Saturday, April 19, 2014

World Bank Wants Water Privitized, Despite Risks



WORLD BANK WANTS WATER PRIVATIZED, DESPITE RISKS

The World Bank Group pushes privatization as a key solution to the water crisis. It is the largest funder of water management in the developing world, with loans and financing channeled through the group’s International Finance Corporation (IFC). Since the 1980s, the IFC has been promoting these water projects as part of a broader set of privatization policies, with loans and financing tied to enacting austerity measures designed to shrink the state, from the telecom industry to water utilities.

But international advocacy and civil society groups point to the pockmarked record of private-sector water projects and are calling on the World Bank Group to end support for private water.

In the decades since the IFC’s initial push, we have seen the results of water privatization: It doesn’t work. Water is not like telecommunications or transportation. You could tolerate crappy phone service, but have faulty pipes connecting to your municipal water and you’re in real trouble. Water is exceptional.

Private sector priorities

“Water is a public good,” Shayda Naficy, the director of the International Water Campaign at Corporate Accountability International (CAI), told me, “for which inequality has to fall within a certain range — or it means life and death.” When the private sector engages in water provision, greater disparities in access and cost follow.

End of excerpt

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

It is criminal to privatize water as water is a natural substance free to all who inhabit the Earth. Privatizing this exceptional resource brings social, economic and environmental stress to regions already afflicted with water scarcity as well as decreases in water quality as profits are used to benefit the company not the users. It brings thirst and death to the poor in developing countries who cannot afford it. Water should never be an elitist commodity only for the rich to exploit.

The World Bank has been involved in the privatization of water for years even while it now touts being concerned about climate change. The two are not mutually exclusive-you cannot say you are concerned about climate change while pushing privatization of water resources...unless of course, you are using climate change to benefit yourself through water privatization. Subsistence farmers depend on access to water in order to grow food and live. Water is the life blood of our world. To seek to keep it accessible only to those who can afford your price especially in an age of extreme drought and climate change when more are at risk is evil in the extreme.

Dried Up, Sold Out (How the World Bank’s Push for Private Water Harms the Poor)

We the people must continue to fight for water access to all, free of corporate interference.

Remember, who controls the water then controls the seeds and then your life.

NEVER FORGET COCHABAMBA.





Take Action:

Tell the World Bank: Divest From Private Water

Make no mistake. This is a war.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Fifty Years On, Rachel Carson Still Speaks To Us



Breaking the waves: Carson in 1962. Photo: Getty Images

Fifty years on, we should celebrate the sea writings of Rachel Carson

Fifty years on, we should celebrate the sea writings of Rachel Carson

With Silent Spring, Rachel Carson helped to launch the modern ecology movement – but it is her sea trilogy that captures her spirit.

BY JOHN BURNSIDE PUBLISHED 14 APRIL, 2014 - 17:24

It is 50 years since Rachel Carson died, her indomitable spirit finally exhausted by a long struggle with cancer and by a necessary but disheartening battle against the smear campaigns, misinformation and outright lies of the chemical industry she had challenged in her book Silent Spring. In 1964, it must have seemed that she had died victorious: the blanket spraying of DDT had ceased and a new wave of environmental awareness had taken hold, first in the United States and then worldwide. Indeed, many date the beginnings of the modern ecology movement to 1962, when Silent Spring first appeared, and although far too many compromises have been made since then a strong current of committed “dark green” or deep ecological thinking has developed out of her work and that of others.

The irony is that Carson would probably not have considered her role as anything like as important as has been made out (she saw herself as a nature writer who, somewhat unwillingly, got caught up in an environmental campaign), and in terms of her place in literary history the success of that campaign overshadowed the work she would have considered more her own – the great “sea trilogy”, comprising Under the Sea Wind (1941), The Sea Around Us (1951) and The Edge of the Sea (1955). The commercial success of these books drove a concerned public to seek Carson out as a spokesperson on DDT, which led to Silent Spring. Yet it is the sea trilogy that ought to stand as her true legacy and finest achievement, both artistic and scientific, for it was in these books that she set a standard for nature writing that has rarely, if ever, been surpassed.

A marine biologist by education and employment, Carson was never far from the sea and treasured the shore, the ever-shifting line between land and water, as a place where we sense “that intricate fabric of life by which one creature is linked with another, and each with its surroundings”. It was that intricacy – a sense of continuity, rather than connectedness; of inter-animation, even – that she sought to convey in her writing, an intricacy that offers us an intimation of meaning, however difficult it may be to pin down.

“The meaning haunts and ever eludes us,” she writes, in the concluding lines of the trilogy, “and in its very pursuit we approach the ultimate mystery of Life itself.” As the origin of that life, the sea became, inevitably, a source of infinite study and infinite wonder – a word that features strongly in her work, along with unashamed invocations of “mystery” and “beauty”. Yet in spite of, or perhaps because of, her commitment to such seemingly unscientific experiences, she never forgot to ground them in rigorous observation.

End of excerpt

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Rachel Carson was my first inspiration at twelve years old. It is because of her writing and her love of life and concern for the world we were making then that I became aware of the responsibilty we all have to be good stewards of this planet. For what we do to her we do to ourselves. I celebrate her life but am sad at what she would think of how we have totally abused our oceans. She wrote of them so beautifully relaying to us that a true understanding of ourselves can only occur when we look to the sea. Thank you Rachel Carson for opening my eyes so young.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Thousands Remain Homeless Following Solomon Islands Flash Floods

ADDED 4-14-14: IPCC Report Released Today

How many more will now be doomed to rising seas, extreme storms, droughts and floods because we refuse to face our addiction?

