a current climate chaos compendium: Part III: water

This part will be full of horrifying facts and news, but my theory is ‘it’s better to know than to not know’.  Given its intensity, you may want to begin by wrapping your spirits and psyches in some sort of protective bubble that you’ve found helpful in the past.  Many readers will prefer ‘hope’ to ‘hopelessness’, and more on that at the bottom, but I did stick in a music video at the end that might be a bit of a tonic.

(part I is here (café version), (c99% version); part II: geoengineering café version, c99% version)

First, from phys.org: ‘Multi-year study finds ‘hotspots’ of ammonia over world’s major agricultural areas’, March 16, 2017, University of Maryland

“The first global, long-term satellite study of airborne ammonia gas has revealed “hotspots” of the pollutant over four of the world’s most productive agricultural regions. Using data from NASA’s Atmospheric Infrared Sounder (AIRS) satellite instrument, the University of Maryland-led research team discovered steadily increasing ammonia concentrations from 2002 to 2016 over agricultural centers in the United States, Europe, China and India. Increased atmospheric ammonia is linked to poor air and water quality.”

(click for larger)

“The study, published March 16, 2017 in the journal Geophysical Research Letters, also describes the probable causes for increased airborne ammonia in each region. Although the specifics vary between areas, the increases in ammonia are broadly tied to crop fertilizers, livestock animal wastes, changes to atmospheric chemistry and warming soils that retain less ammonia. The results could help illuminate strategies to control pollution from ammonia and ammonia byproducts near agricultural areas.

Gaseous ammonia is a natural part of Earth’s nitrogen cycle, but excess ammonia is harmful to plants and reduces air and water quality. In the troposphere—the lowest, densest part of the atmosphere where all weather takes place and where people live—ammonia gas reacts with nitric and sulfuric acids to form nitrate-containing particles that contribute to aerosol pollution that is damaging to human health. Ammonia gas can also fall back to Earth and enter lakes, streams and oceans, where it contributes to harmful algal blooms and “dead zones” with dangerously low oxygen levels.”
In all regions, the researchers attributed some of the increase in atmospheric ammonia to climate change, reflected in warmer air and soil temperatures. Ammonia vaporizes more readily from warmer soil, so as the soils in each region have warmed year by year, their contributions to atmospheric ammonia have also increased since 2002.

“As the world’s population grows, so does the demand for food—especially meat,” Dickerson said. “This means farmers and ranchers need more fertilizer, which makes it harder to maintain clean air and water. Wise agricultural practices and reduced greenhouse gas emissions can help avoid adverse effects.”

Had this been known long ago…would it have led to ‘wise agricultural practices’ except for small sustainable organic farmers who’d already been doing so already?  Sigh. I also have a similar methane map, and I’ll bring it in comments if you ask me to.  But given everything, I was trying to edit out what wasn’t on topic to this particular Part III diary.

Now this is hair-raising stuff: ‘Earth’s dismal water future, mapped’ Jay Famiglietti, latimes.com, Jun 10, 2018

“Last month, my colleagues and I published a report the centerpiece of which is a global map, derived from satellite data, that shows how the distribution of Earth’s fresh water has rapidly changed since 2002. We analyzed measurements from NASA’s Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment satellites to determine trends in total water storage — groundwater, soil moisture, surface waters, snow and ice — over nearly a decade and half.”

(click for larger)

“There have always been geographically distinct classes of water “haves” and “have-nots.” Now, as the map shows, those regions of water security and insecurity are shifting radically.

Climate models predict that changing weather and temperature patterns will cause the world’s high-latitude and tropical regions — the areas that are already wet — to get wetter, while already dry, arid and semi-arid regions will get drier. But those models foresee major changes coming at the end of the 21st century. Our map clearly shows new patterns emerging today. This includes the U.S.: The northern half of the country has become much wetter, while the southern half has become much drier.

The map is speckled with nearly three dozen regional hot spots for water insecurity — where changes in the water supply will seriously threaten a region’s health, welfare and environment.

Some are driven by climate change, like the melting of the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets, and the mountain glaciers in Alaska, Colombia, Peru, Patagonia and the Himalayas. Others are the direct result of water management, or lack thereof. Many indicate areas where groundwater is being rapidly depleted, pumped at unsustainable levels to irrigate crops and raise livestock for a growing population or in response to drought.

