What is our worst-case scenario?  

China’s problematic solution to its water-security woes


What’s in your water?

Humans: the real threat to life on Earth  (From his book Ten Billion, by Stephen Emmott.)      We humans emerged as a species about 200,000 years ago. In geological time, that is really incredibly recent. Just 10,000 years ago, there were one million of us. By 1800, just over 200 years ago, there were 1 billion of us. By 1960, 50 years ago, there were 3 billion of us. There are now over 7 billion of us. By 2050, your children, or your children’s children, will be living on a planet with at least 9 billion other people. Some time towards the end of this century, there will be at least 10 billion of us. Possibly more.   …..

We are going to have to triple – at least – energy production by the end of this century to meet expected demand. To meet that demand, we will need to build, roughly speaking, something like: 1,800 of the world’s largest dams, or 23,000 nuclear power stations, 14m wind turbines, 36bn solar panels, or just keep going with predominantly oil, coal and gas – and build the 36,000 new power stations that means we will need.   ….

The term “climate migrants” is one we will increasingly have to get used to. Indeed, anyone who thinks that the emerging global state of affairs does not have great potential for civil and international conflict is deluding themselves. It is no coincidence that almost every scientific conference that I go to about climate change now has a new type of attendee: the military.   

….if the current global rate of reproduction continues, by the end of this century there will not be 10 billion of us – there will be 28 billion of us.

Western Canada’s glaciers may all but vanish by 2100   …   The world has 200,000 glaciers, nearly a tenth of which are in British Columbia and Alberta in western Canada, where they cover an area of 27,000 square kilometres and have an average thickness of 112 metres. The glaciers in these two provinces are losing almost one per cent of their volume each year – among the fastest rates of mountain ice loss anywhere in the world.   …

The big melt will increase river flows in western Canada. Clarke calculates that flows will peak between 2020 and 2040, and then begin to dwindle creating problems for hydroelectric dams….


Canada’s Saskatchewan River system, which recently experienced its worst drought in 134 years, may be prone to more prolonged and severe droughts than previously thought, suggests a new UCLA study based on tree rings that are more than 1,000 years old….

  • Between 900 and 1300, the North Saskatchewan River experienced 10 decades of the lowest flow in its history; over those 400 years, the average flow of the river was 15 percent lower than the 20th-century average.
  • Between 1702 and 1725, river flows on the South Saskatchewan River were almost 20 percent below the 20th-century average.
  • Between 1841 and 1859, river flows on the Saskatchewan River were at least 22 percent below the 20th-century average.
  • Along the South Saskatchewan River, the early 20th century saw the highest river flows of the segments 522-year reconstruction.   UCLA Newsroom:  July 17, 2003


The challenge of managing water and nutrient cycles in a mini-world – the lessons from Biosphere 2







A gigantic dust cloud engulfs a ranch in Boise City, Okla., in 1935.


Dust Bowl Blues (Woodie Guthrie)