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Showing posts with label Desolate. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Desolate. Show all posts

Climate Change and Global Warming


3. Are sea levels rising?





Increases in sea level have tracked strongly with human activity. We started burning fossil fuel during the Industrial Revolution (1760-1850), and our use of coal, oil, and natural gas has increased every year. Sea levels, in response to steadily warming temperatures, also rose steadily.





Unfortunately, the sea level projections don't look like a straight line. It looks like an upward sloping curve. Sea levels aren't increasing at the same rate every year — thatrate is increasing.
At present, sea levels are projected to rise by as much as 3 feet by 2100.





With the planet's ice reserves falling into the oceans faster than humanity has ever seen,the excess water has to go somewhere. 1.6 million people live in the islands scattered across the Pacific (3 million, if you count Hawaii), and they are all in danger of slowly losing their homelands.


But rising sea levels won't just affect faceless people of nations you've never heard of that you don't pronounce correctly (like Kiribati).
Ever heard that saying "A rising tide lifts all boats"? Let's revise that: "A rising tide sinks all coastal communities."
Nearly 40% of Americans live in a coastal county.


Rising sea levels could make significant portions of New York City unlivable.


4. Have recent heat waves been more intense?



How Real is Climate Change and Global Warming

 

Abandoned Shopping Malls - United States of America



When the sprawling Randall Park Mall opened near Cleveland in 1976, it was briefly the largest in the world.







Developers touted it as a symbol of the good life in suburbia. The small town where it was located added two shopping bags to its municipal seal in homage.













































Fast Company                                            Seph Lawless





Record Drought - Stunning Changes along the Colorado River

Lake Powell is at historic lows, offering kayakers new channels to explore but raising the alarm about water.

A boat traces the curves of Reflection Canyon, part of Glen Canyon.
A boat wends its way around the curves of Reflection Canyon, part of Lake Powell in Glen Canyon. The "bathtub rings" on the walls show past water levels.
Photograph by Michael Melford, National Geographic Creative
Jonathan Waterman
Published November 23, 2014

LAKE POWELL, Utah—In early September, at the abandoned Piute Farms marina on a remote edge of southern Utah's Navajo reservation, we watched a ten-foot (three-meter) waterfall plunging off what used to be the end of the San Juan River.


Until 1990, this point marked the smooth confluence of the river with Lake Powell, one of the largest reservoirs in the U.S. But the lake has shrunk so much due to the recent drought that this waterfall has emerged, with sandy water as thick as a milkshake.

My partner DeEdda McLean and I had come to this area west of Mexican Hat, Utah, to kayak across Lake Powell, a reservoir formed by the confluence of the San Juan and the Colorado Rivers and the holding power of Glen Canyon Dam, which lies just over the border in Arizona. Yet in place of a majestic reservoir, we saw only the thin ribbon of a reemergent river channel, which had been inundated for most of the past three decades by the lake. We called this new channel the San Powell, combining the name of the river and the lake.

Map of the Lake Mead and Lake Powell regions.
NG Staff

We had also come to see firsthand how drought is changing the landscapes of the desert Southwest. Here, judging by the lack of conservation reform, water has seemed to be largely taken for granted. But our recent float suggests that profound changes may be in store for the region. (See "The American Nile.")

Sweating in the desert heat, we loaded our 15-foot (5-meter) kayaks with two weeks' worth of food and ten gallons of water—enough to last us two days. Drinking from the silty river or fecal-contaminated areas of Lake Powell frequented by houseboats was not an option (Glen Canyon Recreation Area, which includes the reservoir, is visited by more than two million people a year). The contours of our journey—where we camped, our hiking destinations, and how far we paddled each day—would be defined by the need to find potable springs.

Like bicyclists shunning the interstate, many kayakers have avoided Lake Powell ever since the builders of Glen Canyon Dam finished flooding 186 miles (300 kilometers) of the Colorado River Valley in 1980. The reservoir was named after John Wesley Powell, the National Geographic Society co-founder who first paddled most of the Colorado River and who later, in public office, tried to limit population growth in the arid Southwest. The dams and the enormous reservoirs that were later built in the desert would have horrified him.


