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It Takes How Much Water to Grow an Almond?!

It Takes How Much Water to Grow an Almond?!
California, supplier of nearly half of all US fruits, veggies, and nuts, is on track to experience the driest year in the past half millennium. Farms use about 80 percent of the state's "developed water," or water that's moved from its natural source to other areas via pipes and aqueducts. As the maps above show, much of California's agriculture is concentrated in the parts of the state that the drought has hit the hardest. When it comes to water use, not all plants are created equal. Jay Lund, a water expert at the University of California-Davis, says that water problems mean that agriculture may soon play a less important role in California's economy, as the business of growing food moves to the South and the Midwest, where water is less expensive. In addition to farms, the drought affects municipal water supplies. So how are Californians doing on water conservation?

Satellite and Information Service (NESDIS) March 16, 2015 Artist Rendition of GOES-R. Credit: Lockeed Martin One year from now, NOAA’s GOES-R weather satellite will be launched into space. What’s the weather going to be? Perhaps you turn on the TV or radio, or check your favorite weather website or smartphone weather app to get the latest forecast. Weather satellites, like the GOES satellites, are the backbone of NWS weather forecasts. More, better, faster! Do you live in an inland state, a state with a coastline or a state with a mountain range? A REAL life-saver. This expedited data means that forecasts will be timelier, with more “real-time” information in them, allowing NWS to make those warnings and alerts that much faster, thereby potentially saving lives. And a faster forecast is a big deal for our economy. Want to know how to improve your own weather intel? Having and keeping electricity flowing is a big deal. We all depend on a power grid for virtually every aspect of modern life.

Solar Streets: New Roadways May Ditch Asphalt for Energy-Generating Sunshine ... As a kid in the 1960s, before most people had even heard of solar power, Scott Brusaw imagined “electric roads.” Almost five decades and two government-funded prototypes later, the electrical engineer from Ohio is on his way to raising $1 million to start producing solar panels for our streets and highways. Not to power the light, mind you—to function as streets and highways. Soon you may be driving on solar panels that power the buildings you’re passing by. “We can use [photovoltaic panels] to create roads, parking lots, tarmacs—anything under the sun,” Brusaw says. “All of the current asphalt and concrete currently soaking up the sun can be covered with our technology to turn that sunlight into clean, renewable electricity.” The biggest challenge Brusaw faced was engineering a case to protect the fragile solar cells. It may take some time to see them on highways, though. Electric safety concerns would also need to be addressed, he says, considering that the road is not controlled.

We're Pumping So Much Groundwater That It's Causing the Oceans to Rise Drilling for water could account for as much as 7 percent of global sea level rise. —Tom Knudson on Thu. March 19, 2015 6:30 AM PDT Irrigation in California's San Joaquin Valley GomezDavid/iStock This article was originally published by Reveal from the Center for Investigative Reporting and is republished here as part of the Climate Desk collaboration. Pump too much groundwater and wells go dry—that's obvious. But there is another consequence that gets little attention as a hotter, drier planet turns increasingly to groundwater for life support. So much water is being pumped out of the ground worldwide that it is contributing to global sea level rise, a phenomenon tied largely to warming temperatures and climate change. It happens when water is hoisted out of the earth to irrigate crops and supply towns and cities, then finds its way via rivers and other pathways into the world's oceans. Geophysical Research Letters

FEMA to deny funds to climate change deniers Katherine Bagley, INSIDECLIMATE NEWS Posted: Sunday, March 22, 2015, 1:09 AM The Federal Emergency Management Agency is making it tougher for governors to deny man-made climate change. Starting next year, the agency will approve disaster-preparedness funds only for states whose governors approve hazard-mitigation plans that address climate change. This may put several Republican governors who maintain that the Earth isn't warming due to human activities, or prefer to take no action, in a political bind. "If a state has a climate denier governor that doesn't want to accept a plan, that would risk mitigation work not getting done because of politics," said Becky Hammer, an attorney with the Natural Resources Defense Council's water program. The policy doesn't affect federal money for relief after a hurricane, flood, or other disaster. Climate change affects droughts, rainfall, and tornado activity. Among those who could face a difficult decision are New Jersey's Gov.