The water future the map portends is daunting.”  [snip]

“Governments and society are unprepared to cope with the tenuous water future that our research has literally mapped out. The rapid pace and global scope of change requires a response across regions and national boundaries. Few institutions and networks with that kind of authority and reach exist, but they must be fostered, and fast. We need a new water diplomacy that will treat this crucial resource as a vehicle for cooperation rather than conflict.”

Now if you’re able to see any hope in that scenario, more power to you; many of us had actually believed that in the early days of climate change, nations might even be able to cooperate on growing crops that would suit a ‘new climate’ better.  But over the past two decades at least, the smart money was betting on attorneys becoming expert in water law, in the intermountain west particularly. Mining companies have been buying up subsurface water to beat the band, and consortiums have been filing on rivers whose rights have already been appropriated, if not over-sold.  But attorneys are able to tie up the little guys in court forever, and eventually…win the water.  Nestlé corporate attorneys have done the same, all the way to the Supreme Court, although there have been a few small wins for local activists, one or two may still be pending.

John McCrankypants had campaigned on ‘rewriting the Colorado Interstate Water Compact’ causing many Republicans to withhold their votes from him.  But then he and Jon Bloody Kyl have a long history of water theft from the Indigenous (one or two might still be pending).  So fuck them both (and I say that in the most polite was possible…).

All this, as Nestlé corporation keeps stealing fresh water in drought-stricken California with impunity, although water activists have been fighting the life-stealing evil company for years.   From the Great Lakes (Michigan), as well, Maine, and a subsidiary even tried to sell back one town’s water to residents, Ontario and tra la la.  But the Nestlé water wars are ubiquitous.

‘Hurricane Season 2018: Experts Warn of Super Storms, Call For New Category 6,  A spate of record-breaking storms has spurred a call for expanding the hurricane scale for better warnings that could save lives’, Bob Berwyn, InsideClimate News, June 2, 2018

After noting that there will likely be fewer hurricanes this year due to the El Nino pattern:

“A new review of global data on hurricanes shows that since 1980, the number of storms with winds stronger than 200 kilometers per hour (124 mph, or a strong Category 3) have doubled, and those with winds stronger than 250 kilometers per hour (155 mph) have tripled.

The analysis, published this week by four prominent climate scientists, also shows other clear trends, including a poleward migration of the areas where storms reach peak intensity, which puts new areas at risk, including New England and even Europe.

Storms are also intensifying more quickly, with a greater chance they will drop record amounts of rain, especially if they stall out when they hit land, as Hurricane Harvey did in Houston last year.”

Ah, but what conversation about water would neglect…plastic in the world’s oceans?

From the Guardian, Jan. 25,2018: ‘Billions of pieces of plastic on coral reefs send disease soaring, research reveals; A major new study estimates 11bn pieces of plastic contaminate vital reefs and result in infections: ‘It’s like getting gangrene,’ scientists warn’ and:

‘Coral reef bleaching ‘the new normal’ and a fatal threat to ecosystems

Study of 100 tropical reef locations finds time between bleaching events has shrunk and is too short for full recovery’, also the Guardian, Jan. 4, 2018

“Repeated large-scale coral bleaching events are the new normal thanks to global warming, a team of international scientists has found.

In a study published in the journal Science, the researchers revealed a “dramatic shortening” of the time between bleaching events was “threatening the future existence of these iconic ecosystems and the livelihoods of many millions of people”.

It’s hard to know what other outtakes to bring given that it’s all been written as permanent, and humanity has known about plastic ecosystem ruination since the 1988 studies of the Great Pacific Garbage Patches, although some scientists have apps for all that as well. A thousand sighs.

And again: Hanford Nuclear Reservation in eastern Washington will likely never stop leaking radioactive waste from its nine decommissioned plutonium reactors into the Columbia River, then into the ocean, and Fukishima Daiichi has never been stabilized eight years on, and likely will never be.  The major aquifers in the States are dwindling and full of industrial farming poisons, and the CA Central Valley has lost 55 feet (iirc) of altitude since 1950 due to the water pumped for pistachio nuts. Even the billions spent on concrete aqueducts they built have only slowed down the loss.  Yeah, I’d look it up for you if you need me to.

