Saturday, 23 February 2019

OUR NUCLEAR THREAT AND ITS TREATIES

In Feb 2019 Donald Trump, followed by Vladimir Putin, announced withdrawal from The Intermediate range Nuclear Forces Treaty, both accusing the other of violations.  The world shudders again.  The God of Greed applauds.  Currently, the two greatest threats to our survival, Climate Change and Nuclear War, are creations of Homo the Sap. 
From 1900 to 2000 the percentage of civilians killed in wars rose from 10 to 75%.  Collateral damage is already enormous, but Nuclear War would encompass everybody and everything. Our amazingly-complex species, evolving in an amazingly-complex universe, has achieved the ability and intelligence to save, or to destroy, Life as we know it.  To correct the dangerous attitudes of humans like Donald and Vladimir, and too many others, in the limited time we have to guarantee behavioural changes, we need all the help we can muster.
Billions of us humans cherish our current inquisitive, fact-finding-and-analyzing quest to know and improve ourselves and our home, temporary as they are.  We have negotiated, over the centuries, treaties and alliances to lessen, nullify, and change threats; but our failure to disown the God of Greed has both weakened and strengthened our resolve. We still need more unity of peaceful purpose, but how do we convince the powerful few who place short-term Greed ahead of long-term Survival? 
  Origin of Atomic Thought:  After some 4 billion years of evolution, a few of us, 2,600 years ago in the Greek city of Miletus on the western Aegean coast of today’s Turkey, abandoned widespread myths to concentrate on examining facts.  They were led by Thales, his pupil Anaximander, and Hecataeus.  We entered the new, inquisitive, and uncharted territory of science.
This new approach to science spread so, after the expanding Persian Empire under Cyrus the Great (600-530 BC) took over Miletus in 540 BC, there was a revolt that was crushed ferociously in 494 BC.  Other Greek city states united to, in 474 BC, oust the Persians.  Many famed philosophers had fled Miletus to found the colony of Abdera in Thrace.  The oldest may have been Pythagoras.  In Abdera, Leucippus (480-420 BC), born in Miletus had fled north to Abdera.  There he joined Abdera-born Democrates, to found a scientific and philosophical school and wrote “The Great Cosmology”, stating that Matter is composed of Atoms separated by empty Space through which the atoms move.  Atoms are solid, homogeneous, indivisible, and unchangeable.  Dozens of  books on every field of knowledge were written.  Philosophers argued that Space is unlimited with enormous numbers of atoms.  Sweetness, bitterness, heat, cold, and color are all opinions.  Reality exists with  atoms and vacuum.  There is no finality, no purpose, just an endless dance of atoms.
This line of thought became dormant for centuries until  John Dalton in England, 1803-08, converted the Greek atomic philosophy into a scientific theory.
Between 1899 and 1936 several important treaties were signed and provide a background for the nuclear age treaties that followed:
The 1899 and 1907 Hague Conventions outlawing poison gas in warfare were signed by all major nations, but violated by Germany in April 1915 at Ypres, Belgium, during WW1.  On 25 September Britain retaliated with chlorine during the Battle of Loos and the use of poison gas became widespread by all parties with the UK producing 25,400 tons of it.  By 1918 25% of artillery shells were gas filled.
The 1919 Geneva Convention protecting Prisoners of War: These specific rules were refined in the third 1949 Geneva Convention, following the lessons of World War II, as well as in Additional Protocol I of 1977. The status of POW only applies in international armed conflict.  Although 196 countries signed on there have been widespread violations, even by the USA in its treatment of Al Quaeda, and Taliban POWs in places like Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo.
As a POW of the German Luftwaffe for 800 days I can vouch for their correct and polite behaviour unlike the inhumanity of the German Gestapo and SS towards their POWs as well a Soviet and Japanese inhumanity of their captives.
The Luftwaffe did have difficulties in feeding us but did allow in large shipments of UK, Canadian, and USA Red Cross food parcels.  Other Allied countries helped in financing this.
Naval Treaties between  WWI and II: After WWI Britain’s Royal Navy was the most powerful, followed by the USN then distantly by Japan, France, and Italy.  Britain also had control of the German navy which the German crews soon scuttled.  In the USA Woodrow Wilson planned to increase the USN to 50 capital ships, highly unpopular with the electorate.  Japan started on 4 new warships and the UK planned for 12 new ones. 
In 1922, to forestall a new arms race, a conference was convened in Washington, followed by 1930 and 1936 conferences in London that resulted in a 10 year pause in the construction of battleships and battlecruisers and adherence to highly detailed restrictions ending in 1936 after Japan and Nazi Germany had withdrawn. 
The Growth of the Nuclear Bomb Club: The concept of a nuclear bomb is credited to Leo Szilard in London in 1933 when he patented his ideas.  In 1938 German chemists, Otto Hahn and Fritz Strassman, bombarded uranium with neutrons and discovered barium.  Nazi Germany then began a nuclear energy project.   Warned by a Szilard-Einstein letter, Franklin Roosevelt in the USA authorized the Uranium Committee with $6,000 to commence neutron experiments which led to MAUD (Military Application of Uranium Detonation) under Henry Tizard.  The 1939-1946 Manhattan Project at Oak Ridge, Tennessee, led by the USA with the support of the UK and Canada, produced the first nuclear weapon. In 1942 Joseph Stalin started a Soviet nuclear weapons project.  Japanese scientist concentrated on radar, believing nuclear weapons would take too many years to achieve.   
Realizing the suicidal certainty of nuclear weapons most world nation chose to abstain.  The 9 who now belong to the Nuclear Weapons Club are (showing year joined and maximum number of believed warheads):
1944 USA    6,450      1949 USSR      6,850 1952 UK 215 1956 Israel 400
1960 France    300      1964 China 280 1974 India 140 1984 Pakistan 150
2006 N.Korea   20
The US has stored 222 nuclear warheads among one base in each of Belgium, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, and Turkey.  Canada had 4 in 1963 but returned 3 in 1972 retaining only a low-yield anti-aircraft one.  South Africa dismantled its 6 in the early 1990s.  Belarus, Kazakstan, and Ukraine gave theirs to Russia. Nuclear  warheads peaked 1965 for USA at 31,000, Russia in 1985 at 40,000.  They are now limited to 5.000 each.
The USA remains the only country to actually use them. “Little Boy” killed 146,000 people in Hiroshima and “Fat Man” 80,000 in Nagasaki in Aug 1945.  Debate continues on the necessity especially the second.
A brief history of nuclear treaties between the major players: 
