Wednesday, July 25, 2012

The Damage Has Been Done - 6

Unusual Greenland early melt
In this series Dredd Blog has focused on the world wide drought.

Today we focus on some of the unintended consequences that are happening in the United States, where the drought is very severe.

But first let's remember that global warming induced climate change, has been brought to us because of fossil fuel addiction.

That anthropogenic warming has been also fingered as the primary cause, the main, ongoing global event that is responsible as the fundamental causation of the current drought in the United States.

That would mean that the fossil fuel industry is responsible for water shortage in more ways than one:
WE’RE now in the midst of the nation’s most widespread drought in 60 years, stretching across 29 states and threatening farmers, their crops and livestock. But there is another risk as water becomes more scarce. Power plants may be forced to shut down, and oil and gas production may be threatened.

Our energy system depends on water. About half of the nation’s water withdrawals every day are just for cooling power plants. In addition, the oil and gas industries use tens of millions of gallons a day, injecting water into aging oil fields to improve production, and to free natural gas in shale formations through hydraulic fracturing. Those numbers are not large from a national perspective, but they can be significant locally.

All told, we withdraw more water for the energy sector than for agriculture. Unfortunately, this relationship means that water problems become energy problems that are serious enough to warrant high-level attention.

During the 2008 drought in the Southeast, power plants were within days or weeks of shutting down because of limited water supplies.
(Will Drought Cause The Next Black Out, emphasis added). Last year the Army Corp of Engineers had to bomb levees along the Mississippi River because it was flooding.

This year the water level of the Mississippi River is so low that barges cannot navigate it fully loaded.

And recently there was a surge in the summer melting of the Greenland ice sheet that surprised those who keep track of it.

The graphic at the top of this post shows melt that took place in less than one week (see Greenland Ice Melt - Shocking Speed-up).

Another possible unintended consequence of upset climate patterns is the possibility that pandemics could be increased (see The El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO)–pandemic Influenza connection: Coincident or causal?).

The previous post in this series is here, the next post in this series is here.

No comments:

Post a Comment