Warming Lakes & Rivers = Trouble


It’s pretty easy to find climate change articles discussing the changes that are taking place in the world’s oceans. But, the gringa asks, what about the lakes and rivers of the Earth?

I grew up on a river. I love rivers. I love canoeing and floating down rivers on tubes and camping out alongside the banks of a river. What’s happening with these rivers I love? And what about lakes? Every summer we take a traditional three day weekend family trip to one of the most beautiful lakes in Texas. What’s happening to this fabulous lake? Unfortunately, the research shows that these are all changing as well.

NASA’s response to this change is to create a “global water cycle budget”. It covers a ten year period of the Earth’s freshwater concerns. This will be the baseline by which future “global water cycle budget’s” will be compared.

The water cycle involves the entire environmental process of how water moves, in all forms, around this big, blue planet. As depicted in the image posted it is easy to trace how water evaporates from the surface of the Earth. As it rises into the atmosphere it cools, condenses into clouds, then returns to the Earth as precipitation (rain, snow, hail,  or sleet). This is the kind of science the gringa learned in elementary school but it is, perhaps, the most critical environmental cycle for the continuation of life on Earth.

From the year 2000 until 2010 NASA collected satellite data  to estimate how much energy from the sun was required to move water. Hotter days means more evaporation of water within the soil. More evaporation means more moisture in the winds that transport this moisture throughout the world. Because the Earth is a closed system, any water that evaporates from its surface can be accounted for in the water vapor that eventually accumulates in the atmosphere. It’s kind of like taking a jar of pennies to the bank and getting dollars in return. It’s an even exchange of the same thing, money, but it exists in two different forms, pennies or bills. Water on Earth is the same. It’s either here on Earth as water or in the atmosphere as a form of precipitation.

However, the water model is a bit more complicated. Consider that each penny represents a different data set concerning where the water is specifically located, formed, or used. Such as: ocean, lake, evaporation from soil and plants, streams, rivers, human consumption. To help scientists manage all of this data they divide the Earth into seven land masses (Eurasia, South America, North America, Africa, Antarctica, Mainland Australia, Oceania/New Zealand/Tasmania) and nine ocean basins (North Pacific, South Pacific, Indian, North Atlantic, South Atlantic, Caribbean, Mediterranean, Arctic, Black Sea).

Over two dozen satellites provide scientists with data concerning precipitation and evaporation over the land masses and oceans. Researchers can track the movement of atmospheric water vapor, river runoff, groundwater reservoirs, soil moisture and snowpacks.

These important studies have already determined that lakes around the world are warming. This warming trend is affecting the ecosystems they are a part of as well as threatening the security of adequate freshwater supplies.

To come to the conclusion that lakes are warming, NASA used a twenty-five year compilation of data of ground measurements of over 200 lakes on six separate continents. On average, the lakes are warming about half a degree Fahrenheit every decade. Some lakes, the ones at higher latitudes, are warming even faster, one whole degree Fahrenheit per decade. That means that freshwater lakes are warming faster than the oceans.

As lakes warm, algal blooms increase. These rob the oxygen in the water from the fish. NASA’s models predict a twenty percent increase in these toxic algal blooms over the next century. Not only will this result in a chain reaction within the ecosystem wiping out the fish, as well as the wildlife and fauna that depend on those fish, but the blooms will also increase greenhouse gas emissions. Algal blooms are expected to produce methane emissions that will increase four percent over the next decade unless we Earthlings come up with a solution.

Solving the lake warming problem is a very important component of solving the climate change problem because methane emissions are 25 times more powerful than carbon emissions. A massive worldwide increase of algal blooms in freshwater lakes is a disaster we cannot allow to happen.

If the world’s lakes become a casualty of climate change, it won’t just be an environmental disaster, it will be a humanitarian disaster. These are important sources for drinking water, crop irrigation, and the production of food fish that are an important protein source for vulnerable populations around the world. Some researchers are already detecting evidence that productivity in warming lakes is already declining.

Out of the 37 largest aquifers on Earth, 21 are already past the sustainability tipping point and are being depleted. Another 13 are classified as “significantly distressed”. Eight are classified as “overstressed”. “Distressed” and “overstressed” means that these water sources have no natural replenishment to offset consumption. Five more were classified as “extremely stressed”, being depleted but with some replenishment occurring.

