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  • Getting to Green

    An administrator pushes, on a shoestring budget, to move his university and the world toward a more sustainable equilibrium.

Water, and where
June 21, 2011 - 3:30pm

The Union of Concerned Scientists today released their interactive global Climate Hot Map. Icons on the map correspond to locations where the effects of global warming are already evident -- the geographic distribution is pretty wide.

While here in the northeastern US, we're not expecting to get hit as hard or as soon as many other places, the map still highlights several locations which are of direct interest. In all of them, the impact of warming air is expressed in changes to local water patterns.

In Ipswich, MA the Ipswich river (a water source for hundreds of thousands of people) has gone dry in six of ten recent years.

In Syracuse, NY the amount of lake effect snow has been going up consistently since 1915.

New Bedford, MA fishermen are having to travel further north to catch cod, in part due to warmer waters in the southern Georges Bank.

Virginia Beach, VA is experiencing increased coastal erosion. The town itself lies so low that even moderately rising sea levels pose a real threat.

While yesterday's Supreme Court ruling (info here, reactions here and here) reinforces the policy stance that GHG emission is an issue best dealt with at the national (or larger) scale, water has traditionally been seen as a local issue. Effects on water pose just as much of a threat to sustainability as do rising temperatures directly. Mid-continent, the problem is flooding. West of there, decreasing snow pack or glacial mass endanger both local drinking water supplies and (for instance, in South America) hydroelectric production. Across the southern USA, drought sets the stage for wildfires.

All in all, just another indication that, while warming may be global, sustainability is local or, at its largest, regional.

 

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