Police guarding water infrastructure assets as civilians rebel


The American West and Middle East are not the only places water wars are becoming increasingly urgent and violent. In France (not a country one thinks of as water challenged) gendarmes are guarding water supplies as water use stakeholders face off in the face of fast changing conditions. As the country reels in the aftermath of a record summer heat wave – a season of wild fires and shrinking rivers – authorities are attempting to construct massive reservoirs to retain water specifically for the commercial agriculture industry. This is not sitting well with taxpayers who are funding the projects, who claim the reservoirs are tantamount to illegal privatization and benefit a select few of wasteful industrial farms.

In Nouvelle-Aquitaine, thousands of activists protesting a new “mega basin” reservoir confronted military police armed with tear gas. The protesters ripped out pipelines used to feed the system.

Environmentalists are also displeased, citing the consequences of diverting this quantity of water from ecosystems.

Whatever the merits of these respective positions, they reflect similar events and conditions around the planet, from the American West, Egypt, the Middle East and Africa. Elsewhere, smaller scale vandalism and civil disobedience episodes are multiplying as citizens resist water restrictions regulations. Water is being stolen from resort Jacuzzis, fire departments and cemeteries.

Activists or saboteurs, concerned citizens or criminals, these scenarios are now a daily occurrence around the world.

“In the morning you go gunning for the man who stole your water”


Saudi Arabia Tapping In Arizona Aquifer

Lobbyists aided mass transfer of water overseas

 Some wells are beginning to run dry as massive, foreign-owned mega farms are “legally” sucking up water in Arizona’s La Paz County and using it to grow alfalfa and other cattle feed crops. The feed is then shipped overseas as fodder for livestock in the Middle East. The farms are paying rock bottom prices as local wells and aquifers show the effects of over pumping. While it is illegal to divert water out of state, it is not against the obsolete water regulations to ship the crops grown with the water.

Zimbabwe Hydro Levels At Record Lows

Main power planet shuts down as larger crisis looms

Power generation has been shut down at Kariba Dam, the largest hydro project in souther Africa. The Zimbabwe Power Company has used up it’s 2022 water allocation as water levels at the station drop to record lows. The dam generates 70% of the power for Zimbabwe and Zambia.

Saltwater Moving Into R. Euphrates

Drought & dams changing fertile crescent

Saltwater from the Persian Gulf is invading the delta of the Euphrates River as the river continues to dry up . The calamity is the result of extended drought and political battles both within Iraq and with Turkey. In addition to poisoning livestock, the brackish water is making farming in the “fertile crescent” impossible. Farmers in the once thriving region are selling their herds and moving into cities, another group of under the radar climate refugees.

 

Midwestern Drought Drives Record River Levels

The ongoing Midwestern drought has reduced the mighty Mississippi to a trickle of its usual self, causing serious disruption to one of the country’s primary shipping routes. The key Memphis river gauge showed a record low of -10.81 ft, with other meters across the region confirming the trend.

Barge traffic has dwindled significantly as cargo levels have been reduced, allowing the boats to ride higher in the water. Critical commodities such as corn, soybeans, wheat, coal and oil move through this essential corridor. The iconic waterway drains about 41% of the country.

The remnants of Hurricane Roslyn provided some temporary relief, but the dry pattern is expected to continue throughout the winter.

 

Methane levels continue to rise

Atmospheric levels of the three main greenhouse gases warming our planet – carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide- all reached new record highs in 2021, according to a new report from the UN’s World Meteorological Organization (WMO).

 

Famine grows

It isn’t just the climate change driven drought, the price of artificial fertilizer is making agriculture more challenging than ever in poorer nations.

 

Most coal burning utilities are contaminating groundwater

A new study, released on Thursday by Earthjustice and the Environmental Integrity Project, looked at 292 sites around the country, from the desert outside Las Vegas to the coast of Massachusetts. The source is coal ash, a toxic byproduct of burning coal. And according to this article in Grist, about half of them have no plans to do anything about it. Because they are coal burning utilities. 

