This Week in Water™ airs on community and public radio stations nationwide and is available on podcast networks. Want environmental news delivered to your inbox? Sign up for our newsletter.
The surface temperatures of more than half of the world’s oceans are excessively hot, which is becoming the new normal, threatening marine life all over the planet. New research from the Monterey Bay Aquarium shows that heat extremes started about seven years ago and now cover nearly 60 percent of the all the seas, increasing the risk that critical ecosystems like coral reefs, kelp forests, and seagrass meadows will collapse.
So extensive, it is visible from space, the Great Barrier Reef is the world's largest coral reef ecosystem. Stretching 2,300 km along Australia’s northeast coastline, this complex of shallow water reefs and islands is home to thousands of species of fish, invertebrates, algae, reptiles, birds, and algae. This image, taken by the VIIRS sensor on the Suomi NPP satellite on August 19, 2017 uses the high resolution SVI 3, 2, and 1 bands, commonly referred to as “natural color” RGB. | Credit: NOAA National Environmental Satellite, Data, and Information Service (NESDIS)
As the earth warms, it’s likely that the demand for air conditioning will increase. Now, a new study shows that there could be prolonged blackouts in the U.S., if there isn’t an increase in cooling efficiency or capacity. The research is the first to project residential air conditioning demand on a household basis at a wide scale.
Household air conditioning use in the United States. Bar graphs show the predicted change in kilowatt-hour consumption per household, by state, as global climate crosses 1.5 degrees Celsius (blue) and 2.0 degrees Celsius (pink) thresholds above preindustrial temperature averages. States shaded darker grey over the map of the contiguous United States consumed more air conditioning during the baseline period from 2005-2019. Grey shading over the map of the contiguous United States shows baseline air conditioning consumption in kilowatt-hours per household, by state, from 2005-2019. | Credit: Obringer et al 2021
Cigarette butts are one of the biggest sources of litter on the planet, with about 4.5 trillion being tossed every year. More than unsightly, they contain toxic chemicals and woven plastic fibers that eventually flow through waterways into the ocean, where they do serious harm to aquatic life.
Much of the U.S. West and Midwest suffered from severe to exceptional drought last summer, and many cities and counties asked residents to conserve water. So, imagine that, despite restrictions, you could take a long, hot shower while barely wasting a drop or using much energy? That’s the pitch of new recirculating shower technology that continuously filters, sterilizes, and reuses water that would otherwise go down the drain. A handful of companies see its promise, as climate change warms the planet and droughts intensify.
Credit: Orbital Systems