Monday, June 20, 2005

DESERTIFICATION

f

Heat waves are causing huge suffering with temperatures exceeding 122 degrees F in India, for example. From the BBC news:
More than 100 people are feared killed by a heat wave which has struck central regions of South Asia in the last two weeks, officials said.
Time for Americans to stop and think about the planet earth. This week the news is about Bush censoring or altering or fiddling with climate data in hopes of fooling the Brits yet again not to mention the ever gullible Americans who supposedly are half of our nation. From the Washington Post:
Bush administration officials working behind the scenes have succeeded in weakening key sections of a proposal for joint action by the eight major industrialized nations to curb climate change.

Under U.S. pressure, negotiators in the past month have agreed to delete language that would detail how rising temperatures are affecting the globe, set ambitious targets to cut carbon dioxide emissions and set stricter environmental standards for World Bank-funded power projects, according to documents obtained by The Washington Post. Negotiators met this week in London to work out details of the document, which is slated to be adopted next month at the Group of Eight's annual meeting in Scotland.
So our corporate rulers and their moronic puppet, Bush, manage to strong arm other countries dominated by moronic corporate entities!

Problem with this scheme is Mother Nature: she wields one mean scythe!

We can pretend our present path is OK but this won't make the end result any different. The annihilation of our species is no joke and preserving the planet we live on is a top priority. There is no evading this. From the NYT:
A government biologist and a hydrologist, who both retired this year from the Bureau of Land Management, said their conclusions that the proposed new rules might adversely affect water quality and wildlife, including endangered species, were excised and replaced with language justifying less stringent regulations favored by cattle ranchers.

Grazing regulations, which affect 160 million acres of public land in the Western U.S., set the conditions under which ranchers may use that land, and guide government managers in determining how many cattle may graze, where and for how long without harming natural resources.

The original draft of the environmental analysis warned that the new rules would have a "significant adverse impact" on wildlife, but that phrase was removed. The bureau now concludes that the grazing regulations are "beneficial to animals."

Eliminated from the final draft was another conclusion that read: "The Proposed Action will have a slow, long-term adverse impact on wildlife and biological diversity in general."
"Slow, long-term"? How slow is that? Ten years? That is fast, not slow.

The Western cattle ranchers who compete with Eastern farmers who have to own land like I own land, and pay taxes on the land, etc, are destroying our environment because they don't own land nor pay any taxes at all and the overhead for their cows is much lower than Eastern farmers and these cows go to market thin and have to be fattened up on chicken sh*t and dead cow parts which cause..Mad Cow Disease. A vicious circle closed by unhealthy food at McDonalds! Great going, America.

Now for great bad news from the National Geographic:
Cyclical droughts have ravaged the United States' northern Great Plains for thousands of years, a new study says. Scientists expect the potentially devastating events to continue—perhaps with a boost from global warming.

"These drought cycles have gone on pretty consistently throughout the last 4,500 years," said Jim Clark, an ecologist at Duke University's Nicholas School of the Environment and Earth Sciences in Durham, North Carolina. "They are pretty severe, so they have a large impact on the full set of ecosystem processes."

Many climatologists believe that devastating droughts like the 1930s Dust Bowl are not abnormal when viewed in larger historic context.

The new study reports that northern Great Plains droughts have recurred at roughly 160-year intervals. As in forest ecosystems, fire was a key player in the drought cycle and an important factor in regenerating plant life the Plains.

"As it starts to get dry, grass cover is lost," Clark explained. "There's no more fuel for fires, and as a result some pretty dramatic erosion occurs, which lasts for decades."

When moist climates reappear, so do prairie grasses, which help stem erosion. The newly returned grasses also provide fuel for fires. Fires, in turn, encourage further grass growth—after fires new grasses generally spring up in greater abundance.