Motorboaters call Powell's lake the "Jewel of the Colorado" because of its unnatural emerald hue—Glen Canyon Dam now captures the silt that used to make the Colorado, after its confluence with the San Juan, the most colorful river in the West. Paddlers call it "Lake Foul" for the noise and stench of outboard engines.

Photo of Lake Powell in 2011.
In 2011, Lake Powell contained plenty of water.
Photograph by Jon Waterman

"Extreme" Drought

According to the U.S. Drought Monitor, 11 of the past 14 years have been drought years in the Southwest, with the drought ranging from "severe" to "extreme" to "exceptional," depending on the year and the area.

At "full pool," Lake Powell spans 254 square miles (660 square kilometers)—a quarter the size of Rhode Island. The lightning bolt-shaped canyon shore stretches 1,960 miles (3,150 kilometers), 667 miles (1,073 kilometers) longer than the West Coast of the continental United States.

The reservoir serves multiple purposes. It stores water from the Upper Basin states of Wyoming, Utah, New Mexico, and Colorado so that the Lower Basin states of California, Nevada, and Arizona can receive their allotted half of the Colorado River; it creates electricity through hydro-generators at Glen Canyon Dam; and it helps prevent flooding below Hoover Dam (240 miles or 390 kilometers downstream), the site of North America's largest reservoir, Lake Mead.

11 of the past 14 years have been drought years in the Southwest.

The irony, as most students of this river's history now know, is that the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation created these enormous reservoirs during the wettest period of the past millennium. According to modern tree-ring data (unavailable during the dam-building epoch), the previous millennium experienced droughts much more severe than those in the first 14 years of the 21st century. Many climate scientists think the Southwest is again due for a megadrought. The Bureau of Reclamation's analysis of over a hundred climate projections suggests the Colorado River Basin will be much drier by the end of this century than it was in the past one, with the median projection showing 45 percent less runoff into the river.

Last winter was snowy in the Rockies, and runoff was at 96 percent of the historical average. Because of the previous years of drought, however, Lake Powell had risen to only half full by fall.
But Lake Mead was in even worse shape. This year it plunged to 39 percent of capacity, a low that has not been matched since Hoover Dam began backing up the Colorado River in 1935. In August, the Bureau of Reclamation announced that Lake Powell would release an additional 10 percent of its waters, or 2.5 trillion gallons, to Lake Mead. That release will lower the water in Lake Powell by about three feet (one meter).

Photo of Lake Powell in 2014.
By 2014, Lake Powell was full of plant life and silt.
Photograph by Jon Waterman

Rise of Ancient Ruins?

Fifty miles (80 kilometers) up from the Colorado River confluence, on what is commonly known as the San Juan River Arm of Lake Powell, we kept poking our paddles-cum-measuring sticks toward the shallow river bottom, shouting: "Good-bye, reservoir! Hello, San Powell River!" In a four-mile-per-hour, opaque current, always hunting for the deepest river braids, we breezed past fields of still-viscous, former lake-bottom silt deposits. Stepping out of the boat here would have been an invitation to disappear in quicksand.

We paddled downstream, looking for the edge of the reservoir. We passed caterwauling great blue herons, a yipping coyote, and squawking conspiracies of ravens. By late afternoon, dehydrated by the desert sun, we stopped at one of the few quicksand-free tent sites above the newly emerged river: a sandy yet dry creek bed draining the sacred Navajo Mountain.

We slept in the perfume of blooming nightshades; wild burros brayed throughout the night. Here, more than a dozen miles below our put-in at a marina that once served the reservoir, the swirling "San Powell" River continued to sigh 15 feet (5 meters) below our tent.

In October 2011, when the reservoir was at 70 percent of its capacity, I had stood on a rocky shore above where our tent now stood and photographed Lake Powell's Zahn Bay here in the San Juan River Valley. It's dry now, and the lake bottom is a cracked series of chocolate-colored hummocks, surrounded by the invasive Russian thistle and tamarisk, native willows and sunflowers, and pockmarked by burro hooves.

For five days, we wouldn't see a human footprint or hear the ubiquitous whine of Lake Powell boat traffic.

Half full, the amazing vessel that is Lake Powell has lost 4.4 trillion gallons of water in the recent drought.