These were the conclusions of NASA’s study of ten years of data from the GRACE satellites. The GRACE satellites measure how Earth’s gravity is affected by existing masses of water. What NASA reports is alarming and difficult for the gringa to swallow, even with a glassful of water. That means that almost one third of our world’s groundwater is rapidly disappearing. And what’s even scarier is there is no reliable data that can predict just exactly when these wells will run dry. Yet, we continue to consume rather than conserve.

One of these overstressed reservoirs is the Arabian Aquifer System. It sustains over 60 million people. If we think there’s trouble in the Middle East right now over regional power struggles and the global fight to dominate the oilfields for profit, what the heck can we expect to see when these people have nothing left to drink? What kind of mass exodus will occur when that happens? This is a problem that must be solved. When climate change deniers scoff at the idea that climate change is the single most issue that threatens the national security of all peoples, they have no idea what they are talking about.

If Americans thought the California and Texas droughts were painful, consider what could occur in India and Pakistan, home to the second-most overstressed aquifer, the Indus Basin. Then there’s the third most overstressed water source, the Murzuk-Djado basin in north Africa. These regions are home to almost two billion people! Think about the Syrian refugee crisis. We ain’t seen nothin’ yet.

While working toward a solution, scientists cannot agree on any projected timeline of “time to depletion”. And when the gringa says they cannot agree, I’m talking about discrepancies of warnings of ten years to twenty-one THOUSAND years! However, one thing that these scientists DO agree on is that in a water-scarce society that is water dependent, this kind of ignorance is intolerable. Well, the gringa is glad to hear that.

Because groundwater reservoirs are so deep beneath the surface of the Earth, the only method to accurately measure just how much is down there is to drill, baby, drill. It’s gonna cost a lot of money, but the experts say it has to be done. NASA is committed to using its technology, personnel and data to help secure mankind’s future and improve lives around the world. By sharing knowledge freely with scientists around the world, the agency hopes to increase understanding that will lead to solutions.

The gringa waits to hear NASA’s announcement of a challenge like “Dig A Hole, Save The Planet”. The gringa has every confidence that NASA will continue to lead the charge to save us Earthlings from ourselves and the messes we continue to make. These challenges are simply a way for us to redeem ourselves after making such awful messes.

Source & Photo Credit: www.nasa.gov

 

From a Jewish Mother to Her Muslim Daughter


My Beautiful, Dear, Muslim Daughter,

We both knew after what happened in Paris what would come. We knew that, although you and I don’t need to have this conversation, many other people do.  As I hear the opinions, almost all based in ignorance and fear, I realize that I may very well become hated by people who once loved me because I will stand up in defense of Muslims simply because I happen to love a few Muslims and know that what happened in Paris was not caused by Islam.

You and I know this is true. Unfortunately there are many who are ignorant and don’t know this is true. Most Westerners who are Christian don’t have any close friends or loved ones that are Muslim. Often, their only knowledge of what Islam is about is what they hear in media reports, pounded from their preacher’s pulpits or discussed around the water cooler at work in hushed tones so the Muslim co-workers won’t hear.

As for this Jew, I happen to love a couple of Muslims and soon, any day now, there will be one more little Muslim for me to love. That is why I don’t listen to what others say about Muslims. I ask you and your husband when I have a question. I am incredibly curious and you are so eager to share.

As people are screaming, “No more refugees!” I can’t help but think about this little granddaughter that will soon be welcomed into this world. I think about your plans to travel to Saudi Arabia so your wonderful husband’s family can meet her and bless her. I think of your lovely mother-in-law who has been so good and kind and generous to you. I think about the possibility of you never being able to return here because you and your husband are Muslim and he is Saudi. I can imagine the interview in a holding cell at the airport and how your beautiful mother-in-law would wait, so fearful, and then be the one to embrace and comfort you when they deny you entry into your own homeland because you are Muslim and married to a Saudi. Perhaps they might let you come home, just not with your husband. And I know that because of the deep love the two of you have for one another, you would choose to stay.

