Monday, February 25, 2008

Iran -India Pipeline

The Issue
Since the discovery of natural gas reserves in Iran's South Pars fields in 1988, the Iranian government began increasing efforts to promote higher gas exports abroad. The prospects for profit are especially high in South Asian countries like India and Pakistan, where natural gas reserves are low and energy demand exceeds energy supply. In 1995, Pakistan and Iran signed a preliminary agreement for construction of a natural gas pipeline linking the Iranian South Pars natural gas field in the Persian Gulf with Karachi, Pakistan's main industrial port located at the Arabian Sea. Iran later proposed an extension of the pipeline from Pakistan into India. Not only would Pakistan benefit from Iranian natural gas exports, but Pakistani territory would be used as a transit route to export natural gas to India. Initially, the Indian government was reluctant to enter into any agreement with Pakistan due to the historically tense relationship between the two neighbors. As an alternative, India suggested the development of a deep sea pipeline where no threat to security of resources could exist. At present, in 2000, Indian, Iranian, and Pakistani government officials continue to negotiate the possible routes, modes of transport, and geopolitics of the Iran to India natural gas pipeline. These negotiations indicate a significant shift in inter and intra-regional politics between the states. The potential for economic and developmental gain from natural gas will force India, Iran, and Pakistan to reassess their roles and policies in regional conflicts, like Kashmir, Afghanistan, and national security issues. Furthermore, potential economic collaboration and gain will also lead to a possible transformation of social and political discourse between the countries, perhaps even leading to mediation and resolution of regional conflicts.
The exportation of natural gas from Iran to India through Pakistan is a venture which may change the face of regional politics in South Asia. It is a study in how economic collaboration possesses the power to engender as well as transform social and political discourse between countries. The Indian government speculated whether Pakistan could guarantee security for the flow of natural gas in the pipeline. Furthermore, Pakistan's collaboration with Iran may foster conflict resolution as well. In the past, Iranian and Pakistani foreign policies have disagreed on the issues of Afghanistan and Shi'a-Sunni conflicts in the region. Thus, trade and the larger experience of economic globalization posesses the ability to exist as mediators in conflicts in the region and between regions.
Natural gas trade between India, Iran, and Pakistan challenges the geopolitical, historical, and strategic realities of the three countries and the general regions of the Mideast and Asia. In this way, the relationship between the pipeline venture and globalization is multidisciplinary. It is not characterized solely by economic factors, even though the current economic realities in Iran, India, and Pakistan do foreshadow the future necessity of economic collaboration. The realities of this case study are representative of the notion that multidisciplinary globalization is changing the face of regional politics and altering the social and political landscape of regions.
Holding approximately 9 percent of the world's total reserves, Iran is OPEC's second largest producer of oil (Iran Background Information). Along with oil reserves, Iran contains the world's second largest natural gas reserves "at an estimated 812 trillion cubic feet (Tcf)" (Ibid). While Iranian natural gas consumption is high, the country desperately needs to promote export markets for gas due to its faltering economy and to meet the demands of modernization. To meet these demands, Iran has targeted emerging regional markets like South Asia for natural gas exports.
Iran has proposed the export of natural gas from Iran to India since 1993. Alongside this proposal was the plan to export natural gas to Pakistan as well. The Iranian government proposed the construction of a pipeline from its South Pars fields in the Persian Gulf to Pakistan's major cities of Karachi and Multan and then further onto Delhi, India.
The following map shows the pipeline's main route. Starting from the left side of the map, the pipeline originates in Asaluyeh, Iran on the coast of the Persian Gulf near the Iranian South Pars fields. It travels to Pakistan through Khuzdar, with one section of it going on to Karachi on the Arabian Sea coast, and the main section traveling on to Multan, Pakistan. From Multan, the pipeline travels to Delhi, where it ends. At this point, India is free to consider and negotiate further domestic routing of the pipeline.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Oil and Politics in Iraq

