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Water, The Most Basic and Essential Resource, is Now Just Another Wall Street Commodity

Investors can now trade water futures for the first time ever, as fear about the worldwide scarcity of water grows.

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Water may be the basis for all life on earth, but it may soon become one of the hottest commodities on the Wall Street futures market due to its scarcity as a good.

Water will soon see its price fluctuating like other commodities including wheat, gold, and oil, now that the CME Group has launched futures contracts tied to the spot price of water.

The Nasdaq Veles California Water Index, which measures the volume-weighted average price of water in California’s five primary watersheds, began trading under the ticker NQH20 on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange on Monday.

On Tuesday morning, it was trading at about $486.53 per Acre Foot ($/AF).

The contracts will let both investors and farmers bet on future prices of the precious liquid with contracts tied to the $1.1 California spot water market, reports Business Insider.

Historically, this is the first time that water has been traded this way.

In the last year, the price of water in California has doubled, increasing fears of the scarcity of this crucial resource. Market analysts claim that the arrival of water futures to the international market will allow better management of the risks tied to any shortage of this good.

For example, those who are in need of extra water in a drought-stricken year – when prices are much higher – will now be able to bet on futures contracts to offset the higher prices they would have to pay in the water market in the future.

Large agricultural firms and municipalities would also theoretically have the ability to protect themselves from large swings in the price of the commodity.

“The NQH20 futures will be an innovative tool to provide agricultural, commercial, and municipal water users with greater transparency, price discovery, and risk transfer, which can help to more efficiently align supply and demand of this vital resource,” said the CME Group.

The financial group touted the NQH2O index as the likely benchmark for global water markets.

The new futures market also creates the possibility that water will be the subject of cut-throat speculation from financial giants, including major banks and hedge funds.

“Climate change, droughts, population growth, and pollution are likely to make water scarcity issues and pricing a hot topic for years to come,” RBC Capital Markets managing director and analyst Deane Dray told Bloomberg. “We are definitely going to watch how this new water futures contract develops.”

China and the United States are the world’s top consumers of water, with California accounting for some 9 percent of the nation’s daily consumption.

California’s water market is about four times bigger than that of any other state, with water transactions totaling $2.6 billion between 2012 and 2019.

In addition to being an agricultural giant where high-value crops like almonds and pistachios regularly require massive amounts of water, California is also filled with oil production facilities that use huge amounts of water while fracking for oil and gas.

However, the state is frequently hit with major droughts, leading to volatility in the price of the resource, reports CNN.

According to the United Nations, about 2 billion people live in countries where basic access to water is a serious problem. In the next few years, up to two-thirds of the planet could experience water shortages, leading to the displacement of millions of people.

The precious liquid has been excessively exploited by the mining sector and huge industries, while climate change has also been a driver of the increasing scarcity of water.

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Animals

Scientists Thrilled by Discovery of Rare, Mammoth 400-Year-Old Coral

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A massive 400-year-old hard coral discovered on the Great Barrier Reef has scientists expressing their sense of surprise and excitement.

Named Muga dambhi by the Manbarra people, the Indigenous group who have traditionally taken care of the land, the “exceptionally large” brown and cream-colored coral is located off the coast of Goolboodi or Orpheus Island in the Great Barrier Reef.

It is believed that the coral was spawned some 421 to 438 years ago, meaning that its age predates the arrival of Captain James Cook and the advent of colonization in Australia, notes the Guardian.

The spectacular coral is about 35 feet wide and over 17 feet high, and is double the size of the nearest coral.

Scientists and members of the community participating in a marine science course discovered the specimen earlier this year.

While not the largest coral in the world, the huge find is of major significance to the local ecosystem, according to Adam Smith, an adjunct professor at James Cook University who wrote the field note on the find.

“It’s like a block of apartments,” Smith said. “It attracts other species. There’s other corals, there’s fish, there’s other animals around that use it for shelter or for feeding, so it’s pretty important for them.”

“It’s a bit like finding a giant redwood tree in the middle of a botanic gardens,” he added.

It is likely that the coral hasn’t been discovered for such a long time due to its location in a relatively remote and unvisited portion of a Marine National Park zone that enjoys a high degree of protection.

