Seventy percent of the planet Earth is covered by ocean water.
Do you think it is a coincidence that our bodies are composed of about the same percentage of water too?
For Earth Day, let’s remember how connected we all are, and that the future of our planet is in our hands.
Note: If you are still buying bottled water, or sold on the idea that water from a plastic bottle is somehow better than what comes out of your tap, please see this post 100% Natural Water.
It is a reminder for us to pay attention to, and to see through marketing tricks and ads, which sometimes feel like “green ads” from big manufacturers.
We are all getting smarter about his though, and I see many positive developments since I posted this article — so hopeful!
I understand that sometimes, we have no choice but to buy bottled water, but when possible, bringing your own water to special events or as we are out and about is a habit we can practice — and one that can make a big impact on our resources and reduce trash — trash that often ends up in the ocean.
The year 2015 is designated by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations as the International Year of Soils, with the aim to increase awareness and understanding of the importance of soil for food security and essential ecosystem functions.
I am posting this inspiring film about Jadav Payeng in support of this month’s Earth-Friendly Challenge — on the topic of SOIL — hosted by Just Another Nature Enthusiast.
In 1979, when Payeng was 16, he started to plant each and every tree of what is now 1,300 acres of a pristine tropical woodland — and singlehandedly created a forest that is larger than New York City’s Central Park.
Payeng first became interested in planting the forest after noticing the effects of desertification on the island’s wildlife.
According to the Water Resources Management journal, “An estimated 175 Mha [million hectares] of land in India, constituting about 53 per cent of the total geographical area (329 Mha), suffers from deleterious effects of soil erosion…”
The North-East Indian forest created by Jadav Payeng is now home to 115 elephants, 100 deer, numerous rhinos, Bengal tigers, apes, rabbits and vultures.
This inspiring documentary film is narrated by photojournalist, Jitu Kalita and made by Canadian filmmaker William Douglas McMaster. Jitu Kalita is a wildlife photographer and the person who discovered — and wrote about — the forest created by Jadav Payeng.
The next time you feel hopeless about environmental problems, or overwhelmed about the depressing news on climate change and start to think “what does it matter what I do…what difference is it going to make…I’m only one person…there is nothing I can do…”please think about what Jadav Payeng accomplished, starting with one tree.
For this week, the challenge was to learn about dams that alter the flow of our river and tributaries, and the purpose of the structure (Economic? Social? Environmental?).
The Salinas River near Highway 1, water headed towards the Pacific Ocean.
This challenge was truly…well, a challenge! I did not get to the other questions to consider AFTER I learned about the dams in the Salinas river because the answer to this question was not very easy to find.
What made this challenge confusing was that the Salinas River actually covers two counties. Searching for dams in the Salinas River first yielded information about the “Salinas Dam” built in neighboring San Luis Obispo County (South of Monterey county and where the Salinas River begins).
The contract to build the “Salinas Dam” in San Luis Obispo County was signed seven months before the Pearl Harbor attack. It took 3 years to build this particular dam, for water headed to San Luis Obispo. I include this information in my blog post because their local paper (The Tribune) had a series of blog posts called “Photos from the Vault” that revisited local history. Imagine my surprise when I saw a connection to the Philippines (where I grew up) on one of the headlines related to the Salinas Dam, after Japanese troops took over the Philippine capital Manila during World War II:
It is a coincidence that had me sidetracked about information that was already a challenge to research. It brought back memories of stories told by my aunts and uncles about their difficulties during the war, when they had to hide out in the jungle and head to the mountains when our area was occupied — beginning when my mother was still a toddler.
The main tributaries of the Salinas River are the Nacimiento, San Antonio, Arroyo Seco, San Lorenzo, and Estrella Rivers.
Nacimiento_River_photo via wikipedia
The Salinas River watershed has three large dams in its upper portion: The Salinas Dam, built in the 1940’s; the Nacimiento Dam, built in the 1950’s; and the San Antonio Dam, built in the 1960’s. The Salinas Dam is managed by the US Army Corps of Engineers, and the Nacimiento and San Antonio Dams are managed by the Monterey County Water Resources Agency.
Nacimiento River Dam photos via Monterey County Water Resources Agency
The Lower portion of the Salinas River is often referred to as the Lower Salinas River. The division of the river and its watershed in upper and lower portions is for administrative purposes only.
The Salinas River drains to both the Salinas River Lagoon and the Moss Landing Harbor in the center of the Monterey Bay.
So I will post this information for the challenge with this basic data, and will consider other questions posted for this challenge as time permits at a later time.
Based on the information below, sourced from government related websites…
…and because the area near where we live has already had seawater intrusion (I’ve posted information about this and sea level rise for the California King Tides Project) I’ll keep my blog post update for this particular challenge focused on seawater intrusion — at least for now.