Death Toll Rises in Flood Hit Solomon Islands

Disease is now an urgent concern with 2 toilets for 2000 people in one camp! Misery follows this lack of preparation as heavy rains are too much for infrastructure. These are exactly the conditions that we can expect to intensify as climate change becomes more severe. These disasters are what is happening now while people concern themselves with FOX NEWS. We no longer have time to care what FOX NEWS is saying. The reality of this and the science behind why these events are so much more severe has been known for years. We now need to ask this question: What is more important? Getting the Earth prepared for the catastrophe of our making as we certainly will continue to behave against our own survival or constantly arguing with someone who will never understand or care? As with the entry I placed here about Colombia as all the other entries about the loss of life, culture and the systems that sustain us due to climate change, this is becoming too overwhelming to continue business as usual.

Thousands Remain Homeless Following Solomon Islands Flash Floods

By Ika Koeck, IFRC

On 3 April, flash flooding triggered by prolonged heavy rainfall swept through the Solomon Islands, killing at least 17 people and leaving more than 20 missing. An initial assessment estimated that 12,000 people in the capital city of Honiara were affected. Another 37,000 people across Guadalcanal province were displaced when the Mataniko River burst its banks and carried entire riverside communities away.

The flooding in Honiara forced staff from The Solomon Islands Red Cross to evacuate from their headquarters and establish an Emergency Operations Centre (EOC) at the Honiara Hotel from where they have been coordinating relief efforts. More than 10,000 people remain sheltered in 26 evacuation centres set up around the city. Red Cross teams assisted in the evacuation of vulnerable communities along the Mataniko River and registered people in shelters. Emergency response teams deployed to the main evacuation centres have been working with other relief agencies and the National Disaster Management Office to distribute food and non-food relief items.

Electricity and water supplies to the city have been disrupted, and there are growing concerns for the health of the local population.

"We really need to get on top of helping these people live comfortably and hygienically, and ensure they are being fed and looked after well. That's our greatest concern now here in Honiara," says Joanne Zoleveke, secretary general of the national Red Cross society."

End of excerpt.



Solomon Island Floods:Photos

"At least 19 people are dead and another 40 remain missing after devastating flash floods struck the Solomon Islands late last week. Another 49,000 people have been left homeless by the rising waters and over a dozen bridges have been washed out.

The floods were caused by a slow moving low pressure weather system that dumped rain on the islands on Thursday, causing major rivers in cities to burst their banks and inundate surrounding areas. The Mataniko River, which runs through the heart of the capital city, Honiara, pulled dozens of houses into the floodwaters and brought down a bridge as it overflowed its banks.

That weather system has since been upgraded to tropical cyclone Ita and could bring severe weather to parts of the Philippines still rebuilding after Hurricane Haiyan. To add to the misery of islanders and the difficulty of the recovery effort a 6.0 magnitude earthquake rocked the region late Friday.

“This is unprecedented, and I’ve seen earthquakes and tsunamis and other very bad flooding incidents,” Katie Greenwood, country director of Oxfam told the Guardian.“But this flash flooding is unlike anything that I’ve seen previously here in the country.”

