Is there a global water shortage?

While on a trip last week I bought a copy of Futurist Magazine, which I accidetally left at the airport but that’s another story. Anyway, it had a number of articles about major drought issues which seem to be a result of climate change. It blew me away. Next I saw a new release book ‘Blue Covenant’ by Maude Barlow about water shortages around the world and it struck me that there is something serious going on and while we are worrying about oil and petrol prices, there may be something far more troublesome happening.

“Desalination plants will ring the world’s oceans, many of them run by nuclear power; corporate nanotechnology will clean up sewage water and sell it to private utilities who will sell it back to us at a huge profit; the rich will drink only bottled water found in the few remote parts of the world left or sucked from the clouds by machines, while the poor die in increasing numbers. This is not science fiction. This is where the world is headed unless we change course.”

— Maude Barlow

I live in Auckland, New Zealand and while I was away, there was a pretty major storm that blew over part of my fence and left my swimming pool overflowing. At the same time that this was happening, the lakes in the South Island which are used for generation of Hydro Electric Power are running close to critically low levels. The latest news is that they have risen to 58% of normal levels.

Many towns around New Zealand are facing potential drought conditions which has major significance for agriculture and these changes seem to be long term. I suspect that most people like me have been blissfully unaware of it. Sure I knew there were problems in Australia including rice crops being down by 90% and parts of Africa, but I had no idea how serious it is.

In China, there are water crises in many locations such as the Shandong Province where people are only allowed access to water for 7 hours a day, and people around Beijing will have limited access to water during the period of the Olympic Games to ensure that visitors do not go thirsty.

The Worldwide Fund For Nature WFF is not only concerned about lack of water for much of Europe and Great Britain, but also that dams and solutions designed to collect and manage water for some areas may harm water retention and the ecology for other areas. According to the UN “climate change means that creeping deserts may eventually drive 135 million people off their land.

The USA doesn’t get let off either. Sure America has endured many droughts over the centuries, but they were just rare events. Now in California there are battles over whether water should be used for the needs of the city or for crops and many farms are struggling for their survival.

While we have grown used to conflict in the Middle East over oil, could the future conflicts be focussed on something far more critical for human survival?

So what should we be doing about it? I don’t know, I guess the first thing is to take notice. You could invest in water companies to hedge your bets, you should be more aware of what is going on around you. It wouldn’t hurt to invest in solar desalination products and buy one for yourself. Whilst they may be designed for purifying salt water, you could use them on any water source. Several recent inventions look like a great device for areas where water is scarce or contaminated by chemicals, bug larvae etc.

With 97% of the planet’s water being salty, I hope this planet doesn’t become a case of ‘water, water everywhere, but not a drop to drink.’ This is not science fiction folks, it is fact. My thoughts:

  • It will effect you in your lifetime.
  • Find out if the water from your roof is suitable for drinking, or at least your garden.
  • Invest in water collection for your garden and other uses.
  • Make sure your local council is investing in sustainable, good quality water for the future.
  • An investment in a water production/bottling company would make good business sense.
  • Places that are likely to suffer water shortages might not be the best places to live in the future, property values will reduce and eventually collapse.
  • Property values in areas such as West Auckland will increase in the long term, although some areas also risk sliding down the bank as the ground gets waterlogged.
  • Water ownership should stay in the public domain.
  • PPP (Public Private Partnership) companies will end up owning and controlling a lot of water production and supply around the world.

As a footnote, ancient pure water that has been under the ground for centuries must be a finite resource, just as are fossil fuels. Have you ever wondered what will happen to the planet when we have brought it all to the surface? Does the mass of the water help hold the superstructure of our planet together? We are sucking thousands of cubic kilometers of liquid out of the planet every year. Are there concequences we have yet to face along with global warming?

As I have pointed out before, our generation is one of major change. Science Fiction is becoming reality at a pace far greater than we expected and the authors are proving to have been prophetic. We haven’t seen any aliens that I’m aware of, but the dust bowls of Mad Max and the desserts of Dune could become reality on Earth, or at least of sorts. At the rate we are going our descendants could be wearing the stillsuits that Frank Herbert wrote about. I don’t think I’m being over the top here. I still feel grateful to live in this era of rapid change and exciting technology and to live in a country of relative peace, a friendly climate and low poverty, but I am starting to wonder what sort of a world my grand children will live in and asking whether they will pay in the future for the excesses of today.