Information on the California Drought
Several days ago, California’s drought conditions hit national news because our snow pack water content hit a new record low. The annual measurement was at 5% of average, which broke the previous record of 25% of average in 1977 and 1991.
The photo below — where California governor Jerry Brown is standing at the podium — is at 6,800 feet elevation. Normally, and for this time of the year, they would be standing on 5 feet of snow. Instead, they are standing on grass!
It is going to be a challenge to meet the new MANDATORY water reduction goal of reducing water use by 25%. So, whether we like it or not, we are all going to be learning a lot more about water use, and our water sources…which makes this focus on water for the March Earth-Friendly challenges very timely.
To learn more about the latest California water content measurement (Sierra Nevada Snowpack) click here. Excerpt:
The California Department of Water Resources (DWR) found no snow whatsoever today during its manual survey for the media at 6,800 feet in the Sierra Nevada. Thiswas the first time in 75 years of early-April measurements at the Phillips snow course that no snow was found there. Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. observed thesurvey, which confirmed electronic readingsshowing the statewide snowpack with less water content today than any April 1stsince 1950. Attending the survey with Governor Brown was DWR Director Mark Cowin, who said Californians can expect to receive almost no water from the meager snowpack as it melts in the coming weeks.
I spoke to Kristen at the above Monterey / Santa Cruz number for The Marine Mammal Center.
Kristen said that sometimes, the sea lions go ashore to rest or to warm up, and may go back out to sea. If they look thin, or sick, and especially if you see pups (which she said measure between 2 to 3 feet long) please call them and they will determine the actions they need to take.
They have the ability to take the seals in, or to transport them to San Luis Obispo or the main facility in Sausalito if needed (see The Marine Mammal Center website).
Never touch or try to push sea lions back into the ocean. There have been reports of misguided people doing this — very dangerous!
Further information from the pamphlet:
Sea lions, seals and sea otters are protected animals. It’s against federal law to disturb them or cause them to change their behavior.
You’re too close if an animal starts to stare, fidget or flee. Slowly back away and stay at least 150 feet or 46 meters away. Seals on land are especially wary and may rush into the water or abandon their pups, threatening their survival.
Officials with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said Wednesday about 940 sick and starving young sea lions have washed up on California beaches so far in 2015.
That compares to about 225 sea lion strandings that officials normally would see between January and April, said Justin Viezbicke, NOAA stranding coordinator for the West Coast region. Roughly 540 sea lion pups are being treated at rehabilitation centers between San Diego and San Francisco.
Climate change related? The article continues…
Scientists say warmer coastal waters are forcing nursing mothers in the Channel Islands or Mexico to head out farther for food, leaving behind their young for longer than the normal two or four days. An estimated 300,000 sea lions live from the Mexican border to Washington state.
NOAA Climatologist Nate Mantua said the warming is likely a historical record for the northeast Pacific and the West Coast. The ocean is between 2 and 5 degrees warmer for this time of year due to the same high-pressure system that has the state in its fourth year of drought.
This is the third year that an exceptional number of pups have stranded or died.
Sadly, the latest numbers for the sea lions strandings are now reported at over 1,400 now over 1,800(updated March 20, 2015).
Severe weather — from climate change that lead to ocean warming as well as excess carbon dioxide that increase ocean acidity levels — impact marine wildlife.
It may not be obvious to most of us because we can’t see what is happening, but severe weather changes are already affecting our marine wildlife.
Jellyfish Exhibit at the Monterey Bay Aquarium – photo Lolako.com
Warmer ocean waters contribute to jellyfish blooms.
While jellyfish are fascinating and beautiful, and abundant jellyfish is a great food source for giant Pacific leatherback turtles that migrates from Indonesia to the Monterey Bay, sea turtle populations have declined at an alarming rate — so there are not as many turtles to keep the jellyfish population in check.
Moon jellyfish exhibit at the Monterey Bay Aquarium – photo Lolako.com
A combination of the decline in sea turtle population that feed on jellyfish and increasing jellyfish blooms creates an imbalance and a serious problem because among the food jellyfish (like the Pacific sea nettle) eat as they drift in our oceans are small fish and fish eggs.
You don’t have to be a scientist to figure out that this overabundance of jellyfish eating fish eggs results in fewer fish for other ocean creatures to eat (not to mention less fish for human beings to eat).
My grandson, Jun, mesmerized by the amazing Jellyfish exhibit at the Monterey Bay Aquarium
Jellyfish are another invasive intruder that can proliferate under warming ocean temperatures. These “weeds of the sea” have become more common in the Monterey Bay over the last decade, according to Nelson.
“We always had sea nettle jellyfish here in the late summer,” Nelson said. “But in the last eight to ten years we’ve been having huge blooms of them periodically — so much so that they’ve actually collapsed our water intake filters.”
Standing in a room lined floor to ceiling with jellyfish tanks, it was easy to imagine these boneless, brainless creatures expanding out from the aquarium and far into the ocean, decimating native species in their path.
