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Last Call at the Oasis

A new movie on the issue of water quality is set to appear in theaters tomorrow:

Illuminating the vital role water plays in our lives, exposing the defects in the current system and depicting communities already struggling with its ill-effects, the film features activist Erin Brockovich and such distinguished experts as Peter Gleick, Alex Prud’homme, Jay Famiglietti and Robert Glennon.

This comes just in time to highlight the latest research on nuclear fallout from Japan, which now is being detected on the West Coast of North America as reported in Environmental Science and Technology: Canopy-Forming Kelps as California’s Coastal Dosimeter: 131I from Damaged Japanese Reactor Measured in Macrocystis pyrifera.

Projected paths of the radioactive atmospheric plume emanating from the Fukushima reactors, best described as airborne particles or aerosols for 131I, 137Cs, and 35S, and subsequent atmospheric monitoring showed it coming in contact with the North American continent at California, with greatest exposure in central and southern California. Government monitoring sites in Anaheim (southern California) recorded peak airborne concentrations of 131I at 1.9 pCi m−3

“Greatest exposure” translates to rates 500% higher near Los Angeles than the rest of the coast. For many years now I have been researching methods of using dehumidifiers to source water. The military been developing some amazing technology that can pull water out of the air in the desert, or reclaim water from exhaust pipes in vehicles. Imagine having a drinking fountain in your dashboard. In San Francisco each building, or even each dwelling, would simply produce their own water from absorbing moisture out of the fog, powered by the sun or the wind, as I mentioned in my presentation at last year’s BSidesLV.

It makes a lot of sense to pull moisture from the air when it is such high humidity and there is no shortage of wind power. This move from ground-based systems avoids numerous pollution issues found in piping water from remote reservoirs and it creates higher resilience to attack or disruption. However, it does not help in cases where nuclear fallout or other risks are drifting through the air.

Posted in Food, Security.


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