My thoughts on everything from albacore tuna to zebras
| I expect you are thinking that you are about to embark upon a reading of another diatribe espousing the evils of global warming. Well…you are not. You see in my job I deal with all sorts of facts and figures and some, a very few, find their way into that part of my brain where things are folded over upon themselves and only the brave dare peek inside and then only at the risk of suffering from severe madness the likes of which has not been seen on this planet since…well for a very long time.
Such was the case yesterday as I sat reading at my desk. Did you know that in Pennsylvania the average amount of water used per person in 1900 was five gallons per day and that today it is 65 gallons? This factoid, like a shiny silver ball, ricocheted of the brightly lit bumpers of my pinball machine mind and dropped effortlessly into the hole marked “triple points.”
Suddenly it all became clear to me. We use a lot of water and while a portion of it is deemed “surface water”, lakes and streams, a good portion of it is extracted from deep within the earth and has earned, rightly or wrongly, the moniker “ground water” It is this ground water that I believe requires closer examination.
We are pumping far more of it today than ever before. Take those Pennsylvania figures and extrapolate them to all the industrialized nations of the world and that is a very large amount of water. Where does it go? I can tell you, very little, if any of it, actually makes it back to its peaceful existence underground from where we so rudely removed it. Groundwater regenerates in geologic time. We pump it out in human time. Some of it may evaporate and form into clouds and return to the surface of the planet, but that, along with the vast majority of ground water eventually makes its way to the streams and rivers and they eventually make their way to the oceans of the planet. And that, my friend, is what is responsible for the slow rise of the oceans. We are simply pumping too much groundwater into them.
So, what can we do? Can we pump it back underground? Not likely. It moves in one direction a lot easier than the other. Can we use less? Sure, but I don’t believe conservation will stem the tide, unless we once again learn to live on a five gallons of water a day. That would necessitate us going back to outhouses, weekly baths in the communal tub and using the alley between the horse barn and the pigsty to pee. (Don’t ask).
But wait! The shiny silver ball has been ejected and once more bounces from bumper to flipper and back again until it once again gets caught in a magnetic “holding position”.
If we’ve pumped out all this water and it has raised the ocean level, we are faced with the undeniable fact that water weighs. It is heavy. So. By shifting all this “water weight” from its peaceful slumber beneath the continents to the oceans we have caused two things, less weight on the tectonic plates under the continents has caused them to rise. More weight on the tectonic plates beneath the ocean has caused them to compress. Translation? Pumping groundwater is responsible for: A) a rise in ocean levels and B) earthquakes and volcanoes.
Zing! There goes that dang silver ball again!. Wait, it’s a double flipper save! And it shoots straight into the free game Bonus slide! Dang I’m good!
We’ve already established that groundwater causes the oceans to rise, volcanoes to erupt and volcanoes.. But there is something else. Shifting all that weight is having a profound effect on the planetary wobble. You know about the planetary wobble, don’t you? No? Google it. Suffice it to say that by shifting these large volumes of water around and redistributing the “water weight” we are causing an increase in the planetary wobble. Like an unstable gyroscope, the wobble will cause an increasingly elongated planetary orbit until at some point the planet overcomes its own gravitational and centrifugal pull. At that point we shall simply slip out of orbit and begin our own cosmic pinball ride.
The good news? We won’t have to worry about shooting down any more satellites. We’ll probably plow right through them on our way out of this universal pinball machine.
The bad news? There is no free game.
Makes you think twice about turning on the faucet, doesn’t it?
We now return you to your regularly scheduled program.
“Joe, it’s time for your medication.”
“Oh, I love it when happy time gets here.”