Pacific Sea nettle jellyfish exhibit at Monterey Bay Aquarium – photo Lolako.com
Beyond the Monterey Bay, jellyfish blooms are creating problems in other parts of the world….from a power outage at Sweden’s Oskarshamn nuclear power plant caused by water intake systems clogged by jellyfish, to fishing boats in Japan capsized as a result of fishing nets inundated with jellyfish (more info here).
Severe weather will continue to impact all of us, in our interconnected world.
To take part in this blogging challenge or to see photos and articles for the challenge click here.
This new blogging event is inspired by prophetic words written in 1971 by Dr. Seuss in his book – The Lorax …” UNLESS . . . someone like youcares a whole awful lot,nothing is going to get better. It’s not.”
But I can be a sports fan and total sports geek at times, and totally followed and enjoyed the San Francisco Giants’ journey to win the 2014 World Series.
However, I found the crazy, excessive media focus on “DeflateGate”— when New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick claimed atmospheric conditions caused footballs to lose air pressure during the playoffs against the Indianapolis Colts — so ridiculous, in light of the other world events that major news outlets should cover.
I did hear Bill Nye”The Science Guy” give his opinion on this whole DeflateGate thing on radio and on TV…and just had to post this recent video on my blog.
Note: He actually takes a very SHARP turn in the middle of the video, saying what many of us are thinking about all this ball talk of late…so here it is from he folks at Funny or Die:
And for the football sports fans, a question: If the New England Patriots win this game, Tom Bradywill own his 4th Superbowl ring to tie with my all-time favorite player, Joe Montana.
If Brady ties Montana’s record, do you think he can then be called the greatest quarterback of all time, especially that this is his 6th Superbowl appearance?
As much as I dislike the Patriots, I dislike the Seattle Seahawks even more (hey, I’m a San Francisco 49ers fan, remember, we are REQUIRED to hate the Seahawks)….So for today, GO PATRIOTS! Plus, Tom Brady is a Bay Area native (San Mateo, California).
Are you watching Super Bowl 49 today to see football or like many Americans, watch it for the commercials and supercharged Half-Time Show?
Last Wednesday, we had super high tides in our area. These high tides are also called “king tides”, and can damage property as well as cause erosion in coastal areas.
I went to Elkhorn Slough the day of the high tide to take photographs and take part in the California King Tides Project.
Outside of San Francisco Bay, Elkhorn Slough harbors California’s largest tract of tidal salt marsh.
It is home to more than 135 aquatic bird, 550 marine invertebrate, 102 fish species, sea lions, harbor seals, and California sea otters. It is also a temporary home to hundreds of bird species that use the slough during their annual migrations.
It is a treasure in this area of California, and a special place to see wildlife up close — and a safe place to kayak (weather permitting of course!)
Dunes and broad stretches of open sandy beach characterize the inner curve of Monterey Bay.
The expansive beaches are interrupted only by the outlets of the Pajaro and Salinas Rivers, and the entrance to Elkhorn Slough and Moss Landing Harbor.
The protected waters of the slough and its associated mudflats, wetlands, and nearby dunes provide a haven for a wide variety of birds, fish and unusual marine life.
This remarkable variety of habitats provides visitors a rare opportunity to explore and discover nature’s secrets.
The tide for the area is normally around 5 feet. During the king tide, the tide rose to over 6 feet and flooded walking paths, as well as the parking area of Kirby Park, one of the launching points for those who want to kayak in the slough.
For a comparison, here is a photo of my grandchildren walking the path at Kirby Park, taken on a foggy day in 2009.
And below are photos I took from my phone camera on January 21, 2015, one of the “king tide” days…
The tide reached its peak while a family was at the viewing bridge, and they had to pass the flooded path to get back to the parking area.
Some waited for the water to recede, including me! I do like to keep my feet and shoes dry, and was not willing to walk on the logs that lined the path (I’m not good at balancing…and pretty sure I would have ended up with more than wet shoes).
Parts of the path have already eroded…
And those who parked in the launching area to kayak may have been surprised to see water near their vehicles upon their return.
Parts of parking area near launching ramp flooded…
We will see if these tides get more severe, meaning many coastal areas, and even small parks like Kirby will need funding to repair and raise walking paths and parking areas.
Documenting the differences will hopefully help in budgeting and planning for these changes in our environment.
This post is part of the WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge. The theme this week is Depth, from Ben Huberman:
This week, share with us your take on “depth” — you can take it literally, like me, by showing something (a dense forest, your lawn after a blizzard) that suggests volume, a distance between surface and bottom. Or go with a more figurative approach: use a deep color palette, play with your image’s depth of field, or highlight a person, a place, or an object to which you feel deeply connected.
The California King Tides Project help people visualize how sea level rise will impact their lives. Via smartphones and social media, we invite you to document “king tides” – the highest high tides of today, which will be the average water levels of the future.
