Climate change and eutrophication similarities

21 November 2011

How bleak will our climate-changed future be? (Photo: Bill Harding)

There are some interesting similarities between climate change and eutrophication, for those who don’t know, eutrophication is the progressive and insidious pollution of our water resources, mostly by sewage effluents and all the nasties they contain.

Both climate change and eutrophication bear significant and far-reaching implications for the future well-being and socio-economic development of mankind.  Both will make it harder and more expensive to exist on this planet.  Both are already achieving this with some success, due to the fact that they have been ignored for so long.  Major changes due to climate change are already apparent as far afield as Florida and Denmark, with compensatory changes to the social calendar already applied in Scandanavia.

Eutrophication has been recognized as a major threat to water resources since about the 1970s.  It is only relatively recently that many countries have woken up to the dangers and are starting to do something about it, some more, some less, some very much less.   Climate change, or global warming as it used to be known before the concept had to be candy-wrapped into politically-correct speech, started to gain notice during the 1980s.

Climate change has now entered the realm of almost daily notice as the panic, in-fighting, denial and obfuscation, mostly fuelled by the profit-driven interests of commerce and the psychophantic willingness of governments to sell their souls for money.  Still lots of smoke and mirrors but at least it’s out there for all to see.  Names are being taken and when the whatever hits the fan, individuals, committees and etc can and will be held accountable.  This is good as it makes scientists and others think twice before they fudge their thoughts in favour of His/Her Masters Voice.

Eutrophication is still firmly in the dark – which is really bad as many people are already directly exposed to the impacts via the water they drink or the water they ‘recreate’ in. Internationally, between 40% and 70% of water supplies are already affected.  The level of denial is enormous and attention to increasingly-important issues of water quality remain in the hands of the same plodding, pedantic officials who have overseen it for many years.  Again, names are being taken.

Water quality frightens a lot of officialdom and a lot of specialists who lack the necessary understanding – so they either ignore it or downplay it.  In South Africa we see expensive but dust-gathering studies on so-called Integrated Water Quality Management (IWQM).  Problem is these are not written in English but in the gobbledygook policy language of the national regulator.  This is yet another way of delaying the issues by dressing them up in camouflage, rather than addressing them head-on.

In many cases we are in the situation we are in because of the ‘leadership’ provided by officials in unchallenged jobs.  We cannot rely on them to lead us out of the crisis that has arisen on their watch.

Eutrophication and climate change are opposite sides of the same coin in that they each will exacerbate the effects of the other, in positive correlation.  As the one worsens, so will the other.  By implication, attenuating the effects of one will lessen the impact of the other.

Who can afford to sit by and watch??  We are not too far off the ‘occupy’ issues being based on water quality.


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