End of excerpt

~~~~~~~~

Global Flood Map/Solomon Islands

Cyclone Ita: Queensland hit by 'very destructive' storm

Destructive Cyclone Ita mentioned above has now hit Queensland, Australia rapidly intensifying from a strong Category 1 to a Category 4 equivalent cyclone in just 12 hours Thursday.

SST/Australia

So again, we know cyclones hit this area of Australia. It is not about that but the amplififcation of severity and ferocity that leads to what we now see happening with more frequency throughout the world. Take a look at current SST (Sea Surface Temperature) off Eastern coast Of Australia.

The heartbreaking disasters culminating from our fossil fuel addiction continue. The longer we wait to take adequate global action the worse it is going to get.

NASA GISS Shows March 2014 Was Third Hottest on Record as Arctic Heatwave Spurs Siberian Fire Season to Early Start



This is April 12, 2014. Notice the Arctic red. Methane?

Wednesday, April 09, 2014

A Voice From The Future



Dateline: 2050.

I write to you from the future. I think it is necessary for me to do so considering that many living in your present 2014 still do not comprehend the true urgency of what is now taking place due to man's insistence that he either has little to no effect on the systems of the Earth that sustain him or that what is occurring is not going to come to full catastrophe in his lifetime so he just doesn't care. As a voice from the future I am writing to tell you how so very wrong and immoral that assumption is.

I am writing from a place where water is now not something we see everyday though it was once flowing. We once had prosperity here which allowed us to grow a number of crops that brought us great wealth. However, we truly did not understand the definition of true wealth until the drought of 2020. We had thought the drought of 2014 was bad but it was nothing like the one to follow six years later and by then we had drilled so far down into the ground that most of the water had already been used with little being replenished due to changing rain patterns and snow melt that left us next to nothing. It was only then that we realized where our wealth was and that we had squandered it.

Many people left after that and moved inland, though it wasn't much better there as the main aquifer as well was running too low to sustain the huge thirst and hunger of a growing population. Many of us now are doing what we can to adapt (tapping the declining table of the Great Lakes in a tenuous agreement with Canada) and asking this question: Where were you all in 2014?

If you recall, in 2014 and in all the years before it back to the 1950s (which is about one hundred years ago now) scientists warned that if humans continued on the path they were on there would be a time when they would push Earth's systems to a place they had never been before. As more scientific data came forward and these effects began manifesting themselves at a greater pace it was obvious these warnings were correct. Yet, people continued to place power in the hands of the very entities and governments of the world proliferating the crisis and continued to burn fossil fuels, deforest land and pollute the water and air denying that the cumulative effects would do much if any harm. Even countries that signed that so called climate treaty in Paris in 2015 signed in name only because they knew that even in 2015 it was too late- that they had waited too long- perhaps by design.

Well, I now ask you from the future: Is this not harm?

Our oceans are acidic, our marinelife dying. A combination of climate change with other human factors as well as erosion and sea level rise are now laying waste to many low lying areas of the world. Some species of fish are no more because they were all fished out of the ocean with areas of the Atlantic and Pacific now cordoned off and designated as no entry zones due to the amount of waste and pollutants.

We now have seen the Marshall Islands, Kiribati, the Maldives, the Carteret Islands, Vanuatu, much of Bangladesh and many other island nations under the rising waters as continued logging and oil excavation also led to greater subsidence in concert with sea level rise due to anthropogenic climate change. Many were evacuated years ago yet still suffer from the injustice of being given no citizenship and no place to call their own. Many indigenous people were pushed off their land to make way for mega-dams that did nothing but provide limited power to the rich while ignoring the plight of the poor as their lands were flooded, their agriculture destroyed and their cultures decimated. This led to conflict in concert with the effects of climate change with many dying.

On the continents, heatwaves have increased in severity and global food output has decreased. North America has become much like a desert in the Southwest US with many species dying due to drought. The Midwest as I mentioned before is not faring too much better as people moving inland from both coasts now fight over remaining water supplies and resources to sustain a growing population. Sea level rise on the East Coast is now encroaching on many shore areas and salt water intrusion also affecting agriculture. The East Coast also was lulled into a false sense of security after Hurricane Sandy when it had not seen another storm for the next couple of years. However, the hurricane that hit the coast in 2019 was even stronger than Sandy as many shore areas were totally taken by the sea. The huge storm caused great economic turmoil and the emotional and psychological effects are still being felt today. Yet, fossil fuels continued to be burned.

There was a great insurgence started in 2014 to bring about an end to what was called "fracking" in order to save water with more civil disobedience leading to a renewed hope. Then the KXL pipeline was approved and that started massive resistance but to no avail. I visited the memorial dedicated to those who fought and died in fighting to stop it. Brave people. It was however, the administration in place at the time like all before it that bowed to the fossil fuel industry instead of putting principle first even in light of these warnings that precipitated all this by continuing to allow tarsands.

Their "All Of The Above" policy did little to help solve anything as continued forcing and feedbacks on the system made the increases in renewable energy though promising not enough to stave off the effects of what was happening in the Arctic which was virtually all but ignored except for a few who rang the alarm bell.

Then the Arctic War began in 2025 as governments of the world continued to loot the planet of its fossil fuel resources in order to control the energy markets thus leading to more casualties once again of our young people fighting for a false choice that has done nothing but lead us to more conflict. It was the people in Congress then who denied all this because it brought them oil money as well who have much blood on their hands.

South America is in what seems to be perpetual drought and flood stages with much of its wildlife suffering as many more have died and resource wars rage there. It is a constant struggle to keep the Amazon from being totally deforested as illegal loggers and crime lords wage war against indigenous people to land grab. Monoculture as well has not lent to prosperity for anyone but industrial agriculture/biotech companies with effects manifesting themselves across the environmental sphere with great losses to biodiversity.

In Europe, Asia and Africa there were great uprisings by the people as well, however the effects of climate change now overtake many poor areas of the world with constant conflict over resources raging with military control of many areas. Australia has seen the worst effects as the Great Barrier Reef is dying and coal and oil exploration has brought Australia to the point of being the focal point of climate change effects. This once again due to government apathy to principle.

While some good has come from all this in that many more people have awakened and mobilized it has been too late in many places to forge a real change as the Anthropocene era is bringing us full circle regarding our species. We are now in a stage called "peak oil" as we see the end of the carbon age upon us as we now have no choice but to transition, but now knowing it will not help stop what has already been put into motion. Since we collectively did not heed the warnings of those voices from the past regarding the consequences of our addiction nor answer the call with our moral voices we in this world now in 2050 face the turning point of our existence as a civilization as we see our cherished places being lost to us forever. It could all have been avoided if only those living in 2014 and before had put aside their pettiness, hubris, selfishness, political hatred, pride and greed to understand that what they did then effected now.

Therefore, while you still live in 2014, heed the warnings of my voice from the future: Water is your wealth. It is your life. Unless you see that in concert with finding your humanity the events described because you did not will play out.

It is your time now to save what you can and to prepare to adapt to the world you have the power to make. Use it wisely.


~~~~~~~~~~~

I don't think this is even half of what we will experience by 2050. However, I think sometimes people need to see a glimpse into the future which is really now in order to appreciate the time we have in the present to make the right choices, because time is running out... and believe me, it took great restraint on my part to not be more emotional in writing this. Our children do not deserve this!

Perspective is now imperative and we can no longer claim ignorance:

Also see:

IPCC: Climate Change Increasing Risk of Hunger, Thirst, Disease, Refugees and War

New IPCC Report More Sure Of What We Were Already Sure About

The Oceans Warmed Up Sharply in 2013

Monday, April 07, 2014

Extreme Drought Causes Environmental Crisis In Colombia

Extreme Drought Causes Environmental Crisis In Colombia

On World Water Day, March 22, Colombian news reports were released with horrific photos of scores of dead wildlife. A devastating drought has created an environmental crisis, threatening public health and killing more than 20,000 fish and animals in the Paz de Ariporo municipality of Casanare, Colombia. This water shortage rings the alarm that we need to adjust environmental policies regarding our water resources from the local to the international level.

