By Derrick Z. Jackson
No punishment has yet fit the crime of the Flint water crisis, complete with its child poisoning and lethal outbreak of Legionnaire's disease. After a prior investigation fell apart in 2019, Michigan state prosecutors unveiled a slew of fresh charges against nine figures involved in the fateful penny-pinching move to switch Flint's water supply from Lake Huron to the Flint River in 2014. The river's waters, made corrosive from decades of industrial pollution, ate at Flint's old water pipes, releasing lead into drinking water and into the brains of thousands of children.
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By Tim Schauenberg
Whether they smoked a joint on the couch or sniffed a line in a club, some 269 million people around the world indulged in drugs in 2018, according to the United Nations.
Cannabis Vs. Potatoes: Which Has a Bigger Carbon Footprint?<p>With 192 million users in 2018, <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/global-marijuana-use-rose-by-60-percent-over-the-past-decade/a-49358921" target="_blank">cannabis is by far the most popular drug worldwide</a> — excluding alcohol and tobacco.</p><p>Efforts to legalize marijuana are continuing to gather pace in the United States, where the drug has already become a billion-dollar market. But cultivating the plants in greenhouses, with optimum light, ventilation and temperature, guzzles an enormous amount of resources.</p><p>According to estimates, cannabis production in the U.S. already accounts for around <a href="https://www.swansea.ac.uk/media/Environmental-Impacts-of-the-Legalization-of-Cannabis-in-California.pdf" target="_blank">1% of the country's total energy consumption</a>.</p><p>"Within a single year, approximately 16.5 tons of carbon dioxide are emitted in the United States as the result of indoor cannabis production, equivalent to the annual emissions of 3 million cars," according to a <a href="https://escholarship.org/uc/item/4w64g29s" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">report by the University of California, Davis.</a></p><p>That means that a single joint has a similar carbon footprint to about 6.6 pounds of potatoes.</p>
Cannabis Plants Add to Water Stress<p>Cannabis is also an extremely thirsty plant, needing twice as much water as tomatoes or grapes.</p><p>About 70% of the cannabis consumed across the country is grown in California. Such large-scale cultivation of a crop that requires up to 6 gallons of water per day per plant has only intensified the region's water shortages during dry seasons.</p><p>Scientists from the Californian Department of Fisheries and Wildlife estimate that illegal outdoor cultivation has lowered the water level in some flowing streams by up to a quarter.</p>
Clearing Forests to Plant Coca<p>The ecological footprint of the world's <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/2020-may-set-eu-record-for-cocaine-seizures/a-54585695" target="_blank">19 million cocaine users</a> is particularly apparent in Latin America. According to the United Nations, <a href="https://wdr.unodc.org/wdr2020/field/WDR20_Booklet_3.pdf" target="_blank">Colombia had the potential to produce 1,120 tons of pure cocaine in 2018</a> — a record crop for the South American country.</p><p>Since 2001, about 741,000,000 acres of forest have been cleared for the cultivation of coca — the plant that produces cocaine. </p><p>Following a temporary decline, "we can see actually the same peak of coca that we were watching 20 years ago," Paulo Sandoval, a geographer at the University of Oregon, told DW.</p><p>Sandoval's latest satellite data shows that around 123,000 acres of coca are currently being cultivated in Colombia's Amazon region alone — about half of it in nature reserves that are home to a rich diversity of species.</p><p>But the plantations he surveyed account for only 20% of the total cultivated area.</p>
Colombia's Approach 'Harms' the Environment<p>Until now, the Colombian government has relied on a strategy of eradication in its fight against coca cultivation. As part of its campaign, aircraft sprayed plantations with the highly concentrated herbicide glyphosate. This method effectively destroyed many coca plantations, but it also damaged neighboring forests and farmland.</p><p>Elizabeth Tellman, a geographer at Columbia University's Earth Institute in New York, says this approach harms rather than helps the environment. And once the fields are destroyed, the cartels simply clear more forests elsewhere and plant new coca crops.</p><p>"We do know that it [the destruction of cultivated areas] has not only had no effect (...) it's been really counterproductive," she told DW in an interview. </p><p>Coca leaves aren't just grown in the jungle; they're also processed into cocaine in secret laboratories there. This process requires highly toxic chemicals such as ammonia, acetone and hydrochloric acid. Scientists estimate that several million liters of these substances end up in soils and rivers each year. There are now few aquatic plants or animals living in those contaminated waters, according to a 2015 EU report.</p>