Although oil prices have more than doubled in the five years since the United States invaded Iraq, that hasn’t translated into much more income for the beleaguered country. Security issues and the lack of a legally binding national oil policy have dogged Iraq for years and experts say they will continue to be a problem in the foreseeable future.
Iraq’s proven oil reserves top 115 billion barrels, with the potential for another 45 billion to 100 billion barrels of recoverable oil, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA). The country hosts nine “super giants” — fields holding more than 5 billion barrels of oil — and 22 “giant” fields, which each have more than 1 billion barrels of oil. Yet thanks in part to three wars, and the combination of international sanctions and a government that opposed foreign investments — and the technological improvements they bring — over the past couple of decades, Iraq has the lowest reserve-to-production ratio of all major oil-producing countries. In fact, Iraq hosts the largest untapped reserves in the world, says James Paul, executive director of Global Policy Forum in New York. “It’s a pity, because at $95 a barrel, or $195 a barrel as [oil] may be in the near future, there’s a lot of money to be made,” says Gal Luft, executive director of the Institute for the Analysis of Global Security in Washington, D.C. “The net loss to the Iraqi economy and the Iraqi people is sad.” By the end of 2007, Iraq was averaging about 2.0 million barrels of oil per day (bpd) production, according to EIA, well below the 2.6 million bpd production before the U.S.-led invasion in 2003.
Iraq’s oil ministry aims to increase Iraq’s oil production to 6 million bpd by the end of this decade. To do so, the ministry says Iraq will need foreign investment of $25 million to $75 million in the oil sector. However, the security situation and the legal complications are such that that investment, at least from multinational oil companies, is unlikely in the near future, Luft says.
From April 2003 to May 2007, there were 400 individual attacks on Iraq’s oil infrastructure, according to EIA. Furthermore, roadside bombings, acts of sabotage and insurgent uprisings are rampant across Iraq. And now the Turkish government is sending troops into the Kurdistan region in northern Iraq to neutralize Kurdish forces. Because of this, “investors are sitting on their money,” Luft says. “There needs to be a sense that there is no back-sliding on security,” he says. “If international oil companies see that the region is moving toward greater security, they can say ‘things are looking rosier’ and can take baby steps toward investment.” Without a formal oil policy in place, however, multinational oil companies simply will not go into Iraq, Paul says.
Iraq’s Hydrocarbon Law — which is supposed to lay out the legal conditions for investment and international participation in Iraq’s oil and gas sector, including exactly how much control the companies have relative to the Iraqi government — is what everyone is waiting for, Paul says. The companies “want a legal status that can’t be changed” with every new administration or vote, he says. The Hydrocarbon Law was first presented to Iraq’s parliament on Feb. 27, 2007. As Geotimes went to press, it was still under considerable debate and unlikely to be passed anytime soon, given that some 70 percent of Iraqis are opposed to a law that gives control to anyone other than themselves, Paul says. Considering that the “Exxons of the world know it is better to wait until legality is established in Iraq,” the country is thus at an impasse, he says. And how to break this impasse is the “$64,000, or maybe $64 billion or trillion question,” he says. “Will the U.S. eventually be able to impose its will on Iraq? I don’t think we can say where this thing will end up,” he says.
Meanwhile, the Kurdistan Regional Government in northern Iraq is setting up its own oil exploration and production agreements, disregarding the central government’s vehement opposition to the move. While the big multinational oil companies are abstaining from getting involved, smaller international oil companies from Turkey, Canada, Norway, the United Kingdom, Switzerland, South Korea, China, Vietnam, Russia and other countries are setting up agreements with the Kurdistan government, says Naji Abdul-Rahman, a former oil engineer in Iraq. Despite threats from the central government that they will be “blacklisted” from further production and legal contracts once a national oil law is in place, these companies are going ahead with seismic and structural analyses and other exploration in the north, he says.
“The results are exciting,” says Mohammad Al-Gailani, managing director of GeoDesign Limited in the United Kingdom, whose company has been involved in evaluating prospects in northern Iraq. A handful of exploration wells have already revealed fields in which production could easily reach more than 100,000 bpd, he says. “Just the little work we’ve done so far has shown that the value of the whole reserves in Iraq is exponentially higher” than international estimates — which are based largely on decades-old seismic surveys, Al-Gailani says. Thus “high-risk fields,” such as those in the north, “become even more attractive to these smaller companies,” he says. Indeed, with oil prices as high as they are, some smaller companies are willing to take risks they might not have in the past, Abdul-Rahman says. Whether the central government’s threats will scare off potential investors remains to be seen, Luft says.
To get Iraq’s oil system to where it needs to be to help the Iraqi economy will be expensive and time-consuming, Luft says. A lot needs to be done to upgrade the infrastructure, he says: “Everything is very, very old and neglected.” Furthermore, he says, there is the question of what will happen if and/or when the United States and the United Kingdom withdraw from Iraq. “In the south, where most of the oil is produced, the big question is what will happen when the Brits withdraw,” Luft says. That could create a vacuum of power, which could lead to even more sabotage, oil theft and problems.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Urban Scene in India

