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Is It Only A Matter Of Time Until We're On A Dry Desolate Rock

Rivers everywhere are drying up! Megadroughts are now the normal routine. Yearly fire seasons are due to elevated temperatures and droughts. Is it only a matter of time?

By Jason Ray MortonPublished 3 months ago 7 min read
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Image by Myriams-Fotos from Pixabay

2023 is promising to be no better than 2022. How will we know? It will require us to become more aware, not letting ourselves become so bogged down we miss what’s occurring in front of us, and we will need to play a part at times. That last one is going to be the hardest. That’s because a lot of our species struggle with change.

Change is what we have watched for years. Many of the changes we have witnessed felt like surprises. How many of were surprises? How many of them should you have seen coming? A great deal of what we’re dealing with as a culture, a country, and a species, was long ago foretold. Now that we’re already on the road to the consequences of our bad choices, why haven’t we slammed on the brakes and turned in a different direction?

While it is easy to think that you aren’t steering the “ship,” it’s important to note you signed up for the destination. You may not have the power to fix the journey the world is on. Especially if you’re not paying attention and are sitting in the backseat asking:

“Are we there yet?”

Idly passing things by, ignoring the obvious, and putting heads in the sand because feeble old men tell us it’ll be alright, isn’t going to help to survive what’s coming. In case people are missing it, things are getting pretty scary.

U.S. Department of Agriculture, CC BY 2.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0>, via Wikimedia Commons

Mega Droughts

Droughts are having a crushing effect on the world. In the United States, more than 70% of the country is being affected by drought. Areas considered to be suffering severe drought have spread out from the West to the Mississippi River South of St. Louis. What was once a rapidly devolving issue out west, has now become a problem for the central states and jurisdictions along the country's biggest river.

When you look at what happened to the Colorado River, it’s not surprising that the conditions affecting the western half of the country moved east. The situation there has become so dire that CNN reports the federal government is prepared to restrict water flow through the Glen Canyon and Hoover Dams to maintain water levels in lake Mead and Powell, the nation's two largest reservoirs. It would be a way of slowing the loss of the ability to generate hydroelectricity.

Besides recreation, travel, and serving as part of the food chain, the dwindling rivers also have another thing in common. They supply water to our homes, and water treatment centers pull tap water from the rivers, clean it, and pipe it to your faucets. 71 % of our planet is covered by water, but as megadroughts rage around the globe, some believe the supply of drinkable water could become at risk.

When traveling, people may not notice the effects of the drought, other than the brownfields and dried earth. The effects are becoming more and more noticeable, as not just the Mississippi but smaller rivers are down to just puddles or have shrunk enough that even kayaks bottom out. The historic drought of 2022 will be something that people will feel pain from, especially as the cost of transiting harvests and goods become higher.

How bad is it? It’s a question that people are asking their friends and relatives close to the Mississippi, and news stations are covering it more frequently. One startling example of how bad things have gotten is the condition near Tower Rock. As one of the Mississippi’s natural landmarks, it’s been visitable by boat for many years. Now, it’s just a hike. Here’s what it looked like before the area dried up.

Sleepysavage, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

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August 2022 By Author

The black line illustrates where the water line once was, and how much it’s fallen to allow people to make the simple hike to the local landmark. The significant loss of water appears to be nearly 20 to 25 feet, lost in 2022. While the federal government threatens to curtail water usage by restricting flow through the Hoover and Glenn Canyon dams out west, what’s the future of the country’s biggest river if this continues?

Some predictions for the current drought situation are that it could last through 2030.

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

An Entirely Ironic Set Of Problems

The world has a strange sense of humor. Inland, we can’t get enough water. The rivers are drying, crops and herds suffering, and things like power supplies and freshwater supplies are threatened. Yet, along coastal regions, the effects of global warming are the opposite.

Global sea levels are rising. They’re doing so at an ever-accelerating pace. Ocean waters are spreading out as they absorb heat trapped by greenhouse gases in our atmosphere.

Glacier and ice sheet melt-off add hundreds of gigatons of meltwater into the oceans each year. The land surface along the coasts is creeping up and down, affecting incremental sea level rise, and becoming bigger problems for coastlines during hurricanes and ocean surges. Recently, this was noted during and after Hurricane Ian and is forecast to become even more dramatic and dangerous in the next fifteen years.