MDMA, Ecstasy and Co.<p>So-called party drugs — from pills to a line of powder in a nightclub bathroom — have grown in popularity in recent years.</p><p>The Netherlands and Belgium are <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/dutch-police-find-netherlands-largest-cocaine-lab/a-54529270" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">hotspots for synthetic drugs</a>. The production of a kilo of pure MDMA, the main substance in ecstasy, results in 10 kilos (22 pounds) of toxic waste — or 30 kilos (66 pounds) in the case of amphetamines. This might include sodium hydroxide, hydrochloric acids and acetone, substances that would normally have to be disposed of as hazardous waste using protective suits.</p><p>The Dutch Water Research Institute (KWR) estimates that in 2017, around 7,000 tons of these substances were either dumped somewhere in drums or leaked into the ground and rivers. "That's unbelievable," says Eric Emke, a scientist at the KWR.</p><p><a href="https://nos.nl/artikel/2264440-politie-ontmantelt-drugslab-in-rijen-dit-was-heel-erg-gevaarlijk.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">A report aired by Dutch public broadcaster NOS</a> showed just how abrasive these liquids can be. In it, a scientist immerses a chicken leg in a yellow sodium hydroxide solution. After two days, the meat has completely dissolved, leaving just the bone behind.</p><p>Emke says the waste is sometimes dumped into containers used to collect cattle excrement, becoming mixed with the dung that is spread on corn crops.</p><p>"And so five years ago, they discovered amphetamine and ecstasy residues in corn lice."</p><p>Jeremy Douglas, the regional representative of the UN's Office on Drugs and Crime for Southeast Asia, says Thailand, Laos and Myanmar have also become a hub for "industrial scale" global synthetic drug production in recent years.</p><p><span></span>"The spillover damage to groundwater and habitats is severe, and frankly it is nothing short of an ecological and public health disaster," he said.</p>
Groundwater Sinking in Afghanistan<p>Around 337,000 football fields, or 23 times the size of Paris — that's the amount of land that was used to cultivate opium worldwide in 2019, according to the UN. The main producers are Myanmar, Mexico and Afghanistan — which accounts for 84% of global cultivation.</p><p>Poppy fields spread mainly across the country's southwest in areas where, until the 1990s, there was nothing but arid desert. Today, some 1.4 million people live there, making a living from cultivating opium and agriculture. That's all possible thanks to more than 50,000 solar-powered water pumps that have greened the desert. But that is not as green as it sounds.</p><p><a href="https://reliefweb.int/sites/reliefweb.int/files/resources/2006E-When-the-Water-Runs-Out.pdf" target="_blank">A report by socio-economist David Mansfield</a> found that the region's groundwater is sinking by 9.8 feet per year. Wells as deep as 426 feet are now being drilled to find water.</p><p>"Each year, more people are arriving in the desert and installing solar deep wells. There are local fears that there will fast become a time when agricultural production will no longer be viable."</p><p>The poppy farmers also use chemical fertilizers and strong pesticides to control weeds. Groundwater tests have shown that nitrate levels are significantly higher than what is deemed safe. This can increase the risk of blue-baby syndrome, which leads to heart defects and death in newborns.</p><p>Mansfield warns that if water in the region does eventually run out, it will likely force large numbers of people from their homes, sparking a rural exodus.</p>
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Residential solar energy companies are helping more and more homeowners upgrade their properties to clean energy sources. Solar energy companies can equip you with the technology you need to harness the amazing power of the sun and reduce your need for fossil fuels. In this article, we'll review some of the most trustworthy providers and installers of solar power.
Our picks for the best solar companies
The first step in the process is researching some of the top companies in the solar industry. Here are the ones that stood out in our research.
Each product featured here has been independently selected by the writer. If you make a purchase using the links included, we may earn commission.
How we chose the best solar energy companies
How did we determine which solar power companies to recommend?