Only 15% of dwellings in urban slums have drinking water, toilet and electricity within their premises. A quick view of urban habitats
The following statistics provide a glimpse of building practices by urban dwellers in India .
The National Sample Survey Organisation (NSSO) in the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation, Government of India, reports on housing conditions in India through a nationwide household survey carried out by it during July 2002-December 2002. It took a sample of 97,882 households spread over 4,769 villages and 3,538 urban blocks to obtain information regarding the conditions of dwellings in which the rural and urban population of the country live and the number, size, structure, cost and financing of residential constructions undertaken by the households.
Some of its findings that pertain to urban areas can be summarised as follows:
* In urban areas, 77 in every 100 households lived in pucca (permanent) structures, 20 in semi-pucca structures and only 3 in kutcha (temporary) structures.
* In urban slum areas, 67% of the dwellings were pucca. Rural areas of Delhi and Haryana, urban slums in Mizoram, Himachal Pradesh, Punjab and Haryana, and urban areas (excluding the slums and squatter settlements) of Sikkim , Delhi , Uttaranchal, Jammu & Kashmir and Gujarat reported the prevalence of more pucca structures than the rest of the country.
* The floor area available to the average urban household was 37 square metres.
* 11 out of every 100 structures in urban areas were in bad condition and required immediate major repairs.
* 60% of urban households owned their dwelling units.
* As for the facilities of drinking water, toilets and electricity for lighting, about 15% of the dwellings in urban slums and squatter settlements and 63% of dwelling units in other urban areas, had all the three facilities within their premises. At the other extreme, none of the three facilities were available within the premises of about 11% of dwelling units in urban slums and squatter settlements, and 4% of dwelling units in other urban areas of the country.
* About 99% of urban dwellings had drinking water within half a kilometre of their premises.
* Residents of around 18% of urban dwellings did not have access to any sanitation facility.
* About one in seven urban households had undertaken some construction activity during the last five years. In urban areas 8.5 million constructions had been initiated and 7.2 million completed during this five-year period.
* In urban India , there was a fall in kutcha constructions from 18% during 1989-93 to 12% during 1998-2002 and a rise in pucca constructions from 64% to 74%.
* On an average, households living in urban areas other than slums, spent about Rs 2.63 lakh to build a new pucca dwelling unit, which had an average floor area of 53 sq.m. In urban slums, it cost about Rs 80,000 to build a new pucca house, and the average floor area was 24 sq m.
* About 72% of expenditure on residential construction by households was on materials alone. Another 21% was spent on labour.

Disputes Over the Management of Transboundary Waters in The Middle East

There are three major, outstanding disputes over the distribution and management of transboundary waters in the Middle East. They concern: 1) the Euphrates River basin among Iraq, Syria, and Turkey; 2) the Jordan River basin among Israel, Jordan, Syria and the Palestinians; and 3) West Bank groundwater between Israel and the Palestinians. In the three cases, aridity or semi-aridity characterizes the climate and hydrology of the region, hence undisturbed access to water is essential for continued survival. In the three cases, as well, political tensions among the concerned riparians aggravate the water disputes.
The Problem
In the Euphrates basin, the central problem can be described thus: the river rises in Turkey and flows southward into Syria and then into Iraq. The two downstream riparians are highly dependent upon the river flow for agricultural development, while Turkey upstream has become increasingly dependent upon the river since the mid-1960s by virtue of the GAP (Southeast Anatolia Development) project, a massive water management scheme that includes dam-building and diversions. In the absence of a basin-wide agreement that stipulates who gets what from the river, when and how, Turkey, as the upstream riparian and the strongest state in the basin, is able to requisition what it wants from the river system; Syria and Iraq must suffer the consequences. On a number of occasions, in fact, the flow entering the two countries was reduced considerably, and although Syria and Iraq complained vociferously about this, Turkey was not contractually bound to behave otherwise. Moreover, relations in the basin are such that Syria and Iraq, who have the most to lose from the status quo, are engaged in a protracted conflict: there is virtually no official interaction between the two regimes, hence a bilateral alliance vis-à-vis Turkey is out of the question in the prevailing political environment. It is also fair to say that the international community has not shown much concern about this conflict and its resolution; there have not been significant efforts at third party mediation.
In the case of the Jordan basin, the river system rises in four tributaries: the Yarmouk in Syria, the Banias in Israeli-occupied Syria, the Hasbani in Israeli-occupied Lebanon, and the Dan in Israel. The Banias, Hasbani and Dan meet in northern Israel to form the Upper Jordan River that flows into Lake Tiberias and then the Lower Jordan; the Yarmouk flows in a southwesterly direction, forming the border between Jordan and Syria, then Jordan and Israel, before flowing into the Lower Jordan that forms the boundary between Jordan and the West Bank, and then Jordan and Israel. By virtue of both the 1967 war and the establishment of the "security zone" in South Lebanon in the early 1980s, Israel has become the upstream riparian on the Upper Jordan system; Syria is upstream on the Yarmouk. Jordan and the Palestinians, as downstream riparians vis­à-vis both Israel and Syria, have remained in the worst possible positions in the basin. Moreover, Jordan's dependence on the river system is great; apart from a few wadis, there are no other important sources of fresh water available to Jordan.
On three occasions, efforts were made to resolve the water dispute in the Jordan River basin and establish an "international regime" that would oversee the distribution and management of the water among the riparians. In 1953-55, 1976-81, and 1987-90, the United States government was engaged in trying to secure an agreement: among all four riparians on the first occasion, among all except for Lebanon on the second, and between Israel and Jordan on the third. In the three attempts, outcomes fell short of the objectives; it was clear that in the absence of a political settlement of the Arab-Israeli conflict, the parties were not going to come to an agreement.
It is important to note that by virtue of the Middle East peace process that was initiated in 1991, the status quo in the Jordan basin is in flux. Indeed, a water resources working group has been meeting under the auspices of the multilateral track, and a peace treaty has already been signed between Israel and Jordan. While that treaty lays out an agreement on sharing and managing water resources, it is not a basin-wide agreement: not only are Syria, Lebanon and the Palestinians not signatories of the document, there is absolutely no mention of them. Nonetheless, continued progress in the peace process holds out hope that a basin-wide agreement may eventually be reached.
The situation with regard to the groundwater sources of the West Bank is equally complex. About one-half of Israel's annual supply of groundwater and one-quarter of its total renewable supply of fresh water originate in two subterranean basins in the West Bank. Those waters flow naturally across the "Green Line" (the 1949 Armistice Demarcation Line) into Israel. Moreover, by virtue of its occupation of the West Bank, Israel has been controlling water use in the territory. The result has been that approximately eighty percent of West Bank water is exploited in Israel and by Israeli settlers in the territory, leaving only twenty percent for the Palestinian population.No doubt, negotiations on the final status of the occupied territories will have to consider arrangements for the distribution and management of this precious resource.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008


