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.”

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“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.”

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“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 oer-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 at caucus99percent.com)

7 responses to “a current climate chaos compendium: Part III: water

  1. The Neighbor- Rainer Maria Rilke
    Strange violin, why do you follow me?
    In how many foreign cities did you
    speak of your lonely nights and those of mine.
    Are you being played by hundreds? Or by one?

    Do in all great cities men exist
    who tormented and in deep despair
    would have sought the river but for you?
    And why does your playing always reach me?

    Why is it that I am always neighbor
    to those lost ones who are forced to sing
    and to say: Life is infinitely heavier
    than the heaviness of all things?
    ———————–
    i’m a big believer in despair. as if any one of us could do something about melting ice caps! we only despair of our own Messianism, refusing to believe it’s a collective problem. what’s the point of worrying about Hanford or Fukushima or…when Uncle Sam sits enthroned in the world, ensuring that no future outside capitalism is possible? a gov’t whose one goal is to steal as much of the truly staggering wealth of the US in order to use that wealth to rob & plunder & make war on other nations & steal their stuff?

    i’m not arguing for ignorance, just some perspective on the value of knowledge. I know in my life I’ve gotten swamped in worrying about & brooding over stuff going on, and I still do. it can be a way of avoiding doing what one can in the circle of actual influence one has.

    if the Trumps love their children too…I do wonder why these people, the obamas & trumps & Clintons & co even have kids. the interdependency of parent & child mirrors that of the human family & earth. “duty to the Party,” as Winston Smith says of his sexual relations with his 1st wife? part of their pretense of being just so folks, just like the rest of us?

    • nice on the rilke poem, j, and thanks.

      as for despair, i think the knowledge that ‘the end is nigh’ actually IS important, in that it can segue into acceptance and still prompt us to do what our conscience dictates we must. one of my chiches is that those still calling for Green new deal (what, public/private partnerships again?) are silly, (see the geoengineering part II), or the fellah over yonder making the case that solar and wind power could save us…were there the financial/political will.

      well, twenty years ago…maybe, might have been the tie, but the carbon footprints of those technologies might have been assessed honestly (though doubtful), not to mention the choke-point of rare earth minerals needed for big battery storage. oh, and,,,yanno, the largest carbon footprint made in the UA: the military! solar bombers, anyone?

      and double arrggh on winston’s procreation as ‘duty to the party’. i’d sure forgotten that.

      • spending some time w/20 yrs old-ish kids who have some greater or lesser glimmering of the mortgaged & foreclosed & ready for demolition future that the world has handed to them. looking for hope, a reason to live.

        we are all going back to the earth one way or another. and all the elements that brought forth life will still exist on earth and, after we ruin it all, in a few million years, when the morning light comes creeping in, nature’ll get up & do it again.

        but what about me? what about my life, plans, work, etc.? my family, children, friends, lovers? some of the anxieties about the end of the world are no different than anxieties about death, end of self, fear of the dark when the dim light of one’s present consciousness is flicked off. but that we can now make the world cease to exist, without children or a future of some kind, was not imaginable in past ages as it is today. we cannot console ourselves with the quasi-immortality offered through reproduction of self in childbearing, a la The Symposium, that urge toward the expansion & transmission of life shared by all of life on earth, b/c the future is foreclosed. or so we fear.

        but the future is not foreclosed. we’ve only heard about it from rumors in the press. that there is no alternative, that we cannot awake from history’s nightmare, who is paying these prophets of doom to say these things?

        try what repentance can. what can it not? heart with strings of steel,
        Be soft as sinews of the newborn babe! All may be well.

        we come from the earth and will return. now is the trial of the earth, our mother’s test, if we will care for our home, oikonomia, management of the world house.

        as for now, increase the love. the song of the earth has not ceased.

        • smile x 2 for a marching song from shostakovitch. but it’ll be a slow climate chaos death, and the poor will go first. but first they’ll be further oppressed and immiserated by the next all street bubble meltdown, which will reverberate around much of the globe. nuclear war? when i used to imagine that as the end of the world, i’d see it like prescient cartoonist r cobb had long ago: the dolphins ‘oh, my’-ing, and surviving, also the cockroaches.

          but as for even bringing news from the prophets of doom: this part III gleaned exactly two discrete commenters total. sigh. so much for a big finale. same with my vignette i posted both here and over yonder as a mental health break. guess i was the main one who’d needed the break, lol.

          but srsly, look at how far-seeing cobb was: pigs beating citizens, surveillance, end of the world, pave paradise, etc.

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