The 1968 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty continues to be an important step in the ongoing efforts to reduce or prevent the spread of nuclear weapons. Iit had one major drawback in that two nuclear powers, France and China, did not sign on, nor did a number of non-nuclear states including Argentina, Brazil, India, Israel, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and South Africa, because they were close to being capable of going nuclear.
The treaty was a major success for advocates of arms control because it set a precedent for international cooperation between nuclear and non-nuclear states to prevent proliferation.
The 1969 and 1972 Strategic Arms Limitations Talks (SALT 1 & 2), suggested in 1967 by Lyndon Johnson, were 2 rounds of conferences and  treaties involving the USA and USSR and aimed at curtailing the manufacture of strategic missiles capable of carrying nuclear weapons. and were intended to restrain the arms race in strategic (long-range or intercontinental) ballistic missiles armed with nuclear weapons.   SALT 1 negotiations commenced in Helsinki, Finland, in Nov 1969.  Of the resulting complex of agreements, the most important were the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty and The Interim Agreement and Protocol on Limitations of Strategic Offensive Weapons.  Both were signed in Moscow by President Richard M. Nixon for the USA and Leonid Brezhnev, general secretary of the Soviet Communist Party.
The 1972 ABM Treaty limited the ballistic missiles that could be used to destroy incoming ballistic missiles (ICBMs), allowing each side only one ABM deployment area  and 100 interceptor missiles which prevented either party from defending more than a small fraction of its territory, so kept them subject to the deterrent effect.  The agreement froze each side’s number of ICBMs and submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs) at current levels for 5 years, pending a more detailed SALT 2.
A problem was the asymmetry between the strategic forces, the USSR having concentrated on missiles with large warheads while the US had developed smaller missiles of greater accuracy.  New technologies under development, matters of definition, and methods of verification were also problems..  The treaty set limits on the number of strategic launchers (missiles that can be equipped with multiple, independently-targetable reentry vehicles [MIRVs]). Limits were put on the number of MIRVed ICBMs, MIRVed SLBMs, heavy  long-range bombers, and the total number of strategic launchers. The treaty set an overall limit of about 2,400 of all such weapons systems for each side.  But, George W. Bush withdrew the USA from the treaty in 2001 with Putin calling the withdrawal a mistake.  By leaving, the USA told Russia that it wanted to gain superiority by constructing an anti-ballistic missile shield that would negate Russia’s retaliatory capability, thus subjecting Russia to nuclear blackmail.   
Russia responded with new hypersonic ICBMs that cannot be intercepted and now holds nuclear superiority.
The SALT 2 negotiations then opened in 1972 and continued for 7 years.  It was signed by Brezhnev and President Jimmy Carter in Vienna on June 18, 1979, but the December Soviet invasion of Afghanistan prompted Carter to stop treaty talks, yet both continued to abide by it.  In Geneva in 1982 Ronald Reagan proposed further large reductions for SALT 3 which became START 1 Strategic Arms Reduction Talks.
In 1987 Mikhail Gorbachev and Reagan signed The Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty.  Gorbachev called it “The first step down the road to a nuclear-free world.”  Reagan hoped war itself would become obsolete.  In Feb 2019 Trump, followed by Putin, killed the treaty.  Trump claims Russia violated it first.  Putin claims the US wants an excuse to activate launch sites in Romania and Poland to nullify Russian safeguards against further NATO encroachments.  This will force Russia to divert funds from planned social improvements in Russia to target US sites.  Russia may also launch its first unmanned nuclear submarine.  
In Oct 2016, when the US already had more than enough nuclear warheads to obliterate most of the planet, Barack Obama insisted we dedicate $1 trillion to update over the next 30 years the US nuclear arsenal.
The Nuclear Weapons Ban Treaty (TPNW), passed 07 July 2017, is the first UN-proposed legally binding international agreement to  prohibit nuclear weapons, It requires 50 nations to ratify it to come into effect. To date 21 have advised they are in the process.  For those nations that are party to it, the treaty prohibits the development, testing, production, stockpiling, stationing, transfer, use and threat of use of nuclear weapons, as well as assistance and encouragement to the prohibited activities. For nuclear armed states joining the treaty, it provides for a time-bound framework for negotiations leading to the verified and irreversible elimination of its nuclear weapons program.
In the vote on the treaty text, 122 were in favour, one voted against it (Netherlands), and 1 abstained (Singapore). 69 nations did not vote, among them all of the nuclear weapon states and all NATO members except the Netherlands.  The NO voters argued that the huge current infrastructure of the nuclear arms industry had kept the peace for 70 years. 
In Feb 2019, within days of Trump and Vladimir withdrawing from INF, Adam Smith, new chair of the US House Armed Services Committee, and Senator Elizabeth Warren, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, introduced legislation that would make the world safer: "It is the policy of the United States to not use nuclear weapons first."
This is sane news the world has yearned to hear, but we must ensure it remains implemented and that the other nuclear-bomb nations follow suit so that it will.  Putin implies he agrees.  We just need Trust.  
Other flash points we must monitor and defeat include the continuing blood-letting quarrel between two nuclear rivals, India and Pakistan over Kashmir, and the plans of members of the Trump administration to sell nuclear abilities to Saudi Arabia.
By the way, in our continued criticism of Donald Trump we do need to pause long enough to thank him for opening dialogue with Kim in North Korea, hoping he remembers that, if you want to gain something you must give something.  We left North Korea in such  an overwhelming and unnecessary mess that it has an ingrained hatred of the USA.  Kim does show signs of wanting to alleviate some of the worst aspects of his totalitarian state, but we must not rob him of his ace as a starting ploy.  Slow and patient negotiations could eventually give us what we seek.   Sanctions impede, and do not help, progress.
And, Donald, should you not be thanking, not insulting, Iran that has refused to consider weapons of mass even when suffering greatly during invasions from Iraq.  Why do you dismiss Iran’s thwarting of UK-USA dominance of its oil and the fact that the USA offered Iran, under the unwelcomed Shah whom we imposed, nuclear weapons?  What real justification is there for imposing crippling sanction, withdrawing from the successful Iranian nuclear treaty, and blaming Iran for all the area’s troubles? 
  
