Thursday 22nd of February 2024

frack-turing the environment...


Increasingly, U.S. shale firms appear unable to pay back investors for the money borrowed to fuel the last decade of the fracking boom. In a similar vein, those companies also seem poised to stiff the public on cleanup costs for abandoned oil and gas wells once the producers have moved on.

“It’s starting to become out of control, and we want to rein this in,” Bruce Hicks, Assistant Director of the North Dakota Oil and Gas Division, said in August about companies abandoning oil and gas wells. If North Dakota’s regulators, some of the most industry-friendly in the country, are sounding the alarm, then that doesn’t bode well for the rest of the nation.

In fact, officials in North Dakota are using Pennsylvania as an example of what they want to avoid when it comes to abandoned wells, and with good reason.

The first oil well drilled in America was in Pennsylvania in 1859, and the oil and gas industry has been drilling — and abandoning — wells there ever since. Pennsylvania’s Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) says that while it only has documentation of 8,000 orphaned and abandoned wells, it estimates the state actually has over a half million.

“We anticipate as many as 560,000 are in existence that we just don’t know of yet,” DEP spokesperson Laura Fraley told StateImpact Pennsylvania. “There’s no responsible party and so it’s on state government to pay to have those potential environmental and public health hazards remediated.”

According to StateImpact, “The state considers any well that doesn’t produce oil and gas for a calendar year to be an abandoned well.”

That first oil well drilled in Pennsylvania was 70 feet deep. Modern fracked wells, however, can be well over 10,000 feet in total length (most new fracked wells are drilled vertically to a depth where they turn horizontal to fracture the shale that contains the oil and gas). Because the longer the total length of the well, the more it costs to clean up, the funding required to properly clean up and cap wells has grown as drillers have continued to use new technologies to greatly extend well lengths.  Evidence from the federal government points to the potential for these costs being shifted to the tax-paying public.


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taking care of the planet...

A few degrees of warming is incredibly significant.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) strongly recommends limiting the global temperature increase to 1.5°C, to avoid the impacts of climate change steeply escalating. Even at 1.5°C of global warming, times will be tough. But the impacts amplify rapidly between just 1.5°C and 2°C of temperature increase, as visible in the following infographic.

significant degrees

protecting the sciences...

Q: What are you most looking forward to doing that you couldn’t do as the director?

A: I’m looking forward to being able to speak out. I have strongly disagreed with certain things done within the past 2.5 years by the Environmental Protection Agency [EPA, such as] backing down on the decision to ban chlorpyrifos. The science strongly demonstrated that chlorpyrifos and other organophosphate pesticides are associated with an increased risk of learning and memory and behavior problems in children. I found that an extremely disturbing decision.

Q: As you step down, what are some of the key issues facing environmental health research?

A: It’s become very clear to me [that there is a] real interaction between different kinds of environmental stressors. We’re finding that, for example, the interaction between nutrition and environmental stressors, the interaction between our microbiome and nutrition and environmental stressors. It’s not one thing alone.

Much of our toxicology testing ignored the extreme variability that exists within a population. We’ll often say, “Rats don’t do this,” or “Mice don’t do this,” and that’s based upon studies in one strain of mouse or one strain of rats. There was a study done a couple of years ago called the 1000 Genomes study. They found, looking at toxicity from about 179 different chemicals, that for many chemicals the inherent susceptibility varied by 100- to 200-fold. Those are things we’re just not thinking about as much as we should.

I think another issue that has become absolutely front and center is the whole issue of windows of susceptibility. The developing fetus, its susceptibility can be totally different than the child, than the adolescent, than the young adult. We need to understand “What are these windows of susceptibility?” And then also understand that early life exposure may set the trajectory for the rest of your life.

I’ve learned a lot about the importance of human observational studies and how powerful studies can be when you do prospective longitudinal studies. In other words, when you recruit a population, take measures at that time and then you follow that population over time. That can be so insightful into the relationships between exposure and effect.

Q: Those sound like the kinds of studies that the current EPA leadership has targeted for de-emphasis in setting regulatory standards.

A: They absolutely have been. And that’s because those are the studies that demonstrate that some of the substances, which I would like to see regulated, [can have human health effects, but] they don’t want to do it. I think there are some people who are driven more by the dollar sign than they are by concerns for human health.

Q: You have said you plan to continue doing research at the institute. What will you be studying?