  • GEO 2008 - 8th Middle East Geoscience Conference and Exhibition
    Manama, Bahrain
    3 March - 5 March 2008
    Organiser: American Association of Petroleum Geologists (AAPG) and the European Association of Geoscientists & Engineers (EAGE)
    Contact: Ms Peggy Pryor

    Phone: +1 (918) 560 2641
    Fax: +1 (918) 560 2684
  • GPS

    he Global Positioning System (GPS) is a U.S. space-based radionavigation system that provides reliable positioning, navigation, and timing services to civilian users on a continuous worldwide basis -- freely available to all. For anyone with a GPS receiver, the system will provide location and time. GPS provides accurate location and time information for an unlimited number of people in all weather, day and night, anywhere in the world.

    The GPS is made up of three parts: satellites orbiting the Earth; control and monitoring stations on Earth; and the GPS receivers owned by users. GPS satellites broadcast signals from space that are picked up and identified by GPS receivers. Each GPS receiver then provides three-dimensional location (latitude, longitude, and altitude) plus the time.

    Individuals may purchase GPS handsets that are readily available through commercial retailers. Equipped with these GPS receivers, users can accurately locate where they are and easily navigate to where they want to go, whether walking, driving, flying, or boating. GPS has become a mainstay of transportation systems worldwide, providing navigation for aviation, ground, and maritime operations. Disaster relief and emergency services depend upon GPS for location and timing capabilities in their life-saving missions. Everyday activities such as banking, mobile phone operations, and even the control of power grids, are facilitated by the accurate timing provided by GPS. Farmers, surveyors, geologists and countless others perform their work more efficiently, safely, economically, and accurately using the free and open GPS signals.