By day three, desperate to refill our water bottles, we found a newly created marsh where the river thinned before dropping into the deeper reservoir. Unlike anything I'd experienced elsewhere on the sterile Lake Powell, abundant small fish and aquatic life supported American pelicans, mallards, coots, mergansers, green herons, hawks, and kingfishers. The silty river is also sheltering endangered razorback suckers and pikeminnows that are preyed upon by non-native fish in the clearer waters of the lake.

Within a decade or two at the most, if the drought persists, we can expect to see hundreds of inundated ancient Anasazi ruins rising above the drying reservoir. Archaeologists will be delighted, just as kayakers like us delight at the reemergence of a river. But more than 36 million people in and around the Colorado River Basin depend on this vanishing water.

As we finally reached a body of water wide enough to be properly called the reservoir, many miles below where we had expected to find it, we continued paddling in a chocolate pudding of ground-up river debris. Some 94 feet (29 meters) above our craned heads, on the red sandstone walls of the reservoir, we saw the "bathtub rings"—the stains left by river minerals in wetter times.

That night we did a quick calculation: Half full, the amazing vessel that is Lake Powell has lost 4.4 trillion gallons of water in the recent drought; the deeper vessel of Lake Mead at 39 percent capacity has lost 5.6 trillion gallons of water.

Aerial view looking down on Lake Powell and the Glen Canyon dam.
This aerial view of Lake Powell and Glen Canyon Dam was taken in 2009.
Photograph by Peter McBride, National Geographic Creative

Big Impact

As central California (beyond the reach of Colorado River water) has already been hamstrung by an even more exceptional drought, many farms and dairy operations have shut down, rationing has begun, homeowners are being fined for watering their lawns, and the state has begun relying on finite groundwater supplies. And as extensive farm networks are served by the Colorado River, it is likely that nationwide produce prices will soon begin to rise.

What's next? As Lakes Powell and Mead continue to plummet, officials are now predicting rationing by 2017 for the junior Colorado River water-rights holders of Nevada and Arizona.

In the decades that follow, invasive flora and fauna will colonize dried-out reservoir bottoms. River running and reservoir boating may end. Those will seem like minor issues compared with the survival of cities like Los Angeles, Denver, Phoenix, and Las Vegas, all of which depend on the Colorado River. There is talk of diverting more water to the Colorado Basin users from places such as the Missouri River. A massive desalination plant is being built on the California coast. But such solutions won't come cheap.

Officials are now predicting rationing by 2017 for the junior Colorado River water-rights holders of Nevada and Arizona.

We can hope for agricultural reform, such as irrigation changes, more aggressive crop rotation and fallowing, reverting to less water-intensive produce, or dismantling of the water-intensive southwestern dairy industry. And the exponential population growth of the region—as Powell warned at the end of the 19th century—will have to be addressed. (See "Arizona Irrigators Share Water With Desert River.")

By mid-September, we reached the speedboat-accessible region of Lake Powell. Motorboaters often stopped to ask if we needed help. Many of these boaters offered us iced beer or bottled water imported from distant regions of the country.

Each day, for 14 days, except during two violent but brief rainstorms, the temperature climbed into the 90s. Often dizzy, and even exhausted from the heat, we parceled out our water, cup by cup, consuming over four gallons daily. And every other day, we walked or paddled miles out of our way so that we could enact a time-honored practice of desert cultures like the Anasazi's, which vanished in the 13th-century megadrought.

Every other day, we uncapped our empty bottles while honoring this ritual of aridity: Bowing under shaded cliffs at moss-covered seeps, we pressed our lips onto cold sandstone walls and drank those precious drops until our bellies were full.

This short film by Pete McBride explores the history and meaning of the Colorado River.
Jonathan Waterman is a writer and photographer based in Colorado. In 2010 National Geographic published his book Running Dry: A Journey From Source to Sea Down the Colorado River. He is also the co-author, with Pete McBride, of The Colorado River: Flowing Through Conflict. See his previous work "The American Nile."

Get involved with the effort to restore the Colorado River through Change the Course, a partnership of National Geographic and other organizations.