Yesterday it was 99 degrees here in SW Colorado, which is calculated as ‘exceptional’ (existential?) on the Drought Monitor site, updated once a week.  We’ve had one inch of precipitation over the past four or five months; Weather Underground swears that the July Monsoons (yeah, how charitable a term) during four days in early July…will bring a bit of relief.

This is NOAA’s Mauna Loa carbon monitoring observatory. At Mauna Loa May 2018: 411.25 ppm, with any or all of the positive feed-back loops still extant and yet…unpredictable.

Now in terms of ‘hope’ to turn any of this around in time, I have none.  And yet even if you agree, it doesn’t mean we give up, just see the truth of it all.  I’d begun following earth sustainability conferences in Rio 2012, and other than the indigenous side-meetings cuz they weren’t allowed inside, nothing was changed…except for the worse.  But we might now wish they’d followed the Cochabamba accords, la Via Campesinas, the Maya…because they nailed it! (under Good News a third of the way down)  The COP conferences were even worse in some ways, because they gave the rubes: false hope (as per part II), even had the unenforceable pledges actually been kept.  Our Betters, of course, believe they can live, survive, and thrive in NZ, Abu Dhabi…while the rest of us die.  The fools.  They can count their coins while they choke or drown.

But to me, jettisoning hope doesn’t mean that a person or group has to give up acting, especially locally.  Stopping local pipelines, fracking and uranium mining projects,  boycotting all Nestlé products, growing a bit of your own food, eating less or no meat, whatever your conscience dictates that you must do.

When all hope is lost, we can still light a candle and try to ‘stitch humanity together’ as Long sings below. We can make community with all those we can, consider sharing and cooperating rather than competing, and helping one another with sills, goods, and love.  We can also turn on others to practices that can stave off depression and find instead…acceptance of the atrocious fact that it only took the collective ‘us’ less than a couple centuries to bake in the destruction of this once beautiful big blue-green ball of a planet. Jeeze, that reminds me: one of the websites I’d used for this series had a thing on the right sidebar like ‘If your’re feeling suicidal, do this…’.  Mitigation of any of it is not only too costly, too late, and profitable to a few.

#BoycottNestlé on Twitter exposes a multitude of the corporation’s dirty secrets.

This is American Troubador Larry Long’s 1984 version of part of the Navajo Blessingway healing ceremony chant ‘walk in beauty’ (find harmony within; the Dineh healing ceremonies are largely about that: acceptance, peace within, if not necessarily about eradicating an ailment).

(cross-posted from Café Babylon)

Share
up
0 users have voted.

Comments

WoodsDweller's picture

This was in the Guardian yesterday and describes attending a 2016 talk by Harold Wanless, chair of the geology department of the University of Miami on the subject of sea level rise.

Rising seas: 'Florida is about to be wiped off the map'

“Is someone recording this?”

“Yes.” The cameraman coughs. “Besides,” Hal adds, “I say the same damn thing at least five times a week.”

I was hoping to find some videos from him, but only pulled up vids from a few other people that he might appear in.

On the screen above his head clips from a documentary on climate change show glacial tongues of ice the size of Manhattan tumbling into the sea. “The big story in Greenland and Antarctica is that the warming ocean is working its way in, deep under the ice sheets, causing the ice to collapse faster than anyone predicted, which in turn will cause sea levels to rise faster than anyone predicted.”

...the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change expects roughly two feet of rise by century’s end. The United Nations predicts three feet. And the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration estimates an upper limit of six and a half feet.

Take the 6 million people who live in south Florida today and divide them into two groups: those who live less than six and a half feet above the current high tide line, and everybody else. The numbers slice nearly evenly.

It's not just about being actually underwater, though. Seawater infiltrates aquifers near the coast, making the water unusable. Infrastructure is lost. Storms start six feet higher, so the storm surge is that much worse.

But Hal says it doesn’t matter whether you live six feet above sea level or sixty-five, because he, like James Hansen, believes that all of these predictions are, to put it mildly, very, very low. “The rate of sea level rise is currently doubling every seven years, and if it were to continue in this manner, Ponzi scheme style, we would have 205 feet of sea level rise by 2095,” he says. “And while I don’t think we are going to get that much water by the end of the century, I do think we have to take seriously the possibility that we could have something like 15 feet by then.”

