Luthiel — the water through stone. — Luthiel’s Song
“If there is magic on this planet, it is contained in water.” –Loren Eiseley
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Today I will be chatting with Caroline Casey at KPFA Radio, Berkley, FM 94.1 on the Visionary Activist Show at 5 PM Eastern, 2 PM West Coast on the issue of climate change, how it impacts the world’s waters and related geophysical systems, and on the broader impact to the Earth’s life supports.
As a prelude to the discussion with Caroline, I’d like to also provide these thoughts on the issue of how human movement toward a hothouse state is greatly bestirring the world’s waters:
Water is at the center of the climate change crisis. Too much water in the form of persistent rains, or rains that come all at once — with seasonal rains falling in the span of a month, a week, or even a day. Too much water in the form of sea level rise that has already driven 100,000 people away from their Indus River Delta farms due to salt table rise and flooding. Too much water for my home town of Hampton Roads which sees 77,000 properties in flood prone areas now uninsurable except by FEMA. Too much water for Miami which now imposes a fee (essentially an addition to property tax) to pay for increasingly powerful and elaborate pumps to keep the water out of roads, yards, and basements.
(Unitarian Church of Norfolk, VA. A place my wife and I attended while living in the region some years back. Due to rising sea levels, the Church now regularly floods at high tide. Image source: Campaign to Move the Church to Higher Ground.)
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Too little water in the form of an ongoing, now decadal, Southwestern US drought. Too little water for the clear cut and rapidly warming Amazon Rainforest and regions south like Sao Paulo. Far too little water for poor Syria which saw a 7 year drought before destabilization. Perhaps too little water for India and Southeast Asia this year as a combined human warmed ocean, strong PDO, and El Nino threaten to weaken or shut down the annual monsoon.
Too much increase in the flows of water from land to air, called the hydrological cycle in science, that increases the rate of evaporation, making droughts more suddenly intense, and increases the intensity of downpours — which is a brutal blow to vegetation and our ability to capture and use water for human efforts. And all that extra water in the airs and atmosphere thickens the lower zones, likely leading to strange changes like the advent of towering, bullying, blocking high pressure systems (Stu Ostro) or contributing to the powerful wind flows from south to north, from tropics to the Arctic (Jennifer Francis).
(Glacier calving into dark waters. For reference, the glacier front here is hundreds of feet in height. Image source: Norwegian Polar Institute.)
Changes in the way the Earth holds and manages water also arise. The great ice sheets, for so long dormant in their eons old rumbling, have been awakened by heat and are surging toward the oceans in a great melt that has now doubled in size for each of the past five years since the late 1990s. Great flows that have backed up some of the great ocean currents, causing water to slosh up on coastlines, and painting an expanding pall of fresh water over the Southern Ocean. A lid that risks the locking in of oxygen and a shutting down of the life generation process that has made our oceans so vital for so long.
If we were to translate our scientific knowledge into the language of the ancients, we would say now that water — a spirit that is able to hold the greatest heat of any of the elements — has been made angry by our excess and it is now moving about in our world with an increasing fury.
(Expanding low oxygen ocean zones is a real killer — first reducing ocean productivity and then becoming a haven for deadly hydrogen sulfide producing bacteria. A low oxygen ocean can rapidly shift into a deadly state known as a Canfield Ocean. Image source: Oxygen Minimum Zones.)
In the far north, water is forming into lens like lakes in the tundra. These heat trapping engines accelerate the permafrost melt and unlock ancient methane, breathing it into the air and contributing to human warming. In some cases, perhaps, rivers upon the tundra have tunneled down through new-found cracks and encountered ancient water-methane. A frozen fire water under high pressure that when warmed appears to have blown up into large eruptive holes. The tundra blow holes we have seen so much controversy over in the news.
Water in the air, in the oceans, in the ice, in and upon the ground is what makes Earth so bountiful and life-rich. But we are adding heat to that water and so we our changing our relationship with both it and the Earth…
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To these points, Caroline asks:
“What must we die to lest we die from?”
Certainly a notion well worth considering at this rather late hour.
Hat tips to:
Eleggua for facilitating this interview!
Kevin Jones for deep and clear thoughts