The pictures that you take help scientists and managers better plan for future flood risks, and give you a way to participate directly in the science that willdrive decisions in your community. Everyone is welcome to participate!
One of the side effects of salt water intrusion is contamination of freshwater sources. Graphic Source: Blog post from (Journalist and Photographer) Sabrina Doyle’s website. Click on image to visit website and for more information.
San Francisco Bay is RISING. There is an educational video on the California King Tides website about sea level rise and global warming. I highly recommend viewing if you have an interest in the environment, ocean warming and resulting sea level rise as it relates to the Bay Area and beyond. See below or link here: http://california.kingtides.net/what-is-sea-level-rise/
And if you are interested in more LolaKo.com photos and posts related to Elkhorn Slough, click here.
Is the area where you live affected by these super high tides? What is your opinion on climate change?
Photo via Here & Now website: Jeremy Hobson speaks with Philippine President Benigno Aquino III in Boston. (Samantha Fields/Here & Now)
Climate change is a reality. The Philippines has experienced strange weather patterns over the last few years — typhoons in November / December when they normally end by September.
The November, 2013 Typhoon Haiyan (called “Yolanda” in the Philippines) was the deadliest Philippine typhoon on record and one of the strongest tropical cyclones ever recorded.
The Philippines is a member of the United Nations (UN) Commission on Climate Change, and President Benigno Aquino spoke at the United Nations Climate Summit on September 23, 2014.
The day before he spoke at the Summit, President Aquino was interviewed by Jeremy Hobson on the public radio program Here and Now
In case you missed it, here are links to the broadcast…worth a listen, covering global security and climate change as it relates to the Philippines and the U.S – Philippines relationship.
On the threat of climate change for the Philippines
“If you look at the maps, especially for storms coming from the Pacific side, it seems like we’re a gateway to the rest of Asia.”
“For instance, Typhoon Haiyan. We don’t get typhoons in December. They normally end by September. A typhoon happening in October is considered a late event. Having a major typhoon in December (and this has happened for practically ever year that I’ve been in office) … is truly alarming to us.
“Even the planting cycles, which are really very dependent on weather — there seems to be a return to normal this year — but for the past few years they kept on changing, which affects the food security, not only for us, but for a whole range of other countries.”
Note: If you cannot play President Benigno Aquino’s interview from this page, link to the Here and Now program’s web page, here.
Brown is the new green? Brown grass — or alternatives to green lawns — SHOULD be the new normal for many lawns in California.
It’s been over six months since California declared a drought emergency with the goal of reducing 20% of our water use.
Instead, water use actually increasedthis year!
How is this possible? Many areas of California closed out year 2013 as the driest in recorded history.
Yet three years into this drought — and despite wide local (and National) media coverage and attention — water use has gone up.
Do people not watch the news, don’t care, are selfish and do not see this drought as a real and long-term problem? Are there not enough Public Service Announcements (PSAs) or are people ignoring the PSAs?
It could be too that unlike floods, fires or other emergencies, drought is gradual…so as long as water comes out of our faucets and water hoses, perhaps we don’t think of it as a real emergency?
A couple of days ago, California’s State Water Resources Control Board approved regulations to allow local law and water organizations to fine water wasters up to $500 per day (e.g., for hosing down sidewalks, washing cars with free-flowing hoses, excessive lawn watering).
I wonder if the threat of a $500 fine will make a difference. What will it take to get the point to California residents that we are in a serious situation. Is it because water is too inexpensive for the average California consumer?
Near our neighborhood a new lawn made from artificial grass is in process of getting installed…
Are your neighbors doing something similar or xeriscaping — installing llandscapes or gardens that minimizes or eliminates water needs?
I have always disliked plastic plants and especially plastic flowers. Yes, most real flowers are ephemeral (except for orchids that can last for months) but isn’t that the point…that some things should be enjoyed in their moment and life cycle?
So how about a fake (no water EVER needed) lawn?
I suppose if you absolutely must have a green front yard…this one looks pretty close to the real thing.
I think we will go to the nearest park though, if I really must be surrounded by manicured green grass. Just can’t get past adding all that plastic around a home… How about you?
Despite the 5,000 mile distance between the California coastline and Japan, our coastal community was affected by the March 2011 tsunami (and subsequent disaster at the Fukushima nuclear power facility.)
Between debris that washed up on the U.S. Western coastlines — and our worries of radiation contaminated items reaching our shores — to the bathtub effect that caused millions of dollars of damage to boats and property at the Santa Cruz harbor, the disaster originating thousands of miles away directly impacted us. It was another reminder of how small our world really is, and our interconnectedness …
Sailboats in the Santa Cruz Harbor crash against each other Friday morning as a tsunami surge sucks out muddy, backwater from the upper harbor. Photo by Dan Coyro/Sentinel
Tsunami Hazard Zone sign at Monterey County area beach. Photo Lolako.com
The California counties designated as TsunamiReady™ met NWS criteria, including developing a safety plan, setting up alert systems and promoting tsunami safety through public outreach.
