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Just 100 families own about 42 million acres across the US. The amount of land owned by those 100 families has jumped 50% since 2007, researchers say.
Chennai’s the latest city to have almost run out of water, and other cities could follow suit
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Chennai is a city that has withstood the rise and fall of empires, but it now faces a grave existential crisis as it runs dry due to a severe water shortage, leaving millions in the lurch.
This week, taps ran dry as water levels in its four major reservoirs fell to one-hundredth of what they were this time last year, caused by a devastating drought.
The crisis in India’s sixth-largest city — with a population bigger than Melbourne and Sydney combined — has pushed schools, hotels and commercial establishments to close, while hospitals have put off non-essential surgeries.
Millions of people are lining up at water trucks to fill containers of water in a crisis that’s hit urban and rural Indians alike, and usually only half leave with their pots filled.
But the problem isn’t confined to Chennai — in the western state of Maharashtra, some are so desperate for water they are lining up their pots two days before water tankers are due to arrive.
Children as young as 10 were being sent to fetch water a train ride away, hauling back containers of water almost as big as they were.
While India faces its worst long-term water crisis in its history as demand outstrips supply, its story is one that is becoming increasingly common in rapidly urbanising countries around the globe.
Urbanisation and poor planning drive water scarcity
Abroad, climate change — coupled with rapid urbanisation and population growth — have brought issues around water scarcity and security into focus.
Amid this context, attention has been cast on how municipal authorities have mismanaged the responses to these mounting ecological crises.
Cape Town, a city of more than 4.2 million people in South Africa, faced its worst water crisis in history between 2015 and mid-2018.
As dam levels fell to record lows, some at less than 10 per cent, authorities prepared for Day Zero — where taps were to be shut off with citizens restricted to 25 litres per day.
In Northern Africa, the Egyptian capital of Cairo could run out of water because Ethiopia is damming the Nile River, which currently provides the city with 97 per cent of its water supply.
In the United States, damming of the Colorado River — combined with a 19-year drought — has led some officials to determine that some reservoirs fed by the river will never be full again.
The Colorado stretches across the southwest of the country, being a source of water for some of the region’s biggest cities such as Los Angeles, San Diego and Las Vegas.
In Asia, 3.4 billion people could be living in “water stressed areas” by 2050, according to a 2016 Asia Development Bank (ADB) report.
“Water shortage should be treated as a permanent ongoing issue,” said Thuy Trang Dang, an urban development and water specialist at the ADB’s Southeast Asia office.
Diets filled with more water-demanding meat and dairy products and general growth in consumption also mean “the issue will only become more pressing unless dealt with not as a one-time crisis but as a way of life”, she said.
Australia, the world’s driest inhabited continent, not immune
Australia is the world’s driest inhabited continent.
Over centuries, Australia’s environment has absorbed a number of dry spells, but recent pressures are disrupting a traditionally resilient environment.
The Murray-Darling Basin — a vast river system that stretches across South Australia, Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland — faces severe stress as a result of drought and what a 2019 royal commission said was due to “gross maladministration”.
“Australia has an uncertain climate that looks like it may be becoming drier in the south, where the majority of the population live,” says Ian Wright of the University of Western Sydney.
Experts have said that Cape Town-style crisis could theoretically play out in Perth, which shares the problem of a drying climate.
The construction of two large desalination plants, however, will likely mean that the West Australian capital is better prepared for climate change than its South African counterpart.
Melbourne, which previously only had a year’s supply of water at the height of the Millennium Drought, also has a desalination plant.
The plant, combined with a pipeline fed from the Goulburn River in Victoria’s north, now have the potential to supply over half of the city’s water.
But according to a report from Melbourne Water in 2017, projections show that it is possible the city’s demand for water could exceed the capacity of its existing sources of water by 2028.
Melbourne could be facing shortfalls of more than 450GL (almost the entire volume of Sydney Harbour) per year by 2065, if water resources weren’t managed well, it said.
Chennai tells the story of a changing world
Part of the reason for Chennai’s current predicament is due to its groundwater depletion, a situation that government think-tank Niti Aayog warned about last year.