A: We’re doing some very exciting work, especially some of the work with these novel PFAS [per- and polyfluoroalkyl substance] chemicals, and their impact on the blood-brain barrier.

I could talk on and on about PFAS. They make dioxin look easy. There are 5000 and the number keeps growing. There are multiple nuclear receptors which can be impacted by PFAS. There are also many other pathways that are affected. Of the thousands of PFAS, really, there’s only a fair amount of data on two of them.

We’re going to have to start asking the question: Does the benefits of having totally stain-resistant carpet overweigh the risk of having increasing blood levels in our population, where we have a wealth of mechanistic animal and now epidemiology studies are showing that adverse effects can occur?

Q: What impact has politics had on research and on scientists at NIEHS in recent years?

A: We’ve been overall pretty fortunate. … One reason I stayed as a director as long as I did was I wanted to protect my institute. I think there’s been a chilling impact on certain kinds of research … [for example] fetal tissue research. [This past June, NIH stopped supporting in-house research using fetal tissue from elective abortions. In September, it imposed  new requirements on non-agency scientists who propose experiments using fetal tissue.] And that despite the benefits from working with fetal tissue, in developing an understanding not only of the mechanisms of development, but [also] understanding how different exposures can alter those mechanisms.


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we know it will, but when?...

IS THE HUMAN race [sic: it should be human species] approaching its demise? The question itself may sound hyperbolic — or like a throwback to the rapture and apocalypse. Yet there is reason to believe that such fears are no longer so overblown. The threat of climate change is forcing millions around the world to realistically confront a future in which their lives, at a minimum, look radically worse than they are today. At the same time, emerging technologies of genetic engineering and artificial intelligence are giving a small, technocratic elite the power to radically alter homo sapiens to the point where the species no longer resembles itself. Whether through ecological collapse or technological change, human beings are fast approaching a dangerous precipice.


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cartoons and images for the planet...



holding on


protest 2




view from the gods...


the thin surface...


a judgement call? idiots!...

VIDEO: Deputy secretary Evans says whether climate change is bad is "a judgement call". (ABC News)


RELATED STORY: Climate change protests spread around the world


RELATED STORY: Don't leave your climate evacuation plan too late, scientists say

There will be winners and losers from climate change, and that means the climate is not getting "worse".

Key points:
  • A Department of Environment official was not prepared to say the climate is getting "worse"
  • She argued that changes will advantage some parts of the world
  • A report from Moody's earlier this year found that Canada may benefit under projected temperature rises


That's the view inside Australia's Department of Environment, which insists it provides "frank and fearless" advice to Federal Government ministers.

Jo Evans, deputy secretary of the department, told a Senate hearing on Monday that whether you used "worse" or "better" to describe climate trends depends on where you were on the globe.

"Some parts of the world — they will find some of those changes working to their advantage, some of them not so much," she said.

Last year's report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change identified the people and places at a higher risk from rising temperatures.

"Populations at disproportionately higher risk of adverse consequences with global warming of 1.5 degrees Celsius and beyond include disadvantaged and vulnerable populations, some indigenous peoples, and local communities dependent on agricultural or coastal livelihoods," the report warned.

"Regions at disproportionately higher risk include Arctic ecosystems, dryland regions, small island developing states, and least-developed countries."


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This ABC report is a weakling — even if accurately describing what the assistant to the government Jo Evans twisting global warming effects to a geographical position advantage. The main problem is her wishy-washy assessment is linked to a rise of 1.5 degree Celsius, while the rise by 2100 is likely to be more than double this figure, leaving many people in the lurch — not counting the damages to natural habitats. As well, the caption to the picture of the Arctic is faulty:

PHOTO: Warmer temperatures could unluck the Arctic for shipping and mineral extraction. (Supplied: Amelie Meyer)


Did the kids writing for ABC online mean:

PHOTO: Warmer temperatures could unlock the Arctic for shipping and mineral extraction. (Supplied: Amelie Meyer)?

Jo Evans is a deceiving idiot working for an idiotic government...


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horsing around...

By John R. Platt, The Revelator. Originally posted on The Revelator.

William Perry Pendley wants you think that what he thinks doesn’t matter.

Pendley spent four decades advocating for the corporate exploitation of U.S. public lands. He now serves the Trump administration as the acting director of the Bureau of Land Management, the agency responsible for much of those same public lands.

Over the years Pendley, a self-styled “Sagebrush Rebel,” has pushed for the wholesale divestment of public lands from federal control, denied the existence of climate change and the hole in the ozone layer, denigrated the press, and called illegal immigrants a “cancer,” among other radical, extremist positions.

