Saturday, October 25, 2008

Fancy Water Markets (by Phila)

Anyone who follows the climate change debate knows that it's common for hack journalists and inactivists to weigh the negative effects of rising seas on New York City, Tokyo, and Bangladesh against the positive effects of warmer temperatures on Greenland. It's possible that a few million people here or there may be displaced, the argument goes, but these refugees can at least be fed on fresh vegetables from the Arctic Circle. Things may get a little worse in Nyala, but they'll get a little better in Nuuk, and who can say that this is not for the best in this best of all possible worlds?

Greenland's officials have been more than happy to play this game, and can usually be relied on for rather sociopathic quotes about the "benefits" of global warming to that country's 58,000 citizens. We may not ordinarily pay much heed to their complaints about cold weather -- no one asked them to live there, after all -- but expecting them to forgo economic opportunity amounts to a sin against the holy spirit. We may not quite accept the physical connection between human activity and climate, or between Greenland's climate and America's, but the ideological connection between Greenland's unbridled growth and our own is perfectly clear, and makes their struggle ours.

Apropos of which, Joseph Romm notes that Greenland's melting glaciers comprise a lot of fresh water that could easily be sold to "fancy water markets" around the world. Currently, the government is planning to drill into its icebergs; however, Romm points out that Greenland's ice melt is "enough to supply the city of Los Angeles with fresh water for more than 50 years." At a couple of dollars a bottle, that's more than enough to put Greenland on the map! Better yet, this water has been frozen for thousands of years, which means it has fewer pollutants and will allow people who buy it to feel a deeper connection with pure, unspoiled Nature.

One potential boom market could be Appalachia, where the government is preparing to scrap the rules that forbid mining companies from dumping waste into streams:
On Friday, the Office of Surface Mining (OSM) released its assessment of stream buffer zones - basically giving mining companies the environmental green light to dump mining waste in or near streams.

For years the OSM has failed to enforce the Stream Buffer Zone Rule, which prevents mining within 100 feet of streams, in communities across Appalachia. So instead of enforcing the current law, the OSM decided to just get rid of it - saying this is best possible protection for the environment.
Better yet, it could help Greenland cash in on the fancy water market! And if they're happy, then we're potentially happy, at the very least.

If you have no qualms about standing in the way of progress, you might want to contact the EPA and ask them not to repeal the Stream Buffer Zone rule. You may also want to consider whether John McCain's pathetically low rating from the League of Conservation Voters is relevant to any of these issues.