The Waterless Watering Hole, Monday, February 3rd, 2014

A few recent articles got me started connecting several dots, which then began forming an unsettling picture. Read along, and let me know what you think.

First, according to this ClimateProgress article from January 31st, what was once the largest lake in the Middle East, Lake Urmia in northwestern Iran, has reportedly lost 95% of its water. While Lake Urmia is a saltwater lake, and not essential for agriculture or drinking water, such a huge reduction in size is more than alarming. From the article:

“Dam construction recently increased throughout the country, to provide both badly needed electricity and water supplies for irrigation. But that’s also diverted massive amounts of the freshwater that formerly flowed into Lake Urmia. Other major rivers throughout the country have gone dry, and the dust from the riverbeds and the salt from Lake Urmia’s dried basin are now a form of pollution unto themselves. Major cities around the country — including the capital of Tehran, home to 22 million — are making contingency plans for rationing. Iranian President Hassan Rouhani recently named water as a national security issue, and demonstrations and riots over water supplies have already erupted.”[emphasis mine]

“According to a 2012 study by the United Nations, 65 percent of the decline can be chalked up to climate change and the diversion of surface water cutting inflow to the lake. Another 25 percent was due to dams, and 10 percent was due to decreased rainfall over the lake itself.

A long drought in Iran ended two years ago, but the recent boost to rainfall has not been able to offset the other effects on the lake. Average temperatures around Lake Urmia rose three degrees in just the past ten years. In Pakistan, which sits along Iran’s southeast border, climate change has reduced snowmelt and river flow. That’s led to domestic political strife, and to a strained relationship with India over dams along the Indus River — Pakistan’s main source of freshwater.”[emphasis mine]

A commenter on the thread then led me to this Guardian article from November, concerning Hongjiannao Lake, China’s largest freshwater lake:

“Data released by local meteorological agencies on Thursday and reported by Chinese state media, shows the lake has now shrunk by almost one-third since 2009…”

Then there was this article by Graham Land entitled “Asia’s Disappearing Lakes”, with its alarming opening paragraphs:

“One of the worst environmental disasters in living memory is the near vanishing of the Aral Sea in Central Asia. What was once one of the world’s four largest lakes, containing some 1.5 thousand islands and covering 68,000 square kilometres (26,000 miles), by 2007 the Aral Sea was only 10% of its previous size and divided into four lakes.

What happened to Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan’s inland sea was not the result of normal changing weather patterns. The fate of the Aral Sea is a story of human intervention, contamination and local climate change.”

Next, Brad Plumer interviews Francesca Femia of the think-tank Center for Climate and Security in this Washington Post article. Ms. Femia states that, during the period between 2006 and 2011, “…up to 60 percent of Syria’s land experienced one of the worst long-term droughts in modern history.”

“This drought — combined with the mismanagement of natural resources by [Syrian President Bashar] Assad, who subsidized water-intensive crops like wheat and cotton farming and promoted bad irrigation techniques — led to significant devastation. According to updated numbers, the drought displaced 1.5 million people within Syria…They all moved into urban areas — urban areas that were already experiencing economic insecurity due to an influx of Iraqi and Palestinian refugees.”

Ms. Femia added, “…we’re not making any claim to causality here. We can’t say climate change caused the civil war. But we can say that there were some very harsh climatic conditions that led to instability.” Later in the interview, Ms. Femia says that it was a 2011 NOAA report “showing that a prolonged period of drying in the Mediterranean and the Middle East was linked to climate change” that brought the conditions in Syria to her attention. [I mention this simply because I find it ironic that a NOAA report is taken so seriously outside of the U.S., while so many of our “exceptional Americans” are dumbfuck climate change deniers who wouldn’t trust a NOAA report if god it/him/herself read the report to them.]