But now he’d have you believe that those actions and opinions no longer matter.

“My personal opinions are irrelevant,” Pendley said during an on-stage panel moderated by Juliet Eilperin of The Washington Post earlier this month at the Society of Environmental Journalists annual conference in Fort Collins, Colorado. “I have a new job now,” he told the audience. “I’m a zealous advocate for my client. My client is the American people, and my bosses are the president of the United States and Secretary Bernhardt. So what I thought, what I wrote, what I did in the past is irrelevant. I have orders, I have laws to obey, and I intend to do that.”

That appearance represented just one part of what appears to be a broader media strategy to rehabilitate Pendley’s image, including softball interviews for multiple publications and an op-ed for The Denver Post on the eve of the conference.

So what dominates Pendley’s opinions now? Well, he thinks the worst thing facing America’s public lands right now isn’t climate change — it is, in his opinion, wild horses.



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And talking of horses....


The regulator for horse racing in New South Wales was alerted to the sale of thoroughbreds for slaughter at an unapproved livestock auction as early as June 2018 but refused to rescue one horse or investigate further. 

Key points:
  • Racing NSW said last week it had never been told thoroughbreds were being sold at Camden Horse Sales, an auction not approved by the regulator
  • But former trainer Sandra Jorgensen said she reported to Racing NSW in mid-2018 the sale of a branded, one-eyed filly at Camden to a business run by a killbuyer
  • Racing NSW told Ms Jorgensen it could not act because the business is in Victoria, but there is a business with an almost identical name belonging to the owner of NSW knackery Burns Pet Foods


The ABC has obtained emails proving Racing NSW was told that thoroughbreds were being sold at an unapproved livestock auction, before the practice was exposed on 7.30 last week, and despite telling the program it had no prior knowledge. 

The 7.30 story revealed hundreds of racehorses were being abused, mistreated and slaughtered at knackeries and abattoirs, in violation of racing industry rules and policies. 

In 2017, Racing NSW introduced a rule strictly prohibiting owners, trainers and managers from either directly or indirectly sending horses to slaughterhouses and to unapproved livestock auctions. 

But the 7.30 investigation revealed thoroughbreds were being sold to 'killbuyers' — slaughterhouses and their agents — and also sold off at an unapproved livestock auction in Camden, NSW.


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By Chris Garrard, member of campaign group Art Not Oil

From Greta Thunberg to the thousands of youth climate strikers, and from young Indigenous activists to XR Youth, young people have been putting governments, fossil fuel companies and decision makers on notice in powerful ways. And it’s against this backdrop that an annual youth summit for 2,000 young delegates who, in the organisers’ words, are ‘united by a common goal to resolve some of the world’s most pressing challenges’ will kick off.

But, bizarrely, the One Young World summit is sponsored by fossil fuel companies and the arms trade – the very industries at the heart of causing the ‘pressing challenges’ that these young people are meant to solve.


Giving polluters a platform

In a show of how vibrant opposition to these industries currently is, young people took part in an action at the National Portrait Gallery last night, calling for an end to its BP sponsorship deal. And a few weeks ago, the Royal Shakespeare Company announced that it would end its BP sponsorship deal after school strikers threatened to boycott performances over the company’s branding of the theatre’s discount ticket scheme for young people.

In its statement, the RSC noted:

“Amidst the climate emergency…young people are now saying clearly to us that the BP sponsorship is putting a barrier between them and their wish to engage with the RSC. We cannot ignore that message.”

And yet, One Young World – an entirely youth-focused event – continues to not just take money from oil majors BP, Shell and Total, but gives them a platform to boost their brand.

On Wednesday, BP CEO Bob Dudley and Chief Economist Spencer Dale will take to the stage to spout their spin, arguing that ‘Any sustainable path for the global energy system requires both challenges to be met: the need for more energy, and less carbon.’ And back in 2015, the company’s former Chairman, Carl-Henric Svanberg, was one of the summit’s main speakers, speaking about ‘Engineering a Cleaner Future’. At that time, BP was actually spending little over one percent of its capital on genuine renewables, like wind and solar, and today the company remains 97 percent invested in fossil fuels.

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"an association with a laundry list of effects.”

THE WIDESPREAD ENVIRONMENTAL contaminants known as PFAS cause multiple health problems in people, according to Linda Birnbaum, who retired as director of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences and the National Toxicology Program earlier this month.