SLIDESHOW ► Slideshow

The three Waterkeeper organizations in Casanare, Colombia—Rio Meta Waterkeeper, Rio Pauto Waterkeeper and Rio Cravo Sur Waterkeeper—have spent years fighting for access to clean water as a basic human right, advocating for industry compliance with Colombian law and educating citizens about the detrimental effects of industrial hydrocarbon exploitation, and the uncontrolled expansion of thirsty agriculture and livestock industries at the expense of small farmers, rural communities and the environment. It is clearly time for Colombian environmental policy and institutions to be strengthened, and for all world citizens to reconsider placing economic interests, dirty energy and unsustainable technologies before the environment and our public health. Global water resources need to be a priority in all political and policy conversations, and as citizens we need to organize our communities to defend and conserve our water.

The Orinoquia region of Colombia is seasonably vulnerable to environmental pressures because it is an expansive savannah with submerged wetlands during the wet season, April to December, and desert-like conditions with temperatures consistently above 100° Fahrenheit from January to March. Historically, the principal industry is cattle farming, and it is rich in wildlife, including rare animals like capybaras, as well as turtles, alligators, foxes, jackals, wild pigs, deer and many species of fish.

The last three months have brought one of the worst dry seasons in Colombia’s history, drying up the reservoirs that already handle excessive demand from cattle farms, exploratory oil drilling and exploitation, and unsustainable land use for commercial crops. We are now seeing the devastating consequences of these unregulated industries, with widespread loss of wildlife from dehydration.

Public statements that this is an abstract consequence of climate change are simplistic and do not attribute responsibility to the multinational industries directly causing environmental damage through water overuse and indirectly by contributing to greenhouse gas emissions as evidenced in the new IPCC report Climate Change 2014: Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability. As Waterkeepers we are calling on the Colombian Ministry of Environment, Ministry of Mines and Energy and National Authority of Environmental Licensing to fulfill their legal responsibility to prevent large-scale environmental disasters and protect public health and key ecosystems.

SNIP

Clearly, an environmental disaster of this magnitude has several causes, as our ecosystems are delicate, complex and interconnected. It is important that we use our developing knowledge of climate change in assessing and improving our current economic and environmental strategies from the local to the international level. To effect real change we need to pressure the appropriate governmental bodies to hold the oil, agriculture and livestock industries accountable, and to protect their citizens.

SNIP

Today, climate change strikes Casanare, Colombia with extreme drought and thousands of wildlife deaths. Nearly every month we hear of another environmental disaster caused by extreme weather events around the world. If we do not heed recommendations to adapt our behavior and mitigate the disastrous consequences of climate change immediately, how many will be affected tomorrow, and where?

End of excerpt

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

"It has become appallingly obvious that our technology has exceeded our humanity."

Albert Einstein.



20K Wildlife/Livestock Dead Due To Brutal Drought

It is very hard to write about these horrible events especially knowing what is to come. There are not many more ways to express the urgency of this and hard to have hope as well especially among the silence. This is beyond heartbreaking and cruel. The quote above from Albert Einstein says it all. How can this not touch your very soul?!

Saturday, April 05, 2014

Arctic Ice Extent Fifth Lowest On Record

The National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) announced on March 21 that the total amount of ice cover for the Arctic peaked at 5.7 million square miles, or 282,000 square miles below the 1981-to-2010 average. This is the fifth-lowest winter ice cover extent since satellite records began in 1978. The lowest maximum extent recorded was in 2011 at 5.65 million square miles of ice cover. In September 2012 an 18 percent loss over previous years left it covered by less ice than ever before. In the latest IPCC report, the world’s leading climate scientists confirmed that Arctic summer sea ice was declining at rates much faster than predicted by most models. Arctic sea ice extent has been trending dramatically downwards for the last four decades as the scientific consensus confirms anthropogenic causes as the catalyst.



Per NSIDC this is explanation of late season surge in extent and slight increase in volume:

"The late-season surge in extent came as the Arctic Oscillation turned strongly positive the second week of March. This was associated with unusually low sea level pressure in the eastern Arctic and the northern North Atlantic. The pattern of surface winds helped to spread out the ice pack in the Barents Sea where the ice cover had been anomalously low all winter. Northeasterly winds also helped push the ice pack southwards in the Bering Sea, another site of persistently low extent earlier in the 2013 to 2014 Arctic winter. Air temperatures however remained unusually high throughout the Arctic during the second half of March, at 2 to 6 degrees Celsius (4 to 11 degrees Fahrenheit) above the 1981 to 2010 average."

Another explanation of the low extent was an overall milder winter in the Arctic (with record breaking temperatures seen in Alaska) as colder air was pushed into the South to Canada and the United States. In February, temperatures were 7.2° to 14.4°F above normal for much of the Arctic.

This then also brings attention to the increased amounts of methane over the Arctic Ocean and the positive feedbacks put into motion from the continued overall decline in Arctic sea ice:



Earthquakes In The Arctic Ocean

Excerpt:

"As discussed in many previous posts, the Arctic has become warmer than it used to be and temperatures in the Arctic are rising several times faster than global temperatures. This decreases the temperature difference between the areas to the north and to the south of the Jet Stream, which in turn decreases the speed at which the Jet Stream circumnavigates the globe, making the Jet Stream more wavier and increasing opportunities for cold air to descend from the Arctic and for warm air to enter the Arctic.

Snip



These wild temperature swings may be causing even further damage, on top of the methane eruptions from the heights of Greenland. Look at the above map, showing earthquakes that hit the Arctic in March 2014.

BTW, above map doesn't show all earthquakes that occured in the Arctic Ocean in March 2014. An earthquake with a magnitude of 4.5 on the Richter scale hit the Gakkel Ridge on March 6, 2014.