 

Wells run dry in the southwest due to drought and abuse

Big international agriculture firms are stealing water from local aquifers in Arizona and other southwestern states to grow crops for export.

 

 

A Tresa

“We’ve come to a point of no return in this province, because of the sheer amount of clear-cut logging they’ve been doing over the last 20 years. The damage is already done.”

– Younes Alila, Prof. Forest Hydrology, University of British Columbia

Drought Flood Drought


The new normal has already been here for a while

Global warming is driving an epic drought in Canada’s so called “wet coast” as rivers and streams dry up and salmon die. The drought is rated at level 5, which means the conditions are driving measurable economic adversity. At least one community has declared a state of emergency. In Victoria, the provincial capital, 2mm of rain have fallen over the past six months, a drop in the bucket compared to the 220 mm normally expected.

The area is also experiencing mass salmon die-offs and hundreds of forest fires as heat records continue to fall. Hydroelectric operations are also being affected.  

This event follows last year’s catastrophic flooding, which triggered mudslides and destroyed infrastructure, houses and highways. Interestingly, those highly unusual events from a year ago are an indirect cause of the current drought emergency: the massive quantities of rain at high elevations washed away a foot and a half of snowpack, depleting the expected annual ground water recharge.

Other human activities combine to worsen the effects of the drought, especially industrial scale clear cutting of forests. The replacement forests – which are essentially crops – take up considerably more water than the ancient trees did. Overall transpiration is decreased, putting less moisture into the atmosphere.

Not your father’s hurricane in the age of global warming


Wind speeds in Hurricane Ian accelerated 35 MPH in three hours as the storm churned over the Gulf of Mexico, slamming into the west coast of Florida as an historic Cat 4 monster. This used to be a rare phenomenon, but now it is becoming more common as record surface water temperatures are driving new behavior in tropical storms. It’s one of two emerging attributes of tropical storms that you should know about: rapid intensification and diminished vertical mixing..

RAPID INTENSIFICATION

While Ian will continue to get most of the attention, other recent storms have earned headlines in their own right. For example, the tail end of Typhoon Merbok did major damage in Western Alaska as warm seas sustained the storm into Arctic waters. Winds exceeded 90 plus MPH and waves overtopped 50 feet as the western part of the state was declared a disaster area. Remember Merbok? It was two weeks ago.

HURRICANE FIONA IN CANADA Meanwhile, the most recent storm to devastate Puerto Rico continued on its way and finally smashed into the Canadian Maritimes on the coast of Nova Scotia. The depleted storm nevertheless knocked out power to half a million with winds up to 110 MPH, along with flooding and extensive property damage. Hurricane Fiona went through several rapid intensification stages as it slogged its way north, killing hundreds and causing $93 billion in damage.

Hurricane Patricia (2015) on the West Coast of Mexico was remarkable because it marked blunt acknowledgement that meteorologists had been stunned by a weather system that transformed into a monster overnight. Scientists had never seen anything like it. This storm was sparsely reported because it hit the lightly populated west coast of Mexico; nevertheless it packed record breaking 215 MPH winds and remains the most powerful storm ever recorded in the Western Hemisphere.

Even more dramatic, however, was the rapid intensification of this storm: Patricia’s winds ramped up by 120 MPH in 24 hours, from 85 MPH at 1:00 AM Oct 22, 205 to 205 MPH at 1:00 AM Oct 23.

There will be more Patricia’s as the oceans continue to warm.

 

DIMINISHED VERTICAL MIXING keeps the storm going

This benign sounding process magnifies and prolongs hurricane strength. In a typical tropical storm, overall system energy is reduced by a feedback in which the churning of the warm surface waters circulates with cooler layers beneath it (thermocline) as the storm progresses, lowering the overall temperature, and the amount of energy available to the system. However, as the ocean continues to warm, the depth (thickness) of warm surface layers tends to increase and the cooler waters of the thermocline are further down. As a result, the overall energy transferred to the atmosphere rises.

