding a conference on 8 October featuring some of Asia’s leaders in sustainable design and development.

Hear first-hand perspectives from fashion/furniture/industrial designers and social entrepreneurs, and have a look at product and art works on display.

Wine and canapes will be served on the night, and charity raffle tickets in support of Asian rainforests will be on sale. Prizes include eco luxury holidays.

Find out more at Qi Global’s website or contact directly

Thursday, September 17, 2009

5 Best Tips for Easy Line Drying

Electric dryers are gigantic energy hogs. But even those of us with clothes lines occasionally resort to the lazy option. A little preparation can make it a whole lot easier to hang them up outside. Here are a few tips for making line drying easy:

- Keep a sturdy basket and clothes pins handy. There's nothing worse than scrabbling around for clothes pins, or trying to carry an overflowing basket out into the yard. Invest in the equipment that makes it easy.

- Buy a real clothesline. Just as a good basket and clothespins make it easy, so too does a decent, rotary dryer, or other system. A rope between two trees works fine - but you end up walking up and down hanging out the clothes, and that hassle adds up. The easier you make it, the more you'll use it.

- Keep an Eye on the Weather. It's obvious, but you should check the weather regularly, and not just to make sure you bring clothing in before it rains. You should also consider timing your washes to coincide with good drying weather - doing a load first thing in the morning to make use of the day's sunshine.

- Consider an indoor option. Many avid line dryers will resort to the electric dryer at a spot of rain. But often there is space in a storage room, or even a guest room, for an indoor drying rack. As long as you ensure plenty of air circulation, the clothes shouldn't suffer from undue smells or moisture.

- Enjoy it. The sun is shining. You're outside. A breeze is blowing. And you are doing something good for the planet and your wallet. Take time to enjoy the moment - the more drying becomes a pleasure, not a chore, the more enticing it becomes.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Watch out Tesla - here comes the Audi E-Tron!!

The most exciting concept shown at the 2009 Frankfurt auto show is an electric sports car, the Audi e-tron. Borrowing body lines from the Audi R8, it can't help but look good. And boasting specs like 3,319 pound-feet of torque, it can't help but make gearheads drool.

Audi achieves that torque number by using four electric motors, one at each wheel. The drooling gearheads should be able to close their mouths again after hearing that the combined horsepower is only 313, making for a zero to 62 mph time of 4.8 seconds. But electric car enthusiasts will be happy to hear that the e-tron's range is 154 miles.

The four electric motors meant that Audi could design a virtual Quattro all-wheel-drive system, integrating the power distribution program with vehicle dynamics sensors. By default, the rear motors deliver 70 percent of the torque, the high number compensating for the 58 percent weight distribution to the rear wheels. But as conditions dictate, the power software can give any wheel greater or less power, which should make for incredible road-holding, beyond even Audi's current Quattro system.

A two-seater, the cabin is relatively simple, featuring a minimum of controls and gauges. The car's navigation and communication electronics are designed to communicate with external roads infrastructure, receiving information about traffic and green lights, for example, and adjusting routes accordingly to maximize driving efficiency.

The Audi e-tron might sound like a serious competitor to the Tesla Roadster, but the Tesla has one huge advantage: it's already in production.

Monday, September 14, 2009

10 Easy Ways to Really Cut Your Consumption

Consumption costs us money and the more simply we choose to live the more money we can save. The thing is, no matter how eco-friendly the products that we buy may be, they still come with packaging, they still take energy to make, and they are nearly always still trucked from somewhere. The biggest/most obvious eco-friendly tip of the year is consuming less (energy, water, "stuff,") is better for the planet.

Easy ways to cut your consumption:

1. Bring a reusable bag wherever you go. Excess bags just add to the landfill and you don't need them in the first place. There's no reason not to do this.

2. Ditch the processed food. It takes unnecessary energy to produce it, as well as tons of packaging.

3. Calculate your water footprint. How can you know where you need to cut water usage if you don't know how much you're using and where you're using it?

4. Wear less makeup. Using less makeup will save us on resources and money, and you'll look better too.

5. Drink less bottled water, try to drink none. The U.S. sends two million tons of polyethylene terephthalate (PET) bottled water packaging to the landfill each year. Just drink the tap and buy a water filter if you prefer.

6. Wash your clothes in cold water. About 90 percent of the energy used for washing clothes is for heating the water.

7. Pass up the fast food joint, bring your own grub. Let me count the reasons why. There's the immense shipping programs emitting harmful gases, the millions of tons of waste generated annually, and not to mention the total lack of nutritional value in fast food restaurant's most popular menu items.

8. Skip Starbucks and brew your own coffee. Once we factor in the cost of the gourmet coffee and the cost of driving there, each time we brew a cup at home, we save about the equivalent of a gallon of gas.

9. Shut down your PC. If every American worker remembers to turn off their computer at night, the nation's companies would prevent the release of 39,452 tons of carbon-dioxide emissions, save $4.7 million in utility costs, and reduce energy consumption by 54.3 million kilowatt-hours per day.

