Blogging theme, week 2

The blogging theme for this week is Water.   A brief reminder about blogging requirements: you may post on anything related to the course (the “theme” for the week is only a suggestion), and your postings will be graded according to the rubric that appears in the syllabus,  The rubric involves five grading elements: frequency of posting, mathematical content, thematic content, organization and presentation, references and connections.

Because from now on we will be looking for actual mathematics, you may want to review this post which explains how to include mathematical expressions like

[ 5.7 times 10^{11}, qquad y = mx + c, qquad frac{1 – r^{n+1}}{1-r} ]

in your posts.

Suggestions (possible starting points) related to the theme.

  • Find examples of water waste, either in the US or abroad.  You could focus on agricultural, industrial, or domestic use.  Make suggestions for reducing the level of waste, and quantify the amount of water that could be saved by implementing them.
  • Carry out an Internet search on the term “water pricing”.  Give examples of apparently irrational pricing or of conflicts over water prices.  Does it make sense to speak of a single “price of water”?
  • Think about bottled water.  How many disposable drinking-water bottles are used every year on the University Park campus?   Estimate how much oil is used to make these bottles and to ship the water here.  Compare with the energy costs of delivering water by pipe.   Why is bottled water so popular? Is the bottled water industry sustainable?
  • Learn about the concept of “virtual water”, that is, water that is embodied in other products that we consume.   Give some calculations of the amount of virtual water in various consumables.  On a “virtual water” basis, where does most of our water consumption come from?
  • The Greenland ice sheet is roughly 600,000 square miles in area, and on average is over a mile thick.   If all that ice were to melt and end up in the ocean, by how much (on average) would global sea levels rise?  Show how you do the calculation.
  • Write about groundwater supplies in the southwestern US.  (This article by Jay Famiglietti, Senior Water Scientist at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, is a good place to start.)

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