CLIMATE ADAPTATION

I want to punch climate change in the face. A blog about the interactions between the built environment, people, and nature.


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The importance of joining a board in your local government is not only rewarding and long-lasting, it also gets good press…

This farmers vs oil and gas frackers story at the Denver Post poses an interesting problem in Colorado, which is facing a major drought. On one side, farmers* need water to grow crops. On the other, oil and gas drillers (mostly frackers), need water, too. Both “bid” for water at annual auctions, with the rights to water going to the highest bidder. So, there’s pressure on the ag industry to compete for the same water resources with the oil and gas industry. It would seem that the problem is that oil and gas has more money, and therefore will out bid anyone.

But, the real problem here is water, not big oil vs little farmers. Why? The difference is that water from agriculture is recycled into ecosystems, whereas most (not all) fracking water is lost forever - it’s not recycled. Once chemicals are added to the water, it’s pumped into the ground to force out the fossil fuel. Much of this chemical-soupy-water stays underground (not all of it, but enough to cause trouble long-term). With agriculture, the water is recycled back into the environment (there are problems here, too. But, the water is not lost forever.).

"Farm water grows crops, but it also often supports wildlife, wetlands and streamflows back to our rivers. Most drilling and fracking water is lost from the hydrological cycle forever,” Wockner said. “Any transfer of water from rivers and farms to drilling and fracking will negatively impact Colorado’s environment and wildlife.”

The Northern Water Conservancy District runs the auction, offering excess water diverted from the Colorado River Basin — 25,000 acre-feet so far this year — and conveyed through a 13-mile tunnel under the Continental Divide.

A growing portion of that water now will be pumped thousands of feet underground at well sites to coax out oil and gas.

State officials charged with promoting and regulating the energy industry estimated that fracking required about 13,900 acre-feet in 2010. That’s a small share of the total water consumed in Colorado, about 0.08 percent. However, this fast-growing share already exceeds the amount that the ski industry draws from mountain rivers for making artificial snow. Each oil or gas well drilled requires 500,000 to 5 million gallons of water.

A Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission report projected water needs for fracking will increase to 18,700 acre-feet a year by 2015.”

*Let’s not sugar coat “farmer.” Many of Colorado’s 36,000 “farmers” are huge, industry owned agri-companies.

Oldie-ish-but-a-goodie, this piece by LA Times’s Alan Zarembo explains how adapting to climate change is a far cheaper proposition than fighting carbon zombies. Of course, this upset a lot of people, but the numbers do not lie.

"Pielke’s analysis, published last month in the journal Natural Hazards Review, is part of a controversial movement that argues global warming over the rest of this century will play a much smaller role in unleashing planetary havoc than most scientists think.

His research has led him to believe that it is cheaper and more effective to adapt to global warming than to fight it.

Instead of spending trillions of dollars to stabilize carbon dioxide levels across the planet — an enormously complex and expensive proposition — the world could work on reducing hunger, storm damage and disease now, thereby neutralizing some of the most feared future problems of global warming.

Hans von Storch, director of the Institute of Coastal Research in Germany, said that the world’s problems were already so big that the added burdens caused by rising temperatures would be relatively small. It would be like going 160 kilometers per hour on the autobahn when “going 150 … is already dangerous,” he said.

Consider a United Nations estimate that global warming would increase the number of people at risk of hunger from 777 million in 2020 to 885 million by 2080, a 14% rise, if current development patterns continue.

That increase could be counteracted by spending on better irrigation systems, drought-resistant crops and more-efficient food transport systems, said Mike Hulme, founding director of the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research at the University of East Anglia in England.

"If you’re really concerned about drought, those are much more effective strategies than trying to bring down greenhouse gas concentrations," he said.

Downplaying the importance of emissions reductions has raised hackles among scientists around the world, who say that the planet-wide effects of global warming will eventually go beyond humans’ ability to deal with it.”

Read the rest of “Climate Change: Just Deal With It?