We’ve all read the recent stories about the toxic spill in West Virginia that contaminated the water supply for 300,000 people. (And they’re still peeling more eye-watering layers off this onion of a story.) We’ve seen the photos and news reports showing West Virginians driving to designated water-supply centers for their ration of clean water–which didn’t appear to be enough for families to bathe, drink, cook, and somehow wash clothes with. At one point, Wal-Mart had to call in the local police to help protect a delivery of bottled water.

Now imagine if the Keystone XL pipeline is given the go-ahead, and eventually there’s a spill that contaminates the Ogallala Aquifer. Instead of 300,000 people being without clean water, it would be 3,000,000 – all vying for relief deliveries of fresh water.

I could go on, but I think you catch my drift: if mankind, and the United States in particular, continues to ignore global climate change, refuses to enforce current environmental regulations, continues to rely heavily on finite and filthy fossil fuels, and refuses to consider stricter pollution regulations, then clean drinking water will become more scarce, and more valuable. If scarcity of water is fueling riots and protests in other parts of the world, imagine what could happen in the United States: with so much of our citizenry being over-armed and paranoid, how soon would the shooting start? And, if even Iran is already considering water to be “a national security issue”, eventually the inept fools who occupy Congress might finally get it through their thick skulls that clean water is essential to life as we know it, and is therefore more important than oil. So, when do you think the first War for Water would start? Or maybe it would be referred to as WWW: World Water War?

Not that I think that all of this may happen within my lifetime, but as Rachel Maddow used to say, “Somebody talk me down!”

This is our daily open thread–talk about whatever you want!

The Watering Hole, Wednesday, June 19, 2013: Syria Announces Plans to Arm the Tea Party

In response to President Obama’s announcement that he will begin providing weapons to Syrian Rebels because the Syrian Army used chemical weapons, Syrian President Al-Assad announced his country will begin arming Tea Party Patriots to support their revolution against the American Government.

Syrian Armored Personnel Carrier reportedly en route to Tea Party Patriots

Syrian Armored Personnel Carrier reportedly en route to Tea Party Patriots in Texas

“It is widely known” Al-Assad proclaimed, “that the American government sponsors the widespread uses of chemical and biogical weapons. Through its puppet, Monsanto, a corporation totally immunized from civil and criminal prosecution for its actions, the U.S. Goverment is poisoning its people with biologially altered food, sprayed with chemicals so toxic their agents have to wear hazmat suits.” The Syrian President went on to note that the United States tried to invade other countries with these biological and chemical weapons, only to be soundly defeated abroad.

Syrian Troop Transport reportedly leaving Tijuana on its way to North Carolina Tea Party Patriots

Syrian Troop Transport reportedly leaving Tijuana on its way to North Carolina Tea Party Patriots

“The Tea Party stands out,” Al-Assad said, “in its open resistence, carrying small arms and assault rifles to its protests. And the Tea Party not only opposes the deployment of these chemical and biological weapons, it opposes everything the corrupt American Goverment does. That makes it an ideal ally in our fight against American Imperialism.”

A spokesperson for the Syrian Government refused to comment on the rumor that the government has already recruited bedouins to disguise themselves as Mexicans to bring heavy machine guns and other military equipment across the southwest border between the U.S. and Mexico. However, flight manifests indicate a large number of camels and other items of a suspicious nature have already been shipped to Tijuana.

As of this writing, every Tea Party spokesperson contacted by The Zoo has flatly denied any deal with the Syrian Government. However, it goes without saying that if Tea Party militias were receiving arms from a foreign government, they would flatly deny doing so. Thus their denials merely feed the growing suspicion that the Tea Party is planning a major offensive against the Obama Administriation, with the full backing of the Syrian Government.

OPEN THREAD

TWO ARMS – TO ARMS – TOO, ARMS!

The Watering Hole: Wednesday, May 29, 2013: Not Again!

Are we there yet?

Are we there yet?

“It was like re-living the Vietnam war all over again, only this time without the trees and swamps and jungles.” remarked John McCain after returning safely from Syria. “I was held, basically, as a Prisoner of War for what seemed an eternity.”

