Water shortage → food shortage

According to the New York Times:

Vast stretches of Texas farmland lying over the [High Plains Aquifer] no longer support irrigation. In west-central Kansas, up to a fifth of the irrigated farmland along a 100-mile swath of the aquifer has already gone dry. In many other places, there no longer is enough water to supply farmers’ peak needs during Kansas’ scorching summers.

And when the groundwater runs out, it is gone for good. Refilling the aquifer would require hundreds, if not thousands, of years of rains.

This is in many ways a slow-motion crisis — decades in the making, imminent for some, years or decades away for others, hitting one farm but leaving an adjacent one untouched. But across the rolling plains and tarmac-flat farmland near the Kansas-Colorado border, the effects of depletion are evident everywhere. Highway bridges span arid stream beds. Most of the creeks and rivers that once veined the land have dried up as 60 years of pumping have pulled groundwater levels down by scores and even hundreds of feet.

On some farms, big center-pivot irrigators — the spindly rigs that create the emerald circles of cropland familiar to anyone flying over the region — now are watering only a half-circle. On others, they sit idle altogether.

The emergence of factory farming after World War Two is the culprit in this disaster. Driven by profit-seeking investment, made sensible by blissful ignorance about our place in nature, farmers depleted the water table by using this finite resource without a concern for the limits set by this complex system. Droughts, perhaps reflecting the changes in the environment caused by the mechanisms driving global warming, only intensify this problem.

It appears we’ve reached another “Drill baby, drill” impasse, one that will resolve itself by destroying the economies which brought it into being.

The Pentagon confronts climate chaos

Writing for the Guardian, Suzanne Goldenberg reports that:

The Pentagon was warned on Friday to stand guard against “climate surprises” which could throw off its efforts to secure America’s future.

An expert report, prepared for the intelligence community by the National Academy of Sciences, warns that the security establishment is going to have start planning for natural disasters, sea-level rise, drought, epidemics and the other consequences of climate change.

The Pentagon already ranks climate change as a national security threat, putting US troops in danger around the world and adding fuel to existing conflicts. More than 30 US bases are threatened by sea level rise.

It has also identified potential new danger zones, such as sub-Saharan Africa.

The military is also working to cut back on its fuel costs in an age of budget austerity, by installing solar arrays and wind turbines, and monitoring electricity use.

But Friday’s report suggests strategic planners are going to have make sweeping adjustments to their planning to take account of climate change over the next decade and beyond.

Current scenarios could be thrown completely askew by “climate surprises”, the report said. These could be a single catastrophic event — such as a food price shock — or a cascade of reactions that could ultimately put America at risk. “It makes sense for the intelligence community to apply a scenario approach in thinking about potentially disruptive events,” the report said. “It may make sense to consider the security implications of two or three more plausible trends as a way to anticipate risks.”

Quote of the day

A beleaguered Kathy Deacon looks forward, not backward:

So I suppose I’ll get used to the mysterious noise, just as I’ve adapted to everything else — the odors from old Exxon MTBE spills, the onslaught of drunken yachters whose number seems to multiply exponentially each year — and struggling to breathe from time to time. I guess it’s no big deal in the scheme of things. Maybe these troubles are all a bit quaint and nostalgic anyway — even petty, as my friend here seems to think. The world we know is getting fairly uncomfortable and may be at the dawn of something really bad, runaway global warming — with a hundred million or so dead by 2030, according to informed reports — will we just have to get used to that?

Yes, I do believe we’ll adapt to the horrific death tolls now sitting on the horizon line — we’ll adapt if we’re among the lucky ones who actually survive the holocaust. What choice would the living have save for suicide? We’re programmed to carry on. We’ve survived volcanic supereruptions, ebbing and flowing ice ages, modern warfare and much else. Our existence is and always was improbable, so too our continued existence. We can thank the Industrial Revolution for our probable demise, a cause greatly strengthened by our inability to recognize in a meaningful way our common humanity and our true place in nature.

What does a catastrophe look like?

These satellite photos taken by NASA show what the global warming catastrophe looks like:

NASA took the photograph on the left on July 8, 2012. It took the photograph on the right on July 12, 2012. What do the two photographs signify? They indicate the melting of the ice on the island of Greenland. NASA scientists first concluded that a mistake had been made because the change in ice conditions on Greenland were so striking and rapid and were also unknown to recorded history. But the photos were not parts of a mistake. They instead depict an evolving mistake that will eventually bring ruin to much of the globe.

Let us hope this melting event fails to become an yearly one.