    Friday, February 15, 2008

    Ozone Layer Depletion

    natural balance keeps us well supplied with ozone
    Up in the stratosphere, small amounts of ozone are constantly being made by the action of sunlight on oxygen. At the same time, ozone is being broken down by natural processes. The total amount of ozone usually stays constant because its formation and destruction occur at about the same rate.
    Human activity has recently changed that natural balance. Certain manufactured substances (such as chlorofluorocarbons and hydrochlorofluorocarbons) can destroy stratospheric ozone much faster than it is formed.
    Ozone is a natural sunblock
    The ozone layer in the stratosphere blocks out the sun’s deadly ultraviolet rays. It acts as our planet’s natural sunblock.
    The sun doesn’t just produce heat and light. It throws out all sorts of other types of electromagnetic radiation, including ultraviolet radiation .Because ultraviolet radiation can damage DNA it is potentially harmful to most living things, including plants .
    Unfortunately our bodies can't detect ultraviolet radiation directly. We can be unaware of the harm it is doing until it is too late – for example, at the end of a day in the sun without adequate protection.
    When there is less ozone in the stratosphere, more ultraviolet radiation hits us
    Even a 1 per cent reduction in the amount of ozone in the upper atmosphere causes a measurable increase in the ultraviolet radiation that reaches the Earth's surface. If there was no ozone at all, the amount of ultraviolet radiation reaching us would be catastrophically high. All living things would suffer radiation burns, unless they were underground, in protective suits, or in the sea,
    So what exactly is ozone?
    Ozone is a form of oxygen. Each ozone molecule is made of three oxygen atoms, so its chemical formula is O3. But unlike oxygen, ozone is a poisonous gas, and an increase in its concentration at ground level is not something that we want. But in the stratosphere, where ozone exists naturally, it blocks out the sun's ultraviolet rays and is a life-saver.
    Ozone-depleting substances usually contain chlorine or bromine
    The synthetic chemicals called chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) are now well-known as environmental ‘baddies’, even though they are useful and completely non-toxic substances. They get their bad name because they are ozone-eaters (properly called ozone-depleting substances). CFCs are not the only ozone-depleting substances, but they are the most abundant. Some ozone-depleting substances are naturally occurring compounds.
    Ozone-depleting substances are long-lived because it takes them several years to drift up into the stratosphere. When they arrive, they are broken apart by exposure to ultraviolet radiation and that releases the chlorine atoms. These are the real ozone-killers. The chlorine atoms react with ozone, to form oxygen and chlorine monoxide.
    Ozone loss occurs mainly at the poles
    The ozone-destroying reactions take place most rapidly only under certain conditions in the stratosphere. These conditions – extreme cold, darkness and isolation, followed by exposure to light – occur over the polar regions after the long polar winter has finished and the first spring sun appears.
    Antarctica is the worst affected area, probably because the air above it is most isolated from the rest of the .Scientists often refer to the part of the atmosphere where ozone is most depleted as the ‘ozone hole’, but it is not really a hole – just a vast region of the upper atmosphere where there is less ozone than elsewhere.
    Ozone-poor air can spread out from the polar regions and move above other areas. In addition, direct ozone loss elsewhere is slowly increasing, although it is not occurring at the same rate as over the poles.
    Related site: How ozone is destroyed by CFCsAn interactive animation that models the destruction of ozone by CFCs.(Bureau of Meteorology, Australia) Scientists around the world regularly monitor ozone-depleting substances and the amount of ozone in the stratosphere. In Australia, the Australian Bureau of Meteorology and the CSIRO Division of Atmospheric Research jointly manage the Cape Grim Baseline Air Pollution Station. The Cape Grim station is located in remote north-western Tasmania, in the path of strong westerly winds that carry air thousands of kilometres across the Southern Ocean. Air at Cape Grim is regularly sampled in order to monitor atmospheric composition. (Another reason to monitor ozone-depleting substances is because most are also powerful greenhouse gases.)
    Most ozone-depleting substances are banned or strictly controlled
    Many substances other than chlorofluorocarbons are also ozone-depleting. Examples are carbon tetrachloride (used in dry cleaning), and methyl bromide (used as an insecticide for soil fumigation). An Australian scientist (Jonathan Banks) has been internationally recognised for his work in finding a replacement for methyl .
    CFCs, previously used as refrigerants, foam-blowing agents and propellants in spray cans, are now banned in Australia (and many other countries). Their temporary replacements, the hydrochlorofluorocarbons, are still slightly ozone-depleting, though not to the same extent. HCFCs are also being phased out.
    An international agreement called the Montreal Protocol limits the production and use of ozone-depleting substances. A slowing down in the rate of ozone loss has been measured, and the concentration of CFCs in the atmosphere is levelling off. But because of a long lag time, ozone depletion will get worse at least until the year 2000 and the ozone hole will continue for some decades after that. If all countries keep to the targets set by the international community in the amendments to the Montreal Protocol, the ozone in the stratosphere should eventually recover.
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    Wednesday, February 13, 2008

