Water, a much bigger problem than climate change.


The safe, clean water essential to all life is rapidly running out in much of the world. Yet the politicians are concentrating on air pollution in the form of CO2 and methane as if a catastrophe is about to hit us. The world has gotten colder the last 11 years, and the future trend is down, unless the sun does something quite unexpected. In the meantime much of the world’s safe water supply is disappearing. The western US, much of the 10-40 corridor, Australia and western South America are using up its safe water much faster than it is replenished. In addition, what is left is getting polluted. Let me give you an anecdotal example.
A few years ago I was part of a team that made wet processing equipment for making computer chip wafers. It involved cleaning and etching using isopropyl alcohol, hydrocloric, sulphuric, and hydrofluoric acid as well as Ozone, all potent stuff. To collect the used chemicals we had designed a 5-way output port, so the chemicals could be collected separately. The equipment was made and shipped off to South Korea. It was assembled in a brand new, state of the art positive air pressure clean room facility. The processing equipment was installed, and under the 5-way port was a large funnel, going to the drain and directly out in the sewer. A couple of years before, in the US we had a leaking valve, so a small amount of hydrofluoric acid got discharged into the sewage. This poisoned the sewage processing plant, and a large fine was levied. No such worry in Asia. The sewage goes directly out in the ocean to be diluted. In China many of these facilities are inland, so large water aquifers get poisoned for centuries to come. These are the people we entrust with our future production of just about everything, since we will have to cut down on our energy use thanks to cap-and-trade, and they are exempt.
They are building dirty coal fired plants as fast as they can. This results in a large brown upper athmosphere smog extending from China to Pakistan acting as a giant heat sink.

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4 Comments

  1. Steven Leibo
    Posted July 12, 2009 at 6:03 pm | Permalink

    I find this comment very curious. I spend a lot of time educating people about climate change and the idea that one can separate the challenge of water and climate change is very strange. The problem with all the C02 we are putting out is that it is creating problems that are directly related to water. The build up of green house gases causes all sorts of water problems. In some areas the land is drying out as drought–very associated with climate change – is becoming more common while in other areas the challenge is having too much water in the sense of more powerful storms and rising waters. These two topics are deeply related. In short the world has a huge water problem. Some of it is climate change related. Some not. But water is a huge issue regardless.

    Steven Leibo Ph.D. see Leibo’s World Watch blog

  2. lenbilen
    Posted July 12, 2009 at 6:23 pm | Permalink

    As being the originator of this blog entry I have to defend myself. I did not separate climate change from water pollution. The cap and trade bill does not address the global water pollution problem, only gas emissions. (Please tell me I am wrong).
    The whole idea to exempt China from emission control, and allowing them both unlimited emissions and unlimited pollution flies in the face of common sense. Better keep production in the US where we have some environmental controls in place.

  3. lenbilen
    Posted July 14, 2009 at 1:24 pm | Permalink

    The irony of the whole thing is that this cap and trade policy is pushed just as the evidence of global warming is disappearing. Eleven years ago it looked like a thermal runaway due to increasing CO2 levels. – And Methane levels. Will we have a fart-tax levied on all cows? Methane is 150 times more potent than CO2 as a greenhouse gas. No, the earth is cooling again, and the gloabal mean atmospheric temperature is now back to the average for the last 30 years (Jun 2009 data is just out). The brown smog extending from Pakistan to China is acting as a great heat filter that offests the CO2 factor. China is building dirty coalfired plants as fast as they can, since they are exempt from environmental controls. In addition they are poisoning their water supply for eons to come. Meanwhile the earth is getting cooler, not warmer, and the Gore type politicians are pursuing this global government power takeover with a religious fervor, ignoring all evidence since they made up their mind. And we are outsourcing all future production increases to China?

  4. Steven Leibo
    Posted August 26, 2009 at 1:06 pm | Permalink

    thanks for taking the time to reply. I am afraid you might want to go back to the original scientific sources on recent global temperatures. The situation is quite different from what you have written I am afraid. (though I sure wish you were right) About China, you are absolutely right that China is resisting caps but having said they China is going great guns into clean energy — for some background on this might I suggest my annual _East & Southeast Asia 2009_ within which I discuss at length these issues for most of the countries in the region.
    Dr. Leibo


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