To begin with, we took a deep dive into each company's offerings, assessing them for the following criteria:
- Range of services offered
- Pricing/affordability and financing options
- Extent of service area
- Solar panel efficiency
- Temperature coefficient (e.g., how much high temperatures affect efficiency)
Additionally, we weighed membership and certification by professional associations like the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA). Affiliation with these groups is a good indicator that a solar energy company is reputable, and that their work is up to the highest standards within the industry.
The best solar energy companies
schmidt-z / Getty Images
With these criteria in mind, consider our picks for the best solar panel providers and installers in the industry.
If you're looking for a company that can walk you through the process of upgrading to solar power for an easy and convenient experience, look no further than to SunPower. The company offers:
- A "design studio" app, allowing you to safely and seamlessly design your own solar power system so that you can see a visual of what the finished product will look like once installed.
- Online calculators that make it easy for you to determine about how much electricity you will save once you upgrade to solar panels.
- Virtual consultations, allowing you to chat one-on-one with a solar power expert and to ask any questions you might have.
SunPower offers leading solar panels and energy storage technology to homeowners across dozens of states. And, they are also the preferred solar partner of many major businesses, including Walmart, FedEx, and Lowes.
Why buy: SunPower is a reliable solar energy company with an impressive tech portfolio and an extremely easy, intuitive process.
Upgrading to solar power can seem a little intimidating, but SunRun is out to bring simplicity. Their approach makes it extremely straightforward to select a custom solar energy plan for your household. Here's what to know about SunRun:
- They offer virtual consultations with solar energy experts, making it simple to explore your options and determine which solar set-up is right for your home energy needs.
- Each system they design is completely customized to address the customer's needs. SunRun doesn't do "one size fits all" solar equipment options.
- Their guarantee, the best in the industry, offers extraordinary peace of mind that your solar system will prove durable and reliable.
- SunRun also leads in terms of flexible financing options, making solar power accessible and affordable.
Why buy: With SunRun, the name of the game is customization. This is one of the best solar installation companies to turn to for solar power solutions that are truly made with you in mind.
You probably associate Tesla with their electric vehicles, but did you know that the company also produces high-efficiency solar panels? Depending on your needs and your budget, Tesla can hook you up with an array of solar panels or even a solar roof, making it easy to cut electricity costs and power your home via the sun's vital energy.
Some fast facts about choosing solar power from Tesla:
- They offer a price match guarantee and affordable financing options.
- Their advanced solar panel technology offers a low profile, a sleek style, and long-term durability.
- Home battery backups allow you to save solar power and then access it on demand, whenever you need it.
Why buy: Tesla offers sophisticated solar products for what the company claims is the lowest price of any national provider, which they back with a price-match guarantee. Plus, all of their solar panels come with a solid 25-year performance guarantee.
LG is another well-known tech company that is also a leader in solar energy. Some of their solar panels use a bifacial solar module that captures energy from two directions to increase their efficiency. While they are a solar panel manufacturer, they can also help you with the installation process by finding an LG Pro installer in your area.
- They offer an online "solar concierge" service that allows you to evaluate your home energy needs and to compare different options for going solar.
- LG offers a 25-year warranty, not only on their technology but also on the work their of their solar installers.
- They offer a range of solar panels and supporting products, and they supply you with plenty of information to make a fully informed choice.
Why buy: LG is a company that knows technological innovation. Their award-winning solar energy products are reliably efficient, well-priced, and designed for maximum efficiency.
Panasonic has one of the most impressive tech portfolios in the solar energy industry. Their products boast some of the highest conversion efficiency rates, along with the lowest degradation rates. And they back everything with a generous warranty.
Some additional reasons to choose Panasonic:
- They offer a range of solar panels to choose from. With Panasonic, you'll find that you have plenty of options.
- They also provide a lot of great online support and consumer education, ensuring you'll get the most out of your solar technology.
Why buy: Panasonic is a solar panel company with products that are tough to beat. Both their pricing and warranties are very appealing, and their HIT high-performance solar panels offer some of the best power conversion rates of any product.
Vivint is a company that offers a full spectrum of services, including solar power consultation, design, and installation. A few reasons why homeowners trust their solar power needs to the Vivint team:
- Everything Vivint does is customized. They tailor everything to fit your roof and to help you achieve your home energy goals.
- They make the entire process simple, handling all of the little details for you. This includes securing permits, filing the right paperwork, etc.