Importantly, above map shows a number of earthquakes that occurred far away from faultlines, including a M4.6 earthquake that hit Baffin Bay and a M4.5 earthquake that hit the Labrador Sea. These earthquakes are unlikely to have resulted from movement in tectonic plates. Instead, temperature swings over Greenland may have triggered these events, by causing a succession of compression and expansion swings of the Greenland ice mass, which in turn caused pressure changes that were felt in the crust surrounding the Greenland Ice Sheet.

Glaciers could be the key to make this happen. Glaciers typically move smoothly and gradually. It could be, however, that such wide temperature swings are causing glaciers to come to a halt, temporarily, causing pressure to build up over a day or so, to then suddenly start moving again with a shock. Intense cold can literally freeze a glacier in its track, to be shocked into moving again as temperatures rise abruptly by 40°C or so. This can send shockwaves through the ice sheet into the crust and trigger earthquakes in areas prone to destabilization. The same mechanism could explain the high methane concentrations over the heights of Greenland and Antarctica.

Ominously, patterns of earthquakes can be indicators of bigger earthquakes yet to come.

This situation looks set to get a lot worse. Extreme weather events and wild temperature swings look set to become more likely to occur and hit Greenland with ever greater ferocity. Earthquakes could reveberate around the Arctic Ocean and destabilize methane held in the form of free gas and hydrates in sediments underneath the Arctic Ocean.

Meanwhile, as pollution clouds from North America move (due to the Coriolis Effect) over the Atlantic Ocean, the Gulf Stream continues to warm up and carry warmer water into the Arctic Ocean, further increasing the likelihood of methane eruptions from the Arctic seafloor."

End of excerpt.

My thanks to Arctic News for these informative and necessary reports. It is obvious this is not going to be covered by the US media.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Also see:

Scientists Sound Alarm On Climate

Methane Levels Continue To Destabilize-Yet Silence

Arctic Ice Reaches Annual Mimimum

The "Polar Vortex" Freezing Us Today Due In Part To Global Warming

Arctic Ocean Leaking Methane At Alarming Rate

Methane Feedback and Abrupt Climate Change: How Far Are We From It?

Methane Feedback and Abrupt Climate Change (Part 2)

The Arctic, Humanity's Barometer

Major Loss In Arctic Sea Ice Volume-It Does Effect You

Arctic Melting-Tipping Point That Should Matter To All Of Us

And yet, millions upon millions of barrels of oil are excavated each day - and we continue to burn it even knowing the consequences. Talk about living in denial.

Tuesday, April 01, 2014

California Drought: San Joaquin Valley Sinking As Farmers Race To Tap Aquifer



California Drought: San Joaquin Valley sinking as farmers race to tap aquifer

"PIXLEY – So wet was the San Joaquin Valley of Steve Arthur's childhood that a single 240-foot-deep well could quench the thirst of an arid farm.

Now his massive rig, bucking and belching, must drill 1,200 feet deep in search of ever-more-elusive water to sustain this wheat farm north of Bakersfield. As he drills, his phone rings with three new appeals for help.

"Everybody is starting to panic," said Arthur, whose Fresno-based well-drilling company just bought its ninth rig, off the Wyoming oil fields. "Without water, this valley can't survive."

When water doesn't fall from the sky or flow from reservoirs, there's only one place to find it: underground. So, three years into a devastating drought, thirsty Californians are draining the precious aquifer beneath the nation's most productive farmland like never before, pitting neighbor against neighbor in a perverse race to the bottom.

The rush to drill is driven not just by historically dry conditions, but by a host of other factors that promote short-term consumption over long-term survival -- new, more moisture-demanding crops; improved drilling technologies; and a surge of corporate investors seeking profits for agricultural ventures.

Now those forces are renewing an age-old problem of environmental degradation: Decades ago, overpumping sunk half of the entire San Joaquin Valley, in one area as much as 28 feet. Today new areas are subsiding, some almost a foot each year, damaging bridges and vital canals.

Yet in California, one of the few states that doesn't regulate how much water can be pumped from underground, even this hasn't been enough to create a consensus to stop.

"It's our savings account, and we're draining it," said Phil Isenberg of the Public Policy Institute of California, a former Sacramento mayor and assemblyman. "At some point, there will be none left."

End of excerpt



snip

"The trends are alarming, the politics complex, but the science is rather simple: The Central Valley -- from Redding to Bakersfield -- is consuming twice as much groundwater as nature is returning through rain and snow.

The rate of water loss over the past two years is the largest since the University of California started using NASA satellites to measure underground water reserves in 2003. The Central Valley's reserves are shrinking by 800 billion gallons a year -- enough to supply every resident of California with water for seven months, according to Jay Famiglietti, director of the University of California Center for Hydrologic Modeling.

"We may only be a few decades away from hitting bottom," said Famiglietti, considered one of the leading experts on state water policy.

However, little is being done to control it. States such as Kansas and even Texas prevent unlimited pumping of groundwater. But California has failed to regulate how much groundwater is pumped, leaving it up to the courts to settle disputes over excessive use, according to Barton H. "Buzz" Thompson Jr., professor of natural resources law at Stanford University.

Overpumping not only lowers the water table and collapses land at the surface, but it also lowers water quality and requires more power to pump. River flows are lower, and shallow wells are exhausted.

Farmers have long relied on the government's engineering marvel of aqueducts to bring surface water from giant reservoirs in the north to the south. However, the federally run Central Valley Project allotted farmers only 20 percent of their share last year -- and none this year. Officials who manage the State Water Project, California's other major water system, have also said that they will not be releasing any water for farmers, a first in the system's 54-year history.

So with the drought cutting off their deliveries, farmers say they must rely on the only source left. Those who can afford the $200,000 to $600,000 price tag are digging deeper and deeper to tap into a once-unreachable aquifer. Many are taking out loans, betting on crop yields to break even.

