Monday, September 28, 2009

New glacier painting marks the precarious situation in the Himalayas

Tatiana Iliina's new abstract painting, Gangotri Glacier, is named after the glacier that is the main source of the Ganga River, also known as the Ganges.

The Ganges is India's holy river. As described by Jawaharlala Nehru in his 1946 book, Discovery of India,

"The Ganges, above all is the river of India, which has held India's heart captive and drawn uncounted millions to her banks since the dawn of history. The story of the Ganges, from her source to the sea, from old times to new, is the story of India's civilization and culture, of the rise and fall of empires, of great and proud cities, of adventures of man…"

The Ganga flows for 2,500 km through India, Nepal and Bangladesh and provides water for something like half a billion people before emptying into the Bay of Bengal.

Considering that the Gangotri glacier is responsible for up to 70% of the water in the river during the dry summer months and that this glacier is receding twice as fast as in recent years, the future for the River Ganga is by no means clear. Some scientists estimate that the glacier may be gone by 2030. If that is the case, drastic measures will be required to keep the the river from drying up completely.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Canada's Coast a Major Asset for Wind Power - But Motivation Lacking

According to the CIA Factbook, Canada has over 202,000 km of coastline.

Big deal, huh?

Well, it is a bit of a big deal if you consider that the country with the next longest coastline is Indonesia, with 54,000 km. Then it's Greenland, with 45,000 km, and Russia, next in line, has only 37,000 km.

If you think these figures must be in errror - well, yeah, maybe they are - who knows? But, they are repeated on Wikipedia. On top of that, certain Canadian sources claim as much as 240,000 km of shoreline.

Without getting into too much detail, consider Hudson Bay, consider all the Arctic islands, etc. There is definitely a lot of coast in Canada.

One significance of this is the wind power potential implied by all this coastline. For a variety of reasons, the coast is one of the favourite places to install these megaliths.

The trouble is, these things are big, they kill birds, they are noisy and they can instantly ruin a pristine vista that has endured thousands of years.

Meanwhile, Canada is also rich in hydro-electric energy, which supplies roughly 59% of our electricity and carbon-based energy sources. So, our wind power potential may be huge, but our other energy sources are plentiful and reliable. When you consider the negatives of wind, it becomes clear why it has been difficult to get the wind industry into high gear in Canada.