    Global Warming Basics

    What causes global warming?
    Carbon dioxide and other air pollution that is collecting in the atmosphere like a thickening blanket, trapping the sun's heat and causing the planet to warm up. Coal-burning power plants are the largest U.S. source of carbon dioxide pollution -- they produce 2.5 billion tons every year. Automobiles, the second largest source, create nearly 1.5 billion tons of CO2 annually.Here's the good news: technologies exist today to make cars that run cleaner and burn less gas, modernize power plants and generate electricity from nonpolluting sources, and cut our electricity use through energy efficiency. The challenge is to be sure these solutions are put to use.
    Is the earth really getting hotter?
    Yes. Although local temperatures fluctuate naturally, over the past 50 years the average global temperature has increased at the fastest rate in recorded history. And experts think the trend is accelerating: the 10 hottest years on record have all occurred since 1990. Scientists say that unless we curb global warming emissions, average U.S. temperatures could be 3 to 9 degrees higher by the end of the century.
    Are warmer temperatures causing bad things to happen?
    Global warming is already causing damage in many parts of the United States. In 2002, Colorado, Arizona and Oregon endured their worst wildfire seasons ever. The same year, drought created severe dust storms in Montana, Colorado and Kansas, and floods caused hundreds of millions of dollars in damage in Texas, Montana and North Dakota. Since the early 1950s, snow accumulation has declined 60 percent and winter seasons have shortened in some areas of the Cascade Range in Oregon and Washington.Of course, the impacts of global warming are not limited to the United States. In 2003, extreme heat waves caused more than 20,000 deaths in Europe and more than 1,500 deaths in India. And in what scientists regard as an alarming sign of events to come, the area of the Arctic's perennial polar ice cap is declining at the rate of 9 percent per decade.
    Is global warming making hurricanes worse?
    Global warming doesn't create hurricanes, but it does make them stronger and more dangerous. Because the ocean is getting warmer, tropical storms can pick up more energy and become more powerful. So global warming could turn, say, a category 3 storm into a much more dangerous category 4 storm. In fact, scientists have found that the destructive potential of hurricanes has greatly increased along with ocean temperature over the past 35 years.
    Is there really cause for serious concern?
    Yes. Global warming is a complex phenomenon, and its full-scale impacts are hard to predict far in advance. But each year scientists learn more about how global warming is affecting the planet, and many agree that certain consequences are likely to occur if current trends continue. Among these:
    Melting glaciers, early snowmelt and severe droughts will cause more dramatic water shortages in the American West.
    Rising sea levels will lead to coastal flooding on the Eastern seaboard, in Florida, and in other areas, such as the Gulf of Mexico.
    Warmer sea surface temperatures will fuel more intense hurricanes in the southeastern Atlantic and Gulf coasts.
    Forests, farms and cities will face troublesome new pests and more mosquito-borne diseases.
    Disruption of habitats such as coral reefs and alpine meadows could drive many plant and animal species to extinction.
    Could global warming trigger a sudden catastrophe?
    Recently, researchers -- and even the U.S. Defense Department -- have investigated the possibility of abrupt climate change, in which gradual global warming triggers a sudden shift in the earth's climate, causing parts of the world to dramatically heat up or cool down in the span of a few years.In February 2004, consultants to the Pentagon released a report laying out the possible impacts of abrupt climate change on national security. In a worst-case scenario, the study concluded, global warming could make large areas of the world uninhabitable and cause massive food and water shortages, sparking widespread migrations and war.While this prospect remains highly speculative, many of global warming's effects are already being observed -- and felt. And the idea that such extreme change is possible underscores the urgent need to start cutting global warming pollution.
    What country is the largest source of global warming pollution?
    The United States. Though Americans make up just 4 percent of the world's population, we produce 25 percent of the carbon dioxide pollution from fossil-fuel burning -- by far the largest share of any country. In fact, the United States emits more carbon dioxide than China, India and Japan, combined. Clearly America ought to take a leadership role in solving the problem. And as the world's top developer of new technologies, we are well positioned to do so -- we already have the know-how.
    How can we cut global warming pollution?
    It's simple: By reducing pollution from vehicles and power plants. Right away, we should put existing technologies for building cleaner cars and more modern electricity generators into widespread use. We can increase our reliance on renewable energy sources such as wind, sun and geothermal. And we can manufacture more efficient appliances and conserve energy.
    Why aren't these technologies more commonplace now?
    Because, while the technologies exist, the corporate and political will to put them into widespread use does not. Many companies in the automobile and energy industries put pressure on the White House and Congress to halt or delay new laws or regulations -- or even to stop enforcing existing rules -- that would drive such changes. From requiring catalytic converters to improving gas mileage, car companies have fought even the smallest measure to protect public health and the environment. If progress is to be made, the American people will have to demand it.
    Do we need new laws requiring industry to cut emissions of global warming pollution?
    Yes. The Bush administration has supported only voluntary reduction programs, but these have failed to stop the growth of emissions. Even leaders of major corporations, including companies such as DuPont, Alcoa and General Electric, agree that it's time for the federal government to create strong laws to cut global warming pollution. Public and political support for solutions has never been stronger. Congress is now considering fresh proposals to cap emissions of carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping pollutants from America's largest sources -- power plants, industrial facilities and transportation fuels.Stricter efficiency requirements for electric appliances will also help reduce pollution. One example is the 30 percent tighter standard now in place for home central air conditioners and heat pumps, a Clinton-era achievement that will prevent the emission of 51 million metric tons of carbon -- the equivalent of taking 34 million cars off the road for one year. The new rule survived a Bush administration effort to weaken it when, in January 2004, a federal court sided with an NRDC-led coalition and reversed the administration's rollback.
    Is it possible to cut power plant pollution and still have enough electricity?
    Yes. First, we must use more efficient appliances and equipment in our homes and offices to reduce our electricity needs. We can also phase out the decades-old, coal-burning power plants that generate most of our electricity and replace them with cleaner plants. And we can increase our use of renewable energy sources such as wind and sun. Some states are moving in this direction: California has required its largest utilities to get 20 percent of their electricity from renewable sources by 2017, and New York has pledged to compel power companies to provide 25 percent of the state's electricity from renewable sources by 2013.
    How can we cut car pollution?
    Cost-effective technologies to reduce global warming pollution from cars and light trucks of all sizes are available now. There is no reason to wait and hope that hydrogen fuel cell vehicles will solve the problem in the future. Hybrid gas-electric engines can cut global warming pollution by one-third or more today; hybrid sedans, SUVs and trucks from several automakers are already on the market.But automakers should be doing a lot more: They've used a legal loophole to make SUVs far less fuel efficient than they could be; the popularity of these vehicles has generated a 20 percent increase in transportation-related carbon dioxide pollution since the early 1990s. Closing this loophole and requiring SUVs, minivans and pick-up trucks to be as efficient as cars would cut 120 million tons of carbon dioxide pollution a year by 2010. If automakers used the technology they have right now to raise fuel economy standards for new cars and light trucks to a combined 40 m.p.g., carbon dioxide pollution would eventually drop by more than 650 million tons per year as these vehicles replaced older models.For more information on hybrid vehicles, see NRDC's hybrid guide.
    Ways To Reduce Global Warming
    There are many simple steps one can take right now to cut global warming pollution. Make conserving energy a part of your daily routine. Each time one choose a compact fluorescent light bulb over an incandescent bulb, for example, you'll lower your energy bill and keep nearly 700 pounds of carbon dioxide out of the air over the bulb's lifetime. By opting for a refrigerator with the Energy Star label -- indicating it uses at least 15 percent less energy than the federal requirement -- over a less energy-efficient model, one can reduce carbon dioxide pollution by nearly a ton in total. Join NRDC in campaign against global warming.
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    Tuesday, February 12, 2008