National Geographic                                 Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance

10 Extraordinary Native American Cultural Sites

Chaco Culture National Historical Park (New Mexico) preserves structures of Ancestral Puebloans. 
Credit: NPS.





In honour of Native American Heritage Month, we take a look at a few noteworthy Native American cultural sites on public lands.

Native American Heritage Month offers all Americans the opportunity to recognize and honour tribes who understood the value of wilderness long before European Americans ever laid eyes on bison or redwoods—or, indeed, decided to call certain places  “wilderness.”


A number of the national monuments, parks and other sites we cherish contain major historical and cultural resources connected to these tribes. In many cases, the land that surrounds them might not have remained in good condition without the Antiquities Act, a law passed in 1906 that allowed presidents to protect natural and cultural sites as national monuments. The Antiquities Act was first signed into law by President Theodore Roosevelt and has been used on a bipartisan basis by 16 presidents since then (including President Barack Obama). It is likely that some of these special places would have been obscured by development—or demolished entirely—without this law and the strong movement to preserve public lands it exemplifies.


In addition to providing magnificent spots for outdoor recreation, that deserve a closer look in November. These places preserve traces of Native American culture that are hundreds (or even thousands) of years old.



Mesa Verde National Park (Colorado)


Credit: Terry Feuerborn, flickr.


Mesa Verde was the first national park designated with the express purpose of preserving "the works of man"—in this case the remnants of 6th-12th century Ancestral Puebloans, as exemplified by more than 4,000 known archeological sites, including some of the most notable and well-preserved in the U.S. The park’s signature attractions are some 600 ancient dwellings carved into rock alcoves, stumbled upon by a pair of cowboys—who called it “Cliff Palace”—in the late 19th century. At that point, Mesa Verde had been vacant for hundreds of years. Experts think the last Puebloan residents of the area were forced out when a booming population eventually exhausted natural resources and was torn apart by internal strife. Since 1906, the park has been preserved for the enjoyment and education of all Americans (though oil and gas development in the area pose a threat to the landscape). Tours of the site offer details on these lives, and trails provide opportunities for hiking and snowshoeing. The 360-degree panoramic view at Park Point is one of the most breath-taking in the country.

Casa Grande Ruins National Monument (Arizona)


Credit: Rory D, flickr.


The 14th century “great house” around which this monument is centred was once part of a chain of settlements along the Gila River and is considered one of the largest prehistoric structures ever built in North America. Prized as a trace of ancient Sonoran Desert dwellers who developed wide-scale irrigation farming and a large trade network before leaving the area around the year 1450, the Casa Grande was originally protected as our country’s first archaeological reserve, in 1892. The building, whose exact purpose remains unknown, gained national monument status from President Woodrow Wilson in 1918. Today, several Native American groups claim an ancestral link to the builders and occupants of the monument’s eponymous structure.

Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument (New Mexico)


Credit: Lisa Phillips (BLM New Mexico), flickr.


The campaign that led a stretch of picturesque land near Las Cruces, New Mexico, to be designated a national monument by President Obama in 2014 was a major initiative of The Wilderness Society—but it was led in part by local tribal leaders, a fitting testament to the significance of this place to Native Americans. The Ysleta del Sur Pueblo tribe asked that the area be protected in part to preserve an expanse of ancient petroglyphs, and the Fort Sill Apache tribe, considered modern-day successors to the Apache that originally inhabited parts of the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks region, requested that they be accepted as partners in managing the monument for future generations. The mountain ranges and rugged plains here contain traces of civilizations hundreds of years old (and in some cases much older); the Paleo-Indian peoples who once roamed the Potrillo grasslands hunted now-extinct game like giant ground sloths thousands of years before Christopher Columbus was born. Stretches of land protected by the monument contain some of the earliest known prehistoric habitation sites in southern New Mexico, among many significant historical and archaeological resources.

Chaco Culture National Historical Park (New Mexico)


Credit: Damon Taylor, flickr.