Ye Olde Scribe,
georgesweanor@comcast.net

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Monday, 21 January 2019

MAGNA TERRA SMOKY

     This recently published 321-page book, a true story written by my daughter, Barbara Jagoda, provides a wide-ranging insight into the world of Arabian horse racing in Arizona, California, Colorado, Delaware, Kentucky, Montana, and Wyoming.
Barbara owned, trained, raced, and loved several other horses but this story is mainly an amazing tale of deep love, respect, and understanding between a horse and a human.  It recounts enough human and horse emotions, setbacks, injuries, and amazing successes to hold the reader’s interest.
It is a story of Barbara accepting the challenge of trying to tame for its owner an Arabian colt so high spirited that no one could ride it so it was destined for the meat market.  Barbara turned it into North America’s top Arabian horse, winning 50 races.  During the process she bought Smoky.
Not wanting to spoil a god read for you, I will try in this blog to simply give you some background, introduce the book and Smoky’s web site: www.magnaterrasmoky.com.  So, Just a few comments on the book:
  It is scary to me to read of her driving alone a 5-horse trailer through the endless congestion of Los Angeles traffic.  The book includes numerous descriptions of open lands, places and people such as owners, trainers, jockeys, veterinarians, farriers, grooms, officials, and fans, 
It reveals that horseracing remains “the sport of kings” Few can afford the time and costs of breeding, selecting, raising, training and maintaining promising horses.  Then there are all the fees and costs of needed racetrack accommodation and personnel.  Thoroughbred racing remains dominant whereas Arabian is a newcomer.  Thoroughbreds are always faster but Arabs have far more endurance so can run longer distances, but there is little financial incentive for long races.  Barbara relates that almost all people associated with horse racing are honest, likable humans.  She encountered only one incident of a jockey, so vital to the strategies involved in a race, accepting a bribe to affect the outcome.
There was the constant lure of handsome offers from the Arab world to buy successful Arabian horses and many owners succumbed.  Barbara instantly rejected two offers to buy Smoky, one from the monarch of Abu Dhabi, the richest emirate in the U.A.E.  When horses were shipped to the Arab world, names were changed so it was impossible to learn what happened to them when their winning days were over.
While Joan and I helped Barbara in her pursuit of horses we flinched at the way she so naturally devoted  long hours, 7 days a week, into caring for them.  Trying to get her home for vacations was impossible. 
  Barbara’s love of horses started early.   In the book she frequently invokes the aid of her heavenly guardian, Grandpa Will Saunders.  Barbara was born 4 months after I was shot down in March 1943 to reside for 800 days as a guest of the Luftwaffe.  Joan, who would continue as my wife for 72 years, had returned home with Barbara to Leamington Spa, Warwickshire.  Will loved horses.  He was a sergeant in the Royal Horse Artillery in India pre-WW1 with the job of stopping  Kyber Pass hill tribes from raiding India.  He won awards for bringing back safely his horses and horsemen from skirmishes.  He also had high respect for India and Indians.  When WW1 came, he was sent to Egypt from where he was torpedoed going into Gallipoli, had to swim ashore, then engaged for months in the battle against the Ottoman Turks.  He was then sent to France where he lost a lung from a gas attack.  Medically discharged with no pension, he built up a dairy herd to produce and deliver the city’s best milk.  He also got an allotment to garden on a hill just a block away that was frequented by horses.  As soon as Barbara was old enough to sit on a horse’s back Will started to teach her to be comfortable on a horse.  They developed a great bond.  Wearing rubber boots and standing in a section of a large, divided, sink she passed milk bottles to him to wash.   It was a painful day for both when I had to move the family to Canada as soon as shipping for war brides became available at government expense in January 1946.
With the numerous moves of an RCAF career we had little chance to enhance Barbara’s association with horses until we were transferred in 1956 to Centralia, near Exeter north of London, Ontario.   There was a nearby riding facility frequented by Barbara so I asked her to take on weekend trail rides groups of NATO cadets from several countries undergoing pilot training.  How surprised I was when so many cadets on a Monday morning could not sit down in class, being too sore, They were too proud to admit that a mere girl could so outlast them on horseback so had endured all of Barbara’s lengthy ride.
Part of my RCAF responsibilities was to ensure good relations with the local community.  I discovered an auto dealer whose horse, “Charlie” had grown too fat because he lacked the time to ride and exercise it.  He was quite skeptical, due to Barbara’s young age of 13, when I suggested he let her exercise it.  He was satisfied when Barbara was so quick in finding a farmhouse just a short distance away where she could board Charlie.  When we were transferred to St. Hubert, Quebec, in 1958 we handed back to a highly surprised and delighted owner a horse,  slimmed down and in perfect condition.
In St Hubert it was a very worried and time-consuming task of driving 1,100 miles around the Montreal area  trying to find a house to rent, Finally I did in St. Bruno where Barbara was quick to find Jette’s Stables where I could assist her in getting daughter #4, Patricia (Trish), used to horses by copying Will Saunders’ techniques and leading her safely on horseback round and round the riding ring while avoiding the numerous chickens.  
All of our 5 daughters, Barbara, Diane, Valerie, Trish, and Linda, graduated from university in some form of biology.  Only Barbara and Trish owned horses.  Trish and Linda made careers in wildlife.
During her school years Barbara was far more interested in horses than boys.  There were many suitors, some of whom would beg me to plead with her to pay more attention to them.  Diane was considerably more social, giving me problem in keeping track of all of her suitors.  
After two years each at McGill in Montreal and the University of Colorado in Boulder we persuaded Barbara to accept a job teaching science at a local Junior High School.  This, we argued, would give her summer time with horses and the income to buy one.   Her impatience saw her buy a horse with her first pay cheque.
In 1998, when Smoky was 12 years old and still happy and healthy, Barbara knew it was the best time to give him a happy retirement that he had so richly deserved
Smokey had competed in 120 races, winning 50 of them.  He had more awards; had more articles written about him; and had earned more money (over $307,000) than any other Arabian.  He also had more fans.      
On 24 October 1998 the Los Alamitos Race Course organized its first-ever retirement ceremony.  Smoky knew the party was for him.  As the announcer, and the large TV screen, broadcast his accomplishments and the crowd roared its cheers, Smoky lifted his head, leaped into the air, kicking his hind legs to applaud his audience. 
Barbara, Smoky, her other horses, and Bryan Braithwaite with his horses returned to the ranch they shared in Kingman, Arizona.  Bryan, with amazing talent in understanding horses and the one who had chosen the mating that produced Smoky was her best friend, always helpful, especially when she was recovering from two broken arms from a horse falling on her while Smoky was mending from the removal of an infected eye to continue racing as the one-eyed marvel.  Yet Bryan persisted as her chief rival with his excellent race horses.  He gave up his smoking and drinking problems quite willingly after Barbara’s urging.
With a lot of horses to buy, condition, and sell these two strong-willed individuals argued a lot, so, in 2004, Barbara decided it best to return home, finding, after much searching, an ideal 44-acre ranch with lots of grama grass that Smoky liked.  It is 27 miles (43 km) southeast of what has been the family home since I was transferred here by the RCAF in 1963, retired in 1966, devoted 4 years to university, then 13 years to writing and teaching senior high school courses on the modular system, retiring again in 1982.   
We had hoped that Barbara would retire herself from her racing years of long, hard-working 7-days-a-week  dedication.  Now, close to home, she has been a tremendous help to me while making great improvements on her ranch, planting numerous trees, establishing gardens, helping wildlife, and providing great care to two or three horses.  By careful weeding and mowing large areas, she, her home, barn, garage and her animals were able to survive unscathed when two large grass fires suddenly raced over concealing ridges to result in police cars racing up her long road to order her to evacuate immediately.  The fires, however, split on reaching her manicured area to circle it and race on to burn other homes.  She provided a retirement home that Smoky loved along with two companions.
Smoky died in 2016 one day shy of his 30th birthday, leaving the ranch to his two friends and Barbara.        Not content to rest on her laurels, Barbara organized her numerous press clippings; wrote this book, contacting career associates for their permissions to include them; worked with Trafford Publishing; then scheduled several book-signing events with more planned.
Barbara considers herself very lucky, but I believe that I am the lucky one to have her and her 4 outstanding sisters who really deserve blogs devoted to their own accomplishments.
I MUST HAVE DONE SOMETHING RIGHT!
Ye Olde Scribe
georgesweanor@comcast.net