- They emphasize safety, using only the highest caliber of solar panels and backing everything with a world-class warranty.
Why buy: Vivint is noteworthy for their focus on customization, their commitment to safety, and their one-stop-shop solar power solutions. In addition to solar panel installation, they also offer other specialized technology, including solar-powered electric vehicle chargers.
Enphase is another company that stands out, both for their robust technology as well as for their commitment to customization. Their microinverter technology makes their solar system safer by reducing the likelihood of arc fault fires.
- They design their solar technology with safety in mind, including fire safeguards that other companies can't match.
- Their solar panels are built for durability and can hold up even through the most extreme kinds of weather.
- Enphase uses smart technology to update itself; all you need to do is connect it to your home Internet.
- They also have one of the best apps in the solar industry, making it simple to monitor your home energy use.
Why buy: Enphase is a company of innovators, and their solar portfolio has a lot to offer. Their system is also modular, meaning you can easily add more panels to your system as you need them.
This solar power provider has won recognition not just for their excellent technology, but also for their sincere commitment to sustainability and to ecological stewardship. And don't let the name throw you off: Though Canadian Solar is based in Canada, they provide solar power solutions in the U.S. and other countries.
Some additional facts about Canadian Solar:
- They offer a wide range of products, from energy converters to storage solutions.
- Their solar panels boast exceedingly high energy efficiency rates.
- Canadian Solar has won a number of awards for its first-class innovations, and one of their products even set a world record for conversion efficiency in 2020.
Why buy: This company has a proven track record of technological excellence, plus a real commitment to ecological stewardship. They also closely monitor their supply chain to ensure that no goods or materials used in their products come from prohibited forms of labor.
First Solar boasts an impressive track record of advocacy for solar power and for renewable energy sources. And, thankfully, they back their advocacy with some excellent solar technologies.
A few reasons to choose First Solar solar panels:
- Their technology offers an outstanding temperature coefficient, meaning they won't lose performance during high temperatures.
- Their solar cells are among the most reliable and most efficient in the clean energy sector.
- First Solar also offers a lot of post-purchase, post-installation help, as needed.
Why buy: First Solar is a great option for anyone who's serious about renewable energy, and who wants the best performance from their solar panels.
The biggest drawback to Go Solar is that, right now, their work is limited to just a few states. But if you happen to live in that part of the country, you're in luck. Go Solar's panels are uniquely calibrated to take advantage of the western region's abundant sunlight. Some additional reasons to pick Go Solar include:
- They offer free home solar assessments.
- They custom-design solar systems to meet the needs of your home.
- They have some of the most trusted installers in the solar power industry.
Why buy: For solar solutions that are tailored to the climate of the American West, definitely consider Go Solar. Plus, with their Give Solar International partnership, they give an equivalent solar panel system to a family in Uganda for each system sold.
How does a solar energy system work?
schmidt-z / Getty Images
As you explore the different options for embracing solar power, it may be helpful to have a baseline understanding of how solar energy systems actually function.
Generally speaking, solar energy systems involve solar panels installed on your roof. These panels absorb the sun's energy, storing it in what are known as photovoltaic cells. These cells convert the solar energy into direct current (DC) energy, then use an inverter to convert that DC energy into alternate current (AC) electricity. AC electricity is what you need to power all your home appliances.
It's important to note that, before you purchase solar panels, it's worthwhile to meet with a solar energy consultant who can tell you more about how many panels your home will require, and also to let you know how those panels should be ideally positioned on the roof.
One more note: If you're concerned about the affordability of solar power, it's important to remember that most solar energy companies provide a host of options, including flexible financing and solar lease options for a system rather than purchase it outright. As you talk with different solar energy companies, don't hesitate to inquire about these leasing and financing options.
Benefits of solar energy
Installing solar panels on your home can yield a number of benefits. Here are just a few examples.
One of the main reasons why homeowners choose to install solar cells is that it allows them to truly embrace clean energy sources. Rather than depend on fossil fuels and power plants, you can power your home with renewable energy that comes straight from the sun. This can be a highly effective way to minimize your environmental footprint.