Theaddition of the counties of Marin, Santa Cruz, Santa Barbara and San Diego means there are now 8 counties listed as TsunamiReady™ in California.
The state of California is divided into 58 counties. The California coast covers 840 miles (1,350 km), and 15 of California’s 58 counties directly face the Pacific Ocean. These counties are:
Del Norte County
Los Angeles County
San Diego County
San Francisco County
San Luis Obispo County
San Mateo County
Santa Barbara County
Santa Cruz County
Counties in bold are listed as TsunamiReady™. We will follow-up again next year to see if all of California’s coastal counties receive the TsunamiReady™ designation.
Do you live in one of California’s coastal communities? With this month marking the 3rd anniversary of the Japanese tsunami disaster, do you know — or care — if your community has a TsunamiReady™ designation?
What do you think? Skip a shower — shower every other day or two? Super short showers?
Photo of ancient shower/bath tool called a strigil
Skipping a shower or two every week may be better for our skin and hair anyway. There are parts of the world where taking a shower every other day is the norm.
Just as long as we don’t have to skip showers altogether!
Ancient Greeks and Romans used olive oil and this tool called a strigil to clean dirt off (first they rubbed olive oil on their skin, and then scraped away dirt and grime). Hmmm…
It’s a good thing there are over 400 growers / producers of olive oil in California…oh wait, the drought can adversely affect olive oil production too! The 2012 drought in Spain — the world’s top olive oil producer — resulted in a huge drop in Spain’s olive oil production, and increased olive oil prices in Europe.
So okay, we will continue to do our part to cut our water use, and hopefully we will not have to revert back to using olive oil and a strigil instead of modern showers.
Showering habits aside, and on a serious note, the drought here in California will affect not only our vegetable crops, but also olive oil, nut and fruit production. Farmers are already having to pull out or let trees die and expect losses for many crops.
Less nuts and fruits to pick means less work for the agricultural sector, higher prices for everyone...
President Obama is in the Central Valley today with a promise of millions of dollars in aid to help California farmers due to the drought. He also pledged to speed up federal help that threatens the agriculture industry.
More on Obama in California: a pledge of drought aid, climate change planning, from the CSMonitor’s website, here.
“He’ll offer a message of hope and a message that the federal government will do all that it can to try to alleviate some of the stress connected with this drought,” Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack told reporters Thursday night.
California is 2/3 into the wet season, the time of the year when we are supposed to get the most rain.
water clings to the tips of pine needles after Wednesday, February 6, 2014 rainstorm
Though we finally have rain — and rain is in the forecast for many parts of California this weekend — it would have to rain every other day until May of this year to get our water to normal levels (see press conference video from California Department of Water Resources at the bottom of this post).
Irrigated farm fields, Moss Landing – California Central Coast
Droughts increase our wildfire and firestorm risks, and as of the end of January, 2014 there were already 400 fires across the state compared to ZERO fires in January of 2013.
And now for the first time in the 54 year history of the California State Water Project (SWP) – the largest state-built and operated multipurpose water and power system in the United States — no water will be released for urban and agricultural uses. This means that water allocation to all 29 public water agencies in California is being cut from 5% to zero, except for human health and safety needs.
So even with the expected rain this weekend, our state still face severe water problems and California residents need to get serious and creative with water conservation efforts to continue to address our continuing drought emergency.
Water Saving Hero graphic from an Urban Drought Guidebook prepared by the California Department of Water Resources in 2008 (note: website on this graphic is no longer operational)
The California State Water Project, the largest state-built and operated multipurpose water and power system in the United States, includes 34 storage facilities, 20 pumping plants, four pumping-generating plants, five hydroelectric powerplants, and approximately 701 miles of canals, tunnels, and pipelines including the 444-mile California Aqueduct. For more, visit the California Department of Water Resources website, here.
Something is not quite right with our winter weather.
Silhouette photo of our grandsons enjoying the late afternoon warm weather at the beach last week with their Frisbee.
Here in the Central Coast of California, most of us can’t remember the last time it rained, and are experiencing much warmer than normal temperatures.
According to the most recent State of the Climate report, published by the United States National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) National Climatic Data Center (NCDC), our state had little rain (AGAIN) last year, resulting in a record driest year.
Temperature-wise,California also had much warmer than normal temperatures last year.
Even without the official stats, we know the weather is certainly not normal and we were not surprised when California Governor Jerry Brown issued a proclamation last week declaring a drought emergency (to urge Californians to reduce their water use by 20% indoors and out).
“We can’t make it rain, but we can be much better prepared for the terrible consequences that California’s drought now threatens, including dramatically less water for our farms and communities and increased fires in both urban and rural areas,” said Governor Brown. “I’ve declared this emergency and I’m calling all Californians to conserve water in every way possible.”