10. Become a weekday vegetarian. By cutting meat out of your diet entirely you save 5,000 lbs of carbon emissions per year, so even reducing your meat intake to two out of seven days will still make a big difference.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Please! Lead by example

While some advocates believe that zero population is the way to save the planet, others believe that having children, and educating them properly, can be the key to solving our environmental woes. Despite evidence that the very act of having children creates more of a carbon footprint than any amount of biking-versus-driving will ever compensate for, many parents, teachers, and, well, optimists believe that if educated and trained properly, children just might be able to fix the problems with which we are leaving them.

A burgeoning movement is connecting children with nature, teachers are working to incorporate the environment into the classroom and educate children to be the environmental stewards of the future, and programs nationwide have been bringing gardening to children as a crucial step in ensuring the future health of our planet.

The planet is in dire straits, but all hope is not yet lost. And while some are advocating for human extinction, we are by no means there; we are here and are certainly--unfortunately--leaving our mark. But there is time to reverse some of the damage, if we start now, and if we don't forget to educate the future generation to do the same.

So, if you have kids of your own, or if you spend any time with kids that are not your own, teach them about the environment. Instill a respect for nature; visit a park and look in awe up at the trees. Smell some flowers. Talk to them about how important it is, and why, to minimize their waste or to turn off the lights, and to understand where their food comes from; read to them; and most importantly, remember that they learn by example. The less impact you leave on the earth, the easier (and better) they will learn to do the same.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Five of the best: environmentally-friendly, safe cars

We all like to be green, but that shouldn't come at the expense of our safety. Thankfully the latest Euro NCAP test results have just been announced and with two hybrids among the top performers it seems you can save the environment and be around to enjoy it should you be unlucky enough to crash. We all want to be green when we're driving, but to do so typically it's best to be small and light. That goes against conventional thinking that bigger and heavier is best in an accident. Modern cars are supremely engineered for crashworthiness, meaning even some of the greenest cars your money can buy will help save you in the event of a collision. Euro NCAP tests cars for safety and has just announced its latest results. Among them are two hybrids, proving green cars can be safe too. Here's five of the best cars you can buy that protect not just you but the environment too.

Toyota Prius, Tough Toyota
Toyota's green darling is a tough performer in latest Euro NCAP tests.

Honda Insight, Hard Honda
Insight not just clean and green, it's a real star in Euro NCAP's crash tests.
Read more

Renault Grand Scenic, Robust Renault
Carry more people and share the CO2 emissions among you with Renault's Grand Scenic.

VW Polo BlueMotion, Vice-less Volkswagen
Miniature Golf delivers big safety as well as excellent economy and emissions.
Read more

Skoda Yeti, Sturdy Skoda
A tough, capable off-roader that's commendably green too, the Yeti is worth hunting down.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Albania to Zimbabwe: the climate change risk list

Africa and much of south Asia face extreme risk from climate change but top carbon polluters will be relatively shielded from its ravages, according a ranking of 166 nations obtained by AFP Wednesday.

Somalia, Haiti and Afghanistan top the Climate Change Vulnerability Index, calculated from dozens of variables measuring the capacity of a country to cope with the consequences of global warming. "We wanted to look at what is going to impact human populations," explained Fiona Place, senior environmental risk analyst at Maplecroft, a Britain-based firm that provides global risk intelligence for businesses.

Even if the world agrees at make-or-break climate talks in December to slash CO2 emissions, many of those impacts -- rising sea levels, increased disease, flooding and drought -- are already inevitable, UN scientists say.

Of the 28 nations deemed at "extreme risk", 22 are in Africa. Bangladesh and Sri Lanka are similarly threatened, with Pakistan right on the edge and India not far behind.

At the other end of the spectrum, Norway, Finland, Japan, Canada and New Zealand are best insulated, due to a combination of wealth, good governance, well-managed ecosystems and high resource security. The United States and Australia -- the largest per capita emitters of CO2 among developed nations -- are comfortably within the top 15 countries least at risk, according to the index.

With the exception of Chile and Israel, the rest of the 41 nations in the "low risk" category of the ranking are European or from the Arab Peninsula.

Japan's enviable position is due to its highly-developed infrastructure, its stable political and economic system, and its overall food and water security, explained Place. Although it imports much of its energy needs, it does so from many sources, spreading the risk. "Japan is also relatively rich in biodiversity, including well-managed forests. Human induced soil erosion is not a critical issue," she said.

"That's in contrast to, say, Ethiopia" -- or dozens of other poor nations -- "where there's a high population density and soil erosion is a real issue, impacting the ability to grow crops," she said.

One weak point in Japan, however, is the high concentration of populations along the coast exposed to rising sea levels. "Japan does need to take very seriously the issue of climate change vulnerability," Place said.