Solar tax credits and rebates
There are a number of ways in which choosing renewable energy can save you money, starting with the fact that there are so many rebates and tax credits available. Essentially, both the federal government and many state governments want to encourage people to "go green" as much as possible, and they will make it worth your while by allowing you to claim these important tax incentives. Some utility companies also offer rebates that can help pay for the upfront costs of solar projects.
Lower electricity bills
Of course, embracing solar power will also help you save money by slashing your electricity bills. Most solar energy companies offer online calculators that allow you to see for yourself how much money you'll save over time, simply by changing to a renewable energy source. There is also an option called a power purchase agreement (PPA) that can allow you to host a solar or renewable energy system from a utility provider in exchange for lowered energy rates. If your solar panel system generates excess energy, the utility will then purchase that energy from you in the form of a net metering credit on your bill.
Make a smart choice about solar power
There are obviously a lot of perks to choosing solar energy for your home. And yet, it can also be a rather daunting process, simply because there are so many solar energy companies to choose from.
Using our guidelines and rankings, start doing your due diligence, seeking the solar power company that's right for you. Remember to look for a company that's well-regarded within the industry and get a consultation before you buy. Always be sure to ask some direct questions about the financing options that are available to you.
Josh Hurst is a journalist, critic, and essayist. He lives in Knoxville, TN, with his wife and three sons. His writing on natural health, nutrition, and supplements has appeared in Health, Shape, and Remedy Review.
By Charli Shield
Local authorities in the eastern Russian city of Petropavlovsk-Kamchatskiy have been warning people against visiting the nearby Khalaktyrsky beach, after surfers complained of partially losing their eyesight and experiencing headaches, fevers and nausea when venturing into the water.
Local Authorities Investigate Three Causes<p>The authorities took samples from the ocean, where by the end of September, Morozov said a "yellowish-greenish liquid" had appeared along a 20 to 30-kilometer (12-18-mile) stretch of the shoreline.</p><p>Local investigators are now looking into three main reasons for the water pollution, including a toxic spill, volcanic activity in the area and naturally occurring deadly <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/biggest-ever-seaweed-bloom-stretches-from-gulf-of-mexico-to-africa/a-49480178" target="_blank">algal blooms</a>, governor of the Kamchatka region, Vladimir Solodov, told a press conference on Monday.</p><p>On a video posted to Instagram, the governor said the situation was normalizing due to the ocean's unique ability to self-regenerate.</p><p>"As I said, we will push for a full and meticulous investigation of the reasons behind what happened, but now we can observe that the situation has significantly improved in the past few days."</p><p>The region's natural resources minister, Alexei Kumarkov, said tests on samples had thus far only detected unusually high levels of the chemical phenol and oil products in the water.</p><p>However, later on Monday, Russia's Natural Resources Minister said that the pollution was unlikely to be manmade, the RIA news agency reported.</p><p>Ecology Minister Dmitry Kobylkin said that so far research had only uncovered slightly raised levels of iron and phosphates.</p><p>He also said that the incident might have been prompted by the stormy conditions recently experienced in the region of eastern Russia. </p>
Little Evidence for Oil Spill<p>Environmentalist Dmitry Lisitsyn, head of local NGO <a href="https://bankwatch.org/office/sakhalin-environmental-watch" target="_blank">Sakhalin Environmental Watch</a>, told DW there have been no visible signs of oil on the surface of the water, and the bottom-dwelling sea creatures that have been found dead are not normally linked to oil spills.</p><p>"Petroleum products are lighter than water — they form a film at the top of the water, which mainly kills birds. Oil products aren't poisonous enough to kill such a huge amount of animals," he said.</p><p>Nicky Cariglia, an independent marine pollution advisor, said <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/mauritius-oil-spill-disaster-tanker/a-48095315" target="_blank">oil spill events</a> are often "very obvious", and that though in some cases it is possible for spills of very light oil to kill marine animals that live on the sea floor, oil tends to float on the surface of the water.</p><p>"The first thing you see when you have an <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/mauritius-oil-spill-compensation-pay/a-54725675" target="_blank">oil spill</a> is the presence of oil — whether it's crude oil or bunker oil or even lighter types of oil," she told DW.</p><p>As to the high concentrations of phenol in the water, Cariglia said it is not enough to indicate whether the event is a result of human activity or a naturally occurring phenomenon.</p><p>"High levels of phenol concentration can result from land-based runoff — if there have been, for example, a lot of fires — or from harmful algal blooms, or also from other decomposing organic materials," she said.</p>