The overall power of the storm is sustained or even amplified.

The hurricane will be more dangerous and stick around longer.

You most likely missed these…

 

Drought Lowers Mississippi 

Drought in the Arkansas Delta is impacting agriculture as the Big Muddy becomes more muddy and barges are unable to pas due to historically low water levels.  The river joins dozens more waterways around the planet that are running dry.

Record Nigeria Floods

A severe cholera outbreak is the latest catastrophe related to catastrophic flooding that has laid waste to large sections of Nigeria. More than 300 people have lost died and thousands are displaced as more rains are expected.  

Zombie Fires In Permafrost

Zombie fires in Siberia, Scandinavia, Alaska threaten megafire outbreaks in 2023. In this rapidly heating region, exponential increases in intense lightning storms and flammable grasses suddenly growing on thawing tundra are driving record wildfires.

 

CLIMATE BREAKDOWN: FLOOD DROUGHT FLOOD

Global Warming is drying up the world’s rivers and lakes

The Earth’s waterways are shrinking and drying due in large part to global warming. While La Nina and human intervention also play a role, the over-riding factor is radicalized weather patterns driven by climate change. Extended drought in the American Southwest, Europe and China are affecting larger areas of agricultural output, threatening crops in millions of square miles of farmland.

Rhine River, Lake Mead, Euphrates River, Yangtze River, Lake Powell, Thames River, Poyang Lake, Po River, Danube River, Great Salt Lake, Lake Shasta, Colorado River, Waal River, Lake Oroville, Platte River.

Floods and mudslides displace millions \ $10s of billions damage

Pakistan, melting glacier outbursts are contributing to a historic inundation that has covered a third of the country.

The capital of Mississippi is without drinking water as the result of massive flooding and decades of shameful water management policies, a situation that may last weeks of months

Lethal floods in eastern Kentucky were exacerbated by global warming driven rainfall and environmental destruction of the hills from strip mining and logging.

Hundreds of thousands were evacuated during yet more unprecedented floods in southern China

Dallas: record floods hit drought stricken North Texas

Monday SEPTEMBER 19

PAKISTAN: SCALE OF DEVASTATION OFF THE CHARTS

The economic toll of this summer’s historic floods has passed $30 billion dollars and 33 million people are now refugees as about 1/3 of the country remains inundated. The event was driven in part by rapid glacier melting in the Himalayas. Monsoon flooding is normal in Pakistan – a nation about the size of Texas – but the scale of this devastation is unprecedented.
More

Wednesday SEPTEMBER 14

CLIMATE REFUGEES RELOCATING AS GULF SWALLOWS LOUISIANA

Isle de Jean Charles, LA has lost 98% off its land as climate driven sea level rise eats away what’s left of the largely indigenous community. Located fewer than 100 miles southeast of New Orleans, the small island is increasingly isolated as the lone access road in inundated by Gulf waters. But this isn’t the tribe’s original home: they were forcefully relocated in 1830 so the white man could steal their land. Only 26 families remain our of the original 300. With a coastline severely compromised by oil and gas industry, the state is losing a football field’s worth of land every hour and a half.

WEDNESDAY SEPTEMBER 7

HIGH TEMPERATURE HITS 116°F IN SACRAMENTO 

For the fifth day running, an extended heat dome is bringing 110°F +  temps to a vast area of the western US, breaking high temperatures from Los Angeles to Utah. Wildfires are wiping out entire neighborhoods.

While those numbers are alarming enough, There are two other factors that make this event even more dangerous to humans:

  • Increasing global humidity intensifies danger to humans
  • Rising average overnight “low” temperatures

Increasingly, global warming is causing higher levels of humidity, which inhibits the body’s ability to cool itself. The high humidity blankets the earth’s surface, trapping heat and extending daytime heat levels into the overnight.

This is the second factor: nights are warming faster than the days, which prevents humans and the natural world in general from recovering the day’s highs.. Biologically speaking, overnight temperatures of 85% simply do not allow the human body to cool. When heat domes last for a week or longer, the effects of high lows and high humidity become cumulative, at some point triggering organ failure.