A full melt out of Greenland plus Antarctica would amount to around 220 feet, and it seems unthinkable that they could all go by the end of the century. Still, there's plenty of potential for bad news.

“Greenland is currently calving chunks of ice so massive they produce earthquakes up to six and seven on the Richter scale,” Hal says ... “There was not much noticeable ice melt before the nineties. But now it accelerates every year, exceeding all predictions.

The man seated next to me leans over. “If what he says is even half true,” he whispers, “Florida is about to be wiped off the map.”

up
0 users have voted.

"The greatest shortcoming of the human race is our inability to understand the exponential function." -- Albert Bartlett
"A species that is hurtling toward extinction has no business promoting slow incremental change." -- Caitlin Johnstone

wendy davis's picture

@WoodsDweller

egad, though, ms rush is a seriously crap journalist. but is this actually true? “Only 7% of the heat being trapped by greenhouse gases is stored in the atmosphere,” Hal begins. “Do you know where the other 93% lives?” (the oceans)

but it is interesting that there are so many 'expert opinions' on levels of seawater rises, isn't it? but i suspect that's partially due to the known unknowns, lol, as darth cheney would say.

but i have seen images of those mammoth icebergs calved from glaciers; chilling evidence. zo: hansen 205, this fella 15 feet. but good point about sea water infiltrating aquifers.

also this: 'Ahead of Florida's Primary, Miami's Nuclear Power Plant is Leaking' newsweek 3/10/16 (well, yanno, not all that much...), but at least james hansen, stewart brand, and the union of concerned scientists advocate for nuclear... arrrgggh.

(and any number of other coastal nuke plants are at risk.)

up
0 users have voted.
WoodsDweller's picture

@wendy davis
is something like 93% to the oceans, 6% to melting ice, 1% to warming air.

up
0 users have voted.

"The greatest shortcoming of the human race is our inability to understand the exponential function." -- Albert Bartlett
"A species that is hurtling toward extinction has no business promoting slow incremental change." -- Caitlin Johnstone

WoodsDweller's picture

@wendy davis
Twenty second video.

Units look like zeta joules. Total of land, ice, and air is 7% with air being the smallest part.

up
0 users have voted.

"The greatest shortcoming of the human race is our inability to understand the exponential function." -- Albert Bartlett
"A species that is hurtling toward extinction has no business promoting slow incremental change." -- Caitlin Johnstone

wendy davis's picture

@WoodsDweller

but not on accountta it's in a video (lol), but because i looked about at many of the opinions posited since 2015 and the early 2oth century, including the albedo effect, as well as not enough data on ocean temps below the equator, etc., and some of the geoengineering the ocean silliness.

but thank you. although it's small beer to the overall climate chaos picture, i suppose.

up
0 users have voted.
mhagle's picture

oilspillrockriveriowa.png
https://www.resilience.org/stories/2018-06-27/derailed-oil-train-spills-...

Sad That's a pretty part of Iowa, near the Mississippi.

I am still upset about the Magellan pipeline spill near my Iowa family home, dumping diesel fuel into a creek leading to the Winnebago River, near a wetlands wildlife refuge.

up
0 users have voted.

Marilyn

"Make dirt, not war." eyo

wendy davis's picture

@mhagle

wasn't it? and those are the 'guaranteed safe/r ones'. foxes guarding hen houses is right. not required to file clean-up plans, but 'all is well' according to CN in one ugly spill.

but yes, there were indeed concerns that deunding, disallowing pipelines, thus rail shipping would end up in disasters. i'd read about a few of those, but certainly not all. and bitumen coal, ish. i do wish i could remember which daddy warbucks bought a hella lot of railroads just for the purpose. a biggie uber-billionaire, though.

wonder if they're 'cleaning up the river spills' with corexit. out of sight, out of mind...except toxic as hell under the surface. i also remember during the deepwater horizon mega-spill that BP was essentially buying good reports from the local universities doing the alleged testing of the sea critters. 'nope; good enuff for who it's for.'

up
0 users have voted.
mhagle's picture

@wendy davis

Near me in Malakoff, TX this past year. According to locals, they just brought in gravel and covered it up.

up
0 users have voted.

Marilyn

"Make dirt, not war." eyo

wendy davis's picture

@mhagle

'out of sight, out of mind', or more cavalierly: 'let the oil sink into the dirt; no one will notice'.

up
0 users have voted.