The statement may come as little surprise to those following the medical literature on the industrial chemicals that have been used to make nonstick coatingsfirefighting foam, and host of other products. Thousands of scholarly articles have linked the chemicals to at least 800 health effects. Some of the health problems found in humans — including elevated cholesterol levels, liver dysfunction, weight gain, reproductive problems and kidney cancer — have been shown to increase along with the levels of the chemicals in blood. Extensive research also shows that children with higher levels of PFAS have weakened immune responses.

Yet while she was leading the NIEHS, a division of the National Institutes of Health, whose mission is “to discover how the environment affects people, in order to promote healthier lives,” Birnbaum was not allowed to use the word “cause” when referring to the health effects from PFAS or other chemicals.

“I was banned from doing it,” said Birnbaum. “I had to use ‘association’ all the time. If I was talking about human data or impacts on people, I had to always say there was an association with a laundry list of effects.” Birnbaum said this restriction “was coming from the office of the deputy director. His job hinged on controlling me.” Birnbaum also said that the Trump administration has recently begun coordinating its messaging on PFAS.

Association, the coincidence of a chemical exposure and disease, and causation, in which a health problem happens as the result of the exposure, are different. Because many factors, including chance and genetics and exposures to other substances, can influence the development of disease, the term “cause” is used rarely and cautiously in the field of environmental health.

But Birnbaum, who has studied PFAS compounds for decades, believes the global contaminants have cleared that high bar. “In my mind, PFAS cause health effects because you have the same kind of effects reported in multiple studies in multiple populations,” she said in a phone interview. Birnbaum pointed in particular to longitudinal studies, which follow populations’ exposures and health over time. “You have longitudinal studies showing the same effects in multiple populations done by multiple investigators and you have animal models showing the same impact,” said Birnbaum. In addition, she pointed to studies that show the mechanism through which PFAS chemicals cause harm in people.

“That is pretty good evidence that PFAS or certain PFAS can cause health effects in people. It is not as strong for every effect, but there are quite a number of effects where they’re strong enough to say ‘caused,’” Birnbaum said. She pointed in particular to the relationship between the chemicals and immune response, kidney cancer, and cholesterol in humans, saying, “That data is very clear.”

Birnbaum has been targeted by the chemical industry and politicians beholden to it on several occasions during her nearly 40-year career as a federal scientist, which included 19 years at the Environmental Protection Agency. In 2012, Republicans on the House Science Committee went after Birnbaum for writing that endocrine-disrupting chemicals in the environment were responsible for “a staggering increase in several diseases.”

She also faced backlash after the National Toxicology Program conducted screenings of formulations containing glyphosate, the main active ingredient in Monsanto’s popular weedkiller Roundup. “There were huge attacks on the institute and on me personally related to glyphosate,” said Birnbaum, whose office was flooded with FOIA requests that she said came from law firms. “I had to hire four to six people to work on the FOIA issue. We were up to having about 140 to 150 backlogged FOIA requests. You couldn’t deal with them quickly enough.”

Her run-in with Republicans on the House Science Committee last year may have had the most severe consequences. Reps. Andy Biggs and Lamar Smith accused Birnbaum of lobbying based on an editorial in the journal PLOS Biology. In it, Birnbaum wrote that “U.S. policy has not accounted for evidence that chemicals in widespread use can cause cancer and other chronic diseases, damage reproductive systems, and harm developing brains at low levels of exposure once believed to be harmless.” She called for more research on the risks posed by chemicals and noted that “closing the gap between evidence and policy will require that engaged citizens — both scientists and non-scientists — work to ensure that our government officials pass health-protective policies based on the best available scientific evidence.”

After that, “everything was scrutinized that I did. Everything I did required clearance. Even in my lab,” said Birnbaum. “All of a sudden, everything had to go up at least to building 1,” she said, referring to the Bethesda building that serves as the administrative center for the National Institutes of Health. Birnbaum was also denied a salary increase after the incident and became aware that her job was at stake. “I was told that they were trying to fire to me.”

At the same time, PFAS compounds were becoming the focus of intense scrutiny from both state regulatory agencies and Congress. As contamination from the chemicals was being discovered around the country, it became clear that both the companies that made and used the PFAS compounds and the military, which used firefighting foam that contained them, could face billions of dollars of liability.