McCain spent a total of two hours in the complete mercy of terrorist rebels hell-bent on overthrowing the righteous government of Syria. “Make no mistake about it,” McCain continued, “some of those rebels are more extreme than the Taliban.”

McCain’s mission, undertaken with the full knowledge of the Obama Administration, was to deliver a message of support to the rebels. “Well, actually, I got the messages mixed up. In all the haste and security and confusion, I grabbed a note I got from Paul Ryan instead of the note from the President. So, when I got there…well, you can imagine their reaction when I read Ryan’s note. So. There I was, face to face with armed radical Islamists when I read “If you will accept the Lord Jesus Christ into your heart … That’s as far as I got before my security guards picked me up by the armpits and hightailed it out of Syria.”

OPEN THREAD.
FEEL FREE TO PASS NOTES AROUND

The Watering Hole: December 27th – Headlines

Some headlines for today:

Hope: The tanks are being withdrawn, relief for the people of Homs.

No Surprise: Vladimir Putin rejects scrutiny into last elections 

Kill the Poor: Britain’s poorest hit by Stealth Tax

Critters and such: Confusing Weather Patterns for Britain’s Wildlife

Nature Victimized and her victims: Rising Seal Levels and Erosion leave landmark crumbling.

Romney: Inevitable? Well…

Not Romney: The Molotov Party

Cute Overdose: Red Panda

This is our daily Open Thread, what’s your news?

MSNBC: World Euphoric Over Obama’s Election

America is cool again.  Nov. 8: Political leaders and citizens from countries around the world are applauding U.S. voters for electing Barack Obama as president. NBC’s Jim Maceda reports.

Sunday Morning in Europe – News

 (Swiss Steam Engine) 

Good Morning on a slow news morning in Europe. Slow? Depends on how we view it. Actual lack of breaking news of the “Britney-faces-jail” variety makes one concentrate on the real important stories.

And, as on most Sundays, “The Sunday Times” is a bonanza of information. Israel claims it has seized nuclear material from a Syrian site before the site was attacked in an air-raid. When reading this article, don’t omit reading the comments that come with it. And, surprisingly, there is no mention of Iran. The Israeli military mission was met with determined support from Washington, whereas an Israeli invitation to Syria to talk and lower tensions  met with a “studied lack of interest” from the US. (Honi soit qui mal y pense!)

At least no lack of interest here: The planning for airstrikes and a war with Iran, get their own article in “The Times” today. “Project Checkmate” has been resurrected. And intense planning is under way for military action against Iran. However, can the following be counted as a small flicker of hope?

The US president faces strong opposition to military action, however, within his own joint chiefs of staff. “None of them think it is a good idea, but they will do it if they are told to,” said a senior defence source.

Hardly. So the drumbeats keep accelerating.

“The Guardian” is doing well, too. Why is the UN trying to bring an effectual newcomer into the position of top prosecutor for the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia?

The mercenary armies in Iraq have been warned in May (!) about a deteriorating security situation, due to growing tensions between American security contractors and Iraqis. Blackwater didn’t heed the warning and fulfilled the prophecy.

In Myanmar, the Buddhist monks, and now the nuns, too, are busily trying to bring the military junta to their knees. All it takes is taking to the streets.

Italians are anxious to learn about the fate of two of their soldiers who disappeared in Herat province. They are feared to  have been abducted along with two Afghan interpreters.

In France M. Sarkozy and M.Fillon are losing voter confidence. Maybe war drums are not so popular in France, the social reforms planned by the duo will most certainly cause hackles to rise.

While German Chancellor Angela Merkel is meeting the Dalai Lama in Berlin, the Chinese are showing their discontent. They are giving their blogging community enough slack, so they can voice their fury. But honestly, being called a “witch” by Chinese bloggers won’t impress her that much.

And last:

Sadly, the French mime artist Marcel Marceau passed away yesterday. You can find more on this unusual man here.