"I've got some of the best land in the nation -- 50 feet of topsoil -- that is sitting vacant if I can't get water," said Thomas Kaljian, of Los Banos, who owns almond orchards on the San Joaquin Valley's west side. "This is the breadbasket of the nation, and we're strangling it."

End of excerpt



~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

"It's our savings account, and we're draining it," said Phil Isenberg of the Public Policy Institute of California, a former Sacramento mayor and assemblyman. "At some point, there will be none left."

And some dare say this is not a manmade crisis? Greed, selfishness, consumption will be the undoing of California. Can you even imagine a Silicon Valley company "agricultural" venture to open up an ALMOND farm? Do you really feel sorry for greedy opportunists like this who now think they should get first dibs on water with this mindset? : Rain...gone. Surface water...gone. Aquifers...going...but let's just keep overpumping to maintain OUR lifestyle without giving a damn for anyone else and to hell with climate change or any other considerations, you know, like the future.

How about people try to do without almonds now in exchange for perhaps saving some water for our children to drink? For fish to live in? How about growing something not so water intensive? How about smart irrigation and having the moral will to just take your share? Talk about the need for a paradigm shift in perception.

It is coming to a full head here. When you drill for water, you take ALL OF IT, not just the water directly under your land! The deeper you go the worse it gets for everyone...and then...it all sinks. This is also a primer for a world in climate change induced drought. Take a good look and hope that when the end of the water is near we don't start hearing gunshots...but then of course, Agent Orange DOW Chemical (that is big into reverse osmosis and probably applauding this) can come to the rescue and make the population pay through the nose for some desalinated Pacific Ocean water that hopefully hasn't then been irradiated or FRACKED. Tell me again how we humans have "evolved."

Also see:

Devastating Drought Continues To Plague California

California Drought: 17 Communities Could Run Out of Water Within 60 To 120 days/Updates

Monday, March 31, 2014

IPCC: Climate Change Increasing Risk of Hunger, Thirst, Disease, Refugees and War

UPDATE:4-14-14: IPCC: Working Group III: Mitigation Of Climate Change

Unfortunately, the IPCC has chosen to suggest mitigation solutions (we also need to ADAPT and plan for massive amounts of climate refugees falling victim to rising seas) that will only exacerbate the crisis as it gives impetus for fossil fuel companies to continue with business as usual even knowing that we must leave them in the ground in order to avoid cataclysm. Suggesting CCS (carbon capture and sequestration) is a fool's errand as is even suggesting nuclear (water intensive energy sources are not going to sustain a world in drought!- and hello,-Fukushima?) Biomass is polluting and produces black carbon. There was mention of afforestation but not in concert with Sustainable Agriculture on a wide scale-we need sinks, sinks and more sinks. Also telling us to "fix leaks in pipes transporting fuel" is not a solution. LEAVING IT IN THE GROUND IS.

People in the developing world (who BTW need contraception and education with us NOT going to the dark side of this) as well as everywhere else must also have access to solar on a massive scale NOW, as well as access to seeds they can save, an end to the privatization of their lives (including their water) and NO corporate GMO monoculture seeds especially if we care about biodiversity. How about we also stop consuming so much so unequally on the whole? Too much emphasis on tech fixes not enough emphasis on humanity and the moral will needed as well.

These suggestions on the whole just give more leeway for corporations to continue business as usual especially regarding time frames of emission output and corresponding PPM in relation to emissions timelags/feedbacks which I did not see mentioned. Suppose it is time to take out the countdown clock.

At a time when urgency must prevail we get suggestions that give the impression we now have the rest of this century to get our act together intimating that when push comes to shove even they are afraid to stand up to the fossil fuel industry and the governments in collusion with them. We need a specific transition time frame regarding renewables in concert with resource depletion rates in order to meet the gap of peak oil which will occur before 2050. Refusing to discuss this is only dooming us down the line.

Also see:

Nine Ways To Slow Climate Change

In other words, we are screwed so here are some ways to make us look like we did something so we can tell our grandchildren we tried while still not having to take moral responsibility for our fossil fuel addiction. I weep for the future if this is the best we can do.

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IPCC: Climate Change 2014: Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability



This report released today really doesn't tell us anything new. However, it does warn us more starkly that our belief that we can continue to walk the path we are on and avoid catastrophic consequences is more than ill founded, it is a definite betrayal to ourselves, all species and those to come.

It also tells me that the solutions are not hard. They are the ones we have always had right before our eyes. Humility and respect for Earth that translates into smarter more efficient ways of farming, building, protecting and nourishing our Earth which in turn will then protect and nourish us.

I have stated this many times before and will state it again: Sustainable Agriculture is the key to our continued survival as well as massive tree planting and a transition to renewable energy that excludes all fossil fuels in time to meet the peak oil curve and to conserve water.

Technology cannot save us, humanity will.

Tropical Cyclone Hellen Crushing Parts of Madagascar

UPDATE: 4-1-14: Tropical Cyclone Hellen: Worst Case Scenario Avoided in Madagascar

Good news. Still looking for more information.

Tropical Cyclone Hellen Crushing Parts of Madagascar

"In the southwestern Indian Ocean today (March 31, 2014), a powerful cyclone is bringing dangerous storm surge, violent winds, and heavy rain that could result in flooding and mudslides in Madagascar, an island country in the Indian Ocean, off the coast of southeastern Africa. Tropical Cyclone Hellen peaked on March 30 with sustained winds around 150 miles per hour (240 km per hour). Hellen is a slow moving cyclone, so flooding will be a significant issue through Wednesday, April 2.



