Sunday, December 29, 2013

MIT Water Summit

This was an event organized by the MIT Water Club (, a student group, and the first of what they hope will be an annual event.

Kenneth Strzepek, Univ of CO, Boulder2.4% of world's water is fresh with most in glaciers 12.5 cubic km water is available with 5.5 used annually by peopleNot where we want it or economically accessible, variable in space and time70% for irrigation, 20% for industry - mostly thermoelectric cooling, 10% domestic.  Eastern US thermoelectric cooling is not recycled as it is in Western US90 days a year the Yellow River of China goes dry
Franklin Fisher, MITWater Economics Project in the Middle EastFishelson says that water wars will not happen because water has value and the upper bound is cost of desalinization, now 60 cents per cubic cm in Middle EastDisputes over water are cost disputes not life and deathMultiple Year Water Allocation System (MYWAS) is a computer program they've developed for ME water which includes externalities ----------Cambridge water is about 1.6 cents per gallon ---------Who Owns Water?Lawrence Susskind, MITCase by case basis, in practice and water is not priced even to cover environmental uses.  No forum for a conversation on water's value.Not public versus private but a partnershipGreat rivers have national compacts but without any consultation with enviro groups or individuals
Sharmila Murthy, Suffolk UnivWho controls water might be a better questionIn 2010 UN declares a human right to water and sanitation
Leon Awerbach, IDA Desalination AcademyWater is considered free and a human right.
Food-Water NexusDennis McLaughlin, MITVirtual water trading is the water in food transported around the worldBiotech to improve efficiency of water use in plants
Timothy Griffin, TuftsSoil health and food waste are large areas of water lossIn US, ag is now the number 1 source of water pollution
Gabriela Burian, MonsantoGrow Africa program for improving smallholder ag in Africa Developing nations don't have the advantages of the numbers and data that the US has[Oddly enough, Ms Burian of Monsanto was the person who talked about "systems" the most.  Almost all the other speakers were focused on one or two specific technologies or ideas and not addressing systems issues at all.]
Water-Energy Nexus
About 50% of US water goes to power plant cooling
John Rogers, UCS
Power plants withdraw more water than any other use but put most of it back, warmer, into the environment.  Ag draws less but consumes the most.
Kenneth Kimmel, DEP MA
Clean water act, clean air water act are regulatory silos but they affect each other, one reason why MA has put energy into environment
MWRA water demand going down and state encouraging new communities to join to stop groundwater draw.  44 inches of rain per year
Billion kwh per year on waste water treatment, one million pounds of carbon per year. Transferring to renewables and state is underwriting stand alone energy efficiency, guaranteeing savings from year one.
John Lienhard, MIT
Air cooled power plants and closed loop recycling cooling systems are solutions EPRI is working on
Singapore is recycling all water, adding 10% of it to the drinking supply
Emerging Water Contaminants
GAO estimates over 700 new chemicals introduced annually
Herve Buisson, Veolia Water
Health-water nexus
In EU regulation counts oxidation by-products of herbicides and others which changes the way people treated water, moving to absorption rather than oxidation treatment.
France is using tag species (fish, frogs) that show effects after contamination for testing water quality
Absorption, oxidation, reverse osmosis. Reverse osmosis can get everything but leaves concentrates
Ruth Marfil-Vega, American Water
Carol West, DEP MA
To go from guideline to standard, state requires testing every water source in the state.
Green pharmaceuticals - webinar
Public water is tested for 84 compounds.  Bottled water is tested for sodium, not under safe water act, under FDA
Philip Gschwend, MIT
There's no chemical that's ever been made that doesn't get into the environment.  

Sunday, December 15, 2013

NSA Bulk Surveillance and the Problem of Freedom

Yochai Benkler

Observation as the projection of power
Distinction between transparency and surveillance
Bull Run - intervention on standards through NIST and product design with private companies - not surveillance and not subject to legal oversight
Monitoring cloud - again without legal oversight and with voluntary cooperation or acquiescence of telcos
Classification and secrecy used to end run oversight - no staff or notes for Congresscritters or judges 
FBI has issued over 180,000 national security letters
2006 Mark Klein sues AT&T about federal switch in SF office
Section 215 surveillance can be contested but the subjects of surveillance don't about their surveillance and the companies comply voluntarily and do not contest government requests
Systemic problem but all human systems are imperfect
"Freedom of action is also freedom to threaten"
Organizational imperfections are exacerbated by secrecy
Internalized censorship
Freedom - capacity to plan and execute that life plan.  Autonomy is not yes/no but how much?  And we live within systems, imperfect human systems, and there is a continual tension between open and closed systems.
The claim of completeness is authoritarian
Q: What are the changes of this century that led to this?
Basic imperfection of systems, the solution space of voluntary action has expanded due to technology, but the same technology can increase the power of the state too.
Q:  How to describe Snowden to 8th graders?
He's a person of conscience.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

An Open Conversation about Internet Communications Privacy with Ladar Levison

All mistakes are my own.

Ladar Levison

Lavabit did not record metadata and stored messages in such a way that only the user, not the service provider, could access their archive.

Does a service provider have the responsibility to provide access to personal data?  According to his case, yes.  In a secret decision.

DOJ lawyers couldn't understand why he had objections to their requests.

"It's a duty of every patriot to protect the citizens from its government" - Thomas Jefferson
[“It is the duty of the patriot to protect his country from its government.” - Thomas Paine]

Next time they're not gonna ask but just take.  The government has abused our trust and, worse, have done it in secret.  CALEA [Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act] requires that telecoms develop tech to tap any individual - but not email.  The judge who ruled on his case served 7 years on the FISA court.

He knows that the government has collected data from other companies because they've reimbursed other companies for the expenses accrued in order to allow surveillance.

Stallman:  the level of surveillance in the US now is more than was in the USSR

TX has a data breach law which requires a service provider to report to users the kind of security breach the Feds were asking him to allow.

Can the random number generators in Intel chips be trusted?  However, even if the Feds have your password they are disallowed by statute to login as the user.  They went after his SSL [Secure Sockets Layer] keys to find out when a user logged in or out, as all the other information would be available over the Net.
He can only talk about the SSL key demand, nothing about FISA court or what else has happened since then

He developed server-based encryption
Working with Phil Zimmerman to make secure email system

NSA collected his data upstream at his provider
Zimmerman believes that Obama did not have the strength to stand up to the generals in a top secret briefing

"I don't think the DoJ had a clue about what the technology is "... And what the FBI was asking for

His appeal will be held in the January session of the 4th district