Tuesday, 1 January 2019

THE GREAT DEPRESSION

For years I have been receiving, via e-mails, dire warnings of the imminent collapse of the US Dollar and thus the world economy. These are quite believable when I see so many examples of man’s inhumanity to man, inequalities, reluctance of people in power to sacrifice to save our environment from the calamities of climate change, and to allow greed to kill the empathy so necessary to alleviate the sufferings of the less fortunate of our only world.
As I am now on my 100th tour around the Sun, still seeking a meaning to Life, perhaps I should review my experiences with the Great Depression with a blog that may morph into one exploring viewpoints developed over my lifetime.
From 1928 to 1932 I happened to be living on a middle-class street that had pushed one block north of the Dufferin Street area of St. Clair Avenue. the northern end of Toronto, a city that had a population of about 600,000, yet vehicular traffic was light enough to permit us to play softball on our street, retreating when the odd car appeared.  Most traffic was by horse-drawn delivery carts that I often trailed to collect manure for our backyard gardens with their fruits, vegetables, and flowers.  Scenic hikes into rural areas were numerous for my brother, sister, me, and our friends.
For my family, schools and church were just a block south.  Streets of family-owned stores were within easy walking distance.  Excellent newspapers, with world coverage, were sold  on street corners from unmanned stands that had tin cups for the two cents each newspaper cost. Even during the Depression I know of no thefts from these open cups. 
We, mainly school boys who had taken great pride in Canada’s amazing contributions to victory in WWI, especially the air war where Canada had 4 of the world’s top 10 air aces, knew of the lingering depression in Germany and Austria which we blamed on the greed of US Republicans.  Only 4 nations, Britain, the USA, Canada, and Argentina, emerged from WWI as creditor nations.  Britain had prospered by forgiving debts owed her in 1815 after the Napoleonic Wars, then selling goods to a recovering Europe, so sought similar forgiveness in 1919.  Canada agreed, but US Republicans defeated Woodrow Wilson’s constant attempts to have the US join the League of Nations and bring Germany back into the family of nations.  Insisting on repayment of all debts, yet refusing to settle for offered coal as it would hurt the coal industry in Pennsylvania and Colorado, the US caused Britain and France to strip German factories of machines to send to the USA as payment, thus causing enormous inflation and deep depression - and paving the way for Hitler.
When the Austrian-German Depression reached us in 1929, I was 10, my brother 8, and my sister 6.  At first we welcomed the falling prices.  My Dad, a pioneer with the Bell Telephone Company, had kept his job but at a reduced salary so our Christmas still saw numerous presents.  After opening, and playing with, mine, I went for a walk, meeting  a friend whose Dad had lost his job.  To my question asking what he got for Christmas I got my first painful shock of the Depression when he replied; “Nothing.  Santa forgot me this year.”
“Oh, no, he did not!” I replied.  “He must have got confused because there is a present with your name on it that he left in my house.  Wait here and I will get it for you.” 
Quickly running home, I grabbed one of my best gifts, re-wrapped it, put his name on it, and ran back to him with it.  His joy at not being forgotten was a never-to-be-forgotten gift to me.
Soon, hardships and sufferings were much more than I, my family, my church, my city could cure.  By 1933 30% of the labour force was unemployed, a rate that would remain over 12% until 1939 and WWII.  Our prairie provinces were hardest hit as wheat demand lessened and drought arrived to turn farmlands into dust bowls.  Many were the care parcels I helped organizations fill to mail to drought areas in both Canada and the USA.
As I walked along the street to school I passed an increasing number of families whose savings were depleted and could no longer afford reduced rents, so they were evicted with their furniture sitting on the lawn with no place to go.  Our government provided some financial help but mainly Welfare was the domain of neighbours, friends, grandparents, and churches, not governments.
My mother seemed to be forever cooking meals for destitute families.  The only time I was to see my father cry was when he had to layoff several of his valued employees.  He drove all over Toronto, searching for other jobs for them.  Then, in 1932,  his own department was downsized and he was transferred 70 miles east to manage the Port Hope branch. 
In Toronto a favourite pastime was the Saturday 10-cent show at theatres that featured a full-length film, a travelogue, and a serial in which the hero and heroine were always left in a life-threatening situation only to escape at the start of next week’s episode.   To save money my brother, sister, and I  took turns attending with the responsibility of returning home to tell the other two complete details.  It was good training in accurate recall.
Prior to leaving Toronto, I had applied for a free art course being offered on weekends to promising students who applied with copies of their work to be assessed.  Also applying was the daughter of a family we knew and liked.  She was rejected, I was accepted, much to the surprise of all because she was a much more talented artist than I would ever be.  Realizing that a future for me in art was highly questionable and that women suffered unfair prejudice in the job training world, my mother sought out the art school executives to give my slot to her.
In Port Hope, we first rented, for $20 a month, a 3-storey brick house, but soon updated it, for $40 a month, to a modern bungalow with a full covered front veranda.  Here we had almost daily callers for food handouts and for handyman jobs at 20 cents an hour.  These men were mainly hopefuls riding, for free, empty box cars from the prairies.   In the treed area by one of our two railway stations they built a “Tramp Jungle” that my brother and I often visited.  One Christmas day one of these tramps knocked on our door.  I still have strong memories of my parents inviting him in to share a sumptuous meal complete with a cigar.  He was a very pleasant, intelligent, man whose business had gone bust so he was seeking better fortune in Ontario.  After a most pleasant stay we were pained in having to let him return to his cold jungle temporary home.
My Mother often walked several long blocks to shop along the store-lined main street.  After school I would get to fetch items that were too many for her to carry.  I preferred to patronize family stores and there was one a the far ends of 3 streets leading off in different directions.  We had to shop at a counter where we asked the owner for each item. He or she would bring the item from a shelf to the counter, record it on a sales pad, then repeat the process for each additional item - a slow process but full of good conversations.  
In Port Hope I completed 7 years of schooling, staying on for commercial courses after Grade 13 as jobs were scarce even in this farming and light-industry town of 5,000 people.
I took an early interest in world affairs, finding pen pals in Britain, France, Germany, Malaya, Gold Coast (Ghana), South Africa, Australia, and British Guyana.  This was also the start of a fabulous stamp collection that I now should sell.  It was alarmingly foreboding to see my German pen-pal, Hugo, change from a normal, likeable school boy into one filling with hatreds.  As I told him about my joys as a troop leader in the Boy Scouts, he told me of his training in the Hitler Jugend.  I tried to find him after the war but we had bombed his street to rubble and there was no trace of him.  My French, Malayan, and South African pen pals did survive.
    I grew up among veterans of the South African Boer War and WWI, many, including 2 uncles,  suffering from physical and mental war wounds.  Some of my school friends spent hours each day caring for their war-wounded fathers, prompting my father to write many letters to government officials for financial help for them to survive the depression.  It also led to anti-war essays I wrote for school.   My physics teacher was a major in the Militia so I joined his local artillery regiment for training in fear of the dictators emerging in Europe, having read Mein Kampf and Hugo's new views.   With the depression coupled with the need to rearm that increased Dad’s taxes, Canada could not afford to give us a real gun, using 25-pound shells, which were reserved for summer camps, so we practiced on mock-ups.
In 1938 I joined the Royal Bank of Canada at a salary of $400 a year which was increased to $500 when they transferred me 70 miles east to Napanee as I would have to pay $7 a week for room and board.  Bank salaries were increased $100 per year and you had to be earning $1400 to get bank permission to marry.
I was also transferred to the Napanee Militia artillery regiment where, in our spare time, we posted guard around the local armouries with WWI rifles and bayonets but no ammunition, a fact we kept concealed.  
Depression economics persisted until we were well into the massive buildup for WWII.  Three of Canada’s major banks had branches in town so competition was friendly but keen.  We had to be well dressed at all times and eager to participate in charitable functions in spite of our low incomes.  Often we helped, for free, business customers with accounting problems.  Each bank had a staff of 8 males and one female secretary.   When we asked a girl out we walked to her home, to the entertainment, and back to her home.  Occasionally an older member of the staff who owned a car would collect 5 cents from each of 5 of us to buy a 25-cent gallon of gas (no sales tax then) to drive us to scenic places or distant dance halls.  On weekends these car owners, for a small fee, would pack their cars with bankers whose homes were between Napanee and Toronto.
Yet, I remember these Depression years as happy years.  Healthy youths with good homes do not need much money to be happy.  
         And, it was an era of no gun violence.  Weekly I would stroll to the post office with a pocket bulging with thousands of dollars in torn, worn, and soiled dollars of various denominations, parcelled to be mailed to headquarters for replacement.   This was just a safe routine job given to unarmed bank juniors.

