All the Water on Planet Earth

Explanation: How much of planet Earth is made of water? Very little, actually. Although oceans of water cover about 70 percent of Earth’s surface, these oceans are shallow compared to the Earth’s radius. The above illustration shows what would happen is all of the water on or near the surface of the Earth were bunched up into a ball. The radius of this ball would be only about 700 kilometers, less than half the radius of the Earth’s Moon but slightly larger than Saturn's moon Rhea which, like many moons in our outer Solar System, is mostly water ice. How even this much water came to be on the Earth and whether any significant amount is trapped far beneath Earth's surface remain topics of research.

Illustration Credit & Copyright: Jack Cook, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Howard Perlman, USGS

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This use of water increase for industry raises serious questions. As our forest soils dry out with lowering ground water, trees become stressed, beetled invade, fires threaten entire regions and all that CO2 means very serious consequences.

"The surest way to reduce the water required for electricity generation, IEA’s figures indicate, would be to move to alternative fuels. Renewable energy provides the greatest opportunity: Wind and solar photovoltaic power have such minimal water needs they account for less than one percent of water consumption for energy now and in the future, by IEA’s calculations.

Study: Energy Industry Water Use Set To Double By 2035

As climate change heats lakes, streams and the ocean, toxic cyanobacteria contamination rises.

Toxic blue-green algae pose increasing threat to nation;s drinking,...

Toxic Microcystis algae grow in a large bloom in the Copco Reservoir on the Klamath River, posing health risks to people, pets and wildlife.

In 2015, drought and low snow pack throughout the West has led to large and toxic algal blooms earlier than in previous years.

In a related marine concern, all along the West Coast many shellfish harvests are closed due to an ongoing event of domoic acid shellfish poisoning, producing what is thought to be the largest algal bloom in recorded history.

No testing for cyanobacteria is mandated by state or federal drinking water regulators, according to scientists from Oregon State University, nor is reporting required of disease outbreaks associated with algal blooms. But changes in climate and land use, and even increasing toxicity of the bacteria themselves, may force greater attention to this issue in the future, the researchers said.

Scientists said a concern is that nutrient over-enrichment may select for the more toxic populations of these bacteria, creating a positive feedback loop that makes the problem even worse.

Cyanobacteria are ubiquitous around the world, and a 2007 national survey by the EPA found microcystin, a recognized liver toxin and potential liver carcinogen, in one out of every three lakes that were tested. Some of the toxic strains of cyanobacteria can also produce neurotoxins, while most can cause gastrointestinal illness and acute skin rashes. [emphasis mine]

The Clean Power Plan Isn’t Just About Energy—It’s About Water Too

Green energy would mean more water for us to use.

... power plants are significant water users across the U.S., accounting for 45 percent of total water withdrawals.

The Union of Concerned Scientists reports that, on average, producing the electricity you use in your home results in more freshwater withdrawals than all of your daily water-related tasks, like sprinkling lawns and washing dishes. Where that electricity comes from makes a big difference in how much water is involved, though. Thirsty energy sources like coal can take 20,000 gallons per megawatt-hour to 50,000 gallons per megawatt-hour, while wind power requires almost no water at all.

By 2025, two-thirds of world’s population may face water scarcity.

Environmental Threats That We are Going to Face

Welcome to the Anthropocene Era, where lakes can get so polluted they foam and catch fire.

Bengarulu lake in India.

Old landfills become toxic timebombs as climate change accelerates the water cycle and sea level rises, threatening groundwater with leached chemicals.

Landfill dumps across UK 'at risk of leaking hazardous chemicals'

Thousands of landfill dumps around the UK are at risk of being compromised by flooding and coastal erosion, sparking fears that dangerous substances could spill into rivers, streets and beaches, academics warn.

The UK faces a “toxic timebomb” after an analysis of its ageing dumps revealed that 2,946 are located in flood plains, experts say.

Furthermore, 1,655 of these “historical” landfill sites contain dangerous materials such as hazardous chemicals and asbestos,...

Toxins Found in 39% of U.S. Southeastern Streams

Toxic algae poison more than a third of small streams in Alabama, Virginia, and the Carolinas.

Scientists with the U.S. Geological Survey have found toxins produced by algae, known as microcystins, in 39 percent of the small streams assessed in the southeastern United States.

Their study looked at 75 streams in parts of Alabama, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia.


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