Welcome to another two weekly review of energy and environmental events and developments from both here in New Zealand and around the world. As always, we hope you find our collection of stories to be of interest in what continues to be a rapidly evolving area.
Tuesday August 20 was ‘Earth Overshoot Day’ :- the projected day when people start to consume more natural resources than are available. With this day passing you would think that this would gain a fair amount of media coverage. Unfortunately this was not the case, ever increasing demands on space and resources put immense strains of earths already stretched resources.
One such resource that all living things need is water and in our next couple of stories we look at issues currently being experienced by Pakistan and some areas in America. For countries with similar climates to Pakistan, 1,000 days water supply is recommend in an emergency scenario. Pakistan only has 30 days’ supply!
A Texas community has plenty of oil and gas but due to the combination of extreme drought and aggressive fracking (water is a key component of this process) in the area the town has effectively run out of water. Not just one community but around 30 could run out of water by the end of the year. Nearly 15 million people are living under some form of water rationing, hard to imagine how tough this might be.
Water as a resource is very important in all facets of life and water just happens to be one of the key requirements when farming, we next look at some facts around farming in China and how China’s quest for fast paced development has put large strains on an already fragile ecosystem (China currently requires 2.5 Chinas’ to support its demand).
Amongst current problems, 5 of China’s largest lakes have substantial dead zones caused by fertilizer run off, wide spread soil and pollution problems.
New Zealand is also not without its own problems, we next look at Sue Kedgleys take on the birds and bees. We are killing off the very thing that helps us survive by the overuse of pesticides. Bees and many other species including the Monarch butterfly, frogs and birds are dying due to sprays. In New Zealand coated seeds that farmers are using are killing off birds and the flowers of plants that have been sprayed or even runoff from sprays which are diminishing the numbers of bees.
New Zealand does not monitor pesticide use and has no database which records the effects that sprays have on wild life. Strategies need to be put in place to set this up and tests need to be carried out to see what the effects the different pesticide have on all our little creatures that are our life line in the environment. Something that we can do to help our environment would be to plant a tree or shrub that has flowers to assist bees and other insects.
We next look at the humble shark. Thanks to films like ‘Jaw’s' and the odd attack on humans which of course is never nice, they have developed a bit of a name for themselves unjustly so it would seem. 12 humans were killed by sharks in 2011; we are killing 11,417 per hour.
Brings new meaning to good old Fish & Chips here in NZ.
While doing a great job of ‘maxing out’ natural resources, we are also using resources that we can’t see at an ever increasing rate. Next we look at the iPhone (any smart phone or tablet will do), apps galore and Facebook friends that must be contacted and used 24/7, where does all this power come from (internet providers, Google, Facebook servers etc) so much so these remote devises are effectively using more power than a fridge over the course of a year, try putting a fridge in your pocket!
What are some of the ways we can address resource based issues, we next look at ‘Smart
City’ for a better World. Cities only occupy two percent of the earth’s land mass but cities suck up 75 percent of global resources; looking at smarter ways cities can operation and optimize land use more effectively can only be beneficial for all these (us) inhabitants.
We next look at steps to make the cities more environmentally friendly through the use of ‘living wall’, the idea is twofold, to provide a more pleasing view but also build a natural flood protection system. Rain water is capture in tanks that can store up to 10,000 litres; it is then
channeled slowing down the living wall. Although at this stage there is only one wall, it would be nice to think of many green walls throughout a city.
There are always ways building owners can make improvements right now (no need to wait for smart cities or living walls) , continuous operational improvements can be made through constant focus on increased industrial energy management (IEM), using software that enable monitoring of energy use is the first of many steps to efficient energy use in buildings. Knowing what you are using is an important first step.
It’s all well and good taking the first step to securing data but what happens when it doesn’t align with other systems and programs. The American government has taken the step of mandating that all energy based data secure from smart grids should be uniform, this can only help people analyse through the Green Button Initiative. As ETSL is in this space we would welcome any similar system introduced in the part of the world.
In our final story we follow up on a story run month or two ago, to recap some Ford Hybrid owners in America were unhappy with claimed fuel efficiency ratings of their cars (drivers couldn’t achieve the stated results). They won and Ford has had to pay out to each of the people that purchased the car and have the cars retested, red faces all round at Ford HQ.
Thanks for taking the time to read this issue and look forward to catching up with you again. If you have any items of interest you would like to submit, then please feel free to forward them.