Wednesday, October 24, 2007

As water crises worsen, Bush still ignores global warming

Not in modern history have urban Americans faced such a frightful forecast.

Hydrologists predict that unless consumption changes four million people in metropolitan Atlanta, Ga. could find the main source of their drinking water, Lake Lanier, dried up in 90 to 121 days.

The chaos that could ensue as millions of parched people struggled to find potable water in such a situation is too much for the logical mind to grasp.

Yet, Atlanta is not alone.

Throughout the southeast United States and much of the Rocky Mountain West, repeated years of drought believed to be part of the complex global warming phenomenon are drying up reservoirs, straining municipal water supplies, and pointing toward calamitous water shortages.

The National Weather Service has declared that an "exceptional" drought now covers 26 percent of the South. Shortages have become so critical that cities, utilities and states are filing lawsuits against the federal government.

In our own state, Idaho Power has sued the Interior Department and Bureau of Reclamation for allegedly not providing sufficient water for its American Falls dam under an 84-year-old contract.

In Georgia, Gov. Sonny Perdue has filed a lawsuit to block the Corps of Engineers from releasing water from Lake Lanier for the benefit of mussels and sturgeon far downstream from Atlanta.

As Lanier's waters recede, among the odd sights, in addition to landlocked boats resting on dried mud, are treasure hunters with metal detector scanning the shrunken waterline.

Nothing is as stunning, however, as the sight of some of the West's largest lakes, such as Lake Powell and Lake Mead, exposing their steep, rocky sides for the first time because of shrinking water storages.

Meanwhile, a new climate study reported by Bloomberg News only adds to global warming's foreboding future.

An Australian team of scientists reports in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences that carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is rising faster because oceans and land are absorbing less of the gas, and humans have become less efficient at producing energy.

The carbon dioxide emission rate has nearly tripled, from 1.1 percent in the 1990s to 3.3 percent since 2000, they report.

While some communities face the prospect of no water and poisoning of the planet's air continues rapidly, President Bush wants more mandatory laws and more money for the occupation of Iraq.

Yet he's asked nothing to fight a war at home that could permanently affect the livability of the Earth.

The nation needs leadership to stop global warming—and it needs it fast.

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