Taxonomy term

natural resources

Comment: To intervene or not to intervene: Improving the environment

Are science and technology enemies of the environment, or can they help us effectively and sustainably manage it?

08 Dec 2016

Thirsty business: How the tech industry is bracing for a water-scarce future

Today’s technologies — from smartphones to laptops to smart appliances to cloud computing — require tremendous amounts of water, some of which is needed to cool large heat-generating data centers. Some of the biggest names in tech, along with government agencies and smaller businesses, are taking innovative approaches to deal with water issues — including placing facilities in the high desert. 

18 Sep 2016

Wedge approach proposed to lower water stress

Roughly 30 percent of the global population — or about 2.2 billion people — lives in water-stressed parts of the world, where high freshwater withdrawals endanger ecosystems, agriculture and drinking-water supplies. If current population and water usage trends persist, this fraction could rise to about one-half by the century’s end. In a recent study, researchers — taking a page from the climate-change mitigation literature — have proposed a “wedge” approach to address global water stress, laying out how various tactics could ease the growing problem.

22 Apr 2015

A dry and ravaged land: Investigating water resources in Afghanistan

Decades of war, loss of hydrological knowledge, climate change and a growing population all threaten Afghanistan’s water supply, but the U.S. Geological Survey is working with the Afghanistan Geological Survey and other partners to establish safe and reliable supplies of water for now and well into the future. 

04 Jan 2015

Virtual water: Tracking the unseen water in goods and resources

Trading in “virtual water” — rainfall and irrigation water used in the production of food commodities or other goods and services, but that isn’t part of the final product — between water-rich and water-poor regions has been suggested as a means to allay water scarcity. And recently, the virtual water concept has gained a foothold among a number of governments and multinational businesses, potentially shaping approaches to water sustainability in the future.

21 Sep 2014

Mineral Resource of the Month: Niobium

Niobium, also called columbium, is a transition metal with a very high melting point. It is in greatest demand in industrialized countries, like the United States, because of its defense-related uses in the aerospace, energy and transportation industries. Niobium is used mostly to make high-strength, low-alloy (HSLA) steel and stainless steel. HSLA steels are used in large-diameter pipes for oil and natural gas pipelines and automobile wheels.

09 Jul 2014

Staking a claim: Deep-sea mining nears fruition

At seafloor hydrothermal vents, high-temperature fluids precipitate deposits of minerals and metals beyond any prospector’s wildest dreams. Attempts to tap that mineral wealth are now underway, but questions remain about the environmental consequences of deep-sea mining.

27 May 2014

Mix of acid mine drainage and fracking fluid a recipe for remediation?

Mixing contaminated wastewater from hydraulic fracturing, also called hydrofracking or fracking, operations with acid mine drainage (AMD) may sound like an ecological disaster in the making. But according to the authors of a new study, such a toxic brew may actually be a recipe for remediation. And, if some hurdles are cleared, researchers say, it could relieve stress on precious freshwater resources by offering companies drilling for natural gas a cheaper alternative to those resources.

21 May 2014

Gaming the system in the Caspian Sea: Can game theory solve a decades-old dispute?

Water-rights disputes are never easy. Whether they are over pumping from aquifers shared among adjacent landowners, allocation of resources at the municipal, county or state level, or division of a river or lake shared between neighboring countries, there is an inevitable push and pull among stakeholders over who gets what and how much. In the end, resolutions tend to be compromises — often meted out by governing authorities — which, while not ideal from any one party’s standpoint, appeal to the desire of the group for stability over strife.

20 Oct 2013