Humanity, not one agency, not one country, not one continent, but . . . humanity has been monitoring global sea level from space with exquisite accuracy for more than 28 years.

Michael Freilich, 1954 to 2020

Much like the supercharged drought, the effects of ocean level rise didn’t have to be this way. Today, it may not seem like much, but as the problem spins out of control, we will begin to see the long-term effects of our carelessness on our environment. Many of these long-term effects have been scientifically shown to have been made worse by the amount of C02 we pump into our atmosphere. Man-made assured destruction.

This would have been a garden-variety drought, but with global warming…wow. And this is because of our own doing.”

— Connie Woodhouse, climate Scientist, the University of Arizona told National Geographic

Image by Goran Horvat from Pixabay

Leading Causes Of Co2 Emissions

The 3 types of fossil fuels that are used the most today are coal, natural gas, and oil. Coal accounts for 43% of carbon dioxide emissions when we burn it for fuel. 36% is from burning oil and 20% is from natural gas. Anything involving the use of fossil fuels has a Co2 emission price tag attached to the process.

Three industries are principal users of fossil fuels and are responsible for the largest majority of pollution.

  • Electricity/Heat Sector
  • Transportation Sector
  • Industrial Sector

While industries have their emissions, different countries are taking different steps in dealing with the reality of CO2 emissions. While India and China are on the rise, the rest of the world recognizes the need to cut carbon dioxide emissions. Due to the drought, the dwindling rivers, and the extreme weather being pushed by global warming, an interesting paradox exists.

Efbrazil, CC BY-SA 4.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0>, via Wikimedia Commons

Drought is ravaging multiple continents. The effect of drought and dwindling rivers is a change in the transit of goods, crops, and fuels. In the United States, it takes one 15-barge tow to haul as much grain as 1,050 semi-truck trailers or 216 rail cars.

While waiting for 2-decades too long to address the effects of global warming and global climate change, we inadvertently set up a scenario where we need to burn fossil fuels, or we see the global supply chain affected worse than it already has been. Without the main arteries to transit goods through the country, the items that we depend on have to be transited by other, more environmentally damaging methods.

Slowing The Use Of Fossil Fuels

People want to slow the use of fossil fuels. Since science shows the emissions from fossil fuels are damaging the future of our world, the future of our children, and our grandchildren, it makes sense to decrease the production emissions of fossil fuels. That requires sacrificing the use of products that require burning fossil fuels in production. Between the use of fuels, plastics, and items made that are derived from hydrocarbons, the following items are slowly killing our future.

  • Fuel
  • Plastics in Cars
  • Petroleum Jelly
  • Plastics in toys
  • Computers
  • Asphalt/Bitumen
  • Synthetic rubber
  • Paraffin wax
  • Fertilizers
  • Certain pesticides
  • Certain detergents
  • Some furniture
  • Packaging materials
  • Surfboards
  • Paints
  • Floor wax for wooden floors
  • Ballpoint pens
  • Football Cleats
  • Nail Polish
  • Fishing Lures
  • Golf Bags
  • Perfumes
  • Shoe Polish
  • Compact Discs
  • Synthetic Fiber Curtains
  • Paraffin wax as a food preservative/chocolates and many other products have petroleum as an ingredient
  • Most soaps
  • Many anesthetics
  • Basketballs
  • Toothpaste/Face Creams/Body Lotions
  • Chewing Gums
  • Dentures
  • Pantyhose
  • Crayons
  • Heart Valves have four substances made from petroleum
  • Balloons
  • Hairsprays
  • Kayaks
  • Single-use plastic water bottles
  • Single-use shopping bags

Takeaways

While we are still not in a climate emergency because US Presidents haven’t declared one the same as 17 of the other countries in the climate accord, the signs of a climate emergency grow more and more pronounced every year. When the full effects of climate change and global warming are upon us, will we likely wonder why nobody warned us?

AdvocacyClimateNatureSustainabilityScience
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About the Creator

Jason Ray Morton

I have always enjoyed writing and exploring new ideas, new beliefs, and the dreams that rattle around inside my head. I have enjoyed the current state of science, human progress, fantasy and existence and write about them when I can.

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