28 October 2015

This Week in Water

After last week's change in format in which we laid out what may be two of the BIGGEST news items in human history (no joke: [1] an extinction event that may include us + [2] evidence of possible extraterrestrial life) plus one of the greatest frauds ever perpetrated on the world, we return to aggregating links about our planet's most precious resource—and there are plenty!

Scientists are finding further evidence of how Greenland is melting. [The Times link has amazing drone video and remarkable graphics.] Why does this matter? Greenland's ice sheets sit on land, so when they melt they cause the oceans to rise—unlike, say, a melting iceberg which is the example climate change denialists always cite, claiming that melting ice is like an ice cube in a glass of water and does not contribute to rising sea levels.

Permafrost warming in Alaska is 'accelerating', threatening to release dangerous levels of the greenhouse gas methane into the environment. Researchers worry that this could cost the world's economies trillions of dollars more in damages.

This year's snowpack in the High Sierras was the worst in the past 500 years, and the snow's water content was only 5% of its historical average over the same period.

Hurricane Patricia, the most powerful cyclone ever recorded in the Western Hemisphere, struck land on the west coast of Mexico bringing torrential rainfall and flooding as far north as Michigan.

The recent flooding in South Carolina is the result of at least the 6th 1-in-a-1000-year rain event in the U.S. since 2010.

This year's 'dead zone' in the Gulf of Mexico, a result of excess rainfall and nutrient runoff from the Mississippi River, is larger than average and much larger than expected.

Iran's Lake Urmia, once the planet's sixth largest salt lake (larger than Utah's Great Salt Lake) has dried up to a mere 10% of its size, similar to what happened to the Aral Sea in Central Asia, exposing a vast salt desert.

The Obama administration has created two new marine sanctuaries in the U.S., the first such in 15 years, one in a portion of Lake Michigan and the other in the Potomac River.

In a 2-1 ruling, a panel of the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals has blocked U.S. efforts to keep its streams and wetlands clean.

U.S. Representative Lamar Smith (R-TX), chairman of the House Science Committee, has launched a wide-ranging, open-ended inquisition into climate scientists' recent findings that global warming is not in some sort of pause or hiatus, subpoenaing email records and other communications of internal deliberations from NOAA and the National Centers for Environmental Information. There are currently no allegations of corruption or wrongdoing.

Oxybenzone, an ingredient in most sunscreen brands, is killing coral, causing DNA damage in both adults and larval stage animals. This only adds to the effects of warmer water temperatures on delicate coral marine life, i.e., "coral bleaching" that is happening world wide.

No one is quite sure how to solve the world's water problems, but there is much work to be done.

A Dutch company called Elemental Water Makers is working to use 100% renewable energy to desalinate seawater with a pilot project in the British Virgin Islands—the type of solution this blog has been advocating for years.


  1. Re: Texas goper Lamar, etc.

    Did you see Governor Abbott in Texas is trying to get Planned Parenthood to give up patient records as part of the bogus video/McCarthy smears?

    What a catastrophe that state's Republicans have been for the nation.

  2. Agreed. I mean, look at Gohmert. They seem to have a death grip on the state gov't there.