Today's Mighty Oak

Today is blog action day!  Blogs around the world (sorry, blogosphere) are writing about one topic, in hopes of starting a conversation, making people think and challenging what we think.  This year’s topic is familiar, we all use water, more than we think, probably more than we realize if we were ever to sit down and try to calculate it.

The amount of water used is staggering.  Think about just energy production alone.  Power plants rely on a steady stream of water to cool parts, move wheels, even to heat or boil to move turbines, giving us power:

Plug your iPhone into the wall, and about half a liter of water must flow through kilometers of pipes, pumps, and the heat exchangers of a power plant. That’s a lot of money and machinery just so you can get a 6–watt-hour charge for your flashy little phone. Now, add up all the half-liters of water used to generate the roughly 17 billion megawatt-hours that the world will burn through this year. Trust us, it’s a lot of water. In the United States alone, on just one average day, more than 500 billion liters of freshwater travel through the country’s power plants—more than twice what flows through the Nile.

And water has an amazing affect on politics, much more than I ever realized.

Imagine for just a moment not having access to water.  Not being able to drink, wash, brush your teeth, use a clean restroom.  For many though, this is the reality.  Potable water is scarce, much more so than I ever realized:

Recently, Slate ran an awesome article about the water cycle.  The above graphic, as well as it opened my eyes a little bit.  I was always saying the line “how is it possible to waste water when it’s constantly being recycled through evaporation and rain?” in my head, not realizing that there is more to it than that.  Much, much more, as is explained.  I think the analogy they use explains it very well:

Water shortages are really a problem of distribution. We may have enough freshwater on Earth to meet the global population’s current needs, but we can’t always make it available where it’s needed, when it’s needed, and in the quality in which it’s needed.

You can think of a community’s water supply as a bank balance: If the community takes out more than can be returned in a timely fashion, it may reach a point at which it doesn’t have enough water to grow crops, wash clothes, or flush toilets. Communities withdraw water from local surface waters (such as rivers, lakes, or reservoirs), groundwater aquifers, or both. Those sources do eventually get replenished by precipitation, but that can be a very long, slow process—with groundwater, for example, it can take hundreds or even thousands of years.

So what can we do?  Well obviously conserve water.  And for the love of everything, stop buying bottled water; tap water, or even filtered tap water is just great.  Get a nice water bottle and fill it with some ice cubes and tap water.  You won’t be able to tell the difference (unless of course you live in Highland Park).  While conserving water here won’t necessarily fix it a world away, it certainly isn’t going to hurt.  And that bottled water you’re not buying?  That’s great for developing nations without reliable access to clean water.  Anything we can do to help stop the 4,500 children that die each day from unsafe drinking water is good.

You can start by signing the petition below:

Or maybe kicking in a few bucks to help those working to bring potable water to those in need.

As always, more information is available at Blog Action Day.  Thanks for reading, I hope you learned something, and I hope you started your own conversation, even if it’s just with yourself.

Blog Action Day 2010: Water from Blog Action Day on Vimeo.

Blog Action Day is coming up!  Check out the video on the front page to learn more about it, and don’t worry, I’ll have a regular post up soon.  But in the meantime, think about signing the petition and think about what you life would be like without access to clean water.


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The topic for the 2010 Blog Action Day was just announced: Water:


Blog Action Day 2010: Water from Blog Action Day on Vimeo.

Today is Blog Action Day, and strikingly similar to the first topic I participated in three years ago.  And just like then and last year, I still feel as though I don’t have much to say about the topic.  I’m not a scientist, I’m not an expert, but I am concerned, so I guess that counts, at least enough.

A few weeks ago I recounted getting off of Route 66 and onto 22 and seeing a giant billboard proclaiming man-made global warming to be “the big lie.”  I think at this point you either believe climate change is real, or you have forgone all rational thought.  Now, the extent to which the human race has affected climate change is something up for debate, but we do not live in a vacuum, to think that we have had zero impact on the Earth is moronic.

But, more importantly, what can we do?  And even more poignantly, what can I do?  I said above, probably not much.  But I’m going to try, every little bit helps, and is always surprises me how much small actions really do matter.  Pittsburgh’s own green iniative, you know, the one with the most ridiculously long URL in history, encourages residents (and those like me who aren’t residents but wanted to see what was going on) to take on small steps.  One of the first was to change out old style light bulbs to CFLs as they burn out.  This small step saves not only money on energy bills, physical resources as they do not have to changed as often, but tons of carbon emissions from entering the air.

I’ve been fiddling around with the power settings on my computer.  It’s been an ongoing process, but I think I’ve almost found the perfect settings.  I don’t need my computer on during the day when I’m not there, it just sucks up power, and I only need it to be on a little bit in the morning before I go to work so it can download new podcasts and sync with my Zune.  So I headed over to Lifehacker, found a nifty little program and went from there, creating a power schedule that is more robust than what comes standard with XP and allows me to minimize the power consumption of my desktop.

It’s a little step, and took maybe five minutes of work, plus maybe 15 in total since to tweak, but it saves a lot of unnecessary power day in and day out.  It’s what I can do.  And yes, climate change encompasses so much more than what I’ve talked about here.  It brings in economics, agriculture, water resources, politics and science.  But those are things that I don’t always understand and nothing that I can really speak to.  Sure, I can hope to encourage people to choose clean energy, but I’ve discussed that before, and feel like I beat it to death over the summer, so I’ll stick to simple things.

Will I be able to affect climate change on a global scale?  Probably not, my invitation to the Copenhagen Summit must be lost in the mail (or that crazy senator who is going to protest outside might have taken it, who knows), but I can try to do my part and I’ll keep finding small ways to help, and to empower.

Looking for more?  Check out Blog Action Day (


Some people have been dreading this day, some have been looking forward to it, most don’t have a clue.  What is today you ask?  The day this CD arrived from Amazon (yes, I used Amazon so I could get the special edition with the DVD, stop judging):

I tend to like the live version of “Rain” better, but the studio version is also very good.  I apologize in advance to whoever will be in my car.

So, I love zombies.  I really do.  However, even I know that this blog is unnecessary.  Altough, maybe I’m looking at it wrong, maybe I should stop being so discriminatory and include the undead in the fight for equality.  I have some soul-searching to do.

Speaking of soul searching, the Vatican could use some more of it.  Because it’s ok that anywhere between 1.5% and 5% of clergy are invovled in sexual abuse, at least they aren’t the worst!  I’m just imagining (as he’s been called elsewhere and I happen to love but for different reasons) Pope Nazipants pointing at a walking-by Rabbi like the monkey in the closet from Family Guy.

Another hat tip to Joe. My. God., he posted this video which is making its rounds:

I knew a lot of the videos, but certainly not all of them, probably not even half.  It’s still fun to watch and pick out favorites though.

Also from youtube, this video is spreading, and was apparantly made in only one take:

And finally today, I know that the U.S. has the same type of restrictions, but never realized that so did Canada.  I have to agree with Freeman, everyone is at risk for HIV and other diseases that would casue blood to be tainted.  Read the story here.

Whoops!  I forgot to add this: I’ll once again be participating in Blog Action Day.  Here’s the fun little promo badge.  Look for my take on climate change (since I’ve never, ever talked about it before…/sarcasm), on October 15:

That’s it for now I think.  More links and whatnot coming soon, have a great one!

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