                                                                  Ye Olde Scribe

   





Sunday, 16 December 2018

CLIMATE-CHANGE WAR MOBILIZATION

I know my contributions are puny, lack clout, and, being now in my 100th year, I perhaps have less need than many others to worry about how the state of our planet a few decades from now will impact me personally, but it is morally imperative that I join all of you out there as we all must mobilize immediately to accept, fight, and win the war to save our world and its civilizations.  Experts warn us we have a mere 12 years to win the fight.
We guilty humans owe it to all living beings as well as those yet to be.   But, first, the controversy:
Many chemical compounds behave as greenhouse gases.  Short wave sunlight heats the surface, longer-wave (infrared) heat is re-radiated and absorbed by greenhouse gases allowing less heat to escape back to space.  Many greenhouse gases occur naturally in the atmosphere, such as water vapour, carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide, while others are synthetic. Those that are man-made include the chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) and Perfluorocarbons (PFCs), as well as sulfur hexafluoride (SF6). Concentrations of both natural and man-made gases have been rising since the industrial revolution. As the global population  and our reliance on fossil fuels (such as coal, oil and natural gas) has dramatically multiplied, so emissions of these gases have risen. While gases such as carbon dioxide occur naturally in the atmosphere, through our interference with the carbon cycle (by burning forest lands, or mining and burning fossil fuels), we artificially move carbon from solid storage to its gaseous state, thereby increasing atmospheric concentrations.
We were first warned of the dangers of human greenhouse gases in the atmosphere in 1824 by the French scientist, Joseph Fourier, followed in 1860 by the Irish physicist, John Tyndall.  Today, Wikipedia recognizes 185 world organizations combating climate change.  Currently, youth movements are growing worldwide  and include student groups in some 850 universities.  Concerned youth groups in over a dozen countries are suing their federal governments for insufficient action on climate.  Numerous magazines, including the UK’s “New Scientist” that explains, in the current and next 3 weekly issues, what you and I must do, urge doable actions.  Deniers are led by Saudi Arabia, the US government and the fossil fuel industry.  George C. Marshall and Ronald Reagan downplayed the problem and resisted research funding.  Today Trump has hurt the environment, supported the fossil fuel industry, reduced emission controls, and put current profits above a safe future.
A 2008 study by the University of Central Florida analysed the sources of environmentally-skeptical literature published in the USA. This demonstrated that 92% of the literature was partly or wholly affiliated with conservative think tanks.  Later research from 2015 identified 4,556 individuals with overlapping network ties to 164 organizations which are responsible for the most efforts to downplay the threat of climate change.
Deniers are also downplaying the Fourth National Climate Assessment of Nov 2018 which claims that the consequences of climate change will leave no part of the U.S. untouched and that the warming will increase wildfires, crumble infrastructure, worsen air quality, destroy crops, and lead to more frequent disease outbreaks. It also finds that global warming could shrink the U.S. economy by as much as 10% by the end of the century. In places like Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, saltwater will taint drinking water. The fire season may spread to the southeast.   In Alaska, communities will be forced to relocate.  The report puts a shocking price tag by 2100 on climate change: $141 billion from heat-related deaths, $118 billion from sea level rise and $32 billion from infrastructure damage. President Donald Trump has slashed environmental regulations at home and undermined global climate change treaties abroad. Just two days before the new report was released, he tweeted “Brutal and Extended Cold Blast shatters all records. Whatever happened to Global Warming?”
Since the 2010 Supreme Court “Citizens United” ruling, money has poured in to deniers who remind us that, in the last 650,000 years, there have been 7 cycles of ice ages, the last retreat beginning 11,700 years ago.  Quite true, but these were gradual.  The current surge is rapid.  Causes, other than orbital, must be to blame.
Livestock and Clean Meat:  A year ago I greatly reduced my meat intake because the cattle industry contributes 18% of human-generated greenhouse gases, promotes extensive deforestation to create more grazing land that now is 26% of the world’s ice-free surface and 79% of agricultural land, and the raising for slaughter 39 million cattle annually in the USA, livestock emits 16.5 tons of gases per human per year compared to a world average of 5.  It takes 38 pounds of feed and 1800 gallons of water to produce 1 pound of beef.  Investors like Richard Branson and Bill Gates are backing clean meat that is now emerging from the labs in North America, Israel, China, the Netherlands, and the UK where in 2013 a clean-meat hamburger was publicly cooked and eaten.  Clean meat starts with animal cells that are taught in the lab to create meat.  It is a lengthy and expensive process that will likely take another ten years to achieve and to better livestock prices, to engineer flavours, to convince meat eaters to switch, and to redirect the immense livestock industry.   
Permafrost: Global warming in the Arctic is double the rate of the rest of the world thus aggravating an old building problem of soil and gravel expanding and shrinking due to seasonal freezing and thawing.  Retention of insulating snow cover is desired which requires buildings built on stilts to avoid heated floors melting it.     Much of the solid land I trod 60 years ago has melted and slid into the Arctic ocean.
In Iqualuit, population 7,500 and now capital of Nunavut, thus attracting many new buildings, the government is working with the Canadian Space Agency to locate and map areas of bedrock close to the surface to locate new buildings and roads and to minimize the patchwork.
Russia, with a much greater Arctic population and 63% of its total land subject to permafrost, has extensive problems and expenses. Rail lines have been abandoned due to broken and warped rails and with sections hanging in air as the ground under them has melted way.   In Norilsk, an attractive modern city of 175,000, 60% of the buildings are damaged and 10% abandoned.     
Melting permafrost releases carbon, methane, and the biggest pool of mercury on the planet.
Thermosyphons, narrow tubes that pull heat passively from the ground, are gaining greater use as they are easy to install and less expensive than other remedies.
Health Concerns:  Researchers believe that global warming is already responsible for some 150,000 deaths each year, and fear that the number may well double by 2030 even if we start getting serious about emissions reductions today.   Health and climate scientists from the World Health Organization (WHO) and the University of Wisconsin at Madison published these findings in 2017 in the science journal “Nature”. Besides killing people, global warming also contributes to some five million human illnesses every year,  Some of the ways global warming negatively affects human health—especially in developing nations—include: speeding the spread of infectious diseases such as malaria and dengue fever; creating conditions that lead to potentially fatal malnutrition and diarrhea; and increasing the frequency and severity of heat waves, floods, and other weather-related disasters.