Bottom line: Although the storm’s wind intensity and satellite appearance indicates a weaker storm, we warn you to not be fooled. Tropical Cyclone Hellen will still be a formidable storm capable of producing widespread flooding and a significant storm surge as high as 15 to 25 feet in Madagascar. Meteorologists said Hellen was likely to be “one of the most powerful tropical cyclones ever seen over the northern channel [of the southwestern India Ocean] since the satellite era (1967).”

End of excerpt.

Dangerous Category 4 Hellen Nears Madagascar

I will update when I find more information. Prayers for people there to remain safe especially in light of projected storm surge.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Bolivia and Britain-A Tale of Two Floods - and Some Climate Truth

UPDATE: 4-3-14: Are Brazil’s Dams to Blame for Record Floods in Bolivia?

The proliferation of megadams (that do not benefit the poor) that also effect agriculture, rivers and displacement of indigenous people are not feasible especially in light of amplififation of climate change effects.

In recent months, Bolivia’s Amazonian region has experienced the most disastrous flooding of the past 100 years. In the Beni department, 7 of 8 provinces and 16 of 19 municipalities are under water, with 75,000 people (more than one-quarter of the population) affected. Economic losses from the death of 250,000 livestock heads and destruction of seasonal crop lands, estimated at $180 million, are mounting daily.

While seasonal flooding is common in Beni, experts agree that climate change has added a threatening new dimension to the cyclical pattern, bringing record rainfall to most of Bolivia this year. Deforestation, exploitation of cultivable land, and loss of infrastructure through the breakup of traditional communities are other factors contributing to soil erosion and increased vulnerability to flooding.

In the past weeks, attention has focused on the role played by two recently-inaugurated Brazilian mega-dams—the Jirau and the San Antonio—in Bolivia’s floods. Located on the Madeira River, the largest tributary of the Amazon which receives its waters from rivers in Bolivia and Peru, the dams are just 50 and 110 miles, respectively, from Brazil’s Bolivian border.

The dams are part of an even largerhydroelectric power complex planned for the area, which will include a third, binational dam (Ribeirao) directly on the border, and a fourth station inside Bolivia (Cachuela Esperanza). The dams are designed to generate electricity for Brazil’s industrial heartland, one thousand miles to the south.


End of excerpt

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UPDATE: 3-29-14:

UN climate science report will highlight ‘limits to adaptation’

Once again we will see the rich nations push aside "loss and damage" in trying to skirt responsibility. Climate change will reveal the ugly prejudices people have been harboring when called to truly be human first in order to save us all. This is truly the greatest moral challenge of our time. Describing this in terms of economics and politics leaves us failing. Describing this in terms of us being human first is the only way to save lives.

NASA/Earth Observatory/Flooding In Bolivia

"Residents of Bolivia’s low-lying Beni region are accustomed to flooding. Every February and March, rivers routinely burst their banks due to melting snowpack in the Andes Mountains and near daily rainstorms associated with the wet season. However, the floods Bolivians faced in February 2014 were unusually severe. Weeks of heavy rains caused the Beni and MamorĂ© Rivers to swell, swamping more than 40,000 hectares (100,000 acres) of land. According to media reports, floodwaters killed at least 60 people and damaged the homes of more than 60,000. Large numbers of livestock were also affected. Preliminary estimates suggest at least 100,000 cattle were killed by floods, and hundreds of thousands more were threatened by starvation.

The false-color image at the top of this page was acquired by the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Aqua satellite on February 17, 2014. For comparison, the second image shows conditions along the rivers under more typical conditions on March 28, 2013 (as seen by Terra). Sediment-laden flood and river water appears blue; flood water with less sediment appears black. A natural-color view of the same area is available here. "What is happening, particularly in Beni province, is something never before seen in the history of Bolivia,” said president Evo Morales during the midst of the crisis."

Also see:

UPDATE 6-6-13:Czech Floods...Floods in Central Europe... Floods in the Midwest... Monster Tornadoes...Heatwaves...Glacier Melting...Excessive Drought... Now, What Could Be The Reason? Really? People Are Still Asking That Question?



Earth is home to ALL of us. What we do to our only home we do to ourselves.

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Bolivia and Britian-A Tale Of Two Floods

By Maddy Ryle
11th March 2014

Living between southern England and Bolivia, Maddy Ryle finds inconsistent media attitudes in reporting extreme weather and climate change - and searches out new narratives that engage and empower communities across the world.

In a recent blog a Bolivia-based climate commentator referenced media commentary on the aftermath of floods in the UK - as a way of drawing comparison with the extreme weather that has been causing devastation in parts of Bolivia in the last few weeks.

I normally live in the south of England but have been in Bolivia during this torrential period for both countries. The impact in both places has been severe, but undoubtedly more so here, in South America's poorest nation.

The flooding in Bolivia - particularly dire in the Beni region that borders Brazil in the northeast - has resulted in close to 60 deaths, affected close to 60,000 families (including many homes lost entirely), and done away with nearly 40,000 hectares of crops and around 100,000 head of cattle in this significantly agricultural economy.

Increasing severity

Floods are not unusual in Bolivia (or in the UK), although their severity and regularity in recent years is something new. I work for an organisation here that was doing field work back in 2010 about floods, drought and glacier loss.

The work focused on the fact that Bolivia was an 'early impact' country for the effects of climate change, and that its matrix of vulnerabilities (geographic, topographical, economic, social and political - amongst others) mean that as climate change gathers pace, people in Bolivia are going to be exposed to a wide range of problems and insufficient resources to deal with them.

Now maybe we don't need to talk about 'early impact' countries any more. The extreme weather that we are witnessing across the globe, in rich countries and poor - and especially in the last couple of months - has put climate change back in the headlines, or at least the comment pages.

Are we worried about money? Or people?