Another country threatened by ocean levels, which many scientists say will go up by at least a metre by century end, is Bangladesh, most of whose 150 million people live in low-lying delta areas.

Among the so-called BRIC economies -- Brazil, Russia, India and China -- only India is in the "high risk" group, due to high population density, security risks and especially its resource security. India's food vulnerability was highlighted last month by a study in the British journal Nature which said that the country's underground water supply was being depleted at an alarming rate. China and Brazil face "medium" risk, while Russia is in the "low" category.

Many small island states literally at risk of being washed off the map by rising seas, such as Tuvalu and the Maldives, were not included in the ranking.

The climate change index is based on 33 distinct criteria grouped into six sub-indices: economy, government institutions, poverty and development, ecosystems, resource security, and population density in relation to infrastructure. The two items weighted most heavily are potential impact of rising sea levels, and mismanagement of land resources, both forests or agriculture.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Algae-coated buildings touted as climate fix

The future of green technology is algae-cultivating buildings, artificial trees, and lots of white roofs, according to the U.K.'s Institution of Mechanical Engineers. The group on Thursday released a report that recommends governments fund research on geoengineering, or large-scale fixes for climate change. The report, a year in the making, is targeted at policymakers and is meant to inspire engineers to develop ways to cut greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere.

As concern grows over climate change, a number of geoengineering ideas have been proposed, including placing mirrors in space to reflect sunlight or shooting sulfur particles into the stratosphere, which would also have a cooling effect. However, in its analysis, the Institution of Mechanical Engineers found that most promising geoengineering techniques can be done on Earth. It argues that a handful of technologies be deployed at large scale, along with other strategies, to mitigate the effects of climate change.

At the top of the list are artificial trees, which are mechanical devices that can absorb carbon dioxide from the air faster than trees and then sequester that gas underground. The institution's report refers to the research done by Columbia University Professor Klaus Lackner, who is researching the concept and materials to absorb large amounts of CO2. Also required are underground storage formations, such as depleted oil wells. At a cost of $20,000 per tree, the institution concludes that it's the most practical approach.

Cultivating algae to make liquid fuel is one of the most active areas of research in biofuels. The institution recommends that algae be incorporated into buildings so algae can be grown at a large scale. Algae would grow from pumped-in carbon dioxide and sunlight and be harvested for use either as a liquid fuel to run in a combined heat-and-power unit or turned into biochar, or charcoal used as a soil conditioner that also sequesters carbon from the air.

Finally, the institution says that buildings should be retrofitted with reflective roofs to deflect the sun's rays. In the past months, U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu has publicly touted this relatively low-tech approach, which was studied in-depth at the Lawrence Livermore Laboratory last year. Although proposing billions of white roofs doesn't appear to be controversial, many other geoengineering ideas are. For example, scientists have warned about the environmental impact--or effectiveness--of "seeding" the ocean with iron to spur growth of plankton to sequester carbon.

In anticipation of a report on geoengineering from the U.K.'s Royal Society next week, watchdog ETC Group warned against unintended consequences from large-scale projects. "Even the most careful computer models won't be able to predict what will happen if an experiment is scaled-up and moved out of doors," the group said in a statement Friday.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Water Conservation Facts: By the Numbers

- 2.5 gallons: The amount of water per person much of the world is allocated.

- 400 gallons: The amount of water per person used by the average American citizen; 30 percent of this is used for outdoor purposes, such as watering the lawn.

- 70 percent: The amount of worldwide water use that is allocated to farming; most of these farming irrigation systems operate at only 40 percent efficiency. According to a 2002 article by Lester Brown, aquifers are depleting all over the world—in China by 2-3 metres per year. In the US, the Ogallala aquifer is shrinking rapidly. In India, aquifers are going down by 3 metres per year, in Mexico by 3.3 meters per year.

- 263: The number of rivers that either cross or demarcate international political boundaries, in addition to countless aquifers. According to the Atlas of International Freshwater Agreement, 90 percent of countries in the world must share these water basins with at least one or two other states. Major conflicts such as Darfur have been connected to water shortages, and lack of access to clean water.

- 1430: Gallons of water per capita in the United States; only 100 gallons of that is household use per person as most is used for agriculture, according to water expert Peter Gleick.

- 88 percent: Of deaths from diarrhea are caused from unsafe drinking water, inadequate availability of water for hygiene, and lack of access to sanitation; this translates to more than 1.5 million of the 1.9 million children under five who perish from diarrhea each year. This amounts to 18% of all under-five deaths and means that more than 4,000 children are dying every day as a result of diarrhoeal diseases.

- $11.3 billion: The amount of money required to provide basic levels of service for drinking and waste water in Africa and Asia.

- $35 billion: the amount of money spent on bottled water in the most developed countries in the world.

- 1.5 million: Barrels of crude oil used for making PET water bottles, globally. This is enough oil to fuel 100,000 American cars for a year.

- 2.7 tons: The amount of plastic used to bottle water. 86 percent become garbage or litter.