When in Drought, Find a Beaver


Pondering climate change, dire predictions of continued regional global drought and dwindling wetlands brought me back to the humble Beaver.

notestoponder

I learned something interesting about the Beaver of all things. Once the backbone of  Canadian fur trading, this rather large rodent may adorn our nickel, yet is considered nothing more than a nuisance. Their fur of little value in a world  of synthetic fabric draped political correctness,  the Beaver  inhabit a realm known as pest. In parts of Canada like Porcupine Plains, Saskatchewan they even have a bounty on their seemingly worthless hides.

Not so fast people. According to David Suzuki they could be the most important animal on our planet. It seems their relentless dam building serves a special purpose. By creating ponds, they trap water destined to evaporate from small streams. By building dams they make deep ponds out of trickles the summer sun would have turned to dry creek beds.

Dr Glynnis Hood studied the impact of beavers on water levels in a given landscape. Elk Island…

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Climate Change and The Taliban


What does climate change mean,  how do people define global warming? Do we think of melting ice caps in terms of rising ocean levels, threatened animal habitats, violent unpredictable weather? Do we think about it at all? Are we confused by anti warming propaganda, suspicious of scientific proof? How many ponder a connection between climate change and the Taliban?

Founded in 1994 by Mohammed Omar, iron fist Taliban fundamentalism seized control of Afghanistan in 1996. Brutal Taliban justice, horrific oppression of women, terrorist agendas, outraged the global community long before 9/11. One of the first Taliban edicts – eradicate all opium poppy fields as an offense to Islam. From 1996 to the American ousting of Taliban rule in 2001, Afghan farmers who once supplied of 60% of world heroin, grew wheat crops.

Unfortunately 2001 coincided with a period of unprecedented drought in Afghanistan. Devastated farmers had families to feed – the Taliban needed money, soldiers and safe havens. Fragmented Taliban forces came up with a solution. In exchange for “taxes”, recruits and absolute indifference to caching weapons or hiding insurgents, they would protect impoverished farmers choice of crops. Opium poppies thrive on 1/6th the water of wheat.  Drought resistant poppies sustained a population whose only choice became Taliban loyalty or starvation.

Far from suggesting Afghanistan’s untimely drought was a direct result of climate change – it’s worth considering implications beyond rising sea levels. Religious fundamentalists outlawed opium poppies when rain fell, weaponized poppies by allowing starving farmers to plant them in exchange for loyalty.

Ponder climate change as a weapon. Consider ramifications of weaponizing crops We can ignore mind numbing climate change rhetoric, or wrap our heads around drought and Taliban support.

 

Would You Like a Cup of Pee?


In 2016 the largest desalination plant in the Western Hemisphere will be up and running at Carlsbad in San Diego County. At a cost of $1 billion, estimates suggest 50 million gallons of drinking water flowing to drought stricken California every day. Consider that against the $142 million Orange County California designated to produce an additional 30 million gallons a day of drinking quality recycled water – translation – pee.

Recycled water is nothing new. San Fransisco built a reclaimed water plant in 1932 – removing solids from sewage, treating it for impurities and using it for irrigation. Since 2008 Orange County has operated a massive water treatment and reclamation facility – half the water pumped into a aquifer, the other half rests in filtration ponds for 6 months or so before ending up in drinking well intakes. At a fraction of desalination costs, Orange Country recycles 85 million gallons of water every day.

Desalination undoubtedly sells faster than recycled sewage water. Cost be damned – we demand clean cars, perfect golf courses and showers as long and often as we please. Never mind that over half the people on Earth have no access to clean drinking water, or scrape by each day on the amount of water we squander brushing our teeth.

I wonder how many of us would be willing to compromise, consuming no more than our fair share of daily global water supplies? A suggestion equally preposterous as cost effective reclamation over desalination. Nobody stops to think the well might run dry – water seen as an inexhaustible constant. Distasteful public perception regarding consumption of recycled pee, no match for prohibitively priced desalinization projects. Damn the cost, we’re far too civilized to drink pee. ( I can only assume treated excrement from millions of sea creatures is acceptable).

In April, Portland Oregon  surveillance cameras captured a teenage boy urinating through a fence into a reservoir.  Outraged officials took the reservoir offline, drained 38 million gallons of water, publicly assuring residents of purged pee in the interest of health and safety. Holy crap, are you kidding me? These same nincompoops drained the reservoir in 2011 after a similar urine scandal. Suck it up Portland and drink a little pee!

