Archive for October, 2010

I went to do some more exploring at Gowdy Playground in Peabody on Saturday. I found a crag with some bolted routes and a bunch of surrounding boulders and a giant boulder perched atop a high point. The crag with the bolts had drilled holds and shiny new bolts. Somebody got a little drill happy then couldn’t climb the routes they set so drilled their own holds!!! Sad. I also explored some large boulders in the utility line zone. Huge boulders but lots of vegetation in the way. I took a few photos, but my phone battery died before I could snap shots of the giant boulder perched on the hill.

While out there I ran into a Lynn City Council member out for a walk with his son. He informed me that there is a subdivision planned for Gowdy Playground. Many of boulders will be lost during this development and if this place catches your interest at all, go climb! Here is a google map I put together showing some of the exploring I did. Keep in mind there is plenty more out there.

From Gowdy Playground 2
From Gowdy Playground 2
From Gowdy Playground 2
From Gowdy Playground 2
From Gowdy Playground 2
From Gowdy Playground 2
From Gowdy Playground 2
From Gowdy Playground 2
From Gowdy Playground 2
From Gowdy Playground 2

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Newsweek, The New Oil; Should private companies control our most precious natural resource?

Newweeks piece on the privatization of the worlds water supplies includes stunning picture galleries of disappearing lakes and a great interactive that showcases beautiful areas of the world we’ll likely lose to climate change and changing precipitation patterns. Here is one of the gallery photos of Lake Mead:


Lake Mead level is dropping drastically


The article does a great job summarizing the worlds problems with water. I wish it took more of a side towards public ownership and I wish they interviewed some more experts to talk about things like desertification, but overall it’s great. I hope all the other peridicals and big time news agencies hop on the horse and start blasting this news all over the airways. Enjoy the read.

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I received this letter from Corporate Accountability International. Water is a Human Right and should not be treated as a commodity for profits! Help if you can…

Dear Tim,

Do you know what the World Bank did this summer? Probably not — and that’s no accident.

The World Bank just finalized a 100 million euro investment in the world’s largest private water company to finance water privatization across Eastern Europe, yet it failed even to issue a press release.

Corporate Accountability International is dedicated to making sure such backroom deals never happen again. Will you help us fund this critical work to shed a light on Bank-backed water privatization?

Today one in six people lack access to enough safe drinking water. By 2025, that number will be two in three. Yet the most influential funder of water projects globally, the World Bank, continues to squander hundreds of millions of dollars on privatization schemes that do more to line the pockets of private corporations than reverse the global water crisis.

Even as our taxpayer dollars now flow to Eastern Europe to privatize water, the failure of the privatized water supply in the Philippines demonstrates why the Bank-backed corporate water grab needs to stop. In Manila, a crippling water shortage and skyrocketing rates are now causing thousands to go thirsty.

Give today and your tax-deductible contribution will support a groundbreaking campaign to fundamentally shift World Bank policy — away from bankrolling privatization, to investing in proven and effective public water systems.

Real solutions are within reach. Every person in the world could have access to clean, safe water by 2025 for an additional annual investment of $110 billion — that’s just 5 percent of global military spending each year.

It’s time that the Bank committed to alleviating poverty and stopped contributing to the world water crisis it purports to address. No one should go thirsty, especially when private corporations are profiting so richly from our most precious resource.

Help to secure the human right to water by supporting Corporate Accountability International’s vital work.

Your support will allow us to expose Bank deals before any dollars are exchanged… to mobilize grassroots opposition to privatization across the globe… and directly pressure the Bank to change course before millions more go thirsty.

Not only do I believe we must succeed in this charge. I know we can. Thank you for partnering with me in doing what is just.


Kelle Louaillier
Executive Director

Can’t click on any of the links above? Simply paste the following web address into your browser: https://salsa.democracyinaction.org/o/2215/t/10184/shop/custom.jsp?donate_page_KEY=6663

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Yet another reason why groundwater should stay in the ground! Unless of course your putting it back in. Thanks to Katie for passing along this interesting article from seaweb.org.

People are drawing so much water from below that they are adding enough of it to the ocean (mainly by evaporation, then precipitation) to account for about 25 percent of the annual sea level rise across the planet, the researchers find.

Continue reading here: http://www.seaweb.org/news/ou15_20.php#groundwater

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I found them all. I didn’t come up with the titles and the editor hacked some of them up pretty good, but they are what they are.