T

Global Warming is drying up the world’s rivers and lakes

The Earth’s waterways are shrinking and drying due in large part to global warming. While La Nina and human intervention also play a role, the over-riding factor is radicalized weather patterns driven by climate change. Extended drought in the American Southwest, Europe and China are affecting larger areas of agricultural output, threatening crops in millions of square miles of farmland.

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Among the most concerning is the longest river in the world, China’s Yangtze. An unprecedented drought has reduced the mighty river to a trickle in places, affecting hydropower, shipping routes, drinking water supplies, and even revealing previously submerged Buddhist statues.

ODER RIVER MASSIVE FISH KILL AS WATER LEVELS SINK

Tens of thousands of fish have been poisoned over the past few months, a catastrophe that appears to be a cascading disaster with no single explanation.

KEY WESTERN RESERVOIRS HITTING RECORD LOW LEVELS

Lake Powell, Lake Mead, Lake Oroville, Lake Shasta, and other critical fresh water reservoirs have either reached their lowest historical levels or are about to.

Lake Powell, which retains water from the Colorado River, is at its lowest level since it was filled in 1967 and is currently at just 26% of capacity.

Lake Mead is at its lowest level since the lake filled n the 1930s; levels are now at 1,069 feet, or 35 percent of capacity.

GREAT SALT LAKE SETS NEW LOW WATER LEVEL RECORD 

Utah’s Great Salt Lake is now % of modern levels. The depletion of the lake by mining and diversion has also contributed to this ongoing nightmare.

Mexican water shortage\

AT THE SAME TIME, COCA COLA AND OTHER BOTTLED WATER COMPANIES ARE PLUNDERING 50 BILLION GALLONS/YR FROM MEXICO’S PUBLIC AQUIFERS.

LINK TO STORY.

Two-thirds of Mexican municipalities are running out of drinking water, as tens of thousands of citizens stand in line for hours in the heat to wait for an allotment from sporadic government water trucks. The crisis is also fueling unrest, as thirsty people have taken to blocking highways and even kidnapping government workers.

In major urban areas such as Monterrey, the three reservoirs that deliver more than half of the water for 5 million people have been emptied. Some districts have gone 75 days without water, while others get only a few hours of water. This is not an isolated village in the desert. Monterrey is a wealthy metro area of 5 million people.

Roughly half of Mexico is now in drought, about double the area a year ago. Based on climate science reconstruction, this situation reflects the driest two decade period in 1,200 years.

The worsening water shortfall mirrors the extreme problems in the American Southwest, which is believed to be in a megadrought that may persist for hundreds of years. Key reservoirs such as Lake Mead, Lake Powell and Lake Shasta have fallen to critical levels, nearing dead pool status.

Around the planet, the climate emergency is triggering serious water shortages in England, France (worst on record), Chile, Morocco, South Africa, Italy, India, Netherlands, Spain, East Africa and China.

CLIMATE EMERGENCY UPDATES: AUGUST 2022

Dallas: Record Floods Follow Record Drought

Dallas and North Texas got hammered with about a summers’s worth of rainfall in one day, as up to 15 in of rain fell in 24 hours. 100s of people were rescued and one person was swept to their death. The event is an example of climate whiplash, a term for drought flood drought patterns increasingly seen around the planet.

China Bridge Collapses In 2 Month Heatwave

A two month long extended heatwave in China is wreaking major damage to infrastructure and agriculture. In central and southwest China, authorities are attempting cloud seeding in an effort to mitigate the lethal drought that has enveloped more than half of the country.

European Lakes & Rivers Drying Up In Drought

More than half of Europe is in the second year of an exceptional drought, as the Rhine, Po, Loire, Danube and Thames are at record low water levels. Agriculture and shipping are facing various levels of emergency.

Thames Source Running Dry

The upstream source of London’s River Thames has dried up and migrated downstream, after weeks of low rainfall and a record-breaking July heat wave.

