Well, there are two pieces of not-so-good news about the environment. First is the problems with water in Toledo which it seems aren’t confined to Toledo:
It took a serendipitous slug of toxins and the loss of drinking water for a half-million residents to bring home what scientists and government officials in this part of the country have been saying for years: Lake Erie is in trouble, and getting worse by the year.
Flooded by tides of phosphorus washed from fertilized farms, cattle feedlots, and leaky septic systems, the most intensely developed of the Great Lakes is increasingly being choked each summer by thick mats of algae, much of it poisonous. What plagues Toledo and, experts say, potentially all 11 million lakeside residents, is increasingly a serious problem across the United States.
Sounds bad, so what do we do?
Five years ago this month, the federal Environmental Protection Agency and state water authorities issued a joint report on pollution of the nation’s waterways by phosphorus and other nutrients titled “An Urgent Call to Action.”
“Unfortunately, very little action has come from that,” said Jon Devine, the senior lawyer for the water program at the Natural Resources Defense Council in Washington.
“When we bring this subject up for conversation with the regulators, everyone sort of walks out of the room,” Donald Moline, the Toledo commissioner of public utilities, said in an interview on Monday. “The whole drinking-water community has been raising these issues, and so far we haven’t seen a viable response.”
We should ignore it, of course why didn’t I think of that.
The other problem is in Siberia:
There’s now a substantiated theory about what created the crater. And the news isn’t so good.
It may be methane gas, released by the thawing of frozen ground. According to a recent Nature article, “air near the bottom of the crater contained unusually high concentrations of methane — up to 9.6% — in tests conducted at the site on 16 July, says Andrei Plekhanov, an archaeologist at the Scientific Centre of Arctic Studies in Salekhard, Russia. Plekhanov, who led an expedition to the crater, says that air normally contains just 0.000179% methane.”
That doesn’t sound too bad.
Some scientists contend the thawing of such terrain, rife with centuries of carbon, would release incredible amounts of methane gas and affect global temperatures. “Pound for pound, the comparative impact of [methane gas] on climate change is over 20 times greater than [carbon dioxide] over a 100-year period,” reported the Environmental Protection Agency.
Ah, well then.
“Climate change occurs no matter what,” Representative Ryan said at a Wednesday breakfast hosted by the Christian Science Monitor in Washington. “The question is, can and should the federal government do something about it. And I would argue the federal government, with all its tax and regulatory schemes, can’t.”
Update: It seems there’s a large methane thing going on in the Arctic also which might be a bit of a problem:
“Even if a small fraction of the Arctic carbon were released to the atmosphere, we’re fucked,” he told me. What alarmed him was that “the methane bubbles were reaching the surface. That was something new in my survey of methane bubbles,” he said.