When people look at me with shocked and judgmental eyes as this Jewish mother mentions that her daughter has converted to Islam, they automatically react as if I need to be comforted. It makes me mad. I return the shocked look wondering why they would assume you would be such an idiot as to make a choice of free will that would somehow make you miserable. I then tell them that you met a wonderful man, a Saudi, and he loved you with such a sweet love inspired by his faith that one way you returned his love was with the act of religious conversion.

I then get the eye-rolls as if they think I am a deluded mother grasping at straws because I just don’t want to believe an uncomfortable truth about a daughter I love. Then I get madder. Still, I try to have patience with such ignorance and use it as an opportunity to gently explain the facts. I explain to them how your faith has transformed your life for the better. How all the sweetness that was always within you is now cultivated and channeled through generosity and service to the poor. I tell them that your life that before was so unstable and without direction has coalesced into a loving marriage, stable home, and baby on the way.

When they see that it is pointless to try to get me to see the big mistake that my daughter has made, they home in on criticizing my son-in-law. I mean, really, what mother-in-law really likes her son-in-law, right? They think this is an argument they can win. As they recap all the stereotypes western media and religion has brainwashed them into believing about Muslim men, I sit quietly with a polite smile plastered on my face because by now I have a very strong urge to clap them upside the head. But I don’t.

When they finally are satisfied and smug that they have had their say about what a religious Neanderthal my son-in-law must be, with extreme self-control I then set them straight, dear daughter. I explain to them that, no, he doesn’t beat you. In fact, he doesn’t even raise his voice as far as I can tell. That he’s just about the gentlest creature that passes for a man that I’ve ever met.

I also have to reassure them that he doesn’t “force” you to wear a veil. I tell the truth that, yes, there are times when you do wear a veil but that it is one hundred percent your choice and often for the purpose of respecting the feelings of others who are more conservative in their beliefs than you and your husband. That, in fact, you have as much freedom as any other wife, are a college graduate partly in fact because of his loving support and encouragement, and are continuing your education even further. You work when you please and you leisure when you please. Good grief. Such ignorance drives me crazy!

When the well-meaning ignoramus finally accepts that you and your husband do not line up with their imaginary Muslim guidelines, rather than admit they are wrong about Islam, the well-meaning ignoramus chooses to believe that you two are the exception to the rule and the proof is that these “other” Muslims pressure you to wear a veil against your will and personal convictions. I then ask them if they have not done the same thing, such as, “Well, you don’t wear a bikini to church do you? A strapless gown? A tube top? Hooker heels?” I mean, why is it so hard to understand an action motivated by a charitable spirit and desire to respect another’s feelings simply because it is performed by a Muslim?

We cannot use a broad brush to sweep across great swathes of humanity and say they cannot be trusted and are to be feared and suspected and rejected because they are Muslim. Do people not understand that these terrorists are not really Muslim? Do they not understand that they use a label but do not practice a faith? Do they not understand that the strategy behind using this label is to continue to divide two distinct groups of people? Do they not understand that if these two distinct groups of people actually come to realize this truth and become true allies in spirit, not just politically correct words, these murderers would then have no hiding place or pool of young people to recruit from? Do they not realize that by rejecting refugees who are running for their lives, have lost everything and are crying out for the charity of others to offer them a safe haven where they can rebuild a life for their families they are condemning generations of children to a non-future, no hope, and nothingness? Do they not realize that such an injustice will eventually, within the hearts of many, coalesce into anger and resentment creating the perfect condition to be recruited by murderers and thus perpetuate the cycle?

Wake up world! True Muslims are also the victims of the slaughter perpetrated by murderers who falsely use the label Islam. Many face not so much a physical slaughter but a slaughter of their hopes, dreams and futures. To truly help is to embrace these terrorized people with no homeland, love them, accept them, support them, encourage them and live beside them proudly and protectively.

Dear daughter, you and I have nothing to fear from one another. The only people we have to fear are the murderers who use the label of Islam in order to stir up trouble between folks like you and I and the ignoramuses who fall for it. This Jewish mother loves you, her Muslim daughter, and your husband, my Muslim son-in-law and our little Muslim princess granddaughter that is expected to arrive any day now. I love you with all my heart, the rest of the ignorant world be damned.

Forever, your loving Jewish Mother