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A recent story in the LA Times, China moving heaven and earth to bring water to Beijing, describes the Chinese massive water works project to bring water from the wet south to the dry north. It’s called the South-to-North Water Diversion. It’s pointless for me to regurgitate the LA Times article, but it is important to realize the scale of the project. It’s right up there with The Great Wall. $62 billion, three aqueduct branches totaling over 1,500 miles, hundreds of thousands of humans displaced, and 44.8 billion cubic meters of water diverted every year. In other words, the largest project of its kind in the history of mankind.

The reason is simple. The population of China is growing, and so are their cities. Beijing and the other cities in the north need drinking water. The Yellow river is too polluted, the Grand Canal is being used for agriculture, and groundwater is depleted. The Gobi desert is encroaching Beijing because of irresponsible groundwater use, and in general, China is no good at managing their water supply. The Yangtze river in the south has lots of water, so why not build an aqueduct to divert it to the water starved north? It seems like a good idea at face value, but take a longer look at it and the reality begins to come into focus. For a period of time the project will provide relief, but it will not last. The prevailing criticism deals with degradation of river ecosystems, displacement of people, and disparity in who gets the water, but there is something much more profound for the Chinese to worry about. Continued desertification.

It’s well known that China has desertification problems. This means that once fertile land is literally drying up and turning into a desert. This happens for two major reasons and many smaller reasons. The first major reason is the depletion of groundwater. Groundwater is hydraulically connected to surface water so as the levels go down, surface water moves in to take its place. This causes levels of rivers and lakes to go down. Vegetation that once dipped its roots into groundwater begins to shrivel up. The soil erodes away easier destroying more vegetation. Over time, a desert takes shape. The second major reason is unsustainable development. Forests are cut, and land is paved. In the case of China, this is happening at a startling rate. As impervious area increases, less water makes it into the soil, thus less to recharge the groundwater aquifers. Imagine what happens to rain in a parking lot. It hits the ground and almost immediately gets piped away. Essentially, the rain is hitting the ground and instead of replenishing the local supply of water it is divereted directly into rivers that empty to the ocean. Will diverting billions of gallons of water to the north from the south solve this problem? Not likely. it may make it worse.

Growing areas, like Beijing, have a growing demand for water. This demand exceeds the supply to such an extent that desertification is taking place. Instead of coming to a halt, the growth continues and water scarcity begins. Once water is imported to these growing areas there is no reason to believe the growth will end. The growth has a momentum we’re all familiar with. Growth is considered healthy in our modern world. This is exactly what happened to Los Angeles. (In case you don’t know, LA imports its water from over 600 miles away.) Instead of limiting development due to lack of water, importing water gives the impression of abundance and therefore encourages more development which creates more impervious area. This new impervious area whisks away even more replenishing rainfall to the ocean. Also, once the demand meets the new supply, groundwater pumping will begin again further depleting the groundwater levels. Fast forward to Beijing 2100. Once again demand has exceeded the supply due to “healthy” growth and pumping of groundwater begins again. This time it’s even worse. More people, more groundwater pumping. More impervious area, more rainfall conveyed away to the ocean and even less to replenish the groundwater. The desert is created even faster than before the aqueduct. Water is more scarce than it was before the aqueduct. Not good.

Even if development was limited, which it won’t be, they are still exporting water from three separate watersheds belonging to branches of the Yangtze river. Exporting water from a watershed creates a desert of its own. This desertification is a bit easier to understand. You take away water then the vegetation dies, the groundwater levels go down, more vegetation dies, soil erodes and slowly but surely a desert emerges from once fertile land. Unfortunately when China is once again in a situation of rapid desertification and water supply scarcity they won’t have many options. What could they do instead?

In the modern developed world, water is brought to the city. Before modern conveyance, cities were brought to the water. When deserts formed or rivers changed course the city would move to a new water source.  Hydrologists and others realize the problems associated with moving vast amounts of water from one watershed to another and their voice needs to be heard. China’s South to North Diversion, The largest water works project known to man, is not much more than a quick fix which will exasperate an already devastating problem in the long run. There are better solutions.

There isn’t one magic solution to China’s problem or any other water scarcity problem. The solution is complex and must involve an understanding that the current growth is unsustainable. The solution must begin with a hard look at the local water supplies, the hydrological cycles associated with each and what the carrying capacities of those cycles are. The solution may involve limiting growth in some areas, encouraging growth in others. It may involve conservation measures and groundwater balance measures. It may involve rainwater harvesting and minimizing impervious areas. There are so many things that could be done that won’t be done. I sincerely hope that when the United States finds itself in a similar position we listen to the hydrologists and other water scientists and make the right decisions. Don’t think it will happen here? That’s another article. Water is the essence of life and we need to protect it.

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