    Global Positioning System Overview

    GPS is a Satellite Navigation System
    GPS is funded by and controlled by the U. S. Department of Defense (DOD). While there are many thousands of civil users of GPS world-wide, the system was designed for and is operated by the U. S. military.
    GPS provides specially coded satellite signals that can be processed in a GPS receiver, enabling the receiver to compute position, velocity and time.
    Four GPS satellite signals are used to compute positions in three dimensions and the time offset in the receiver clock
    Space Segment
    The Space Segment of the system consists of the GPS satellites. These space vehicles (SVs) send radio signals from space
    The nominal GPS Operational Constellation consists of 24 satellites that orbit the earth in 12 hours. There are often more than 24 operational satellites as new ones are launched to replace older satellites. The satellite orbits repeat almost the same ground track (as the earth turns beneath them) once each day. The orbit altitude is such that the satellites repeat the same track and configuration over any point approximately each 24 hours (4 minutes earlier each day). There are six orbital planes (with nominally four SVs in each), equally spaced (60 degrees apart), and inclined at about fifty-five degrees with respect to the equatorial plane. This constellation provides the user with between five and eight SVs visible from any point on the earth.
    Control Segment
    The Control Segment consists of a system of tracking stations located around the world
    The Master Control facility is located at Schriever Air Force Base (formerly Falcon AFB) in Colorado. These monitor stations measure signals from the SVs which are incorporated into orbital models for each satellites. The models compute precise orbital data (ephemeris) and SV clock corrections for each satellite. The Master Control station uploads ephemeris and clock data to the SVs. The SVs then send subsets of the orbital ephemeris data to GPS receivers over radio signals.
    User Segment
    The GPS User Segment consists of the GPS receivers and the user community. GPS receivers convert SV signals into position, velocity, and time estimates. Four satellites are required to compute the four dimensions of X, Y, Z (position) and Time. GPS receivers are used for navigation, positioning, time dissemination, and other research.
    Navigation in three dimensions is the primary function of GPS. Navigation receivers are made for aircraft, ships, ground vehicles, and for hand carrying by individuals.
    Precise positioning is possible using GPS receivers at reference locations providing corrections and relative positioning data for remote receivers. Surveying, geodetic control, and plate tectonic studies are examples.
    Time and frequency dissemination, based on the precise clocks on board the SVs and controlled by the monitor stations, is another use for GPS. Astronomical observatories, telecommunications facilities, and laboratory standards can be set to precise time signals or controlled to accurate frequencies by special purpose GPS receivers.
    Research projects have used GPS signals to measure atmospheric parameters

    Friday, February 1, 2008

    Biodiversity in West Asia

    Indigenous plant and animal life in West Asia is under increasing threat due to the impact of development.Overgrazing and mismanagement of rangelands have led to the loss of natural plant cover. Deforestation is now a major concern in the highlands of Yemen, Oman, and Jordan. Overfishing, pollution, and destruction of habitat (from land reclamation and filling in of wetlands) have all had a negative impact on marine biodiversity. As a result, declining fish and shrimp harvests have become a common feature in the Persian Gulf region.
    The depletion of underground water levels on the western side of the Gulf is leading to the loss of a unique ecosystem of natural fresh-water springs, affecting large numbers of plants and animals. This ecosystem was once widely distributed in the eastern province of Saudi Arabia and in Bahrain.The Azraq Oasis in Jordan was declared a wetland under the RAMSAR Convention because it was endangered due to the overextraction of ground water. The overextraction is not only depleting the ground water, it is leading to increased salinity, which in turn negatively affects wildlife and plant species in the area.
    In West Asia, wildlife such as fallow deer, ostrich, wild goat, and antelope have been threatened with extinction due to indiscriminate hunting. The threat to wildlife is worsened through the destruction of their habitats, particularly deforestation. The region lost 11 per cent of its remaining natural forest during the 1980s, and natural forest cover now averages less than 1 per cent of the total land area .
    On the whole, there is little information on species, and good data are generally limited to certain mammals and birds. Species inventories are currently being undertaken in a number of countries in the region [such as Jordan and some Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries].