While this blog is starting to get a good following, I would love to get more readers and encouraging me to keep writing. If you feel that my blog is interesting I would be very grateful if you would vote for me in the category of best blog at the NetGuide Web Awards. Note that the form starts each site with www whereas my blog doesn’t and is of course

Thanks so much for your support:)


GPS Tracking for Elderly People and others

I recently posted a blog on this topic which has proven quite popular. It appears that there are many people concerned about the safety of people when they are away from their home. There are already products such as Lifelink from St Johns which are excellent products around the house, but there are many people looking for products to help out when people are out of range of their home.

Having had yet another call from one of many companies looking at bringing in products from China and other parts I have decided to check one out for myself. The one I am going to check out is one that has gone through a number of refinements which will probably make it a little more expensive, but possibly far more beneficial as well. I won’t mention any brands yet, but what I like about this product includes:

  • A drop sensor. If the devices falls or the person carrying it in their pocket, or perhaps around their necks, falls, as elderly people sometimes do, it will set of an alarm which will call someone and send them a message.
  • A panic button which can allow the device to send an emergency signal to a predetermined location if there is a problem and the person needs assistance.
  • A microphone and speaker so that not only can the person send an emergancy message but they can talk to a call centre or their help service.
  • The ability to call up to 3 predetermined numbers and talk to the person at the other end.

These services also include the ability for authorised people to view the location of the device, i.e. the person carrying it, on a map from anywhere that they can access an internet browser.

If this product is as good as the supplier says, it will have huge value for a variety of services including, elderly or infirm people, children, people with severe allergies or other potential health problems, people in risky careers such as security guards or investigators, or even police as well as services such as mental health nurses and midwives who are helping people in the community.

By having a combination of a SIM card with GPRS and SMS capabaility as well as speech, any wearer can be located on a map and can also be in voice contact where necessary. Obviously as these devices prove their worth, their popularity will increase and consequently prices will come down. Because they are portable they can also be used on an ad hoc basis or in a pooled environment to be shared.

I’ll let you know how my pilot goes.

The New Zealand Police want to trial carrying pistols and rifles

So I picked up my NZ herald this morning and there was the story on the front page, ‘Cops Plan Armed City Patrols‘. They were obviously trying to take advantag of public emotions about the murder of Navtej Singh who got shot by robbers at close range in his liquor store even though he totally cooperated with the little thugs.

Well I’ve got a problem with that. In this instance I read that while the police refused to go and check on him for about half an hour after they arrived, because they were following protocol in an armed offenders alert, but the thing was, according to the story 11 or 12 civilians walked in and out without any problems and the offenders were long gone. great that they caught the bastards but that’s not the point.

In my humble opinion th reason there are so few armed gunfights between police and crims, is because the crims know the police probably don’t have firearms, or at least have to get the from the glove box of the car, rather than just wearing them as side arms.

One of the main reasons I did not takeup very lucrative offers to live and work overseas and in particular in the USA was because I wanted my kids to grow up in a country where they can walk along the street and not feel in danger. I believe a major reason for that is because the police don’t carry pistols or rifles as a matter of course. I have no doubt that if crims feel that they are likely to be killed by the police, they will start shooting back and both sides will be the losers. With a lot of violent crims, I wouldn’t be too upset if they died in the course of their criminal activities, but I’m not too keen on police or bystanders being killed in the process.

I believe there are alternatives. They are looking at Taser rifles without wires that can fire up to 20 meters away and there are also rifles that fire bean bags full of shot. In most cases these weapons would not kill anyone. New Zealand may be one of the last countries in the world to have permanently armed police, but we are probably also one of the last countries in the world where if someone gets shot, most people in the country know their name. That’s a pretty good record.

So here’s the thing, once you start a trial and have all sorts of anecdotal stories of how effective it is with selected PR, just like we got with the taser trials; and then it gets introduced, you can’t ever go back. Troubled areas like some in South Auckland will become violent hotspots and there will be to many names to remember. The gangs will start driving around with weapons and drive buys will become common instead of something that causes outrage a few times a year. Police will be killed in the line of duty and it will become much harder to get good people on the force. Police will totally lose respect of the citizens in some areas and children will grow up fearing and hating the cops.