It said it was one of 21 cities that it thought could run out of ground water by 2020.
India uses more ground water than any other country, a problem successive governments have failed to tackle, said environmental campaigner Himanshu Thakkar.
“We use more groundwater than what China and the United States collectively use,” Mr Thakkar said.
“Countries like the US identify and protect their groundwater recharge zones. What have we done?”
But Chennai’s groundwater depletion isn’t the sole reason for its current crisis, as drier climatic conditions have exacerbated water scarcity.
Drought followed a 62 per cent shortfall in monsoon rains last year compared to 2017, according to government officials.
Meteorologists said monsoon rains usually cover two-thirds of the country by mid-June. However, they currently have reached less than half that area.
But the monsoon’s progress is expected to pick up in the next 10 days.
Poor rainfall has ravaged crops, dried up reservoirs and forced people to migrate from their villages.
In Maharashtra, many have gone to work farming sugar cane — a thirsty crop that devours two-thirds of its irrigation water, exacerbating the problem.
Meanwhile, in northern and eastern parts of India, temperatures soared to 48 degrees Celsius.
In one eastern state, Bihar, at least 90 people have died of heat stroke this month alone.
The state of Tamil Nadu, where Chennai is located, has asked other states across the country for spare water until monsoon rains fall.
Shimatsu – ‘The Man From Soma-Han’
Although by no means a jockey, I’ve ridden horses along the Sierra Nevada as a boy, in Japan in my teens, and in adulthood through the Nepalese Himalayas and in the Gobi and Kumtag Deserts. There was a moment in time when a murderous gang of smugglers was chasing me up a slope in the Mustang region of Nepal, but my little mountain horse hopped like a bullfrog up the rocky slope leaving the bad guys and their Arabian stallions in the dust. After the close call, that black horse was happily galloping along the gravel of the Kali Gandhaki, River of the Death Goddess, with me, both arms outstretched, letting go of the reins that waved in the wind and whooping in wild abandon.
The tallest wave ever recorded was a local tsunami in Lituya Bay, Alaska on July 9 … The wave hit with such power that it swept completely over the spur of land that ….. Lituya Bay should be considered as a dangerous body of water prone to a …
Delhi NCT – Fighting Against The Worst of The Emissions In The World
Currently, the global commitment is to limit the rising temperatures to 1.5 degrees Celsius which requires ‘rapid, far-reaching and unprecedented changes’ in every urban sector, as stated by the global warming report by the IPCC. A situation where the temperatures increase by 2 degrees Celsius will be regarded as deadly and catastrophic, first hitting the millions of the underprivileged people.
The report predicts that India and other densely populated countries that significantly depend on agriculture and fishery will be highly affected due to the high frequency of droughts and floods, sea level rise, and heatwaves.
At present, India’s National Capital Territory of Delhi or Delhi NCT is experiencing severe climate change impact with air pollution being the worst scenario in the city. The city with a population of about 19.8 million is expected to be the most populated city in the world by 2028.
Hence, at this point in time, Delhi NCT is in the position to gain full speed against climate change while taking care of the living standards of the millions of citizens.
It is rather pivotal to see how the densely populated mega urban centre – which is also the most polluted city in India – deals with the climate change phenomenon. The challenges are in fact an opportunity to demonstrate how a city can transform into a smart city!
Showing Efforts Since 2001
In 2009, Delhi NCT began laying out an action plan to fight climate change. However, the action plan was submitted to the Union Ministry of Environment and Forest in January 2019, after a span of eight years. According to sources, the delay in submission was due to lack of coordination among the city agencies.
But recently, India’s Minister Harsh Vardhan stated that India did not wait for any report to understand the threat and showed all efforts in combating climate change. (my comment – sounds like they were threatened with weather attacks).
To talk about Delhi NCT, the city has one of the world’s most successful smart initiatives to discontinue the use of diesel. Launched in 2001, the initiative focused on switching the diesel-powered public transport system in Delhi to natural gas at the direction of the Supreme Court of India. The Energy Resources Institute (TERI) was also promoting the use of ultra-low-sulphur diesel as an alternative. The initiative was led by the DTC buses which soon became the world’s largest CNG fleet operator. That said, the contribution also came from private buses, taxis and autorickshaws.