Proving a causal connection between the chemicals and disease will be central to holding them accountable. In litigation over PFOA contamination in West Virginia, DuPont’s lawyers were forbidden from questioning the causal relationship between exposure to the chemical and six different diseases, including testicular cancer and kidney cancer. The company has paid out over $1 billion in that case and subsequently spun off its division that makes PFAS compounds to a new company, Chemours.


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It's the largest class action Australia has ever seen — four times larger than the Black Saturday class action of 2009 — and involves people across the country.

Key points:
  • Up to 40,000 Australians poised to launch class action over PFAS contamination
  • They're backed by Erin Brockovich, who says the Government's position is inadequate
  • One client in the action says water contamination has changed her family's way of life


Up to 40,000 people who live and work on land contaminated by the chemical compound PFAS are suing the Australian Government, arguing their property values have plummeted, RN's Law Reportcan reveal.

The action will be filed by Christmas.

Shine Lawyers, the firm representing the clients, has enlisted the support of American activist Erin Brockovich.

"The science is in on these chemicals. It can cause cancer," Ms Brockovich tells Law Report.

She names "testicular cancer, kidney cancer, thyroid disease, thyroid cancer" as some of those that have been associated with PFAS — a link confirmed by countries including Germany, Britain and the US, but denied by Australia.


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UK government bans fracking with immediate effect...

The government has banned fracking with immediate effect in a watershed moment for environmentalists and community activists.

Ministers also warned shale gas companies it would not support future fracking projects, in a crushing blow to companies that had been hoping to capitalise on one of the new frontiers of growth in the fossil fuel industry.

The decision draws a line under years of bitter opposition to the controversial extraction process in a major victory for green groups and local communities.

The decision was taken after a new scientific study warned it was not possible to rule out “unacceptable” consequences for those living near fracking sites.

The report, undertaken by the Oil and Gas Authority (OGA), also warned it was not possible to predict the magnitude of earthquakes fracking might trigger.

Fracking, also known as hydraulic fracturing, involves pumping water, chemicals and sand underground at high pressure to fracture shale rock and release trapped oil and gas.

The government said it would not agree to any future fracking “until compelling new evidence is provided” that proves fracking could be safe. The UK’s only active fracking site at Preston New Road in Lancashire was brought to an immediate halt this summer after fracking triggered multiple earth tremors that breached the government’s earthquake limits.


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solar frackturing...

California-based multinational oil company Chevron landed two rounds of drilling permits from Gov. Gavin Newsom this summer—evidence, climate advocates say, that Newsom is not committed to tackling the climate crisis.

The permits bolster Chevron’s position in the Lost Hills Oil Field, the sixth most prolific field in industry-heavy Kern County, and will shift drilling in the field largely towards using power from solar panels. One critic called the way the permits use climate crisis rhetoric “Orwellian,” incorporating solar power into drilling operations to expand the use of fracking and oil production. The variety of oil extracted in California is among the most greenhouse gas intensive in the world.

The town of Lost Hills has a population of 2,500. The community is 97% Latino, and over 27% of people living there have  incomes below the poverty threshold.Environmental justice advocates say the new permits, awarded during a pandemic disproportionately impacting the state’s Latino community in a predominantly farmworker town, further call into question Newsom’s commitment to environmental justice.

A representative from Greenpeace USA did not mince words, calling the new fracking permits an example of “environmental racism.”

“These new permits, like the others, will further exacerbate air pollution and poison Black and Brown communities, worsening the dual public health crises they face,” said Greenpeace spokesperson Katie Nelson in a press release. “It’s long past time to end the practice of treating California’s Black, Brown, and Indigenous communities as ‘sacrifice zones.’”

According to a 2015 report by the groups Earthworks and the Clear Water Fund, the town of Lost Hills has high levels of airborne toxic chemicals, including methane, acetone, dichlorodifluoromethane and acetaldehydes. Those chemicals come from drilling and other oil industry infrastructure like that in the nearby oil field. Recent studies by both Harvard University and Stanford University have found higher COVID-19 case numbers in communities situated near areas with high industrial pollution levels.

One of the drilling permits, given to Chevron from the California Geologic Energy Management Division (CalGEM) to frack 12 wells, was granted just before the Fourth of July weekend. The other permit, given by the California Air Resources Board (ARB) on June 5, will enable a solar energy production partnership between Chevron and Wall Street titan Goldman Sachs to power drilling in the same oil field under the Low Carbon Fuel Standard program.

