U.S. Sen. Mike Johanns (R-Neb.) today released the following statement in support of Nebraska Governor Dave Heineman’s request to President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to deny the proposed route for the Keystone XL pipeline:
“I support Governor Heineman’s request that President Obama and Secretary Clinton deny the current application from TransCanada to build the Keystone XL pipeline along a route crossing Nebraska’s Sand Hills and the center of the Ogallala Aquifer,” said Johanns.
"The proposed route is the wrong route. It’s clear to me, after traveling throughout the state, that most Nebraskans agree a better route is needed. "Amid much discussion about authorities, one thing is irrefutable and that is the State Department’s authority to approve or reject TransCanada’s current permit application. The Governor has now unequivocally stated that the application should be denied; I agree. TransCanada should be forced to select a more appropriate pipeline route.”
Source: Sen. Mike Johanns
With hinged, needle sharp tipped teeth on it’s tongue and lips, the deep-ocean, mesopelagic Dragon Fish is not to be feared. They’re only about the size of a banana and live 1000 to 5000 meters (about 3,000 to 17,000 feet, or about a mile or three) where even the sun’s rays cannot reach. Shifts in climate on the surface of the sea is known to effect the health of creatures of the deep. But does it matter if they go extinct? To be honest, as an urban planner who researches adaptation (aka, fixing cities), I can’t think of a reason other than moral imperative. Worse, we might have to just let them go, so to speak. We can’t save every species. I can’t imagine this precious beast being listed on the endangered species list anytime soon.
That’s not to say work isn’t being done, because there is plenty of it. The 2007 AR4, aka the IPCC Fourth Assessment Report for Working Group II Climate Impacts, Vulnerability and Adaptation (the executive summary is worth a skim, here), addressed three topics having to do with figuring out a way to live with climate changes. This includes saving species. The three parts of the IPCC report are:
To make sense of this gibberish, it’s basically the same as messing around with a salary or mortgage calculator and then making a decision based on the scenario it spits out. A low rate means possibly taking out more money. A high rate limits your options for the size house you can buy, etc. Same holds here. When an ecosystem is expected to change due to temperature, we assess the risk tolerance, then make a decision. Pretty straight forward. My work lies in the third part, which is figuring out our options for cities. With adaptation, urban planners like me try to figure out which buildings we should move away from eroding beaches to avoid them from falling into the ocean (figuring out who pays is a whole other ball game!). On a larger scale, cities that are close to the ocean, like New York City or Boston, are in serious trouble if the sea rises a couple feet even if it does take 100 years.
Of the work in the AR4, there is a lot already done in the first part - taking a snap-shot of the world today. This entails lots and lots of assessments, which are too lengthy to go into here (aka, incredibly boring). Just know that scientists have their hands in assessing parts of the world that are unimaginable to the general public, but are crucial for our health.
Clean and full water aquifers, for example, are serious issues for millions of people around the world. Already underground aquifers in parts of Egypt and Northern Africa are becoming saltier because of sea level rise. As the sea level rises, salt water seeps into fresh water aquifers, spoiling women’s wells and fish farms. Aquifers are essential for drinking water. And they are critical sources for streams and rivers, which obviously fuel enormous ecosystems and habitat. There are many assessments by scientists working to measure the health of important, yet unseen, systems. Take a quick peak at some other interesting summaries here (but come back to my tumblr when you’re done!).
But what to do with rare or hardly seen species, such as the poor Dragon Fish above? I can’t wrap my head around this. Their habitat will be impacted by climate change, it is indisputable. But how to help these and other species is just too big for me to fathom. Thus, we may have to just accept that they’ll be a casualty of our war with the planet.