The Time is Growing Short

GR:  An article from last June should be on everyone’s mind now. Here’s my discussion followed by a link to the article.

A group of scientists analyzed the sources of CO2 and the dynamic relationship between the quantity of CO2 in the atmosphere and global temperature to devise a global carbon budget they could use to assess the effect of timing of changes in CO2 emissions. The analysis enabled them to calculate the changes we must make to preserve a livable climate. You’ll have to read the article to see the individual sources of CO2 that must be adjusted. I wanted to mention the timing for the budget. The analysis shows that if CO2 emissions begin to fall immediately and reach zero in 30 years, we will remain within the global warming limits set by the Paris treaty. After the flat emissions of 2014, 2015, and 2016, the authors believed that the fall in emissions was ready to begin. This is good, because their budget shows that if we wait to 2020 to start tapering off CO2 production, we only get 20 years to reach zero emissions. If we wait to 2025, we get less than 10 years to reach zero. Transforming our energy use that quickly would be impossible.

SO, how are we doing. Six months after the analysis was published, we find that 2017 emissions have gone up, not down. Lot’s of positive changes have begun, but we have to wait to see what happens in 2018. If we begin to taper off CO2 emissions by 2020, we will have 20 years to reach zero emissions. I suggest you take a look at the six milestones the authors believe must be reached by 2020. Then you can monitor the world’s progress toward painful climate change (the Paris treaty) or disastrous climate change (with too many storms, fires, heat waves, and rising seas).

Now, let me finish by saying that climate change is just one of the approaching disasters. Human population and its impact is growing, wildlife species are going extinct at incredible rates, freshwater supplies are dropping, and toxic wastes are building up. If we can’t do more than take our CO2 emissions to zero over the next 20-30 years, most of the diversity and beauty of life on Earth will disappear.

Christiana Figueres and colleagues set out a six-point plan for turning the tide of the world’s carbon dioxide by 2020.
NATURE.COM

National Lakes Assessment 2012 Key Findings | National Aquatic Resource Surveys | US EPA

GR:  In a new report, the U. S. Environmental Protection Agency says that 40% of American lakes are polluted, and the situation is getting worse.  The EPA blames “nutrient pollution,” but I’ll be more clear:  The principal cause of American freshwater pollution is farming and the excess fertilizer that washes off the fields or soaks into the ground water. The photo below is from one of my ponds that has excess nitrogen that is probably from the nearby farm.

Algae Bloom BackgroundPeople can avoid harmful effects of polluted water by staying out of the water, by not eating fish from the water, and by not drinking unfiltered water. Wildlife does not have these options. Animal species that spend all or part of their time in water are leading the way down to extinction. Yay humans!

“Lakes and reservoirs provide many environmental, economic, and public health benefits. We use lakes for drinking water, energy production, food and recreation. Fish, birds and other wildlife rely on them for habitat and survival. In the National Lakes Assessment (NLA), the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and its partners surveyed a wide array of lakes representative of those found in the U.S., from small ponds and prairie potholes to large lakes and reservoirs. The NLA is part of the National Aquatic Resource Surveys, a series of statistically-based assessments designed to provide the public and decision-makers with nationally consistent and representative information on the condition of the nation’s waters.”  (Continue reading:  National Lakes Assessment 2012 Key Findings | National Aquatic Resource Surveys | US EPA

Bolivian Water Crisis as Glaciers Vanish, Population Grows

GR:  Many places will have to begin pumping groundwater.  That’s a temporary solution, however.  Here in the arid western United States, we’ve seen what happens as the depth to water falls and the cost of pumping rises. We’ve also seen how toxic metals concentrate in shrinking groundwater aquifers.

One glacier on Chacaltaya mountain… has already completely disappeared.

“Bolivia’s government was recently forced to declare a state of national emergency — a terrible drought, said to be the worst in at least the past 25 years, plus increasing demand in the form of population growth have left the country high and dry.

“As of now, the country is trying to drill their way out the predicament with “emergency wells.” In the city of La Paz, the three main reservoirs that provide the city’s water are almost dry. It is reported that five other major cities also face severe water shortages. Hospitals are working at half capacity and suspending non-emergency surgeries and dialysis. In some poor neighborhoods taps have run dry for three weeks. The Guardian has posted a photo-essay of the situation here.

“One key aspect of the trouble is that Bolivia’s glaciers have dramatically shrank, and so the dams that rely on continuously capturing glacial run-off are rendered somewhat worthless at this point. Bolivia’s population is expected to increase by 50% (to 15 million) by the early 2040’s.” —Joe Bish, Population Media Center (Read mre here:  Bolivian Water Crisis as Glaciers Vanish, Population Grows)

Drought breaks out this fall

GR:  I recommend that you follow the continue reading link.  The figures for the country and lots of specific cities are included.

“Drought has erupted in the Southeast United States in recent months, and emerged in the central plains in recent weeks. Forest fires have dotted the Southern Appalachians. Areas not directly threatened by the fires have dealt with the downstream consequences. Many places—including here in Asheville—have seen an almost uninterrupted run of air quality alerts. My part of the country now faces some of the same challenges many Californians have been battling for several years.

How we got there

“The short version of how we got there, and this isn’t meant to sound flippant, is that it’s been dry and warm.

“Take a look at October’s “percent of normal” precipitation map. The darkest brown color painted over much of the south—and nearly all of Alabama—and parts of the central and southern high plains represents less than 5% of normal rainfall. In other words, less than one part out of twenty of October’s average rainfall. In the south, October was an exclamation point at the end of a dry stretch dating to summer.” –Deke Arndt (continue reading:  Drought breaks out this fall | NOAA Climate.gov)