Of course, it is notable (and infuriating) that it takes a flood in southern England or a drought in California to do that, when Bolivians, Pakistanis, Somalians, Filipinos and millions of others exposed to the deadly combination of poverty and climate change have been suffering for some time now.

And it remains the case that people in the so-called 'developing world' will always be harder hit by these events. As British Prime Minister David Cameron and the UK insurance industry knows, it costs money to deal with the impacts of flooded businesses and homes, the loss of crops, the cleaning up ...

It also costs money to take measures to prevent these occurrences. Bolivia's president Evo Morales was quick to emphasise the responsibility of the "powers" - the rich industrialised countries of the global North - to deal with the climate crises affecting the global community.

Physician, heal thyself

But there have been others in Bolivia who have turned the spotlight on the government itself, asking that it assume some mantle of responsibility.

Various commentators have pointed to the administration's lack of preparedness despite the fact that some flooding occurs virtually every year during the rainy season in Bolivia.

End of excerpt.

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Comment

Torrential rains and floods above what is normally seen have been pummeling Bolivia as well as Peru and Argentina since the end of last year in a trend that continues to get worse. I bet you didn't know that... however, I am sure everyone who is reading this now knows of the floods that hit Britain because we saw it, actually saw it reported by the media (though of course those two words that shall not be spoken weren't) and it was right that we did see it covered. I know I can recall the nightly news reporting on Prince Harry carrying sandbags to protect the well to do of the towns effected from the oncoming rising Thames. However, I do not recall one broadcast where I saw any reports of the floods hitting Bolivia or any pictures of the poor and indigenous people there struggling or the farmers looking to save their livestock from the rising waters.





Now, why is that? Well, here is some climate truth many do not speak about especially regarding the developing world where it seems to speak such truth is tantamount to heresy. Climate change spawned by anthropogenic excess effects ALL races, creeds, income brackets, sexes, beliefs and locations. Climate change is an equal opportunity destroyer. It is the ultimate equalizer. However, to those who are racist, intolerant and out of touch with any reality but their own climate change is only a threat to their world if at all (and for some something to now only be used for profit) and something they don't think they have to worry about regarding anyone else especially the poor who they believe do not contribute anything to the world. This I do believe is one of the main reasons why progress on addressing and solving this crisis has been stifled.

Why is it when climate change hits California, Britain or France the news is filled with reports and people like John Kerry finally step out of their hiding places to say climate change is "a weapon of mass destruction." Yet, the developing world and poor indigenous people in it have been dealing with the effects of our folly and excess for years- and virtual silence. It cannot be helped but to be said that there are prejudices held that stop people from wanting to help others. Climate change is no different. These are the barriers we will have to lift if we are to save our entire species. People who live in La Paz Bolivia are just as important as people who live in the South of France! People who live in Indonesia and other islands that will sink under the tide of rising seas are just as important as people who live in the mansions of Bel Air!

In all my years of writing about and studying climate change one observation has always struck a chord with me: The climate exclusivity of it all especially regarding UN COP Conferences and other climate "meetings" that are supposedly meant to bring about climate accords to help people adapt that specifically exclude poor nations and indigenous people. Also, watching as the environmental movement and these conferences are slowly commandeered by corporate interests that introduce mechanisms that claim to want to save the climate but are actually only mechanisms being used by corporate interests to push indigenous populations off their land in order for these corporate interests to have tax write offs while they continue to pollute! How does that solve this crisis? How does that bring climate justice? How does that address the climate catastrophe we are ALL heading for?

Bolivia is one of the poorest countries in the world and one of the countries most vulnerable to climate change. This was seen just a few years ago when Chacaltaya Glacier completely disappeared six years early:



Bolivia's Chacaltaya Glacier Disappears

Once Upon A Time There Was Chacaltaya

Many Bolivians on the highland plains and in two cities depend on the melting of the glaciers for their water supply during the dry season.

Now what?

These countries are said to be meeting in Paris (big surprise there- another "rich" city that everyone will fly to) in 2015 for yet another COP Conference where it is believed a climate accord will be signed by 194 countries- although Christiana Figueres has already admitted this so called accord will not stop the world from surpassing 2 degrees C or even 4 degrees C. I suspect that once again countries like Bolivia will not be the prime concern as corporate interests will once again seek to fight any true progress that addresses the current and future effects on our world in total in an equitable fashion. And of course, this also applies to the governments of these countries that many times also shirk their responsibilty to their people.

Therein again lies the problem: having those who precipitated the crisis being those in charge of solving it. It is already a self fulfilling prophecy that poor countries like Bolivia that are living on the edge of climate change due to increased severity of droughts, floods, and glacier melt effecting their agriculture and livelihoods will see little help.

This is the crux of our lack of action as humans. Our own failings to see the world as the home of all of us and that we are all in this together. This isn't about anything more than finally seeing the huge challenge before our eyes and not forgetting that our hearts are just as instrumental in solving it as our pens.

The people of Bolivia and those who live in other areas of the world who are developing, poor, indigeneous yet just as resolved maybe even more so to saving this planet to save ourselves deserve no less than the same attention and help that we give to those who live in the developed world. Only when we see that our similarities as humans transcend our money, pride and prejudices will we be able to save this planet for all our children. If you look at the picture of the two Bolivian children above you will see one thing: They are no different than your own and deserve to live and thrive. THAT IS THE CRUX OF CLIMATE JUSTICE. Without it, we fail them all.

Bolivia In Need Of Coordinated Climate Change Policies

Climate Variability and Trends in Bolivia



Vast Areas of Bolivia and Brazil Flooded After Weeks of Torrential Rains

Bolivia floods affect 150,000 people as rains continue -reports