Water and Thermal Pollution « प्रशासन
Logo १७ मंसिर २०७८, शुक्रबार

Water and Thermal Pollution

२८ जेष्ठ २०७४, आइतबार

Think about a business product that can be sold the most on the earth. Any guess? Such product must fall under the most frequent use of all living beings. What’s about polluting air to such extent that everyone compelled to buy a handy breathing tool for fresh and clean air? Knowingly or unknowingly the world is heading towards this path.

Business products basically are of two types. First type is the product for fundamental needs without which mankind can’t survive. Second type is the product for comfort & ego without which mankind can survive but with compromised physical/mental ease. Unfortunately our value system has made second type products more valuable than the products for fundamental needs. People can live without gold/diamond, entertainments, vehicles, electronics, education, weapon, space and nuclear technologies and so on, but same is not true without food. But see what we have done to the lives of farmers, owing to frequent suicide cases, compared to the people from other industries.

The status quo

The lunging greed of mankind exploiting natural resources through advance scientific knowledge and technologies has put the world in situations where it comes across many natural settings, not supposed to be crossed and altered. The consequences the world has witnessed already; ozone layer problem in the past and current level of pollution, global warming and climate change threats, only few to name.

The thrust of power and comfort through superior form of energy hunt is ruining the earth. Coal and fossil fuels are regarded as the major sources of pollutions, while other energy technologies are causing invisible damages. Nuclear plant’s potential environmental impact in terms of its effects on biota, and chemical/radionuclide pollution is under criticism for long. Though undermined, its thermal pollution is even more hazardous, giving boiling frog dilemma. Indian Point nuclear power plant in New York used to dump as much heat as the Hiroshima bomb explosion into the Hudson River in every two hours. Just imagine the thermal pollution by such technologies collectively, and its contribution to global warming and climate change.

Agriculture has always been at the mercy of unpredictable weather. In recent time, agriculture has become more vulnerable mainly due to rapidly changing climate. Farmers face dual threats from flooding and drought with changes in rainfall patterns. Both these extremes destroy the crops. It also degrades the quality of land, by breaking & washing out fertile topsoil and reducing productivity. With higher temperatures the water need of crops is increased, making them even more vulnerable during dry periods. Under these circumstances, who is to blame for the increased rate of farmer suicide cases?

Solving problems

Every problem has basically two solutions; business oriented and non-business oriented. Nobody fights for breathing air because it is abundantly available and is under free access to all. Same was the situation with water thousands of years ago when there was no business associated with it. With cultivation and farming, water gradually entered into the business of mankind. Now water has become the integral part of industrialized world from industrial farming to food, and comfort product like electricity. With business in mind, greedy people always try to exploit the natural resources to best of their interest.

Cold energy in water is a gift by the nature to all living beings. It represents the highest grade of energy in water to serve the thermal balance of the nature. Thermal pollution by greedy people is disturbing this balance – giving us a clue why a lot of noises are heard when North Korea is testing its nuclear weapons into the Sea of Japan, and also for the noises when ice is melting in the Arctic.

Laws of thermodynamics dictate that for every megawatt of power generated, up to two megawatts must be discarded as low-grade waste heat. Take a 1600 MWe nuclear unit as an example and guess the magnitude of water used by such establishment to remove the “waste heat”. The water withdrawal for this size of plant is in the range of 60 cubic meters per second. The discharge water usually has an average temperature of 15OC more than the intake water. The thermal pollution caused by this plant is over 78 GWh per day against mere 39 GWh per day electricity production. Just imagine that the plant has to pay fairly for the thermal pollution (forget other impacts), do you think it would be profitable? Creating hot water is not a big deal, a villager can do it with the wooden fire (now with solar). But to produce cold water more energy needs to be wasted. And this is the very loop hole exploited by the greedy people.