Death Valley Flash Floods

Authorities describe ‘nearly an entire year’s worth of rain in one morning’ as deluge becomes second major flood at park this week.

New Heat Records In Maine

Temperatures soared across Maine on Sunday, setting records in Portland. which reached 96F. The reading broke the two most recent records, both set since 2000

More Devastation In Kentucky

Flash floods have killed at least 37 people in eastern Kentucky, with hundreds of homes and businesses wrecked by more climate driven extreme weather..

South Korea Also Gets Record Floods

Lethal flooding has also his Seoul, Korea following record downpours, resulting in at least ten dead, mass evacuations and flooded subway stations in the capital. 

Rhine River Levels Threaten Shipping

Drought and another record heat wave have resulted in rapidly dropping water levels on the critical Rhine River in Germany. 

JULY HEAT RECORDS:

  • 113°F Somerville, TX
  • 111°F College Station, TX
  • 109°F Waco, TX
  • 107°F Dallas, TX
  • 110°F Austin, TX
  • 107°F Pueblo, CO
  • 100°F Denver, CO
  • 111°F McCook, NB
  • 111°F Hill City, KS
  • 111°F Andalusia, Spain
  • 106°F Shanghai, China

 

 

“This has been the hottest weather I’ve ever seen. It’s pretty brutal out there.”

– Damon Slater, Parks & Rec Supervisor, Houston

TEXAS:

The historic heatwave continues in Texas and the Southern Plains continued this week and is expected to get worse. Houston, Harris County and the surrounding region have been suffering extreme heat since May, with the most recent resurgence reporting temperatures of 105°F in the city and 113°F inland on July 11. The humidity, as always, is suffocatin

There is nothing novel about miserable weather in Houston, save for the fact that each incidence of extreme weather is more violent and prolonged than the last. In the past few years, the city has been slammed with a succession of extreme rain, catastrophic floods, drought and heat waves.

It is doubtful that the members of the resource plundering industries have noted the irony of Houston suffering for its status as a major global fossil fuel industry hub. It’s almost as if the creator god…..never mind.

ALASKA

Out of control Alaskan fires force evacuation of mining camps, towns and parks

Over 500 fires have sent more than 3 millions acres up in flames since spring, with over 250 still burning. May and June were record breaking months for drought.

Drought, early snowfall melt, high winds and a significant increase in lightning strikes are the immediate causes, with global warming being the overarching driver. The lightning strikes are a result of steadily increasing water vapor in the atmosphere`, which generate more thunder storms which in turn are the result of higher temperatures in the region. Four days in July recorded 40,000 strikes, about two thirds of what would have been expected for a year in pre-climate crisis times. 

The warming climate is also increasing the amount of vegetation in the state, which means there is more fuel to burn.

The Arctic regions as a whole is warming about four times faster than the rest of the planet. 

EUROPE

Meanwhile in Europe, Spain, Italy, Portugal and the rest of the Western Mediterranean are experiencing an epic drought amidst epic heat. In the northern regions of Spain, where extreme heat is rare, temperatures soared to 108°F in places with 113°F reported near the Portugal border. An unprecedented 80% of mainland Portugal is under an “exceptional” risk of fire warning. 

Wildfires raged out of control in France, Croatia and Portugal in the second killer heatwave in two months. Thousands have been evacuated.

In France, fireworks displays honoring Bastille Day have been cancelled, with dangerous temperatures expected across France and up into the UK. In northern Italy, a chunk of the iconic Glacier broke away, killing 10 people. The Po River is running dry.

CHINA

China’s unrelenting heatwaves continue to scorch megacities in the populous Yangtze River basin. 84 cities across the country on Wednesday issued their highest-level red alert warnings, which means temperatures will exceed 104°F.. The crisis is an extension of a lethal one two flood drought flood pattern that has caused hundreds of deaths. 

 

SIMULTANEOUS HEAT WAVES: NO HISTORICAL PRECEDENT

June has been a month of record breaking heatwaves in the US, India, Pakistan, Europe and great swathes of Africa. As the month closes, China reports a double whammy of extreme climate events, with blistering heat in the northern and central provinces and devastating floods in the South.