Physical evidence of the cycle was found in sediment deposits at the bottom of North Dakota's Kettle Lake. Core samples taken there revealed layers of charcoal, plant fragments, and seeds. Scientists used a form of radiocarbon dating to determine the ages of the layers.
Well, obviously. The natives who lived on the Plains and hunted the great herds there used to live on the edges of that area because it was dangerous to live too far into the Plains...until the Spanish brought in horses. Colorado hiked all the way to the edge of the Plains and shed horses along the way and the natives saw how horses were used and took them and kept them close, within a mere 300 years, they colonized much of the Great Plains and followed the herds of buffalo. When droughts came, the herds dramatically fell in size and they and the humans would retreat to the south and east, returning when the rains returned.

This changed when America took over and farmed and grazed the lands with domestic animals. When the regular drought cycle came as usual in 1930, it was a catastrophe for the Plains and the people. For the solid mesh of grass roots that have held the land for the last 30,000+ years were broken and the soil went free to blow away. This catastrophe changed America and seemingly, started some sane ideas about living on the land. All forgotten now, seemingly. The planting of trees and hedges and changing farming methods and controlling how many animals grazed on the farms and on Federal lands is falling victim to absentee farm corporations and get rich quick schemes of ranchers who don't care if America looks like Mars in fifty years.

Maybe this is why Bush wants to go to Mars? To savor the future?

It isn't only here or in India or Africa the desertfication forces are at work. From the Asahi Shimbum:

But the nomads' rising wealth has had serious consequences. The herders say that 10 years ago, the grass was so deep and high that they couldn't see their goats.

``Now, sand keeps blowing in and covering up the grass,'' one of the nomads said.

The Mongolians are raising more goats, which has led to overgrazing and contributed to desertification in Mongolia, experts say. But demand for the luxurious wool shows no sign of abating. About 14,000 tons of cashmere is now produced in the world annually, double the volume of 15 years ago.
Seems everyone has the same idea: sheep and goats and cows reproduce. If you increase herd size every year, you can be a billionaire eventually...if there is no climate and no limit to the land!
By 2002, desert areas had expanded to about 45 percent of the country, and the green belt is now being encroached upon from the south by the Gobi Desert. Reasons put forth for the problem include draught, global warming, strip mining and overgrazing from cashmere-producing goats. The well where Baatar's goats used to gather to drink is surrounded by desert sand. Whenever the animals move, clouds of dust fill the air.

``The problem stems from the high global demand for cashmere,'' said D. Bayarbat, secretary of the National Committee to Combat Desertification in Mongolia. ``But it's not just a simple matter of nomadic goat herders. Our country can't tackle desertification singlehandedly.''

Sand picked up in the Gobi Desert and elsewhere in China is borne by westerly winds, causing sandstorms and spreading so-called yellow sand to northeastern Asian countries, including Japan.

In fact, Japan's Environment Ministry has set up an investigative committee to find ways to combat yellow sand.

``Yellow sand has been expanding recently. Experts say it is being exacerbated by artificial causes, such as overgrazing,'' according to the committee's report.
The Gobi desert is dangerous to all of us. Back in 1994 when there was a big drought there, the wind blew ever harder. Thanks to Mt. Pinatubo, the climate had cooled off by over a degree worldwide and this caused a shift in the moisture flows, bringing snow instead of rain to much of the grazing lands surrounding the Gobi desert. The cold drought caused huge windstorms to pick up so much dust, the atmosphere of the northern hemisphere was colored red by it. I remember this well, for in October, on a bright, sunny day, the temperatures barely crawled above freezing and I marveled at this and covered the sun with my hand to check the sky color and it was not blue but looked like burnished bronze. My parents who were in China at the time confirmed that the air in Beijiing was very red with dust, too.

We then had a very hard winter here in NY.

This is just one of the many side effects of desertfication. During the Great Ice Ages, it was very dry, too, for much of the water was locked up in ice sheets. The resulting desertfication meant lots of dust flying which covered much of...the Midwest and California and China, for that matter, this rich dust became the basis of our entire farming economies of the last 500 years and expoiting this dust has been a good thing but the new dry age won't be so kind, for the dust is now blowing away from these areas to land elsewhere.

Humans evolved on the Great Plains in Africa. We are turning all the planet into Great Plains while refusing to understand, the reason we evolved into "smart" apes is because of the drought/rain cycle of the African Veldt!