Wednesday, March 03, 2010

All this rain, should we worry about water? U betcha.

With all of the rain, coming nicely spaced so that it soaks in rather than runs off… or at least that is what it is doing where I live… is there any reason to be worried about water issues? I list three current items that made me think that it had better be near the top of the list of our concerns.

Steven Solomon has an item on Grist yesterday in which he discusses Water and the War on Terror. It is a good introduction to his recent book WATER: The Epic Struggle for Wealth, Power, and Civilization. His major focus is the Middle East and Pakistan in particular. The situation that I noted in a recent post about the Amu Darya and the Aral sea apply equally well here. Those Himalayan glaciers that climate change deniers love to reference are still retreating and providing less water each year to a region already deemed arid. The difference is to be found in the description of Pakistan.
As dangerous as Yemen is as a failed state, it pales in comparison to Pakistan, which is nuclear-armed, Taliban-besieged, regionally fractious, and severely water fragile. Osama bin Laden and Al-Qaida’s core leadership are believed to be hiding out in its rugged northwest regions.
That in not near, but points out just how dangerous the situation could be.

To bring it back home to California, it is all about the Sacramento / San Joaquin River Delta. That is where one very powerful, well funded Irrigation District has enough clout to have Sen. Feinstein call for a review of biological opinions to be conducted by a Committee from the National Academy of Science. One of the members of that panel reported tonight via twitter that
NAS committee's Bay-Delta report went to reviewers today. Expect to come close to meeting release date of 3/15. #sacdelta
I am under no illusion that this will close the debate especially if the conclusions of this report fully substantiate the Biological Opinion under which the current water use undergoes periodic curtailment for ecological reasons. Such is the anti-science bias in the irrational public that the members of this committee will undergo the same intense cyber bullying that climate scientists do.

And in one last story for all of those you would sip a latte in any place except Starbucks, a story that combines climate change and water, the price looks like it will go up no matter what you do. Coffee growers are already experiencing climate change effects. They are having to relocate to higher altitude groves.
“There is already evidence of important changes,” said Nestor Osorio, head of the International Coffee Organization (ICO), which represents 77 countries that export or import the beans. “In the last 25 years, the temperature has risen half a degree in coffee-producing countries, five times more than in the 25 years before,” he said.
OK, I understand that, but what about the water?
And the new race to the top comes amid already increasing demands for resources between farmers and energy firms.

“Land and water are being fought over by food and energy producers,” said Osorio. “We need to make an assessment to guarantee the sustainability of and demand for coffee production.”
Already, UC Davis Ag Researchers are planning for similar changes in all of the commodity crops in CA. Those farmers who expect a return to the status quo if only they can capture enough water need to start thinking a few years out and looking to change what they grow.

As long as this remains in the political venue with the public shut out as in the case of everything that Sen. Feinstein works on, we will on suffer the consequences. The processes championed here by Martin are what we need, what the Green Party should be working to put in place.

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