Tag Archives: sustainability

Politicized Sustainability

“Politicized Sustainability is the untenable, even dangerous variety. It relies on ideological assertions and theoretical models as an alternative to actual outside-our-windows reality and evidence. Like “dangerous man-made climate change,” its real purpose is gaining greater agitator and government control over people’s energy use, lives, livelihoods, liberties, and living standards. It reflects an abysmal understanding of basic energy, economic, resource extraction, manufacturing, and human rights realities.” click here

Increasing Energy Prices Undermine Infrastructure Sustainability

“Glencore and other major players in Australia’s mining and heavy industry sectors are threatening to shut mines and factories, and divert all investment elsewhere, unless Aussie energy prices fall back to internationally competitive levels.” click here

California’s Unsustainable Infrastructure the Result of an Unsustainable State Government

“The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FECR) forensic audit of the Oroville Dam Spillway crisis project found that failures were due to inadequate California Department of Water Resources (DWR) maintenance, repair of cracks, thin concrete slabs, poor drainage, and use of weathered rock.” click here

Sustainability is not Sustainable

Anaerobic Digesters Unsustainable for Biomethane Production, UK

“Their supporters claim they are a cost-effective and environmentally-friendly way of producing gas to heat homes while curbing greenhouse gas emissions. According to the Anaerobic Digester and Bioresources Association (ADBA), the industry’s lobby group, they will lead to ‘stable energy prices, fewer carbon dioxide emissions, and a financial saving for homes and businesses across the country’.

But the reality is this supposedly green energy source comes at a heavy cost to taxpayers and to the environment it is supposed to protect. An investigation by this newspaper has revealed that: …” click here for news article

A Water System That is Unsustainable Will Deteriorate, Fail

A combination of poor economic policy and too much pork-barrel funding of projects results in unsustainable infrastructure.

“Deep inside a 70-year-old water-treatment plant, drinking water for Iowa’s capital city is cleansed of harmful nitrates that come from the state’s famously rich farmland.” click here

Metrics and Approaches to Sustainable Water Services

I would certainly agree with the authors of this paper that the existing metrics that have been applied to sustainability assessments of water services are not very good. In some cases the metrics are unproven. But I would go further to say that considering several flawed metrics together does not necessarily result in a better decision compared to using only one metric. In fact, several metrics could lead one even further astray, wandering in the dark with a faulty flashlight. Applying common sense and traditional metrics will get us further faster.

Xue X, Schoen ME, Ma XC, Hawkins TR, Ashbolt NJ, Cashdollar J, Garland J. Critical insights for a sustainability framework to address integrated community water services: Technical metrics and approaches. Water Research. 2015 Mar 25;77:155-169. doi: 10.1016/j.watres.2015.03.017.

Planning for sustainable community water systems requires a comprehensive understanding and assessment of the integrated source-drinking-wastewater systems over their life-cycles. Although traditional life cycle assessment and similar tools (e.g. footprints and emergy) have been applied to elements of these water services (i.e. water resources, drinking water, stormwater or wastewater treatment alone), we argue for the importance of developing and combining the system-based tools and metrics in order to holistically evaluate the complete water service system based on the concept of integrated resource management. We analyzed the strengths and weaknesses of key system-based tools and metrics, and discuss future directions to identify more sustainable municipal water services. Such efforts may include the need for novel metrics that address system adaptability to future changes and infrastructure robustness. Caution is also necessary when coupling fundamentally different tools so to avoid misunderstanding and consequently misleading decision-making.

Paper is here (fee).