Changing the Conversation About the Growth of Pacific Northwest Cities From the issue feature, "Living by Design in the Pacific Northwest." Subscribe to receive ARCADE in print. Illustration: Roman Kogan According to The New York Times website, last September one of their most emailed stories was an article by Jennifer A. Kingson citing the Pacific Northwest as the most desirable North American refuge on our warming planet. Those living in the drought-stricken South, the hurricane-ridden Northeast and along the sinking Eastern Seaboard may soon covet the Pacific Northwest’s abundant water supplies, temperate climate and land rearing safely out of the ocean’s reach. We live in a beautiful region endowed with an abundance of ecosystems that provide clean air, water, energy and food. In October, Sustainable Seattle launched the Pacific Northwest Resilience Challenge with a summit at the University of Washington. 1. 2. 3. The financial shackle is a chimera. The biggest challenge is the lack of political will to act. All the easy problems have been solved.

Debate on climate change should be over THE state Senate this week had a brief but telling debate about climate change. It ended, depressingly, with a mostly party-line vote that very well could have taken place years earlier, with Republicans resisting the science on humankind’s clear role in reshaping our global climate. At issue was an amendment proposed by state Sen. Cyrus Habib, D-Kirkland, to a worthwhile energy policy bill that simply added the international scientific consensus: “The Legislature finds that climate change is real and that human activity significantly contributes to climate change.” State Sen. That retrograde summary of climate change research is wrong and corrosive. Ericksen’s amendment passed because just one Democrat, state Sen. From the Puget Sound region, Republican Sens. There certainly were partisan politics in play with this vote: a Democrat, Habib, seeking to amend a Republican’s bill in the GOP-led Senate.

Capracotta, Italy Sets New World Record For Single-Day Snowfall The town of Capracotta, Italy, last week following 101 inches of snow that fell in 18 hours. photo. According to, on Thursday, March 5th, the town of Capracotta in the Italian province of Isernia broke the single-day snowfall record–tallying up an absurd 265 centimeters, or 8 feet, 4.8 inches–in a mere 18 hours. The town, which sits at right about 4,700 feet in central Italy's Apennine Mountains, is historically one of the snowiest areas in the world thanks to its proximity to moisture coming off of the Mediterranean, and broke the single-day snowfall record previously held by the town of Silver Lake, Colorado, which tallied up 6 feet, 4 inches during an April storm in 1921. The streets of Capracotta post Guinness book-setting snowfall. Read also: The Winners and Losers of the 2015 Season

Battery Hackers Are Building the Future in the Garage Revolutions that start in the garage are nothing new. The one-car shed in which David Packard and William Hewlett launched the partnership that would grow into Hewlett-Packard Co. is known as the birthplace of Silicon Valley. So Jason Hughes may be on to something. In a cluttered four-car garage in suburban Deptford, New Jersey, Hughes spent the better part of last year hacking a 1,400-pound battery recovered from a wrecked Tesla Model S and reworking it into a stacked array that can store energy from his solar-power system. A day trader by profession, the 31-year-old doesn’t want to save the world. The mattress-sized Tesla battery did — it’s elephantine as lithium-ion batteries go — even if it cost him $20,000 and hundreds of hours of tinkering to make it work. In his battery obsession and ambition, Hughes turns out to be emblematic of something much grander. Consider the crash effort at the Joint Center for Energy Storage Research in suburban Chicago.