Unfortunately, oil and gas development currently threatens the beauty and tranquillity of this park and adjacent land—and it would be a true shame to lose it. Between 850 and 1250 CE, Chaco Canyon, in what is now northwest New Mexico, was a major center of Ancestral Puebloan culture. Today, the surrounding area is protected to preserve the history of those people, including majestic public and ceremonial buildings that are among America’s most significant intact examples of pre-Columbian culture. These multi-story “Great Houses” were truly monumental undertakings, sometimes involving decades of construction, and many were connected by a system of roads to other buildings in the region. It is thought that this area was once a unique gathering place for different clans to meet—a center for trade and cultural exchange that remains a hallowed landmark today.


In 2013, the park received International Dark Sky designation for being one of the best places in the United States to stargaze (due to its distance from artificial light pollution).

Canyons of the Ancients National Monument (Colorado)


Credit: Eszter Hargittai, flickr.


This sprawling, landscape-scale monument in southwest Colorado contains thousands of known archaeological sites that have yielded invaluable historical information on Ancestral Puebloan (sometimes referred to as “Anasazi”) and other indigenous cultures. A nearby museum contains millions of items chronicling those peoples as well as historic Ute and Navajo populations (the protected area is considered to have ancestral links to dozens of modern-day tribal nations). Three original villages within the monument have been prepared for visitors and outfitted with interpretive signage, making it an essential destination for anyone with an abiding interest in Native American culture (though a huge number of dwellings, shrines, petroglyphs and other artefacts remain unlabelled).

Aztec Ruins National Monument (New Mexico)


Credit: Ellen Green, flickr.






Aztec Ruins National Monument was protected as a national monument in 1923 and named a World Heritage site in 1987 (as part of Chaco Culture National Historical Park) for its well-preserved examples of Pueblo architecture—the same features that still draw tourists from around the country. So why is it called “Aztec Ruins”? Early white explorers initially mistakenly identified the buildings on-site as traces of the Mexican Aztec culture, rather than the work of (even older) indigenous peoples, and it still bears the original, ill-gotten title. Despite this, the monument is an important place for Ancestral Puebloans, its ancient “great houses” and associated “kivas”—ceremonial chambers—serving testament to the legacy of its old inhabitants.


Artefacts discovered in the ruins have included food remnants, clothing, tools and jewellery, offering a glimpse at the way Ancestral Puebloans used natural resources and traded with other peoples.

Effigy Mounds National Monument (Iowa)


The “Marching Bear” mounds, whose size and intricacy can only be fully appreciated from overhead. Credit: NPS.


The only national monument in Iowa, Effigy Mounds was protected by President Harry Truman in 1949 in order to preserve its namesake series of sacred hillocks, constructed by a culture that inhabited land along the upper Mississippi River, stretching east to Lake Michigan (what is now parts of Iowa, southeast Minnesota, southern Wisconsin and northern Illinois). Numbering more than 200, the mounds were built over thousands of years in a variety of shapes ranging from simple cones to bison and birds. Though the exact function of the mounds as a whole remains unknown, some are burial sites, and experts think that others may have acted as territorial markers. Whatever the mounds’ purpose, more than 15 modern-day tribes, ranging from Minnesota to Oklahoma, are considered to be culturally associated with them. The largest and best-preserved chain of mounds, the evocatively-named “Marching Bears,” can only be fully appreciated from overhead.

Hopewell Culture National Historical Park (Ohio)


Credit: HOCU-NPS.


This park protects five different archaeological sites containing artefacts of the broadly-defined Hopewell culture, chiefly earthworks and ancient mounds. The people who flourished in this area practiced a wide array of spiritual, political and social customs, but are considered to be related precisely due to the elements this park preserves: their similar construction of earthen-walled enclosures and mounds, with the former often appearing as squares, circles and other geometrically-precise shapes. A variety of archaeological figures have devoted their careers to finding out more about the Hopewell culture.

Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument (New Mexico)


Credit: NPS.


Surrounded by the Gila National Forest (and at the edge of the Gila Wilderness), this monument, protected by President Theodore Roosevelt in 1907, is named for its most striking feature—the ruins of interlinked cave dwellings built in five cliff alcoves by the Mogollon peoples who lived in the area in the late 13th- and early 14th century. While the monument covers comparatively little physical ground, it offers a wealth of things for visitors to do once they’ve finished exploring these rare traces of ancient Puebloan culture: activities in the broader area include hiking, bird-watching, camping, fishing and horseback riding.