Imran Hussain, Delhi’s Environment Minister stated that the recently submitted action plan extended on how the climate over Delhi NCT could change over the next three decades. With that, it also has fixed targets for multiple departments on the goals that need to be achieved by 2030.
Furthermore, the action plan focuses on six vulnerable sectors with energy, transport and urban development predicted to be affected the most. As per sources, Delhi NCT is required to concentrate particularly on water conservation, drainage and energy.
Waste-to-energy Plant Working To Achieve The 2030 Goal
According to estimates, Delhi NCT will be generating about 15, 750 tons waste per day in 2021. This is going to impact the city’s waste-to-landfill disposition system further leading to air pollution and diseases. In fact, 60% of the city’s population is already suffering from respiratory illness due to dumpsites.
Hence, to address these issues, Delhi NCT is working towards transforming the waste management system. The initiative started with the development of Ghazipur Waste-to-energy Plant. The aim is to turn the so-called waste to energy, mitigate GHG emissions and clean the city that will eventually reduce illnesses and promote better living standards.
The Ghazipur Waste to Energy Plant is India’s state-of-the-art facility that was established in Delhi in 2011 with phase one completed in 2014. The plant is helping in creating energy out of the so-called waste and contributing to the nation’s vision to achieve 40% fossil fuel-free energy by 2030.
The facility processes more than 2,000 tons of waste every day.As a result, it generates 12 MW power and 127 tons of fuel which can be used in cement and power plants – as an alternative source. WHAT ? ? ?
The plant has hugely invested in air pollution control devices to stay in line with the European Industrial Emissions Directive. In addition, it has also deployed world-class technology from Siemens, Schneider, Keppel Segher of Belgium, SPIG, and BMH Finland among others.
As per estimates, the dumping of municipal solid waste at the Ghazipur dumpsite will reduce by 90% within 25 years. Apart from converting waste into energy the plant also works towards the betterment of the community. It supports a community centre that in turn provides support to over 200 local women who used to earn a living by picking waste with direct employment, artisan training and micro-enterprise support. PFA
The Ghazipur facility is not just contributing in reducing surface runoff but also reducing the instances of diseases such as dengue, malaria, and other eyes, skin, gastrointestinal and respiratory illnesses which are caused due to open dumping.
This waste management infrastructure is exploiting the double benefit by reducing waste and producing energy. At the same time, it is also supporting the local communities. This is a successful project that will be emulated with similar plants in Delhi and other Indian cities.
Converting Waste Into Compost And Fuel
To further speed up the reduction rates of CO2 emissions and move towards a better environment, Delhi NCT is converting municipal waste into compost and fuel.
The municipality of Delhi NCT partnered with IL&FS, Indian infrastructure development and finance company to open a plant that can process waste to produce compost and resource-driven fuel. The fuel is produced by shredding and dehydrating solid waste. As of 2015, the plant managed 200 tons of waste each day.
The city has collaborated with the Indian company Mother Dairy to supply the compost to farmers. Whereas the resource-driven fuel is supplied to cement manufacturing plants, aiding in reducing the need to burn coal.
250,000 tons of waste processed at the plant each time reduces GHG emissions that are equivalent to eliminating 1 million cars from the streets of Delhi for 10 days.
Other Notable Smart Initiatives Against Climate Change
Apart from the initiatives mentioned, Delhi NCT has introduced multiple ones at the local level. These smart initiatives definitely inspire other smart cities.
- In 2017, National Green Tribunal of India directed the ban of plastic bags that are less than 50 microns in Delhi NCT. Individuals who fail to comply were to pay some of Rs 5000 (approximately 73 USD) as environmental compensation. Moreover, the city encouraged citizens to use bags made out of jute, cloth and paper.
- From 2016 to 2017, Delhi NCT ran odd and even scheme for private vehicles in the wake of increasing smog. Private vehicles were allowed on the road depending on their license plate number.
