Canada and the US: Sea-Level Rise vs. Keystone XL
Recently glaciologist Jason Box of Ohio State University explained how humans have set in motion 69 feet of sea level rise; one of the most damaging consequences of climate change.
The “good” news is, it may take a 1000 years or longer to produce this much increase but the insurance company Allianz has identified as much as $28 trillion in coastal infrastructure at risk by 2050.
A report released by the Province of British Columbia in December noted the cost to Metro Vancouver alone to protect against this threat could be as high as $9.5 billion.
A study lead by Yadu Pohkrel determined “The drawing of water from deep wells has caused the sea to rise by an average of .77 millimetres every year since 1961,” which is about 42 percent of the total.
A recent BC study confirmed Dr Pohkrel’s finding and notes low lying crop lands in B.C. are at risk as a consequence. It further notes, “about half of British Columbia’s food supply is imported, much of it from California, which has suffered from drought and is projected to become even more reliant on groundwater as precipitation declines due to climate change.”
As The Frontier Centre for Public Policy pointed out in a paper Water, Water Everywhere But Canada Won't Sell It, “the average annual rainfall of 33 feet at Link Lake sends enough water into the Pacific Ocean to meet all of California's water needs for the next 20 years”.
There are numerous other sites around the province nearly as well endowed.
Wikipedia has a section on Water exports from Canada to the US at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Water_export. I suspect the existing prohibitions against these schemes would evaporate if they were approached as sea level proposals because:
- the outflows contribute to sea level rise,
- pumping aquifers to counter drought compounds the sea level problem,
- Canadian food supplies are at risk due to the miss match,
- the damage from sea level rise will be costly, and
- water sales would be a lucrative enterprise.
It makes little sense to be drowning in excess while the source of much of your food supply dessicates.
Perhaps this is the quid pro quo Prime Minister Harper needs to offer President Obama as political cover for approval of the Keystone XL pipeline.
Perhaps two pipelines are better than one with the irrigation from the one offsetting the emissions of the other. As the Kansas State University Soil Carbon Center demonstrates, land based photosynthesis extracts close to a net 50 gigatons of carbon from the atmosphere each year.
Perhaps we have to duplicate the rectification of the Canadian/US mismatch globally.
Other Posts by Jim Baird
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