Energy Storage Paves Way for Electricity Independence The costs today are prohibitively high for mass adoption, but there are already residential energy storage solutions on the market, such as those developed by the UK's Moixa Energy. The German government is even setting aside €50m (£36m; $56m) a year to offer subsidies to its citizens specifically to help buy storage batteries. Since May 2013, some 5,500 Germans have been given on average €3,200, with demand increasing all the time. According to Julia Hertin at the German Advisory Council on the Environment, cost is still a barrier. "At the moment, this is more of an emotional decision than an economic one - people like the idea of being energy self-sufficient," she says. "There could be a point when [storage] becomes a game changer, but we're not there yet." But costs will come down. "The storage market looks and smells just like the solar PV market did [then]," he says. Indeed forecasts suggest the market could be worth anything between $30bn and $400bn in the next five to seven years.

This affordable housing complex has a solar farm on its roof In a city dotted with cranes and shiny high-rise residences, it’s easy to miss the Holiday Apartments. Located on a busy street in the Capitol Hill neighborhood of Seattle, the blue-green building has a simple, rectangular design. It’s only three stories high and has a modest 30 units. These days, a rooftop solar array may not sound like a big surprise, even in rainy Seattle. The solar sector in particular is going off. All these projects turning sunlight into electricity will make money, by selling said electricity, collecting government incentives, or both. Clean energy on the grid is good for everyone — because, you know, climate change — but the rewards are not evenly distributed. That’s a problem. The solar farm atop the Holiday Apartments is an attempt to address this very dilemma. Here’s how the Capitol Hill project works: For $150, any customer of Seattle City Light can buy “solar units” from the utility, which fronted the capital for the panels and installation. What gives?

Your shower is wasting huge amounts of energy and water. Here’s what you can do about it. (Anthia Cumming / Istock photo) You know that moment well: You’ve turned on the shower, but there’s no way you’re getting into it quite yet. The water’s not hot enough. So you start your routine, whatever it is — doing some chores, answering some e-mails — while the water runs and runs, much of it already hot. Shower wonks have dubbed this extremely common pattern “behavioral waste,” or waste that occurs because of human habits. For a standard shower head, every minute wasted equates to 2.5 gallons of water — and insofar as some of it is warm, says Schein, “that’s energy-rich water that we’re running down the drain.” Run the numbers and there’s no getting around the fact that we have a gigantic problem here, people. Showering drives almost 17 percent of water use in homes, and an average American family uses some 40 gallons of water per day in the shower. What’s more, because water coming out of shower heads is supposed to be hot water, showers are also energy hogs. 1. 2. 3. 4.

What’s Your Climate Change Elevator Pitch? Katharine Hayhoe, PhD, says: Start with values. Say what you care about. This post is part of the research project: Flashcards The clever folks over at Climate Denial Crock of the Week (that’s Peter Sinclair) and Skeptical Science (John Cook) were in San Fran back in December, interviewing scientists, when they had the brilliant idea to ask each one to give their best climate change “elevator pitch.” The set-up is simple: You’re on an elevator. Katharine Hayhoe rocks the first one. And no wonder. Watch the video. Click here to see a bigger version.

The Risk of Northwest Oil Spills Sightline Series The oil industry has big plans for Northwest waters. Officials in Washington are deciding whether to permit huge new rail-to-vessel facilities, while Canadian regulators weigh a massive tar sands pipeline pointed at the Salish Sea. If they are built, the industry’s plans would mean unprecedented growth in crude oil shipped by both land and sea. In this series, “The Risk of Northwest Oil Spills,” Sightline explains the facts about the proposals, sifts through the data on oil spills, and examines the risks to the Northwest’s most important waterways. For broader analysis of the oil-by-rail industry in the Northwest, see the series “The Northwest’s Pipeline on Rails.” For analysis of the traffic impacts of oil and coal trains in communities throughout the Northwest, see the series “The Wrong Side of the Tracks.” 8. Oil terminals could mean five-fold increase in major vessel traffic. 6. Fossil fuel proposals could mean 39 percent increase in vessels. 5. 4. 2. 1.