“Over the last 20 or 30 years, no one has noticed, or observed, or thought it newsworthy enough to share photos, or document, or do research on this giant coral,” Smith said.

The coral is in remarkable condition, with over 70 percent of its surface covered in live coral, coral rock and microalgae. No disease, bleaching or recently deceased coral has been recorded on the specimen.

“The cumulative impact of almost 100 bleaching events and up to 80 major cyclones over a period of four centuries, plus declining nearshore water quality contextualise the high resilience of this Porites coral,” the field note added.

The specific coral has been given the name Muga dhambi, meaning big coral, out of respect for the Indigenous knowledge, language, and culture of the Manbarra Traditional Owners.

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Environment

Greenland Ice Washed Away as Summit Sees Rain for First Time in Recorded History

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For the first time in recorded history, torrential downpours of rain have struck Greenland’s icy summit nearly two miles above sea level.

Greenland, an environmentally sensitive island, is typically known for its majestic ice sheet and snowy climate, but this is fast changing due to a massive melt taking place this summer.

However, the typical snowfall has been replaced in recent years not simply by a few showers, but by heavy rainfall. The torrential downpour last week was so huge, in fact, that it washed away a terrifying amount of ice across some 337,000 square miles of the ice shelf’s surface, reports Earther.

Temperatures at the ice shelf had simultaneously warmed to a significant degree, with the summit reaching 33 degrees Fahrenheit – within a degree above freezing and the third time that the shelf has surpassed freezing temperatures this decade.

The fact that rain is falling on ice rather than snow is also significant because it is melting ice across much of southern Greenland, which already saw huge melting events last month, while hastening rising sea levels that threaten to submerge whole coastal cities and communities.

To make matters worse, any new ice formed by the freezing rainwater will not last long. The ice shelf currently existing on Greenland was formed by the compression of snow over innumerable years, which shines bright white and reflects sunlight away rather than absorbing it, as ice from frozen rain does.

The huge scale of the melt and accompanying rainfall illustrate the growing peril of rapidly warming climate conditions across the globe.

“This event by itself does not have a huge impact, but it’s indicative of the increasing extent, duration, and intensity of melting on Greenland,” wrote Ted Scambos, a senior research scientist at the National Snow and Ice Data Center at the University of Colorado. “Like the heat wave in the [U.S. Pacific] northwest, it’s something that’s hard to imagine without the influence of global climate change.”

“Greenland, like the rest of the world, is changing,” Scambos told the Washington Post. “We now see three melting events in a decade in Greenland — and before 1990, that happened about once every 150 years. And now rainfall: in an area where rain never fell.”

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South Korean Toilet Turns Poo Into Green Energy and Pays Its Users Digital Cash

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What if your morning #2 not only powered your stove to cook your eggs, but also allowed you to pay for your coffee and pastry on the way to class?

It seems like an absurd question, but one university in South Korea has invented a toilet that allows human excrement to not only be used for clean power, but also dumps a bit of digital currency into your wallet that can be exchanged for some fruit or cup noodles at the campus canteen, reports Reuters.

The BeeVi toilet – short for Bee-Vision – was designed by urban and environmental engineering professor Cho Jae-weon of the Ulsan National Institute of Science and Technology (UNIST), and is meant to not only save resources but also reward students for their feces.

The toilet is designed to first deliver your excrement into a special underground tank, reducing water use, before microorganisms break the waste down into methane, a clean source of energy that can power the numerous appliances that dorm life requires.

“If we think out of the box, feces has precious value to make energy and manure,” Cho explained. “I have put this value into ecological circulation.”

The toilet can transform approximately a pound of solid human waste – roughly the average amount people poop per day – into some 50 liters of methane gas, said Cho. That’s about enough to generate half a kilowatt hour of electricity, enough to transport a student throughout campus for some of their school day.

Cho has even devised a special virtual currency for the BeeVi toilet called Ggool, or honey in Korean. Users of the toilet can expect to earn 10 Ggool per day, covering some of the many expenses students rack up on campus every day.

Students have given the new system glowing reviews, and don’t even mind discussing their bodily functions at lunchtime – even expressing their hopes to use their fecal credits to purchase books.

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