How We Can Fend Off Drought

In this TED talk David Sedlak explores options that can be used to fend off drought in cities. The last century saw massive developments that treated water in a very unsustainable way (from dams to pathetic water policies). This century we will have to correct the mistakes of the past and focus on changing how we approach water as an ecological system.

As the world’s climate patterns continue to shift unpredictably, places where drinking water was once abundant may soon find reservoirs dry and groundwater aquifers depleted. In this talk, civil and environmental engineer David Sedlak shares four practical solutions to the ongoing urban water crisis. His goal: to shift our water supply towards new, local sources of water and create a system that is capable of withstanding any of the challenges climate change may throw at us in the coming years.

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Underwater Art Gallery

Art galleries are great cultural institutions and seeing one underwater is magnificent. With each installation to the underwater gallery it gets better to explore and better for life. One of the key aspects of this gallery is that it is home to a whole ecosystem.

For sculptor Jason deCaires Taylor, the ocean is more than a muse — it’s an exhibition space and museum. Taylor creates sculptures of human forms and mundane life on land and sinks them to the ocean floor, where they are subsumed by the sea and transformed from lifeless stone into vibrant habitats for corals, crustaceans and other creatures. The result: Enigmatic, haunting and colorful commentaries about our transient existence, the sacredness of the ocean and its breathtaking power of regeneration.

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Shower Once a Week

In the developed world people tend to use more water than they should, in fact water consumption in many nations have done irreparable damage. Canadians are really bad at water conservation and we have a lot to learn from other places in how we regulate our water usage. Governments can only do so much with policy to curb industrial and individual usage. There is something you can do everyday to help lower your impact on the ecosystem: shower less.

Yes, you should spend less time cleaning yourself. Showering everyday isn’t good for your skin and it’s really really really (like really) bad for the environment. Even cutting out one shower a week can save you time, money, and your local ecosystem.

The daily bath or shower, then, is terrible for the environment and our bank balances. That’s one reason I have reverted to a weekly shower, with a daily sink-wash that includes my underarms and privates. But there are health consequences too. I first became aware of these when I was a touring ballet dancer and met a friend whose skin had been severely damaged by excessive use of soap products. He was condemned to treat himself with medical creams for the rest of his life. According to dermatologist Joshua Zeichner, parents should stop bathing babies and toddlers daily because early exposure to dirt and bacteria may help make skin less sensitive, even preventing conditions like eczema in the long run. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends three times a week or less as toddlers’ skin is more sensitive; and as the elderly have drier skin, they should not be frequently washing all of their bodies with soap.

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Rain Gardens to Feature in Canada Blooms Competition

Canada Blooms is a competition to demonstrate one’s ability to display flowers. In the past it was based on the look of the arrangement done in a garden, now they are expanding how they think about flowers. This year they want people to submit rain gardens to the competition.

Rain gardens are preferred because they use water that falls from he sky instead of draining local aquifers or other finite sources. It’s good to see a Canada Blooms caring about the environment and hopefully they will become more conscious of nature with every year.

“Rain gardens are a brilliant concept,” says Terry Caddo, General Manager of Canada Blooms. “By creating some small adjustments in your home garden you can not only create a fuller, lush garden, but you will also help improve water quality in nearby bodies of water and ease the strain on our environment.”

Rain gardens are natural or man-made rainwater runoffs that allow storm water to be soaked into the ground and plants rather than flowing into storm drains. By diverting the water that would eventually drain out to local rivers, lakes or to the sea, rain gardens help prevent erosion, water pollution and flooding.

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Damn Those Dams

Dams were a popular way (and still are in some places) to manipulate water reserves for people and as a way to generate energy. The problem with this naturally flowing water being dammed is that it kills fish and negatively impacts other wildlife. Dams cause a huge amount of damage on their local ecosystem and this cascades to more damage with each additional flow blockage.

It’s time to teardown the dams.

There are other reasons to reconsider dams: many of them, like our roads and bridges, are aging. The US Army Corps of engineers estimates that a third of the dams it monitors pose a “high” or “significant” hazard. The same week I traveled to Yosemite, severe rain in South Carolina washed out 14 dams and weakened 62 others. Nineteen people died. It was a grim reminder that some of our dams are already coming down, without our help.

Over the last two decades, organizations like the Sierra Club and American Rivers have spearheaded a movement to remove nuisance dams. Their campaign has been remarkably successful: between 2006 and 2014, over 500 dams were removed from American rivers — more than were taken down over the entire century prior.

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