Ocmulgee National Monument (Georgia)


Credit: J. Stephen Conn, flickr.


Ocmulgee National Monument contains North America’s only intact “spiral mound,” a 20-foot-tall hillock built by indigenous tribes for purposes that remain unclear. This is just one of the monument’s pieces of major earthwork traced back to South Appalachian Mississippian settlements. The monument, containing seven mounds in all and a collection of more than one million artefacts, was protected along the Ocmulgee River by act of Congress in 1934.

- See more at: Wilderness.org

Slideshow - Climate Change is Real - The Inconvenient Truth

In 2009, Al Gore followed up with the publication of Our Choice: A Plan to Solve the Climate Crisis, a book that "gathers in one place all of the most effective solutions that are available now and that, together, will solve this crisis". "It is now abundantly clear that we have at our fingertips all of the tools we need to solve the climate crisis. The only missing ingredient is collective will."








One thousand years of temperature history obtained from isotope analysis of ice cores.


Measured since 1958, atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) has been increasing steadily.






One thousand years of CO2 and temperature data -- the curves have similar shape.







650,000 years of CO2 and temperature history, from Antarctic ice cores. Dips record ice ages. CO2 concentration and temperature are related. CO2 has spiked upward in recent years.







If no changes are made, CO2 concentration is predicted to climb much higher (to 600 ppm) in 45 years.







Ocean temperatures since 1940. Blue indicates normal range, green indicates range predicted by climate models due to human causes.







Ocean temperatures (see previous chart). Red line indicates actual ocean temperature history (outside and above normal range -- climate models were right).







As ocean temperatures rise, storms intensify, causing increased insurance pay-outs.







Incidents of major flooding have increased in recent decades.







37 inches (94 cm) of rain in 24 hours flooded Mumbai, India in July 2005.






Global precipitation has increased in last century by 20% but not evenly; some areas have received less. Sub-Sahara Africa is severely affected.







Arctic sea ice extent and thickness has diminished precipitously since the 1970's.







The 'Global Ocean Conveyor Belt' carries heat around the globe, in particular, to Europe. However, disruption due to ice melt has stopped heat flow to Europe in the past.











Global warming shifts the seasons, disrupting ecological relationships. The time of Black Tern bird arrival (blue) and bird hatching (yellow); hatching no longer coincides with insect peak (orange), starving chicks in the Netherlands.







Antarctic ice shelf break-up predicted by models has occurred. Larsen ice shelf (green) broke up from 1995 to 2002. Sea levels are rising. A 20 ft (6m) rise in sea level would create over 100 million refugees.







Population has exploded in the last 200 years. In 1945 there were 2.3 billion people, in 2006 there are 6.5 billion, and in 2050 there may be 9.1 billion.



Much of the population growth is occurring in developing countries.



Population growth and rising living standards drive demand for food.



... and demand for water.



Lights from fishing fleets (blue), fires (red), gas flares (yellow), and cities (white).



Relative contribution to global warming, by country. "USA is responsible for more greenhouse gas pollution than South America, Africa, the Middle East, Australia, Japan, and Asia -- all put together."



Carbon emissions per person, for selected countries.



Carbon emissions per country, for selected countries.







"We don't have to choose between a healthy economy and a healthy environment. Without a planet, we won't enjoy gold bars, and if we do the right things, we'll have both."



Comparison of vehicle fuel economy and emission standards around the world.



California proposes standards that exceed US national standards. US car manufacturers suing California, saying targets are unreachable in 10 years -- despite manufacturers in other countries already doing it now.



Companies building more efficient cars are doing well; US car manufacturers are losing market capitalization.



USA can reduce its emissions by 2050 to pre-1970 levels by a combination of approaches...



... more efficient use of electrical energy (blue), more efficient buildings (purple), improved vehicle efficiency (green), more efficient transport network (light green), increased reliance on bio and wind energy (tan), CO2 sequestering (white).



"Future generations may well have occasion to ask themselves, What were our parents thinking? Why didn't they wake up when they had the chance? We have to hear that question, from them, now."


The Inconvenient Truth - www.web.ncf.ca                                @algore