Newsom implemented a statewide moratorium on new fracking permits as COVID-19 spread across the state in early April. Since lifting it, he has also already given 36 new fracking permits in Lost Hills to Aera Energy, a joint venture owned by ExxonMobil and Shell Oil. Aera is a company to which Newsom has personal connections via its lobbyists, one of them a longtime political advisor of his who headed up his gubernatorial transition team, and the other his former top policy aide when he was lieutenant governor.

Juan Flores of the Center on Race, Poverty & the Environment told The Real News that these fracking licenses make him question the sincerity of Newsom’s campaign promises in 2018: “[Newsom] kept talking about how we needed to stay away from corporations and him not wanting to receive money for his campaign from big corporations like Chevron, Aera and Shell. He said ‘I don’t want to serve my term as Governor paying back those favors.’ And now he’s completely acting the opposite.”

In response to criticism, Teresa Schilling, assistant director for Public Affairs and Communications for the California Department of Conservation—CalGEM’s parent agency—pointed to the agency’s public hearings process where it considered distancing setbacks of oil wells from schools and homes as exemplifying the Newsom administration’s commitment to public health and environmental justice.

“The Administration has been clear about the need to strengthen oversight of oil and gas extraction in California,” she told The Real News via email. “CalGEM is actively working to update its regulations to protect public health and safety for communities near oil and gas operations. CalGEM has a robust public input process and is engaging with environmental justice advocates and community representatives.”

But the public hearings Schilling mentioned—which examined the public health basis for a 2500-foot setback distance between new oil wells and places such as schools, playgrounds and homes—began as a direct result of the same order calling for a fracking moratorium signed by the Newsom administration in November. That order also came just several months after the watering down of AB 345 in the California Assembly, a bill which would have mandated a 2500-foot setback, and its transformation into a two-year bill by Assembly Appropriations Chairwoman Lorena Gonzalez (D-San Diego).



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vanishing water...


Most of the world's unfrozen freshwater is invisible to humanity. Ninety-six percent of it (1) is stored beneath the land surface as groundwater in soil and rock layers called aquifers. However, groundwater's unobtrusive nature belies its critical importance to global water and food security while simultaneously subjecting it to massive overexploitation. Groundwater is the primary water source for billions of people and for nearly half of irrigated agriculture, yet its inconspicuous presence has allowed groundwater to elude effective governance and management in countless regions around the world (2, 3). Consequently, more than half of the world's major aquifers are being depleted, some of them at an alarming pace (4). On page 418 of this issue, Jasechko and Perrone (5) show that millions of the wells that are used to pump the disappearing groundwater are at risk of running dry.

Jasechko and Perrone assembled a dataset of nearly 39 million groundwater wells from 40 different countries and territories. The dataset, which includes the locations, depths, purposes, and construction dates of the wells, allowed the authors to reach two main conclusions. They found that up to 20% of the wells they analyzed are at risk of running dry because of long-term groundwater decline, seasonal variation in water levels, or both. In addition, they identified that new wells tend to be drilled to greater depths. However, the authors note that the deeper wells are not necessarily located in regions of substantial groundwater depletion (6), with the implication that many of the new wells are just as likely to run dry as the old wells.

Jasechko and Perrone implicitly deliver a timely warning that universal access to groundwater is fundamentally at risk. As groundwater levels decline around the world, only the relatively wealthy will be able to afford the cost of drilling deeper wells and paying for the additional power required to pump groundwater from greater depths. Lower-income families, poorer communities, and smaller businesses, including smaller farms, will experience progressively more limited access in the many regions around the world where groundwater levels are in decline. This scenario is already playing out, for example, in California's heavily agricultural Central Valley, where deeper wells are drawing down groundwater levels such that farm workers' domestic wells are running dry. Without intervention, the gap between the water “haves” and “have nots” (3) will only widen further.

Beyond dwindling access to groundwater, the consequences of millions of wells running dry, and perhaps millions more in the decades to come, would be severe and unparalleled at such a scale in human history. They include major threats to food production, the health and livelihoods of the millions to billions of people affected, and the environment. Disappearing groundwater resources may act as a trigger for violent conflicts and have the potential to generate waves of climate refugees. Avoiding such a scenario is clearly paramount to human security. This requires considerable discovery-driven and engaged research, combined with broad and inclusive stakeholder engagement, water diplomacy, and advocacy to federal governments and international bodies.


Science  23 Apr 2021:
Vol. 372, Issue 6540, pp. 344-345



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