...The Department of Water Resources (DWR) conducted the first snow survey of the year on Jan. 3 and officials measured the snowpack’s statewide water content at about 20 percent of average for this time of year. According to DWR, the readings this month and in 2012 are the driest on record.
Not only is the snowpack dry, the state has suffered from a lack of rain, with many areas ending 2013 with the lowest rainfall amounts on record.
According to DWR, Gasquet Ranger Station in Del Norte County—which is normally one of California’s wettest spots with an average annual rainfall of nearly 100 inches—only received 43.46 inches last year. Sacramento ended the year with 5.74 inches of rain, vastly lower than the normal 18 inches the region usually receives. Downtown Los Angeles set an all-time low with just 3.4 inches of rainfall. The city’s average is 14.74 and the previous record low was 4.08 set in 1953.
In a state (and especially here in Monterey county) where agriculture is a major industry, this creates serious problems for farmers and significantly increases wildfire / firestorm hazards.
We are in dire need of major rain storms to alleviate the drought situation…but so far, there is no rain in the immediate weather forecast.
To learn more about what we can do to conserve water, visit the Save our Water website (I’ve added their widget to my website’s sidebar for an easy link, and to get daily water saving tips).
Did you know…California produces nearly half of US-grown fruits, nuts and vegetables across the nation? American consumers regularly purchase several crops produced solely in California. Production Statistics Source: California Department of Agriculture
Does this mean we need not worry about supply and increasing our consumption and dependence on oil? And the curse part, will this halt the incentive to move towards a cleaner, greener alternative energy source if there is this new abundance of oil here in the US? And what of our climate and environment?
To listen to the radio program episode, click here
….The Monterey Shale, the largest oil-shale reservoir in the country, is estimated to hold some 14 billion barrels of oil. The federal government is preparing to lease out a large chunk of it for oil development, spanning Monterey, Fresno and San Benito counties.
…North America will provide 40 percent of new supplies to 2018 through the development of light, tight oil and oil sands, while the contribution from the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries will slip to 30 percent, according to the International Energy Agency.
That giddy squeal that echoed across America this weekend was from environmentalists who’d opened up The New York Times and read an opinion piece by Richard Muller. (Well, opened the website, anyway; it wasn’t in the actual paper.)
In January of this year, I posted a chart and highlights from the State of the Climate report, published by the United States National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) National Climatic Data Center (NCDC).
With the devastating news about the extreme drought now affecting more than 1/2 of continental US, I am posting the June, 2012 State of the Climate report, with information on world weather, and U.S. drought /wildfire-related information.
While most of the world — including a majority of North America and Eurasia, and northern Africa — experienced higher-than-average monthly temperatures, Australia had below average temperatures during June, and New Zealand experienced its coolest daily maximum temperatures in 130 years.
Click on the map to view a larger version of Selected Significant Climate Anomalies and Events for June 2012
June marked the 36th consecutive June and 328th consecutive month with a global temperature above the 20th century average. The last below-average temperature June was June 1976 and the last below-average temperature month was February 1985.
The Arctic lost a total of 2.86 million square kilometers (1.10 million square miles) of sea ice, the largest loss of sea ice on record for June, since satellite records began in 1979.
Austria recorded its highest ever June temperature of 99.9°F (37.7°C) by a full degree Fahrenheit on June 30th in two locations: the capital city of Vienna and in German-Altenburg, Nope.
The United Kingdom experienced its wettest June since national records began. England and Wales each tied with 1860 as the wettest June since their records began in 1766.
Stockholm, Sweden received four times its average precipitation during June, making this month the city’s wettest ever since records began in 1786.
In China, copious rain fell throughout much of June, leading to the evacuation of 5 million people and flooding of 50,000 acres of farmland.
In parts of the Philippines, Typhoon Mawar brought 185 km/hr winds, resulting in heavy rains, flash floods and landslides.
US Weather – Drought and Wildfires
June 2012 was another warmer- and drier-than-average month (14th warmest and tenth driest June on record, based on data back to 1895) when weather conditions are averaged across the country.
Wildfires blazed across 1.36 million acres of the U.S. during June, fed by antecedent drought conditions and unparalleled heat.
At month’s end, 57 large wildfires were active in 15 U.S. states, mostly in the West, but also in Central and South Atlantic areas, and even in Alaska and Hawaii. The amount burned in the single month was more than half the total acreage burned by wildfires in the country since January, based on National Interagency Fire Center (NIFC) statistics.
Based on the Palmer Drought Index, severe to extreme drought affected about 33 percent of the contiguous United States as of the end of June 2012, an increase of about 10 percent from last month. About 4 percent of the contiguous U.S. fell in the severely to extremely wet categories.