Backing up WHO’s findings is a study by Stanford civil and environmental engineer, Mark Jacobson, showing a direct link between rising levels of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere and increased human mortality. He found that the added air pollution caused by each degree Celsius increase in temperature caused by CO2 leads to about 1,000 additional deaths in the U.S. and many more cases of respiratory illness and asthma. Jacobson estimates as many as 20,000 air-pollution-related deaths may occur worldwide each year with each 1̊ C increase.
Skeptics, like atmospheric physicist Fred Singer, claim that cold weather snaps cause more human deaths than warm temperatures and heat waves. “The elderly die in inadequately heated homes. People get skull fractures from falls on the ice. Men die of heart attacks while shoveling snow, people get colds, flu, pneumonia and other respiratory diseases, infectious diseases proliferate, hospital admissions rise.” Singer, founder of the Science and Environmental Policy Project, concludes that since global warming would raise maximum summer temperatures modestly while raising winter minimum temperatures significantly, it “should help reduce human death rates.”
A team of Harvard researchers found otherwise. Their July 2007 study, published in the peer-reviewed “Occupational and Environment Medicine”, found that global warming is likely to cause more deaths in summer because of higher temperatures, but not fewer deaths in milder winters. In analysing weather data related to the deaths of 6.5 million people in 50 American cities between 1989 and 2000, the researchers found that during two-day cold snaps there was a 1.59 percent increase in deaths because of the extreme temperatures. But in similar periods of extremely hot weather, mortality rates increased 5.74%.  Rising temperatures also permit mosquitoes and ticks, carrying such threats as dengue and zika, to enlarge their range.
Terrain Changes:  In Canada, farming has expanded northward with a 2-week extension of the growing season.  Forests in Alberta are being cut down to create more farmland that has doubled in price and can now grow soybeans and corn as well as wheat.  Bangladesh, the Maldives, and the Andaman Islands have lost land affecting millions.  Rising warmer seas have also submerged five islands in the South Pacific and six others have lost substantial land.  Other losers include: St. Kitts and Nevis in the Caribbean that has shrunk 90 sq km since 1961, a quarter of its land mass.   Ecuador has lost 28,500 sq km, Vietnam 4.7% of its total area, Bulgaria 1.9%, Seychelles 1.1%. Cuba ,9%, Sweden .75%, Iraq .7%, Azerbaijan .7%, El Salvador .6%, and Japan .6%
Municipalities lack the funds to study, and prepare for, the predicted increase in extreme heat days from 4 to 30, or extreme precipitation days doubled to 9.  In Canada, Kingston, Ontario, is rated the best prepared.
  COP24 (Conference of the Parties), the 24th annual Conference of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, hosted for 2 weeks in December 2018 by Poland in Katowice, the heart of coal country, was attended by over 30,000 delegates from 196 countries and the Vatican.  Poland had hosted the 2008 conference in Poznan and the 2013 one in Warsaw.  The first conference was held in Berlin in 1995.  This year, in Katowice, numerous peaceful marches by groups of activists were excessively monitored by large contingents of heavily armed police plus groups of others who refused to reveal their identity to reporters.  
For the Katowice report, Saudi Arabia, the United States, Russia, and Kuwait blocked language “welcoming”  the landmark IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change formed in 1988 by the World Meteorological Organization) climate report of October 2018, which warned of the catastrophic effects of a global temperature increase of 1.5̊ Celsius (2.7̊ F) beyond which global crises could unfold at a rapid pace. They insisted “welcome,” be exchanged to “noted”.
However. The assembled nations approved a set of guidelines aimed at helping migrants driven from their homes by climate change.  Despite Trump’s pledge to withdraw, the U.S. remains in the Paris agreement (for now) and has sent a delegation of 44 people to Poland, largely from the State Department but also from the Environmental Protection Agency, the Energy Department, and even the White House. Many of these career government officials remain deeply engaged, but for what purpose?
It could have been very humorous to watch, as I did, if it was not so serious and shameful.  After giving a talk on the necessity to retain a thriving fossil fuel industry to a skeptical audience, the special assistant to the U.S. president for international energy and environment, Wells Griffith, was spotted standing alone by Amy Goodman who had a team from the PBS news show “Democracy Now!” there for the entire conference.  She introduced herself, microphone in hand, seeking an interview.  He excused himself and walked away, breaking into a sprint up and down stairs for a quarter of a mile, closely pursued by persistent Amy, followed by her camera crew, until he found refuge in the room reserved for the U.S. delegation, closing the door to Amy. 
For those bound to an industrial economy it is painful to change.  Their disappointing inputs to COP24 were the same as COP23 in Bonn, Germany.  At the Paris accord Obama promised $3 billion towards a $100 billion loan to the Green Climate Fund  but only $1 billion was paid before Trump denied further loans.  Countries have become “developed” on the backs of centuries of greenhouse gas emissions that are now making large parts of the world uninhabitable.  They owe suffering poor and low-emission countries financial help free of onerous paybacks.  COP24 did impose transparency on Paris accord promises but postponed needed actions until COP25.  A most memorable image is that of 15-year-old Swedish student, Greta Thunberg, who had organised school strikes in Sweden and held daily press conferences at COP24 to drive home her message: “Platitudes and warm words just aren't enough anymore. "We cannot solve a crisis without treating it as a crisis."
  Sunrise Movement:  Meanwhile in the USA, during COP24, over 1,000 climate activists flooded Capitol Hill, demanding congress members and incoming House Speaker, Nancy Pelosi, back a Green New Deal Committee proposed by Congressmember-elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York. Over 140  were arrested as members of the youth climate group, Sunrise Movement, who occupied and lobbied at congressional offices. Twenty-six congressmembers have backed the formation of the Green New Deal Select Committee thus far, including Jim McGovern, the incoming chair of the House Rules Committee, who voiced his support after an exchange with activists. Pelosi’s office has said it will meet with representatives from Sunrise Movement.
Extinction Rebellion:  The depth of world activism is broadcast by the rapid growth of the Extinction Rebellion.  Started in the U.K. only 6 months ago, it has spread to 35 countries in 5 continents and has 190 affiliates with 100,000 members.  Delegates were sent to COP24 and plans are being made for a week-long international rebellion in April.  The movement started with a declaration of rebellion in front of the parliament buildings then members blocked 5 bridges in central London. For 6 hours members shut down The Department for Business, Energy, and Industrial Strategy by using super glue to attach themselves to the doors.  
Life on this planet may be brief, flawed, and cruel, but it is also beautiful, enjoyable, and challenging.  It is worth preserving - and improving.  It needs our help.  Free rides are not for us.  Bloggers, too, are joining the challenge!
Ye Olde Scribe
georgesweanor@comcast.net
www.yeoldescribe.com