Deeper Research Needed<p>Lisitsyn is "convinced" the water pollution is linked to a leak of decades-old expired rocket fuel from the Radygino military base located 10 kilometers from Khalaktyrsky beach.</p><p>"It's very likely that the waste disposal site there started to leak, maybe the storage tanks broke and a large amount of rocket fuel was washed into the ocean," Lisitsyn told DW, speculating that the noxious liquid could have been washed into the ocean during a cyclone that hit the area on September 9.</p><p>He says it is now up to authorities to launch a thorough investigation into the source of the contamination, which includes determining whether there is an ongoing leak.</p><p>"The military base needs to be examined, as do the storage locations and all the streams of water that flow down from it into the ocean," he said, adding that the components of rocket fuel are carcinogenic and that if it were spilling uncontained into the ocean, it could have long-term effects — not just for marine life.</p><p>"They are very harmful to people. I wouldn't recommend walking along this beach or breathing in the fumes there."</p>
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By Wolfgang Dick
Despite the lush, verdant nature that surrounds the German town of Ulrichstein, residents here — and in the region — suffer from acute water shortages.
Digging Deep From Drinking Water<p>Instead, a drilling company is set in the coming weeks to try to tap into the groundwater below the town. Water that the firm insists is there — despite criticism from geologists who say groundwater levels below Ulrichstein, the highest permanent settlement in the state at 614 meters (2,014 feet) above sea level, are insufficient for the town's needs.</p>
Many Reasons for Water Shortages<p>Schneider said the reason for his town's water shortages has to do with its geographical location. Due to the Rhine Weser watershed, he said, "water just keeps draining away, and winters have become quite mild in these parts."</p><p>This means groundwater is not being replenished during the winter months. The situation is complicated further because the nearby city of Frankfurt also taps into the local groundwater, sourcing one-third of its requirements — some 40 million cubic meters — from this region.</p><p>"I got quite angry when Frankfurt asked its residents to water the city's trees during one hot summer," the mayor admitted.</p><p>A €150,000 ($177,000) trial showed no groundwater the Ulrichstein could tap into at a depth of 120 meters. However, the drilling company found water at a depth of 200 meters. The well, which cost some €800,000 ($944,000) to drill, will only serve as an interim solution as there is not as much water as the officials hoped for, and no one knows how long before it dries up.</p><p>The municipal council is looking into alternatives to source drinking water. For this purpose, it has modernized two of its eight water treatment plants at a cost of €2 million ($2.4 million). Ulrichstein is also considering installing a 4.5-kilometer canal to the next town to source water. This endeavor, however, carries a €650,000 ($767,000) price tag.</p><p>Ultimately, the municipality decides to hire a logistics company to make six deliveries of 60,000 liters (15,850 gallons) of water each day by truck. Locals are also urged to use the precious resource sparingly by abstaining from watering their lawns or otherwise using water unnecessarily.</p>
High Cost of Water<p><a href="https://www.dw.com/en/innovative-clean-water-technologies/a-45287950" target="_blank">Whatever option the town chooses</a>, residents will be facing higher water bills.</p><p>Local businessman Klaus Kraft is especially hard-hit by the water shortage. He has been running a laundromat for years. Each day, his business consumes about 12 cubic meters of water, less than half the 30 liters (8 gallons) it used to require. But, he said, he cannot hike up prices as this would hurt his business. Currently, sourcing and disposing of one cubic meter of drinking water costs about €10 ($12) — roughly three times what residents in other German cities pay.</p><p>A woman who has lived in the town for many years said she noticed the water shortages three years ago. "One day, the water pressure just dropped off," she said, adding that the town's calls for residents to use water sparingly are being ignored by many.</p><p>One of the more recent and visible culprits is private swimming pools appearing in many residents' backyards. According to Germany's Swimming Pool and Wellness Association, a growing number of Germans are deciding to install their own pools. One reason for this is that people who are <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/meet-the-germans-live-summer-and-vacations-in-germany/a-54081551" target="_blank">traveling less during this pandemic want to have a nice time relaxing at home</a>.</p>
Gloomy Predictions<p>Karsten Rinke, a biologist with the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research, says Germans will have to prepare for future water shortages. At least technological innovations and water conservation efforts have reduced the average daily water consumption in Germany from 147 to 123 liters (39 to 32 gallons) per person, says the researcher. But Germany's Federal Office of Civil Protection and Disaster Assistance (BBK) reports that climate predictions paint a gloomy picture of the future. It warns that people in some parts of Germany could soon face problems sourcing drinking water.</p><p>German Environmental Minister Svenja Schulze has scheduled a "water summit" for spring 2021 to discuss this worrying situation with federal, state and local representatives. She wants to devise a comprehensive strategy to tackle the country's water shortage.</p>
The state of Michigan has reached a settlement with the victims of the Flint water crisis. Michigan agreed to pay $600 million, which will primarily benefit the city's children since they were most affected by the lead-tainted water, The Washington Post reported.
