UHI's and Droughts*
(retired, Chevron), Moraga,
If you don't
understand the significance of what you're about to read. If it doesn't make
the hair on the back of your neck stand up. Then you'd better re-read it,
because Houston we have a problem. And that problem is drought. The greatest
peril facing mankind from Climate Change is not rising atmospheric
temperatures, but drought. Mankind can survive with warmer temperatures but
it cannot survive without water. Crops cannot grow without rain. And for
several years now there have been stories detailing droughts, crop failures,
dying trees and increasing forest fires throughout the N. Hemisphere. And
forget about rain in the winter. It's irrelevant unless you have enough
storage to hold it for the growing season. Plants don't grow in the winter.
And if you think it's bad now, droughts are going to deepen every year for
decades. And we can't do anything about it.
And now there's this.
The Canary in the coal mine. Lake Mead is at its lowest level EVER. For
those unfamiliar with Lake Mead, it's the largest reservoir in the US. It
was created almost 90 years ago when the Hoover Dam was built. Yes, before
WW2, the atomic bomb, the jet engine and TV. Lake Mead created Las Vegas.
No Lake Mead, no Las Vegas. And it's level has been dropping since 2000!
The entire US West
Coast, and California in particular, where I live, is in deep peril.
California's current drought is the worst in history. The reservoirs are
empty again. And this is at the end of the rainy season. The fight about
what to do with diminishing water supplies in all the Western States is
already on in earnest. The Utah state governor is calling for divine
droughts are not acts of God. They have man's fingerprints all over them.
agriculture supplies 25% of the US food demand. Diminishing water supplies
agriculture as it is now, is a thing of the past and require US food supply
- Hydroelectric power
supply in the summer will crater. It will lead to rolling blackouts in the
Western states for as far as the eye can see. Las Vegas in the dark? Likely.
And these droughts
were entirely predictable. And unfortunately, they are going to get
increasingly severe for decades. It's unstoppable. The cause? Climate
change. And not the CO2 explanation for climate change, The real explanation
for Climate Change, UHI's. The precipitation process is not complicated.
Before water can come down, it first has to go up. Before there can be
precipitation there has to be evaporation. And there are only two sources of
evaporation on Earth:
- Evaporation from
global water surfaces, both salt and fresh. And,
evaporation from vegetation.
If evaporation from
either one of these two sources falls, droughts are inevitable. And
transpiration has been falling for decades. Urban Heat Islands (UHI's) have
been systematically replacing vegetation with concrete since 1900. No
vegetation, no transpiration.
Since UHIs (cities)
will continue to develop and expand, and vegetation will continue to be
eliminated, droughts will increasingly become more severe. And calculating
that lost evaporation isn't difficult. Globally since 1900, we've
relandscaped 1.5 million square miles. An area so large it would take over 3
hours to fly over it. Globally, compared to 1900 we're evaporating 2.9
billion acre/ft less water annually. That's enough water to flood the entire
US lower 48 to a depth of 18 inches.
Why is it affecting the US Western states and
California so dramatically? The jet stream travels from West to East. Before
1995, China was a backwater. In just 25 years, China has become the second
largest economy on the planet. It's poured perhaps 8 times as much concrete
as the US has ever done. So ever decreasing evaporation in China, translates
to increasingly less precipitation and increasingly severe drought in
California and the US western states. As China goes up, Lake Mead goes down.
So as China
increasingly does this:
And Shanghai is just
an example. In California it results in this.
And with China
growing at 5% annually for the foreseeable future, it's effect on
diminishing rainfall in the US western states will double in 13 years.
Quadruple in 25. Rivers will dry up. Actually it's quite frightening. The
mighty Colorado river, the river that created the Grand Canyon, will likely
become a trickle in late summer in just a decade from now.
And drought begets
drought. As California evaporates less water and its forests burn, less rain
will fall in the midwest. Precipitation is not rocket science. If water
doesn't go up, there's no way it's gonna come down. And no amount of wind
turbines, electric cars, and PV panels is going to change that. Only more
vegetation. And even if we start now in earnest, it will take decades for
that vegetation to mature and make a significant difference.
As for the Climate
scientists. On the subject of droughts these folks have been strangely
silent. Their "models'' predict increasing rainfall. In their model,
rainfall is a function of atmospheric temperature. So if atmospheric
temperatures are increasing, so too is rainfall. Let's not confuse them with
facts. Climate scientists have yet to make the connection between
transpiration and rainfall. It's just not on their radar. For them these
droughts must be mystifying. Their goal is decreasing CO2 levels. How
eliminating fossil fuels and decreasing atmospheric CO2 levels ever connects
to increasing rainfall and reducing drought simply escapes me. But then I'm
just a simple process engineer.
So the question I
pose to the community is how do we change the status quo? Once the climate
folks understand the connection between UHI's and droughts, it's just a
small step to connecting lost evaporative cooling to increasing atmospheric
temperatures. Or so I would hope. Maybe then we can ditch the absurd
Greenhouse Gas doctrine and change the paradigm. Forget wind turbines and
electric cars. Globally we need billions of trees beginning now. In the
interim, the US desperately needs another Manhattan Project, but doesn't yet
realize it. It will require investment in desalination plants, gas fired
power plants, wastewater reuse and enormous agricultural greenhouses to name
just a few. So the question I pose to the community, is how as a community
do we raise the alarm? It's already too late. Any later and the situation
becomes ever more desperate. As a community are we going to be seen sitting
on our hands while Rome was burning. Ideas?
And for those not
familiar with the UHI explanation for atmospheric warming. It's a 2 mins
And it's attached.
And yes UHI's are responsible for all evidence of Climate Change. Greenhouse
gases are entirely irrelevant.
* Posted by David Cummins in the AICHE
Engage / Discussion Central discussion of
UHI's and Droughts.