    Water Availability in West Asia

    Water availability in the West Asia region depends on the physiographical and hydrogeological setting. Iraq, the Syrian Arab Republic, and Lebanon have relatively dependable surface water sources in the form of rivers and springs. This supply is supplemented through extraction from ground-water reserves in Jordan, Lebanon, the Syrian Arab Republic, and West Bank and Gaza. Jordan is faced with water deficits, with demand outstripping supply. West Bank and Gaza, with limited surface water and renewable ground-water reserves, also faces problems in meeting water needs, particularly in view of the unbalanced use of available water resources. The Euphrates and Tigris rivers in Iraq and the Syrian Arab Republic, the Orients and Latani rivers in Jordan and the Syrian Arab Republic, and the lower Jordan River in Jordan represent major water sources for domestic, industrial, and agricultural requirements within these countries.
    In contrast, the GCC countries and Yemen are characterized by a harsh desert environment devoid of rivers and lakes. The water resources consist of limited quantities of runoff resulting from flash floods, ground water in the alluvial aquifers, and extensive ground-water reserves in deep sedimentary formations. Some of these countries also rely on non-conventional water sources such as desalinization of sea and brackish water and limited use of renovated wastewater. Ground water in the shallow aquifers in Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Yemen is the only renewable water source in these countries.
    Water requirements for all sectors in Iraq are met mainly from river flow, while Jordan, Lebanon, the Syrian Arab Republic, and West Bank and Gaza use ground water to satisfy water demand. The major problem associated with the management of renewable water, particularly rivers, is its transboundary nature. The lack of formal agreements for sharing rivers such as the Euphrates have created shortcomings in the efficient utilization of water. The problem is also apparent for ground-water resources, with the Palestinian territories, for example, unable to use the totality of their renewable resources.
    Total water demand for agriculture, industrial, and domestic purposes in West Asia in 1990 was about 82 billion cubic metres. Agriculture accounts for the bulk of water use, followed by the industrial sector. The agricultural sector uses approximately 68 billion cubic metres of water, while the water demand for industrial activities in the region reached 6 billion cubic metres. Domestic water demand accounts for about 7.7 billion cubic metres.
    Human water consumption per capita in the region, including for domestic, agricultural, and industrial uses, is now very high, ranging from 300 to 1,500 litres per day.Rapidly rising incomes in some countries, with the resultant increase in living standards, and water losses in the network have led to higher per capita water consumption. Intensive agriculture under arid conditions is also demanding an ever-increasing quantity of water.
    Based on current trends, water shortage is expected to increase as a result of increased demand and limited renewable supplies in most West Asian countries. Current water resources such as perennial surface water, renewable ground water, desalinization, and reclaimed wastewater are insufficient to meet expected demand.
    On the basis of the past experiences of the moderately developed countries in arid zones, renewable fresh-water resources of 1,000 cubic metres per capita per year have been proposed as an approximate benchmark below which most countries are likely to experience chronic water scarcity on a scale sufficient to impede development and harm human health.By this measure, many countries in West Asia suffer from water scarcity, with Bahrain having less than 18 per cent of the minimum threshold.Jordan, Kuwait, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and Yemen all have water resources below 1,000 cubic metres per capita per year.
    Existing wastewater treatment facilities face difficulties in handling the ever-increasing volumes of wastewater generated by higher water consumption and urbanization. Wastewater discharge from major urban centres is polluting shallow alluvial aquifers and coastlines. The quality of drinking water and sanitation services in most West Asian countries is poor, although it is improving in some cases. Efforts to achieve water quality targets established for urban areas are encouraging, but rural communities remain inadequately serviced in terms of safe drinking water, sanitation facilities, and accessibility.
    Poor sanitation and sewage treatment systems, in addition to industrial wastes, are increasingly affecting water quality in the region. Access to safe drinking water and sanitation services in the cities of West Asia is relatively good. However, only 20 per cent of urban wastewater is treated (World Bank, 1994). Concentrated industrial development is leading to pollution problems for ground and surface waters in certain areas.
    In some areas, irrigation is resulting in salinization and degradation of soils. Overexploitation of ground-water resources is therefore a major concern in the region, causing a decline in ground-water levels as well as a deterioration of water quality.
    Water salinity is also a concern throughout the region. With the dropping of water tables due to excess harvesting of ground water, salt-water intrusion becomes a serious problem. Sea-water intrusion into the aquifers of Bahrain, Oman (Batenah Plain), and UAE is particularly severe. Total soluble salts measured in the ground water at different sites in the United Arab Emirates exceeded 10,000-20,000 milligrams per litre. It is estimated that the saline interface between sea and ground waters advances at the rate of 75-130 metres a year in Bahrain.
    The region is thus characterized by the anomaly of high per capita consumption and very limited fresh-water resources. The increasing pressure on all the water resources of the region, in terms of quality and quantity, combined with the increasing demand for water, will lead to serious water shortages in the near future.