Human disturbance is drying out forests

Bild Alpen Wiese

The area of the St. Lawrence River around Glenfiddich Water Conservancy is dry and brown; there are parts of the basin less than 100 feet deep, and parts as deep as 500 feet deep.
It’s not that there isn’t rain, or that there isn’t dirt in the river bed, or that there isn’t grass and swamps. It’s that because of human disturbance and wrong doings, rainfall becomes overly unreliable. Droughts can rise through the Sierra Nevada Mountains or New Mexico’s lowlands. Rainstorms cannot halt a potato chip ice cream truck, so rains begin very late and last longer than usual. What is considered an environmental disaster is not merely a man-made disaster but an actual man-made disaster.


When the weather is good – as it is right now – a company gets a promise of earthworks jobs, factories, or large agricultural or industrial projects and years later, the wet season hasn’t begun and people are being laid off, roadways are disappearing, overgrown trees are grown, or a hot, dry summer has melted ice packs in natural ponds, ready to drink to boiling.

Intense rainstorms appear because of global warming; a recent study concluded humans are responsible for about 14 percent of the warming in the planet, warming by more than 0.4 degrees Celsius a year. And, this means warmer water means more and more rainfall, making droughts more severe and frequently frequent.

All this started with agriculture, but it spread to the natural world, both climatically and biologically. Sea level rise, melting ice, erosion and mass extinctions means we are impacting the planet’s ecosystems, changing the properties of rain, water clarity, evaporation, temperature, and so on.

What is most important to understand about this is that humans are responsible for this. We have worsened the conditions and risks to the natural world around us by constantly breaking down the supply of necessary minerals, nutrients, energy, wind, water, and fire. Our actions cause the damage, because our decisions are often driven by economic and legal concerns, and by short-term profits.

For example, in the U.S., private corporations already have access to groundwater, but not to the federal drinking water so they pump water, release hydrocarbons into the water, then are forced to buy more water or deliver more water to higher or lower revenue customers. These activities create enormous water shortages and costs the government billions of dollars. Another example is how some state governments allow water to be diverted to rural or high volume states. It’s called profit shifting.

We are destroying our environments because we are diverting streams and using them for pumping, diesel fuel, fuel for big farms, and wood. We are using big water power plants – even the water in millions of streams around the country. The problems are nearly endless and potentially worse.

The only solution is to solve the management of water. It is a fundamental public health issue. It will not solve our problems overnight, but if we act now, the old war against man-made global warming will be won.

 

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