Lets maintain the status quo. We have armd offenders squads who are trained professionals, used in times of emergance. I don’t mind having more of them, but leave that stuff to those with the specialised training, not to all of them. Our country will be safer and more people will be able to continue to live happily in our country.

If the trials go ahead, I’ll have to look back at this blog in 2 or 3 years time and to some it might seem prophetic, wasn’t I clever to figure out what the politicians and police commanders couldn’t. No, it’ not prescience, it’s common sense.

Where will you end up if you dig a hole straight down

I’ve always wondered about the answer to this question and we had a chat about this in the office this afternoon, so I thought I’d find out once and for all.

If you dig a hole straight down from where you are right now, where would you come out. I thought possibly France and I wasn’t too far out. I found a Google Tool which will work it out. From where I am sitting right now, if I was to dig straight down, not worrying about the logistics, I would actually end up i the South of Spain not far from the town of Ronda, which is about 1 1/2 hours drive from the coastal town of Malaga.

I won’t try doing it from my hometown in Bakkum aan Zee because I would end up somewhere in the Southern Ocean, and the water would rush through and who knows what the consequences could be?

Don’t Run the Red!

I can’t believe the number of people who run red lights in Auckland. On Friday I thought I might keep a list for a week of all the people I witness driving through red lights at intersections. I had to give up because there were way too many. In 1 1/2 business days plus a weekend I have watched more than 30 cars drive through red lights, one of which was a young woman (I’m being polite) who only just missed plowing into me. I could just about count the freckles on her face and see the colour of her eyes as she looked at me as she drove past.

There is a horrendous TV advertisement showing a dark Stephen Kingtype carny guy spinning a Lotto style Winning Wheel at an intersection and a shot of a car driving straight through the driver door of another car at an intersection as the wheel stops on ‘Death’. Several people have commented on how scary the advertisement is, but it doesn’t seem to be stopping people from doing this. Just 5 minutes ago on my way back to the office, I stopped at an orange light and about 4 seconds after I stopped an Armourguard van sped past me on the outside lane just missing traffic on their way through a red light. 2 seconds later and it would have been a major accident involving at least 3 cars who wouldn’t have had a hope of seeing him. I was so shocked I forgot to get his registration number.

On the 2nd of January this year (a public holiday when you wouldn’t expect city traffic to be in a hurry) in one intersection in Auckland City 418 vehicles ran the red light! I’m sure Tristram Ave and the Constellation Off Ramp on the Northern Motorway would rival that. This morning while waiting to get through that intersection 2 lots of 4 cars blocked the main highway by driving into the intersection when there was nowehere for their cars to go.

Another report said that in a 20 day trial in Auckland of 10 intersections, there were 341,000 incidents of red light running. It went on to say that over 5 years from 2000 to 2005 in Auckland city there were 399 crashes due to people running red lights! How can so many people be so thick. It doesn’t matter how you rationalise it, it is like playing Russian Roulette. People may be in a hurry, late for an appointment, busy texting and don’t look at the signal in time, personally I don’t care what the reason is, there is none that is acceptable yet people do it in their thousands, every day.

This isn’t new and it isn’t limited to Auckland as some would like to think, but given that probably half of the nations cars are in Auckland, there will be more. But in a study in Dunedin in 2004, a 3rd of crashes at traffic light controlled intersections involved people driving through red lights.

There are lots of studies around the world on this subject by transport authorities, by councils, by insurance organisations including those that support red light cameras and those against. The thing is, if people used common sense, this situation wouldn’t occur in the first place.

The chances are that somewhere in Auckland today, someone will be seriously hurt or injured because someone drive through a red light. The same will happen tomorrow. How would you feel if the victim was your child, your mum or your dad? How would you feel facing the victim’s family in court and how would you feel for the rest of your life if you were the driver who was in a bit of a hurry?

There is no excuse, no reason, it can have terrible consequences and yet thousands of people within 10km of where I sit writing this will be doing it in the next 2 hours! Stop and think people. The next victim could be someone you know and love.