Sunday, July 14, 2013

It can't happen here

It can't happen here
It can't happen here
I'm telling you, my dear
That it can't happen here
Because I been checkin' it out, baby
I checked it out a couple a times
But I'm telling you
It can't happen here
Oh darling, it's important that you believe me
(Bop bop bop bop)
That it can't happen here
Frank Zappa


       Saw a very informative video of a speech by professor Robert Lawrence from Johns Hopkins,School of Public Health,   called Peak oil , Food Systems and Public Health.   It covers the entire spectrum, -population, diets, water use, climate change, as well as oil.   Its chock full serious data,  so have a pen handy.   Check the video out here

       The video has lots of graphs, including some eye popping ones showing the changing diets in China.  Their pork consumption is going through the roof.  See this article about China's strategic Pork Reserve.  (I didn't make that up)  As Lawrence points out,  China doesn't have enough water to grow the amount of grain needed to support this level of pork production.   So they import " virtual water". That is they import soy beans from South America, grown on land that used to to be rain forest!   The  circle of life!   Its all connected!  

      Here's one that'll make your hair stand on end.   Lester Brown's fact filled essay on peak water, and peak grain.  Groundwater levels worldwide,  are dropping like stones - including part of the Ogalala.  Here's a good quote:

"Falling water tables are already adversely affecting harvest prospects in China, which rivals the United States as the world’s largest grain producer. A groundwater survey released in Beijing in 2001 indicated that the water table under the North China Plain, an area that produces half of the country’s wheat and a third of its corn, was falling fast. Overpumping has largely depleted the shallow aquifer, forcing well-drillers to turn to the region’s deep aquifer, which is not replenishable.
The survey reported that under Hebei Province in the heart of the North China Plain, the average level of the deep aquifer was dropping nearly 10 feet per year. Around some cities in the province, it was falling twice as fast. He Qingcheng, head of the groundwater monitoring team, notes that as the deep aquifer is depleted, the region is losing its last water reserve—its only safety cushion.
In 2010, He Qingcheng reported that Beijing was drilling down 1,000 feet to reach an aquifer, five times deeper than 20 years ago. His concerns are mirrored in the unusually strong language of a World Bank report on China’s water situation that foresees “catastrophic consequences for future generations” unless water use and supply can quickly be brought back into balance.
As serious as water shortages are in China, they are even more alarming in India, where the margin between food consumption and survival is so precarious. In India, whose population is growing by 15 million per year, irrigation depends heavily on underground water. And since there are no restrictions on well drilling, farmers have drilled more than 27 million irrigation wells and are pumping vast amounts of underground water.
In this global epicenter of well drilling, pumps powered by heavily subsidized electricity are dropping water tables at an alarming rate. Among the states most affected are Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan, and Gujarat in the north and Tamil Nadu in the south. In North Gujarat the water table is falling by 20 feet per year. In Tamil Nadu, a state of 72 million people, water tables are falling everywhere. Kuppannan Palanisami of Tamil Nadu Agricultural University noted in 2004 that 95 percent of the wells owned by small farmers have dried up, reducing the irrigated area in the state by half over the preceding decade."

hmm....  I wonder how Climate Change will play into this whole mess?

Drought, which struck as much as two-thirds of the land in the 48 contiguous states last year, still afflicts 44% of that area and 87% of Texas, reports the U.S. Drought Monitor. The National Weather Service predicts it will persist or intensify in much of the western U.S., including the western half of Texas where drought caused billions of dollars in damage in 2011 from crop failures, herd die-offs and wildfires.
"Climate change is likely prolonging the duration and severity of naturally occurring drought in the Southwest," says Martin Hoerling, a research meteorologist at theNational Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. He says the main cause of U.S. drought today is a lack of rainfall, but by century's end, the key culprit might be higher temperatures.
More heat is on the way, too. U.S. temperatures are expected to rise 3 to 10 degrees by 2100, partly because of the heat-trapping greenhouse gases emitted in the burning of fossil fuels, according to a draft copy of the third National Climate Assessment, a federal report compiled by hundreds of government and academic scientists. As a result, the report expects summer droughts to intensify in most U.S. regions as well as enduring water shortages in the Southwest, Southeast and Hawaii.
But, don't worry,  "it can't happen here!"

POLL: Climate Change Viewed As Major Threat Around The World – Except In America

By Katie Valentine on Jun 24, 2013 at 4:30 pm
(Credit: Associated Press)
Climate change is viewed as the number one threat to countries around the world, according to a new Pew survey. Overall, respondents felt climate change was more of a threat to their countries than financial instability, Islamic extremist groups, and Iran and North Korea’s nuclear programs.
Europe and Canada, along with Latin American, African and Asian and Pacific countries felt most threatened by climate change, with more than half of respondents choosing climate change as a major threat facing their countries. This is unsurprising given the threats these countries face — and have already faced — from global warming. Last year alone, more than 32 million people worldwide were displaced due to disasters such as droughts, floods and storms, with countries in Asia and Africa hit hardest.
A recent World Bank report predicts rising temperatures will put serious strain on Africa’s food supply — which could contribute to rising tensions in the country — and warns that climate change will bring extreme heat, flooding, and disease to South Asia in the coming decades. And just this week, 1,000 people were killed and up to 40,000 stranded as a result of flash flooding and landslides in northern India.
In March, America’s top Pacific military officer — a man in charge of overseeing potential threats coming out of North Korea, China and Japan — called climate change the top security threat to the Pacific region, largely due to the amount of people it’s likely to displace. In general, however, the U.S. does not share the rest of the world’s concern when it comes to climate change — in fact, Americans were the least concerned about climate change out of all countries and regions surveyed by Pew. Only 40 percent of American respondents listed climate change as a major threat — Iran’s nuclear program, North Korea’s nuclear weapons, and Islamic extremists were what Americans worried most about.
Given many American politicians’ dismissal or downright denial of climate change, it’s unsurprising that concern for the issue hasn’t trickled down to the American people. But climate change has emerged over the last few years as a major threat to U.S. security. In an April speech, U.S. National Security Adviser Tom Donilon said the strains climate change will likely put on U.S. national security — including conflicts over resources and people displaced by storms, drought, flooding and sea level rise — underscores the need for America to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions. Secretary of State John Kerry has likewise long sought to frame the issue of climate change from the stance of the national security risk it poses for the United States.
Extreme weather events and disasters fueled by a warming climate have already disrupted the lives of thousands of Americans — Hurricane Sandy forced the third-largest number of people from their homes worldwide in 2012, and wildfires in Colorado have forced nearly 40,000 from their homes this year.

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