About 55 percent of the contiguous U.S. fell in the moderate to extreme drought categories (based on the Palmer Drought Index) at the end of June.
Rio+20 is the short name for the United Nations (UN) Conference on Sustainable Development, which took place on June 20 – 22, 2012, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
The +20 signifies twenty years since the 1992 Earth summit, also held in Rio de Janeiro.
The UN brought together governments, international institutions and major groups to “agree” on measures to reduce poverty and promote jobs, clean energy, and a more sustainable and fair use of resources.
Severn Cullis-Suzuki is the daughter of David Suzuki, a Canadian academic, science broadcaster and environmental activist.
David Suzuki is host of the long-running CBC program, “The Nature of Things,” seen in more than 40 countries. He co-founded the David Suzuki Foundation in 1990, which focuses on sustainable ecology. In 2009, he was awarded the Right Livelihood Award. His latest book is called, “Everything Under the Sun: Toward a Brighter Future on a Small Blue Planet.”
Amy Goodman of Democracy Now interviewed David Suzuki near the conclusion of the Rio+20 conference. Below is video of the interview, covering the “Green Economy” and why the planet’s survival requires undoing its economic model. Introduction:
As the Rio+20 Earth Summit — the largest U.N. conference ever — ends in disappointment, we’re joined by the leading Canadian scientist, environmentalist and broadcaster David Suzuki. As host of the long-running CBC program, “The Nature of Things,” seen in more than 40 countries, Suzuki has helped educate millions about the rich biodiversity of the planet and the threats it faces from human-driven global warming. Suzuki joins us from the summit in Rio de Janeiro to talk about the climate crisis, the student protests in Quebec, his childhood growing up in an internment camp, and his daughter Severn’s historic speech at the Rio Earth Summit in 1992 when she was 12 years-old.
“If we don’t see that we are utterly embedded in the natural world and dependent on Mother Nature for our very well-being and survival … then our priorities will continue to be driven by man-made constructs like national borders, economies, corporations, markets,” Suzuki says. “Those are all human created things. They shouldn’t dominate the way we live. It should be the biosphere, and the leaders in that should be indigenous people who still have that sense that the earth is truly our mother, that it gives birth to us. You don’t treat your mother the way we treat the planet or the biosphere today.”
It is clear that a shift in how we think about our relationship with our planet needs to happen now, otherwise, just as meetings like the Rio+20, we are doomed to fail.
As David Suzuki points out, we are part of, and depend on nature. Without clean air, without clean water, and biodiversity to sustain us….how are we going to survive?
If we continue to think and believe we are separate from — instead of a part of, and responsible for the planet’s health — then indeed, we are looking at our very own extinction. Let’s take a different path!
David Suzuki Foundation – We work with government, business and individuals to conserve our environment by providing science-based research, education and policy work, and acting as a catalyst for the change that today’s situation demands.
From Democracy Now — a daily, independent global news hour, with Amy Goodman & Juan González:
In 1992, 12-year-old Severn Cullis-Suzuki became known as “the girl who silenced the world for six minutes” after she addressed delegates in Rio de Janeiro during the summit’s plenary session. We air Cullis-Suzuki’s historic address and speak to her from the Rio+20 summit, which she comes back to now as a veteran international environmental campaigner and mother of two. “Twenty years later, the world is still talking about a speech, a six-minute speech that a 12-year-old gave to world leaders,” Cullis-Suzuki says. “Why? It is because the world is hungry to hear the truth, and it is nowhere articulated as well as from the mouths of those with everything at stake, which is youth.”
“I’m only a child, yet I know we are all part of a family, five billion strong—in fact, 30 million species strong. And borders and governments will never change that. I’m only a child, yet I know we are all in this together and should act as one single world towards one single goal. In my anger, I am not blind, and in my fear, I am not afraid of telling the world how I feel… click here to view the video transcript.
Now that the zombie apocalypse appears to have calmed down, we have a different end-of-the-world situation to deal with. A study published in the science journal Nature this week finds that human activity is pushing Earth toward a planetary shift wherein “widespread social unrest, economic instability and loss of human life could result.”
Graph of land use as a quantification of a potential planetary state shift Anthony Barnosky, et al./Nature, via Mother Jones
According to paleoecologist Anthony Barnosky and his 21 co-authors, the human population is ecologically influencial enough to transform the planet into a state heretofore unknown in human experience. The study draws from more than 100 scientific papers…more
The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) recently published their 5th Global Environment Outlook – a 525 page report analyzing the world’s environmental situation.
And… it is no surprise that the situation does not look good. Excerpt from the report by Jenny Barchfield (AP) via SFGate, UN report warns environment at tipping point:
…In a 525-page report on the health of the planet, the agency paints a grim picture: The melting of the polar ice caps, desertification in Africa, deforestation of tropical jungles, spiraling use of chemicals and the emptying out of the world’s seas are just some of myriad environmental catastrophes posing a threat to life as we know it.