Cold energy in water is a gift by the nature to all living beings. It represents the highest grade of energy in water to serve the thermal balance of the nature. Thermal pollution by greedy people is disturbing this balance – giving us a clue why a lot of noises are heard when North Korea is testing its nuclear weapons into the Sea of Japan, and also for the noises when ice is melting in the Arctic.

Abundance model of air is not going to work with water, as business has already started on it. The only possible way is to fix a price on it for its energy degradation. Once that is done, most of the water intensive industries will have to think twice before making their unfair business establishments feasible. This eventually will free the high grade freshwater for the fair distribution to farmers and normal people in the hot and water starving areas.

The system controllers so often fool the general public. Montreal protocol on substances that deplete the ozone layer nicely framed several groups of halogenated hydrocarbons (CFCs, HCFCs, HFCs etc.) and saved the supersonic technology Concorde. Same is the case with nuclear/thermal power plant technologies in water miss-use and thermal pollution case.

All electricity generation technologies in their life cycle use and pollute water under three stages: fuel cycle, plant cycle and operation cycle. Research reveals that total life cycle water use and pollution (all type including thermal) appears low for photovoltaic and wind, moderate for coal/fossil fuel and highest for nuclear technologies. Hydropower in this regard is the best as it has the least life cycle water use. Hydropower does not degrade the energy in water and has negligible pollution compared to others. More importantly, its water is re-usable immediately. But unfortunately, the water game is not letting it to flourish the way it should be.

 Possibilities ahead

Water is the second most abundantly available element after air but its unfair trade has been started already. Nicely marketed one liter of water bottle costs over 1US$, sometimes more costlier than one liter of gasoline. Think from the perspectives of poor global citizens and farmers, and of course from the perspective of non earning living beings.

The world talks a lot about injustice but does too little to fix it. So far only air is not traded but that too has been polluted in few part of the world and people are forced to buy air masks. Exploitation of natural resources for the betterment of mankind is fine, but at what expenses? Is any new idea is equally acceptable to a genuine idea? What if people like Einstein had not revealed E = MC2 formula dreaming for a Nobel Prize? His equation leading to the basis of chain reaction helped creating hydrogen bomb, the effect we saw in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. East invented image of Bramharshi instead of scientist for this particular reason. Bramharshi is not after any prize and decorations. His higher attained soul is to bless all the sentient beings equally.

Water, Air, Land, and Akasha (space) are common to all living beings and are part of a complex natural system. Altering settings of one will have impacts on others. Mankind alone has no right to disturb the life cycles of these fundamental elements. Time has come to demarcate the line between needs and greed of mankind. Fixing a price on per unit energy degradation of water will serve the purpose and this will be the first and foremost game changer in this direction.

 सर्वे भवन्तु सुखिनः सर्वे सन्तु निरामयाः । सर्वे भद्राणि पश्यन्तु मा कश्चिद्दुःखभाग्भवेत् ।  शान्तिः शान्तिः शान्तिः 

Pramod is an energy expert


Other Articles from the Writer

Our Biggest Natural Resource – Way to Prosperity”, an article in The Himalayan Times, Nov 4, 2015

Energy Miseries in Nepal, an article in The Himalayan Times Daily, Nov 23, 2015

Solar and Energy Management – Pros and Cons”, an article in The Himalayan Times, Dec 29, 2015

Demand – Supply Reliability – A Dry Hydropower Concept” an article in The Himalayan Times, Feb 10, 2016

Solve the Cube” an article in the Kathmandu Post Daily, March 6, 2016

No Power to the People” an article in the Kathmandu Post Daily, April 6, 2016

Energy Efficiency – Relieving the Funding Burden” an article in the Himalayan Times, April 12, 2016

More Power to the People” an article in the Kathmandu Post Daily, June 3, 2016

Election and Ballot Papers” an article in The Himalayan Times Daily, May 26, 2017

LigLigKot Cube Marathon” an article in Prshashan.com, Jun 29, 2017


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