Wednesday, 21 November 2018

WATER

Subject to temperature, water can be solid, liquid, or gas. Essential to our existence and growth, we have spent long, arduous, and costly efforts in finding, using, changing, controlling, transporting, and wasting it.  
Human agriculture is dated back 23,000 years to the Sea of Galilee but it was the need to organize different human skills, starting 8,000 years ago,  to irrigate along the Euphrates, Hwang Ho, Nile, and Tigris rivers that gave birth to civilizations.  Waterways gave us highways to meet, befriend. and trade with other groups.  They also gave us battlegrounds and areas to pollute.
Precipitation, rain, snow, and hail, depending on air currents and the distribution of land masses, gave us varied vegetation such as the once lush, but fragile, Sahara that covers ⅓ of Africa. Over a period of 300 years around 5,500 years ago it turned to desert with a debate as to what percentage of the blame should go to the earth’s orbital changes, to the  introduction of herds of domestic grazing animals, and to deforestation.
Earth’s tilt, now 23.5̊, varies from 22 to 25̊ over a 41,000 year cycle. Seasonal precession has a 26,000-year cycle.  The human-caused melting of the Greenland ice cap can change tilt 26 cms/year.
We have made impressive gains in bringing water, fit for drinking, cooking, and washing, to 89% of the world but today there are more people with cell phones than toilets.  Priorities?  Open defecation is still practiced by 892 million people.  Water has many categories to understand:
Aquifers: Many a gift of the melting of the Pleistocene ice age that began about 2.6 million years ago and lasted until about 11,700 years ago,  21 of the 37 largest current aquifers are drying due to increasing human populations draining more water.  The majority of depleted aquifers are past the point of current natural replenishment.  The three most stressed are in the Middle East, the border region between India and Pakistan, and the Murzuk-Djado Basin of North Africa.
Availability: About 800 million people lack access to water suitable for drinking, cooking, and hygiene.
Conflicts: 1. The Nile Basin Initiative (NBI), founded by 9 out of 10 riparian countries in 1999, has achieved some successes  Yet, since 2007, diverging interests between upstream and downstream countries have brought negotiations to a standstill, pitting Egypt and Sudan) against upstream riparians, especially Ethiopia. In 2015, trilateral negotiations over a major dam under construction in Ethiopia may be a restart. 
2. Yemen’s water availability is declining dramatically. Corruption, nepotism, and war have inflicted immense nation-destroying sufferings that demand immediate cessation.
3. The Euphrates-Tigris Basin is shared among Turkey, Syria, Iraq, and Iran in parts of the Tigris basin. Since the 1960s, unilateral irrigation plans changing the flows of the rivers, plus political tensions have strained relations.  Formal agreements are still pending. 
4. Afghanistan’s efforts to harness the waters of the Helmand and Hari rivers have alarmed Iran as a threat to its water security in its eastern and northeastern provinces.  
5. In the Mekong basin, especially in China and Laos, enormous expansion of dam-building for hydro power  increases tensions as countries downstream fear the negative impacts, from greater flooding to seasonal lack of water. The Mekong River Commission’s (MRC) effectiveness has so far been limited due to its lack of enforcement powers and China’s reluctance to join as a full member.
6. The long-standing conflict over water from the Cauvery River between the Indian states Karnataka and Tamil Nadu has recently resurfaced because of drier climate conditions. The implications are not only legal battles, but also violent protests following decisions to alter water distribution between the two states.
7. Somalia droughts cause herders to sell more of their livestock, resulting in plummeting prices and deteriorating rural incomes. Widespread poverty and lack of economic alternatives provide incentives for illicit activities and for joining armed groups such as Al Shabaab, which offer cash and other benefits to their fighters. Especially the record drought of 2011 is believed to have swelled the ranks of the militant Islamist group.
8. The Turkish-Armenian case is a prominent example of how two co-riparians can put their tensions aside, work together in their mutual interest, and share trans boundary waters equitably.
9.  Egypt’s water use exceeds its renewable resources, mainly Nile fresh water inflows. Water stress has increased with rapid population growth, rising temperatures, and heavier water consumption. This strains the economy, increases internal strife, and harms relations with other states along the Nile. 
10. Cochabamba, Bolivia:   In 2000, privatization of the drinking water prompted violent protests, escalating into the ‘Water War of Cochabamba’ which killed at least nine people. Eventually, the city’s water was re-nationalized and access to water received new legal backing. However, dwindling water supplies induced by global climate change, over-consumption, and technological deficiencies continue to heavily strain the city of Cochabamba. 
11. Syria: Water stress is a contributing factor to the brutal slaughter.
Cost Sharing:   Heavy water-using plants are attracted by low rates.  For instance, in 2015, 3 Quebec aluminum plants paid $2,500 for 1 billion litres, while homes in Toronto & Ottawa paid millions.  Quebec companies paid $3.2m for >1 trillion litres of fresh water, 85% lower than Ontario.  European rates are 30 to 140 times higher.
Deaths and Disease: Almost a thousand children die daily from preventable water and sanitation-related diarrheal diseases. Stunted growth affects 22% of children under 5, particularly in Bangladesh, Guatemala, Niger, and Yemen, reported by the World Bank in 2017.  It was 40% in 2000.
Organizations Water Oriented: Laura Newcomer, in the 22 March 2013 issue of the health website “Greatest” describes 27 organizations, mostly non-profit, bringing clean water to deprived areas.  
Piped Water: Some countries, struggling with population growth, fail to maintain infrastructure. Nigeria provided piped water to fewer than 10 % of city dwellers in 2015, down from 29 % 25 years earlier. In Haiti, only 7 % of households have piped water, compared to 15 % previously. In some countries, tap water is even more unsafe than pond water.  About 80 % of Bangladesh's piped supplies are contaminated by E.coli bacteria, 
Water Footprint:  Coined by Anjen Ysbert Hoekestra and co-workers in the Netherlands’ Water Footprint Network, is the amount of water used to grow or make something, be it an automobile, a book, a cell phone, a tree, or a glass of wine.  It takes 53 gallons of water to make one serving of latte coffee. And an average of 4,500 gallons to power one 60-watt bulb for a year for 12 hours a day. 
