Weather extremes are damaging parts of the U.S. infrastructure [NY Times]

The United States ranks 9th out of 12 of the world’s largest economies on energy efficiency but feels the least guilty []

Demolition began at the West Branch of the Berkeley Public Library – when completed, it will be a zero net energy building [Berkeleyside]

The Feds say the PACE retrofit program is still too risky []

Photo: A blooming artichoke in Berkeley, CA, by Anna LaRue

NRDC Report on Climate Change, Water and Risk

Image: NRDC

The Natural Resource Defense Council (NRDC) has released a study, conducted on their behalf by Tetra Tech, which examined the effects of climate change on probable future water supply and demand in the United States. One of the main findings of the study is that one-third of the U.S. counties (> 1,100 counties) will likely face water shortages by 2050.

The full report is available as a PDF here.

The Water Supply Sustainbility Index developed by Tetra Tech for the report can be viewed interactively in Google Earth – a link to the data can be found on the NRDC’s website here. You can also turn on and off markers for which counties are top producers of different crops to get a sense of the potential impact of the water shortages. It looks like this (the green dots indicate that the county is one of the top 100 counties for producing vegetables):

The NRDC also released a one-page overview of water shortage risk and crop value in at-risk counties by state (as a PDF here). According to the overview of California’s risk due to climate change:

Percent of CA counties at risk of water shortages: 83%

Total number of CA counties at risk: 48

Total number of CA counties at extreme risk: 19

Total number of CA counties at high risk: 17

Total number of CA counties at moderate risk: 12

The value of all the crops being producing in at-risk CA counties (in $1,000s): $21,585,354

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Finding Data – GDP and Electricity Consumption


I thought it would be interesting to graph GDP against a metric of per capita energy use (in this case kWh/capita).

(Click on the chart to see a larger version.)

There are a number of interesting things to note about this chart. First, compared to the other countries shown, the United States has a really high GDP. Counting countries individually (sometimes the European Union is counted as one entity), the USA has the highest GDP, then Japan, then China. In general, the chart indicates that as a country’s GDP increases, so does kWh/capita. If we also take the size of the population into account, this is one reason many people are increasingly concerned about the potential effects of economic growth in India and China on climate change. Exceptions on the chart seem to generally be very cold countries (Canada, Sweden, and Russia) or very hot countries (Australia and Saudi Arabia).

In the chart above, the data comes from Key World Energy Statistics 2009, put out by the International Energy Agency (data is for 2007).

Electricity consumption is calculated for the entire country as gross production + imports – exports – transmission/distribution losses. It is then divided by the population of the country to get the per capita value.