This article originally appeared on Reveal
A decade ago, reports began emerging of a strange occurrence in the Saudi Arabian desert. Ancient desert springs were drying up.
The springs fed the lush oases depicted in the Bible and Quran, and as the water disappeared, these verdant gardens of life were returning to sand.
We do not know how much our current problem derives from the build-up of heat-trapping gasses, but we can take this drought as a stark warning of things to come.
“The very success of a person as a politician is dependent upon resources that come from the people that you give exceptions to” – Michael Machado, farmer and former California State Senator.
After traveling more than 2,000 miles across California, it’s clear that the state’s drought is mired in paradox with decades of water mismanagement and regional fighting. While cities – some of which never installed water meters – struggle to convince its dwellers to conserve, agriculture consumes 80% of California’s water.
“If it materializes as planned, the Omo could be emptied in its entirety, which would mean that Lake Turkana might be destined to become Africa’s Aral Sea.”
The Turkana herdsmen, who live a semi-nomadic pastoralist lifestyle, struggle to cope with the harsh consequences of climate change in the arid northwestern tip of Kenya. Due to the reoccurring and prolonged drought grazing land in the region is diminishing leaving little to support the Turkana tribes.
“This newly found wealth of water opens a door to a more prosperous future for the people of Turkana and the nation as a whole. We must now work to further explore these resources responsibly and safeguard them for future generations”
“Our biggest concern right now is if some of the other isotopes such as strontium 90 which tend to be more mobile, get through these sediments in the ground water. They are entering the oceans at levels that then will accumulate in seafood and will cause new health concerns.”
The drought began in October 2010 and has continued through 2013. The state experienced a short and rainy respite in the winter and spring of 2012, but by the fall of 2012 dry conditions had returned to much of the state.
As of June 4, 2013, 95 percent of Texas is in some form of drought conditions, and the state’s reservoirs are only 67 percent full. About 16 percent of the state is in “exceptional” drought, the worst stage.
Over-allocation of the river’s waters 90 years ago combined with increasing populations and economic growth in the river basin have created circumstances in which conservation efforts — no matter how organized — could be too little to overcome the projected water deficit that the Colorado River Basin will face in the next 20 years.
“If I had a rain prayer or a rain dance I could do, I would do it”
“The NSW government will not stand by and allow the Commonwealth to take the lazy option which removes water from productive purposes in NSW”
From today, further water purchases for the environment will be restricted to three per cent per valley per decade, a more sustainable rate of purchase which will provide much needed breathing space and time for rural economies to adjust.
Neither Attorney General Gary King nor Governor Susana Martinez are backing down.
“Texas is trying to rustle New Mexico’s water and is using a lawsuit to extort an agreement that would only benefit Texas while destroying water resources for hundreds of thousands of New Mexicans,” said King in a statement released by the AG’s office Tuesday afternoon.
“We are reviewing the Texas lawsuit and will decide how best to protect the water that is so vital to New Mexican families and businesses,” said the Governor’s spokesperson Enrique Knell. “We won’t cede a single inch of New Mexico water to Texas.”
In 2012, 11 weather-related disasters caused at least $1bn (£623m) in damage, including “superstorm” Sandy and a months-long drought that hit almost two-thirds of the country, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
“Everything we’re hearing is that there’s no good news for the Pacific bluefin. We’re seeing a very high value fish continue to be overfished”
Pacific Bluefin tuna caught off the coast of California have been found to have radioactive contamination from last year’s Fukushima nuclear accident. The fish would have picked up the pollution while swimming in Japanese waters, before then moving to the far side of the ocean.
Scientists stress that the fish are still perfectly safe to eat.
Fukushima pollution is potentially a very useful tool to trace the origin and timing of animal movements.
The following images show plastic bits from the Great Pacific Garbage Patch the ocean spits out in Hawaii. The photographs were taken within a few hours on Oahu’s Kahuku Beach on September 5, 2010.
“Persistent organic pollutants (POPs) are organic compounds that are resistant to environmental degradation through chemical, biological, and photolytic processes. Because of this, they have been observed to persist in the environment, to be capable of long-range transport, bioaccumulate in human and animal tissue, biomagnify in food chains, and to have potential significant impacts on human health and the environment”