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By Elliot Douglas
A glacier in New Zealand is believed to have lost so much ice over the last three years that it could provide drinking water for every resident of the country over the same period, a research institute announced Wednesday.
'The Path to Extinction'<p>Damage sustained by some glaciers between 2018 and 2019 may place them on the path to extinction, Lorrey explained.</p><p>Marine heatwaves and record temperatures impacted snow lines. Ash from the recent Australian bush fires also blanketed some of the ice, increasing the potential for more melting as the ash absorbs more solar radiation.</p><p>It could take 20 or 30 years of improvement in snow cover before scientists could "even start to consider whether the recent damage can be reversed to any degree," Lorrey said.</p>
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By Brett Walton
Use of Colorado River water in the three states of the river's lower basin fell to a 33-year low in 2019, amid growing awareness of the precarity of the region's water supply in a drying and warming climate.
Raising Lake Mead<p>Just five years ago, in 2015, the three states were making use of their entire 7.5-million-acre-foot allotment. By statute and tradition, the basin is divided into a lower basin, where use is higher, and an upper basin, which includes Colorado, New Mexico, Utah, and Wyoming. The basins have different water allocation systems and rules governing its use.</p><p>In the lower basin, Arizona's annual allocation is 2.8 million acre-feet, but last year it used just 2.5 million. Nevada used 233,000 of its 300,000 acre-feet. The big savings were in California, which used only 3.8 million of its 4.4 million acre-feet. California hasn't used that little water from the Colorado since the 1950s, Fleck said.</p><p>The drop in California last year is due in large part to Metropolitan Water District, which consumed only 537,000 acre-feet. Five years ago, the district's tally was around 1 million acre-feet per year. Urban conservation and development of local water sources have played a large role in the decline, but the district's Colorado River water use is also influenced by snow levels in the Sierra Nevada mountains. When more water is available to be imported from the northern part of the state, as it was last year, the district leans less heavily on the Colorado River.</p>
Total Lower Colorado Basin Consumptive Use<img lazy-loadable="true" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMzQxMTU1OS9vcmlnaW4ucG5nIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY0MzM0NDYxM30.RVr3Rzi1jqZHweILfonMU8SWs_LGJBGqg9lMiQ-jrVY/img.png?width=980" id="d31ab" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="15ef390e64a1be66991bfd26b0f0fee5" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" data-width="825" data-height="649" />
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By Sonya Diehn
More than 2 billion hectares of previously productive land is degraded. For Desertification and Drought Day on June 17, DW spoke with Ibrahim Thiaw, Executive Secretary of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD).
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President Donald Trump issued an executive order late Thursday that environmentalists warned will accelerate the corporate exploitation of oceans by relaxing regulations on and streamlining the construction of industrial offshore aquaculture facilities, which critics deride as "floating factory farms" that pump pollution and diseases into public waters.
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By Chiara Cecchini
Although it is difficult today to divert attention from the dramatic situation we live in, it is even more important to get closer to our primary needs. Recently, we celebrated World Water Day, and the timing couldn't have been more appropriate to give to all of us the chance to rethink priorities and draw some lessons.