- To discourage the use of private cars, the city increased the parking fees by 3-4 times.
- Public transport is being encouraged by introduced better-equipped buses and Metro system.
- The city allows construction activities only in covered and barricaded areas.
- Recently, Delhi NCT banned the sale and bursting of conventional fireworks to reduce pollution. Green fireworks are allowed to be used between 8-10 PM.
There are many more smart initiatives that are introduced depending on air pollution levels in the city. Delhi NCT is one of the megacities in the world. Its efforts are surely going to influence other would-be smart cities in India and the world.
How Smart Homes Can Connect To Smart Cities
As we have already explored the practicability of home automation, it’s time we discuss about where exactly a smart home lies in the connected world of a smart city. The existence of smart home is not limited to the convenience and efficiency levels. Rather, it stands to grease the wheels of a smart city in the near future.
Substantially speaking, the connection between smart home and smart city involves multitudinous applications in diverse sectors. But there is one name that defines this connection unanimously and that’s ‘big data’. What’s so ‘big’ about the ‘big data’? Let’s move on to know more about it.
Smart Home For Elderly And Disabled
Before we move on to big data, it’s important to pay heed to significance of smart home in lives of elderly and disabled. Because there is a strong connection between big data and smart home for elderly and disabled.
Home automation for older adults and physically or mentally challenged people is referred as ‘assistive domotics’. Assistive domotics resembles the same technology and devices employed in home automation for security, energy conservation and entertainment. The difference is that it is tailor-made to fit the needs, safety and security of the elderly and disabled with intricacy and detailed apprehension.
There are two types of assistive home automation systems: Embedded Health Systems and Private Health Networks.
Embedded Health Systems – Microprocessors and sensors are incorporated into furniture, home appliances, and clothing which help in collecting data that is further used to analyse diagnostic diseases and identify health risks.
Private Health Networks – Wireless technology is actuated with all the connected devices to gather important data and store it in domestic health database.
Additionally, the smart home(with both systems mentioned above) for aged and people with disabilities are implemented with emergency help system, accident prevention, security systems and automated timers and alarms. All this together provides a sense of independence, confidence, and comfort to elderly and disabled. They can move around the house without anybody’s support anytime they want. They don’t have to unwillingly shift to a healthcare facility which may be expensive and not as good as home facilities. Moreover, the loved ones can take care of them 24/7 by being in contact with the household automation through their smartphones.
Due to the rising demand in assistive domotics, the industry and creators of home automation are showing considerable interest in developing a better home technology.
The Big Data
Since the genesis of intelligent technology and wireless networking, the significance of data has changed completely. Every device which operates digitally gathers data in large amount. This data is captured and amassed in the main database of a software.For example, the composite health organisations have to gather data coming from different sources on one single platform. This platform would serve them with easily accessible data whenever required. The challenge lies in picking out sensible data and transforming it into executable information which is today known as the ‘big data’.
Big data are massive data sets beyond the size of conventional database software which is used to store, handle and analyse data. The use and reference of big data depends on the sector where it is used. The big data can store information ranging from few terabytes to thousands of petabytes.
Big Data For Smart Homes
As we know that smart home is a set up of connected devices, it is understandable that these devices would gather data involving every minute detail of the house as well as the people living in. The absorption and analytics of this particular data will keep advancing as the smart home devices become more and more sophisticated. Like, the Google’s nest thermostat keeps an eye on you wherever you move in the house at what time and permanently memorises it.The future robot vacuums will know about the dimensions of the house including the flooring in every room. There are plenty of other devices arriving in future which will have the detail about every task you perform at home. All these details will accumulate together and be called big data of smart homes.
How The Smart Home Data Will Connect To Smart Cities
It is self-explanatory that a city becomes smarter when the number of smart homes increase.
