Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Water in the wrong place

Daily Green: The U.S. is experiencing the driest year on record, according to a front page story in today's USA Today. The West is hit hardest, with California worried about another year of drought cutting into agricultural and economic output, and Texas emerging as an epicenter of drought in the Southwest.

Some are warning that the West should look to Australia, and it's record-setting drought as an example of what's to come courtesy of global warming. Already, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and Energy Secretary Stephen Chu are among the most prominent politicians to connect the dots on climate change and drought in California and the region. Increased wildfires, decreased agricultural output, increasingly stressed drinking water supplies and a long period of serious economic stress are in store, they've warned.

Meanwhile, prominent climate scientists are warning that sea levels will rise more than three feet, even under the best-case scenarios of greenhouse gas reductions, but that much more extreme sea-level rise is possible and likely. Sea-level rise will be enough to wreak havoc in low-lying areas, spawning political instability in some regions, while devastating others (Florida, can you hear us?) economically. Scientists are updating U.N. projections, which hadn't take into account the melting of Antarctica or Greenland ice sheets.

That's not the only trouble in the oceans. As they absorb more carbon dioxide, they are growing increasingly acidic -- so much so that, if greenhouse gases continue to accumulate in the atmosphere, corals and plankton and other shelled creatures will not only stop growing, but may actually start dissolving. That, besides being creepy, would decimate the ocean food web, possibly leading to mass extinctions….

Green check mark created by Lcarsdata, Wikimedia Commons, under Creative Commons License 2.5

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