Dire warnings that water is the next oil, drought, climate change, drained aquifers resulting from increased population and  environmental indifference are genuine concerns. Reclaimed water will be a reality one day. Pondering a future dependant on drinking a little pee is the least of our worries.

http://www.zmescience.com

http://earthsky.org/human-world/if-drinking-purified-pee-weirds-you-out-dont-live-in-a-desert

El Nino Watch


Climate change is bad for business; unless you happen to corner the market on fresh water or profit in some way from calamity, climate change is best debunked and ridiculed. Dismissive snorts escape big business boardrooms  Bottom line dollars, and profit regardless of impact make the subject far too treacherous to acknowledge.

Global warming reached its zenith with Al Gore – An Inconvenient Truth ranked as one of the highest grossing documentaries of all time. Sharing in a Nobel prize and Oscar helped to propel his message into the consciousness of millions. Cynics might argue the millions he profited along the way emit a mighty “green” stench. Sure his personal wealth hit the jackpot – from a couple of million as Vice President to hundreds of millions investing in “green” technology companies. Just because he gained from companies supplying carbon emission testing equipment to industry, smart meters or sustainable energy technology doesn’t make him a piranha. His twenty room, eight bathroom mansion uses more electricity in a month than the average household uses in a year – at least he got us thinking, right?

http://www.businessweek.com/innovate/NussbaumOnDesign/archives/2007/02/gores_carbon_fo.html

I’m not pondering Gore’s legacy or corporate denial. This isn’t about pointing fingers, laying blame or splitting hairs. Sure I’m disgusted by big business smoke screens – tactics used by each and every interest with something to gain or loose, from governments to the private sector – stir the pot, divide the masses, create confusion, and avoid reality long enough to keep the money rolling in.

Scientists are tracking a massive warm water anomaly in the Pacific Ocean. Large enough to cover the United States to a depth of 300 feet, this troublesome “blob” typifies changing weather patterns. At the moment a “sub-surface”event, quickly poised to become a formidable El Nino as wind and ocean currents push it closer to the surface.

El Nino is characterized by warmer than average ocean temperatures in the Pacific ocean. Warmer ocean means warmer air, and warmer global temperatures. El Nino years see dry countries flood – increased water a breeding ground for insect populations like mosquitoes which spread disease. Wet countries experience drought – crop failure and forest fires follow. Ocean currents change as a result of wonky trade winds – countries dependant on fishing suffer as “fish kills” or changes in migration deplete fishing grounds. The last El Nino year of 1997 is credited with 23,000 deaths and over 30 billion dollars damage worldwide.

http://www.bing.com/images

http://www.encyclopedia.com/article-1G2-3044900018/el-nio.html

http://earthsky.org/earth/warm-water-in-pacific-could-spark-a-monster-el-nino-in-2014?utm_source=EarthSky+News&utm_campaign=39f0193dfc-EarthSky_News&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_c643945d79-39f0193dfc-393970565

 

When in Drought, Find a Beaver


I learned something interesting about the Beaver of all things. Once the backbone of  Canadian fur trading, this rather large rodent may adorn our nickel, yet is considered nothing more than a nuisance. Their fur of little value in a world  of synthetic fabric draped political correctness,  the Beaver  inhabit a realm known as pest. In parts of Canada like Porcupine Plains, Saskatchewan they even have a bounty on their seemingly worthless hides.

Not so fast people. According to David Suzuki they could be the most important animal on our planet. It seems their relentless dam building serves a special purpose. By creating ponds, they trap water destined to evaporate from small streams. By building dams they make deep ponds out of trickles the summer sun would have turned to dry creek beds.

Dr Glynnis Hood studied the impact of beavers on water levels in a given landscape. Elk Island National Park near Edmonton, Alberta had seen every last beaver trapped by the late 1800’s. In the 1940’s seven beavers were introduced and park rangers kept meticulous records of their activity. Looking at park records, Hood noticed a dramatic increase in water levels once these beavers got busy.

A fish hatchery in Methow, Washington is using the beaver to restore pools of late season water to areas where salmon stocks are dwindling. In Montana cattle country, conservationists  introduced beaver to what had become dry valleys by late summer. Limiting livestock access, and letting the beaver do their thing; remarkably these bone dry valleys became lush and green the following year.

Pondering the beaver I can’t help but think of the greatest man made disaster in North America. The “dust bowl” of the 1930’s was the result of poor farming practices; stripping indigenous grasses from the great plains removed nature’s perfect defense in times of drought. Protective layer gone, complete with five foot deep root systems; the top soil simply blew away.

https://notestoponder.wordpress.com/2012/11/20/the-greatest-man-made-disaster-in-north-america/

It worries me to watch arrogance grow, believing we control our environment. Anything getting in the way of progress is eradicated with nary a thought.  It makes me crazy to think this might come across as preachy, there just isn’t any other way to put it. All of us need to ponder the “balance of nature”. Today’s nuisance beaver might one day be our saving grace; in times of drought – find a beaver.