At present, the use of smart home data is implemented in customer engagement by different industries. How each industry focuses on the home data solutions is given below:
The Energy Industry – This comes amongst those important sectors where big data solutions can prove to be profitable. The utilities use the smart home data to provide refined information on energy consumption and means by which they can cut down on electricity and the energy bills. This is not just important for a smart home but also for a smart city. As the city keeps gathering more information on energy consumption patterns of the smart home dwellers it is on the road to making new policies and initiatives which can conserve our natural environment, resources and provide better solutions for efficient living.
Digital Hardware Industry – The vendors of smart hardware products are showing interest in home data analytics market by providing free of cost data analytics by their devices. The best example is the Nest company offering an app to the customers(along with device) which give solutions to curb energy usage and change energy using patterns for better living. Likewise, many such devices can aid in supporting a better lifestyle in smart cities.
Health Industry –
Keeping smart home for elderly and disabled(mentioned above) in mind, the data stored at home can be used by healthcare centres to analyse any risks related to health by following the datasets of an individual. Digital health recording and real time alerts can be of great use in emergencies and other major health problems. For instance, when the hospitals have the access to a person’s data, it can send medical assistance within minutes of analysing threatening high blood pressure level in that person. With this, thousands or may be millions of lives could be saved. Conjointly, the datasets available to hospitals can keep a track on how many patients are going to visit the hospital in a given time. This gives the faculty prior arrangement facility for any kind of treatment required. Using big data for healthcare is gaining grounds in the USA while Europe is still in the midway to successfully implement the smart data analytics solutions. One more beneficial aspect is that healthcare industry can favourably become cost effective. With all points considered, the ratio of healthy population will lead to increase in healthy smart cities which is indeed first step towards progress.
Are There Any Risks Related To Big data In Smart Home?
It cannot be ignored that if the data set stored in a smart home is hacked or misused by someone it can lead to detrimental effects. The security breaches of smart home data can make the system vulnerable. For the reason, Europe has strict laws that protect consumer data. But this again prevents the utility industries from adding value services through data analytics.
Privacy and security both matters. Therefore, to fend-off possible risks related to smart home data, it is crucial for the consumers to be aware of how their data is being monitored and used. To secure your smart home use strong passwords that cannot be cracked. Reduce the exchange of sensitive information and pay attention to privacy policies.
Advantages and disadvantages in new ideas and innovations are just like two sides of a coin. But if the coin is spent carefully and wisely you’ll never have to face the disadvantages. The same thing holds good when big data is deployed to bridge the gap between smart homes and smart cities.
The plan bans the sale of new petrol and diesel cars by 2030. Those remaining on the road after 2030 will not be issued new NCT certificates after 2045.
CLIMATE CHANGE PLAN SEES NO NEW PETROL OR DIESEL CARS AFTER 2030 AND NO NCT FOR POLLUTING CARS AFTER 2045
The end of petrol and diesel cars in Ireland, as well as the end of oil and gas boilers in homes, has been announced by the Government as part of a new climate change plan.
In a dramatic bid to tackle climate change, and meet our EU targets on emissions, councils will be handed the power to restrict access to certain parts of towns and cities to zero-emissions vehicles only, under the ambitious new environmental plan.
And no petrol or diesel cars will be sold after 2030, with all such vehicles effectively banned from the road by 2045.
The new climate change plan will see no petrol or diesel cars will be sold after 2030, with all such vehicles effectively banned from the road by 2045. Pic: Rollingnews.ie : Sam BoalThe plan also says that a ‘roadmap’ will be developed, with a mix of taxation and subsidy policies in order to entice people to move toward electric cars.
According to the Government’s Climate Action Plan, revealed yesterday by Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and Environment Minister Richard Bruton, a regulatory framework will be developed on low emissions and parking pricing policies to provide local authorities with the enhanced powers.
The Department of Transport will this year commission a review of the plan and recommend appropriate responses for Dublin, Cork, Galway and Limerick in Ireland.
The Government’s Climate Action Plan was revealed yesterday by Taoiseach Leo Varadkar. Pic Gerard McCarthyThe Climate Action Plan contains 180 measures to lower the country’s carbon emissions, including incentives to encourage drivers to switch to electric vehicles, retro-fitting gas boilers in homes, increasing the carbon tax, and a scheme to sell any electricity a home generates back into the grid.