What Can We Do About It?<p>Now that the whole world is experiencing the effects of a major disaster, we have the opportunity to re-evaluate some of our choices. COVID-19 has transformed everyday life so significantly that the effects are already visible from space, showing us that change is possible and results are tangible. COVID-19 is teaching us (among other things) that our eagerness for creation should not result in the destruction of our planet.</p><p>Here are five simple things we can all start doing to have a healthier relationship with water and our environment in the future.</p>
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- One of the most significant, yet ignored, impacts of climate change is its disruption of the water cycle.
- The youth-driven climate movement provides examples of how to incorporate water into the climate agenda by raising awareness, encouraging advocacy and promoting innovation.
- World Water Day 2020 is focused on the interconnectedness of water and climate change.
1. Raise Awareness<p>Not enough is understood and communicated about the devastating risk of climate change to the world's water resources. Currently, <a href="https://www.jstor.org/stable/3674533?seq=1#metadata_info_tab_contents" target="_blank">50% of our drinking water comes from glaciers</a>, which are melting at an unprecedent speed. Higher air temperatures are causing increased flooding – <a href="https://www.zurich.com/en/knowledge/topics/flood-and-water-damage" target="_blank">which is affecting more people globally than any other natural hazard</a>. If no measures are taken, water scarcity, exacerbated by climate change, is expected to cost some regions <a href="https://www.worldbank.org/en/topic/water/publication/high-and-dry-climate-change-water-and-the-economy" target="_blank">up to 6% of their economic growth</a>.</p><img lazy-loadable="true" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMjg4ODQ1NS9vcmlnaW4ucG5nIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY3NDI5MDQ1MX0.QIpWh-aXw8xh1wynYmOUF1M0B4rH6RCMTRRHGLMMhy8/img.png?width=980" id="c2fa7" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="fcd44dcbca3778d12738b067737eaf05" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" data-width="755" data-height="432" />
2. Be an Advocate<p>Young people are organizing and uniting around the world to raise awareness through climate strikes – bridging political differences and linking separate sectors. Rather than confronting one environmental issue at a time, they are holistic in their advocacy, recognizing the strength in combining efforts.</p><p>During the 2020 Annual Meeting in Davos, Global Shapers engaged in climate work and discussions on the future of water. Their participation, enthusiasm and conviction to further incentivize young people to scale up water innovation, resulted in the stakeholder proposal to develop an award. Rather than being a one-off entrepreneurial activity, this prize aims to be a milestone in a long-term water advocacy agenda.</p><p>While having a Corporate Social Responsibility programme is common, more companies could push the cause. An example is Heineken's "<a href="https://www.theheinekencompany.com/newsroom/heineken-announces-every-drop-water-ambition-for-2030/" target="_blank">Every Drop</a>" campaign, dedicated to lowering water usage to combat water scarcity.</p><p>Choose to be a champion, mobilize for the climate-water cause and implement what you advocate!</p>
3. Seek Innovation<p>Since 2012, the rise in smart phones has been dramatic (to date, there are more people with a mobile phone than access to a flushable toilet). Today's youth is the generation most accustomed to technology from an early age. With the increase of artificial intelligence, smart sensoring and blockchain, the possibilities for tackling water issues have multiplied.</p><p>In the run-up to COP 21, youth representatives released a white paper with recommendations in four key areas on how to address climate change – all of which included water. This led to the creation of the <a href="https://youthwaterclimate.org/project/ahiafor-yahovi-amedzape-danyi-apeyeme-togo-tonfuturtonclimat-project-to-support-the-young-people-for-the-protection-of-environment-water-and-land-in-togo/" target="_blank">Youth for Water and Climate</a> (YWC) initiative. Similar to the World Economic Forum's <a href="https://www.weforum.org/uplink" target="_blank">UpLink</a>, the YWC is a platform connecting young, innovative solution providers with solution seekers that are able to offer technical and financial resources to help scale up the projects.</p><p>By providing the means and the mentoring, the chances for these projects to develop increase, while offering tangible solutions for companies in return. Companies such as AB InBev have launched <a href="https://www.ab-inbev.com/sustainability/100-accelerator.html" target="_blank">sustainability accelerators</a>, enabling start-ups to grow, while learning from their breakthrough water innovations. In line with stakeholder capitalism, more companies aim to be inclusive – and what better way to do that – than by getting insights into innovative solutions for water challenges and climate change.</p>
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