Tag archives for water

A film that makes you laugh – and think

Just another ordinary sushi... Photo from the film Blue Marble Café.

Crisis, crisis, crisis. Climate change, crashing economies, oceans depleted of fish and other natural resources fading away under human pressure.
We certainly live in times of great changes, some of which can be quite hard to grasp. And usually culture is a good companion, that can help us process and understand what is going on around us.

But when it comes to the environment, I’d say that culture hasn’t really kept pace with the course of events. At least in Sweden, rather few theatre plays, films and books take on the subjects of climate change and resource scarcity.

But there are a few. When I went to the festival Uncivilised earlier this summer, I happened to talk to the film maker and actor Håkan Julander. Together with Björn Engström he has taken on the difficult task of making films about our time’s big crisis – with a sense of humour.
– We certainly need heavy, expensive film projects like “Home” and “The Planet” , but it must also be possible to make entertainment about these issues.We can joke about everything else, so why not his? he tells me.

One beer coming up! Photo from the film Blue Marble Café.

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Swedish artists and politicians pick litter all week

The artist Pernilla Andersson, herself living in the Swedish archipelago, is one of the celebrities who encourage people to go out and clean our beaches. Photo: Christian Pohl.

Sweden has a loooong coastline – 2400 kilometers to be more exact. This is actually one of the longest in Europe.
Open sea is of course a blessing in many ways, but for a lot of the communities along the Swedish coast, there are also a problem associated to this: Litter.

In a recent survey, a majority of Sweden’s coastal municipalities stated that waste along their coasts is a big concern for them. People leave their rubbish directly on the beaches, or throw it in the sea, which then brings it in to the beach.
Only in the North Sea, about 200 000 tons of waste are dumped every year. Mostly plastic, but also wood, aluminium cans and glass bottles. Most of these materials take a long time to decompose (plastic can even take from 100 to 1000 years!).
Fulmar birds found in the North Sea have on an average 33 pieces of plastic in their stomachs, and sea mussels also absorb microscopic pieces of plastic – that can end up in the human being eating them.

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Swedish invention turns air into drinking water

water-dropsMaking water from air? Photo: s_gibson72 (CC: BY NC ND)

Around the world, nearly one billion persons are lacking clean drinking water. But in the future, maybe more people who live in drought affected areas can solve their most imminent problems by a technology developed by two young Swedish inventors. Recently Jonas Wamstad and Fredrik Edström won a prize of 75.000 Swedish Kronor (about 8.200Euro) for their invention, which takes advantage of the sun to extract humidity from the air, without using any electricity. By putting up solar panels on roofs the air is heated up and the water steam absorbed. About three litres of water can be harvested per square metre solar panel and day. Read more » >>

World Water Week: Mobile phone water testing, scary news and new insights


2011 Stockholm Junior Water Prize. Winner Alison Bick together with Sweden's Crown Princess Victoria. Photo: Cecilia Österberg/Exray

The World Water Week has filled Stockholm with water-related events all week. On Tuesday, this year’s Junior Water Prize was announced, going to American 17 year old Alison Bick, who has spent four years developing a low-cost portable method to test water quality. The reason why Alison Bick has spent four years working on this project, writes the Swedish environment magazine Miljöaktuellt (in Swedish), is that her home region was flooded and the media that the water wasn’t safe to drink. This made Alison start thinking about if there could be a way to measure water quality with things you have at home. Her idea combines micro-fluidic devices, cell-phones, and chemical indicators and does not only accurately assess the bacteria content of water. It is both significantly faster and up to 200 times less expensive than standard testing procedures.

But all water news haven’t been as positive during this World Water Week. One problematic area concerning Sweden a lot is the Baltic Sea. Daniel Conley, who is a professor at Lund University, has taken a closer look at the levels of oxygen in the coastal areas of all the countries surrounding the Baltic. The result is disheartening: The lack of oxygen is worse than the researchers had thought, reaching much closer to land than before.
The big problem of the Baltic is that a lot of nutrients leak out in the water, making the algae grow in abnormal quantities. When these algae die, they sink to the bottom, consuming all the bottom oxygen when they decompose.
– We have to reduce the emissions [of nutritients] or this problem will just grow worse, says Daniel Conley to Dagens Nyheter.

Another one was this, reported in an interview by Miljöaktuellt (in Swedish): Sweden’s drinking water, that we often boast about, might not be as good as we think. During the last two years we have had two outbreaks of water-transmitted infections and a lot of our water purification plants still don’t have the equipment to deal with this kind of parasites, says Erika Lind who is national drinking water coordinator at the National Food Administration. To keep a good water quality, especially in the light of climate change, Sweden needs to deal with the risks associated with our drinking water, she says.
– If nothing bad happens you don’t do anything about it – and that’s how we have lived until now.

One week full of water discussions of course contains a lot more than this. A nice sample collection of that can be found at WaterCube.tv that have made short interviews with the participants. Watch this one, where Phd and Masters students, Karin Edberg and Melissa Denbaum talk about their insights during the week.


More about World Water Week in Swedish media (in Swedish, but can be translated here):
Miljöaktuellt: Here’s the inventor who might be able to solve the world’s water problem

Will big cities have enough water?


Water in Cairo, Egypt, on of the mega cities being discussed at the World Water Week in Stockholm. Photo: Jakob Granit, SIWI.

In a world where most of us live in cities, and the urban population grows by 2 persons every second, water can be a big problem, whether it’s flooding the streets, disappearing or being polluted. So how secure everyone’s access to clean water? That’s the focus of this year’s World Water Week, which begun yesterday here in Stockholm.

Around 2 500 politicians, business leaders, innovators, and representatives of international organisations from allover the world have gathered to penetrate these issues from all angles. To start off on a truely international note, nine mayors and other high-rank representatives from cities in for example China, India, Rwanda and France will start the week by discussing their different challenges when it comes to giving their citizens good water. The World Water Week will also bring up questions like rising sea levels because of climate change, health issues and how to reduce water usage.

For anyone interested in these issues, there’s a good opportunity to follow several of the seminars in live webcasts at this web page.


More about Word Water Week in Swedish media (in Swedish, but can be translated here):
Dagens Nyheter “The water crisis can lead to conflicts across the borders” (Op-Ed article by Jae So, head of Water and Sanitation Program)