The Government’s plan aims to reduce Ireland’s overall carbon emissions by 20% by 2030 before becoming carbon neutral by 2050.
The plan bans the sale of new petrol and diesel cars by 2030. Those remaining on the road after 2030 will not be issued new NCT certificates after 2045.
The plan bans the sale of new petrol and diesel cars by 2030. Pic: Collins DublinThe Government’s aims to have 950,000 electric vehicles on the road by 2030 and is planning to vastly increase the number of charging stations which currently service around 10,000 electric vehicles across the country.
This will include more than 90 high-powered chargers along the national road network, the installation of 50 new fast chargers, and the replacement of over 250 standard chargers.
From 2025, new non-residential buildings with more than 10 parking spaces will have at least one recharging point installed. There will also be a minimum number of recharging points required for all existing non-residential buildings with more than 20 parking spaces.
The Government’s aims to have 950,000 electric vehicles on the road by 2030. Pic: ShutterstockA government source told Extra.ie: ‘Giving local authorities new powers to restrict certain areas to low emission vehicles would allow local authorities to make a positive impact on air quality and cut emissions.’
The plan also proposes a number of measures for other sectors.
There will be an effective ban on the installation of oil boilers from 2022, and on the installation of gas boilers from 2025, in all new dwellings through the introduction of new regulatory standards for home heating systems.
Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment, Richard Bruton TD. Pic: Gareth Chaney CollinsThere is also a plan to retrofit 400,000 homes and businesses with heat pumps, replacing existing oil and solid fuel boilers.
Carbon tax is set to rise to at least €80 per tonne by 2030, which will be incrementally increased over successive budgets.
A new microgeneration scheme will also be introduced, allowing homeowners to generate their own electricity and sell what they don’t use back to the grid.
The plan calls for the elimination of non-recyclable plastic and the introduction of higher fees on the production of materials which are difficult to recycle.
The proposal, in line with new EU rules, also calls for the implementation of a ban on single-use plastic plates, cutlery, straws, balloon sticks and cotton buds.
The proposal also calls for the implementation of a ban on single-use plastic plates, cutlery, straws, balloon sticks and cotton buds. Pic: ShutterstockThe Government aims to move to 70pc renewable energy by 2030.
On the plan, the Taoiseach said: ‘We are making change now, before it is too late. We recognise that Government doesn’t have all the answers. So we will work with people, industry and communities to chart the best and most inclusive way forward.’
Minister Richard Bruton said the Government needed to act now to leave a ‘better, healthier, more sustainable Ireland for future generations’.
‘This plan sets out radical reforms, which will cut our reliance on carbon, making our businesses more competitive, our homes more sustainable and our farms more efficient,’ he said.
Reacting to the Climate Action Plan, Sinn Fein’s Climate spokesman Brian Stanley said: ‘The Government does not have an ambitious enough action plan for renewable energy. We want to see our economy transition to a green economy. This has to be done in a manner that protects lower income families and ensures that ordinary people do not carry an unjust share of the burden.’
June 16, 2019, 5:35 AM PDT Updated on June 16, 2019, 5:53 AM PDT
A huge power failure cut off electricity in Argentina and Uruguay on Sunday morning, according to media reports and a regional utility.
Parts of Brazil and Paraguay also were affected, the BBC reported. The outage hit on a day of provincial elections in parts of Argentina.
A “massive failure in the electrical interconnection system” left “all of Argentina and Uruguay without power,” Edesur Argentina, a power company serving more than 2.5 million customers, said on Twitter. Argentina’s government is assessing what caused the outage, which was triggered by a grid failure at 7:07 a.m. local time, the Energy Ministry said in a statement.
Power is gradually being restored, starting with an initial 34,000 customers, Edesur said in a subsequent tweet.
Electricity in Buenos Aires and the greater capital area is also coming back online. “The process of normalization, which will require several hours, is beginning,” according to Edesur.
Argentina, South America’s second-largest economy, shrank 2.5% last year, the worst since 2014 when the nation defaulted on its debt.