Monday, October 22, 2007

Introducing "Peak Water"

Are you paying attention yet family? Or is this backdrop over which issues, events, and socio-political drama plays out - covered in too low-key a fashion to break through the surface tension of your awareness?

Whatever it is, you better tighten things up. Folks in Nawlins weren't paying attention either, and we all know what that produced. Right?

Now this situation in Georgia seems to barely be breaking the surface tension on the shallow waters of consensus reality, but it's vastly more serious than a heart attack. Folks lost in the regressive political sphere are going to get tragically caught with their pants down if they expect the government to substantively help them out. Gov. Sonny Purdue may be calling on Bush, but I bet you ought to know better than to expect anything more prounounced to come of that than what happened when the federales showed up in Nawlins.

Scientists sometimes
refer to the effect a hotter world will have on this country’s fresh water as the other water problem, because global warming more commonly evokes the specter of rising oceans submerging our great coastal cities. By comparison, the steady decrease in mountain snowpack — the loss of the deep accumulation of high-altitude winter snow that melts each spring to provide the American West with most of its water — seems to be a more modest worry. But not all researchers agree with this ranking of dangers. Last May, for instance, Steven Chu, a Nobel laureate and the director of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, one of the United States government’s pre-eminent research facilities, remarked that diminished supplies of fresh water might prove a far more serious problem than slowly rising seas. When I met with Chu last summer in Berkeley, the snowpack in the Sierra Nevada, which provides most of the water for Northern California, was at its lowest level in 20 years. Chu noted that even the most optimistic climate models for the second half of this century suggest that 30 to 70 percent of the snowpack will disappear. “There’s a two-thirds chance there will be a disaster,” Chu said, “and that’s in the best scenario.”