In the flood zones, cars and houses are under water as hundreds of thousands have been evacuated. In the north highways are buckling from the extreme heat. You know the drill.

These concurrent disasters are consistent with statistical trends that show more or less indisputably that global warming is ramping up the intensity, the range and the frequency of extended droughts and floods.

Link to report

Again: no single extreme weather event can be blamed on global warming, but the past decade has boosted the probability beyond any reasonable doubt. If we define a heat wave as three days with high temps over 100°F, the number of days with one heat wave in the Northern Hemisphere doubled over forty years from 73 to 152 . The same study reported a SIX fold increase in frequency between 1979 and 2019. Peak intensities were estimated by about 17% greater.

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Global food supply – a warning

In addition to the fact that heat waves cause death and suffering, when planning your future it is useful to think about where your food will come from. As you may have noticed during the pandemic, any given consumable (or anything else) can disappear from shelves overnight. Pandemic, war or mass crop failure (or all of the above), the cause is irrelevant. We have seen how quickly human behavior deteriorates when toilet paper is hard to get or even (if you are of a certain age), when the Cabbage Patch doll supply runs out. Wait until there is no bread. (bread = wheat).

There is no one in charge. No one is going to save you but you. The fan blades are already turning and we have had more than adequate warning.

SUMMATION the Arctic is warming much faster than the lower latitudes, reducing the normal temperature differentials between the polar regions and the Northern Hemisphere. In the case of the current heatwave onslaught, the secondary cause – that is, in addition to high temperatures – is the disruption of those “normal” global circulation patterns, especially the Jet Stream. Weather in North America, Europe and Asia is interlinked.

 

San Francisco Will Close Coastal Highway…

Rapidly rising sea levels are driving San Francisco’s decision to close a mile of the Great Highway – its iconic coastal road – in a high profile move known these days as “managed retreat.” The asphalt sections that comprise the roadway have crumbled so many times due to extreme storms and rising tides that it has been deemed no longer possible to maintain the highway.

More threatening than the crumbling road itself is a 14-foot-wide major sewer pipe running under the roadway that carries wastewater to a nearby treatment facility. If this is not dealt with, it is only a matter of time before a major spill.

The ocean in this area is expected to rise 1 – 2 feet in the next three decades. The City is also planning projects to protect flood prone tech headquarters and the airport, which sticks out into the Bay like a sore thumb.

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…But Mexican Resort Region Not Quite Ready to Face the Inevitable

A thousand miles southeast, resorts on the Caribbean coast of Mexico face a similar existential challenge.  Rising sea levels and unprecedented storm events threaten Quintana Roo’s coastline, known for its white sand beaches. The 700-mile coast of Mexico’s Quintana Roo has been eroding at a rate of 4 ft a year, with up to 16 feet a year washing away in some sections. Beaches are disappearing, maintained artificially with sand dredged from the sea bottom and transported to the coast. As beaches disappear, the sea moves in to create scenes of waves breaking against the walls of swimming pools, restaurants and houses.

In addition to the ongoing erosion of the beaches, warming seas and changes to ocean chemistry are driving a mass incursion of nasty algal blooms. Ten ft high mounds of rotting black seaweed often greet tourists on the resort strip, an emperor’s new clothes scenario that few want to discuss…especially the corporate owners of new resort properties.

Many long time residents on the coast understand that the writing is on the wall, but, as is the case with climate emergency everywhere, most are holding on in the hope that the situation will reverse itself.

But it won’t.

In the meantime, hundreds of places around the planet have concluded that pulling back from the coast is far more sensible and realistic than attempting to fight the inevitable with extraordinarily expensive concrete and steel infrastructure projects that are ultimately doomed to failure.

 

As the futility of fighting sea level rise around the planet slowly begins to sink in, we are following high profile projects in Virginia, New York, Louisiana and the United Kingdom.