“As human pressures on the earth … accelerate, several critical global, regional and local thresholds are close or have been exceeded,” the report says. “Once these have been passed, abrupt and possibly irreversible changes to the life-support functions of the planet are likely to occur, with significant adverse implications for human well-being.”
Such adverse implications include rising sea levels, increased frequency and severity of floods and droughts, and the collapse of fisheries, said the report, which compiles the work of the past three years by a team of 300 researchers.
The bad news doesn’t end there. The report says about 20 percent of vertebrate species are under threat of extinction, coral reefs have declined by 38 percent since 1980, greenhouse gas emissions could double over the next 50 years, and 90 percent of water and fish samples from aquatic environments are contaminated by pesticides.
I don’t know about other print newspapers, but ours (The Monterey County Herald) had this news on Page 7, on June 7, 2012.
If our home — the beautiful planet, Earth — is “being pushed towards their biophysical limits”, then this news deserves more attention.
If indeed, catastrophic changes are looming, then should this news be on the FRONT PAGE?
Our home is on the verge of major disaster, and we put the news on page 7???
We do not want to think about this, so do we just ignore this information…to our own peril?
It’s time to wake up everyone. This is the collective problem of all inhabitants of our fragile planet!
Is it possible to CHANGE the health of our planet and to stop and reverse these distressing environmental trends?
From UNEP executive director Achim Steiner: “This is an indictment. We live in an age of irresponsibility that is also testified and documented in this report.
“In 1992 (when the first of the agency’s five reports was released) we talked about the future that was likely to occur. This report 20 years later speaks to the fact that a number of the things that we talked about in the future tense in 1992 have arrived,” Steiner said. “Once the tipping point occurs, you don’t wake up the next morning and say, `This is terrible, can we change it?’ That is the whole essence of these thresholds. We are condemning people to not having the choice anymore.”
Steiner called for immediate action to prevent continued environmental degradation, with its ever-worsening consequences.
“Change is possible,” he said, adding that the report includes an analysis of a host of environmental preservation projects that have worked. “Given what we know, we can move in another direction.”
Here is the newspaper article about the UN report, on page 7 of our Monterey County Herald.
Are you thinking what I am thinking…is this all there is? Come on, Monterey Herald!
Does the placement of this article speak to how we all feel about the environmental problems we collectively face? To bury the already tiny mention, in the middle of the newspaper?
If you care at all about the state of the world we leave behind for our children and grandchildren, then we have no choice but to take responsibility for the problems we have caused, and act now…before we reach the tipping point.
Do you think there should be more coverage about this report? Who is responsible for addressing these environmental threats?
According to the National Weather Service (NWS)….the answer is YES.
Tsunami warning sign at entrance to California State Park beach, Monterey County
Monterey County — along with the California Counties of San Francisco, San Mateo and Orange — received the designation of TsunamiReady for meeting NWS criteria, including developing a safety plan, setting up alert systems and promoting tsunami safety through public outreach.
When Seconds Count,
Interested in learning about other California communities with the TsunamiReady designation? Click here or on the California map below.
According to the TsunamiReady™ web site, there were 102 sites in 10 states, Puerto Rico, Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands with the TsunamiReady designation. Click here or the map below for details.
Did you know…Tsunami (soo-NAH-mee) is a Japanese word meaning harbor wave?
The United States National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) NCDC State of the Climate Report publishes a chart of significant climate anomalies and events. Here is the chart for January 2012.
Click on the chart or here to view a larger version of the January 2012 climate anomalies chart. Highlights:
Global Temperatures are 19th warmest on record for January, since record keeping began in 1880.
Arctic sea ice extent was the fourth smallest extent on record for January, at 7.5 percent below average.
January 2012 marks the coolest month since February 2008. However, January 2012 also marks the 26th January and 323rd consecutive month with a global temperature above the 20th century average. The last month with below average temperatures was February 1985.
In Australia – coolest maximum January temperatures since January 2000, and 13th coolest since national record keeping began in 1950
In the Philippines – torrential rainfall since mid December 2011 (and after the already devastating Typhoon Sendong) led to another mudslide in January, killing 30 people and leaving 40 others missing on the island of Mindanao.
In southeastern Brazil – heavy rains led to flooding and landslides, killing eight people and forcing over 13,000 people to evacuate the area.
Germany had its sixth wettest January since record keeping began in 1881.
While the contiguous United States experienced the 4th warmest January since record keeping began in 1895, parts of Alaska experienced record cold temperatures and snowfall.
In Spain, January 2012 was the 6th driest January in the last five decades.
Monsoonal rains brought heavier-than-average rainfall to southwestern and southeastern Australia.
Rainfall was also well above average in south Asia, part of eastern Russia, and southwestern Greenland. Much drier-than-average conditions were observed across northern Canada, the north central United States, eastern Brazil, and northern Sweden.