     Taking a random look at wine and South Africa, we see a water-stressed county with 7 million people lacking adequate clean water and needing 126 billion more litres a year which is 1/3 the usage of the profitable wine industry centred on Cape Town.  Most of the water used to make a typical glass of wine is lost to evaporation, with a small amount stored in the grapes, and the rest unsuitable for reuse. While the evaporated water will eventually become rain, it is unlikely to fall over the same vineyards, so it is effectively lost to the region, often to the salt ocean.  A typical 25-ounce (750 ml) bottle of wine has a water footprint of nearly 200 gallons (750 litres). The region’s 2016 wine exports involved the net consumption of 113.2 billion gallons (428.5 billion litres) of water lost to the  region.
South Africa’s wine country has been enduring a severe drought yet it exported 428.5 million litres of wine in 2016 to Europe and North America.,  Hoekestra’s team worked out that it takes between 26 to 53 gallons (100 to 200 litres) of water to grow the grapes and process them into one five-ounce (125 ml) glass of wine.   On top of that, the Western Cape exported about 231,000 tonnes of citrus fruits, mostly oranges, in 2017. The water footprint of one orange averages 80 litres so those exports used up 115 billion litres of the province’s water.
South Africa also exports oil products, minerals, and metals, all of which require enormous amounts of water. For example, it exported 211 tonnes of platinum in 2012. That’s like an export of 45 billion gallons (170 billion litres) of water—the estimated amount of water needed to mine and process the metal.
South Africa is now building desalination plants . These are expensive and energy intensive. It would be more cost effective to shift to less-water intensive crops and to reuse treated wastewater. Currently, Cape Town reuses just five percent of its treated wastewater, compared to Israel’s 85 percent. Israel has also eliminated water-thirsty crops like cotton and made major improvements in water efficiency to free up more water for population growth, creating other problems.
To produce one bottle of soda it takes 175 litres, broken down into: growing natural sweetener 30, growing coffee beans for caffeine 53, processing flavoring 80, plastic bottle 5.3, water added .5, manufacturing and packaging 7.
Other large countries with growing populations, such as China and India, also export staggering volumes of virtual water, often while facing considerable water scarcity problems at home. This simply cannot continue.
Polluted Water: Of the waste water from human activity dumped into waterways, 80% has no pollution removal. 
Too Much Water:   Following California’s worst drought and wildfire season in history, heavy rainfall in the 2017-18 winter produced mud slides that killed more than 20 people and destroyed or damaged hundreds of homes, only to be dwarfed by the fire disasters of 2018.  Hurricane Harvey, which hit Texas and Louisiana in August 2017, causing $125 billion in damage, dumped more water out of the sky than any storm in U.S. history. Some 890,000 families sought federal disaster aid, most often from flooding in the Houston area. At the start of March, five states were under a state of emergency (Louisiana, Kentucky, Indiana, Missouri, and Michigan) due to heavy rainfalls and flooding.
Rapid population growth, building on floodplains or low-lying coastal regions, and climate change are the biggest reasons why flooding is affecting more people and causing ever greater damage.
Climate change due to burning fossil fuels has added 46 % more heat-trapping carbon dioxide to the atmosphere. But even if fossil-fuel use ended today, that additional heat in the atmosphere will put 10 times more Americans at risk of being flooded out by rivers over the next 20 years.
“More than half of the United States must at least double their protection level within the next two decades  to avoid a dramatic increase in river flood risks,” says lead-author Sven Willner from Germany’s Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK).   Rainfall changes will increase river flood risks across the globe,  In South America, the number of people affected by river flooding will likely increase from 6 to 12 million. In Africa, the number will rise from 25 to 34 million, and in Asia from 70 to 156 million.
But these findings are based on the current level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Humanity added 45 billion tons in 2017, and will likely add that much or more in 2018. Without limiting human-caused warming to well below 3.6 degrees F (2 degrees Celsius), the river flood risk in many regions will be beyond what we can adapt to,  Climate change is also causing sea levels to rise, resulting in substantial coastal flooding during high tides and storms. More than 13 million Americans living on the coasts will be forced to move by 2100 because of rising ocean levels, according to a 2017 study by Mathew Hauer, a demographer at the University of Georgia. About 2.5 million will flee the region that includes Miami, Fort Lauderdale, and West Palm Beach. Greater New Orleans loses up to 500,000 people; the New York City area loses 50,000, the study estimated. These coastal migrants will likely go to cities on high ground with mild climates, such as Atlanta, Austin, Madison, and Memphis. “If people are forced to move because their houses become inundated, the migration could affect many landlocked communities as well,” 
World Water Day:   In 1993 the United Nations designated March 22 as the annual World Water Day to bring awareness of the importance of fresh water and to promote its sustainability and equitable distribution and management. 
SEEKING SOLUTIONS:
Awareness: In spite of enormous sums spent, and wasted, on electioneering in the USA, only half of eligible voters actually vote with the highest ever being 50.4% back in 1914, compared to up to 95% in other democracies.  This lack of participation, only 48% in November 2018, warns that the US democracy is in dire danger.  US elections are too awkward, far too costly, and manipulative, permitting them to be bought by minority vested interests. Endless, repetitive, and costly TV sound bites are more annoying than informative.  Electioneering needs to be limited to tax-supported debates with all issues, especially environmental, included.  Elections need to be on a holiday with easily-accessible voting booths. Truthout, a non-profit progressive news outlet founded in 2000 in California reports, 21 Sep 2018, that  that the Corporate media gives almost no air time to climate disruption and that, according to Greenpeace, the Koch brothers have given since 1997 at least $100,343,292 to groups denying climate change. 
Costs:   As the need for clean water and sanitation is greater in rural areas, the World Bank claims that we need to quadruple spending to $150 billion annually.  To do this we need close co-operation between governments and the private sector, including the Gates Foundation with its great work on sanitation.
This demands a return to globalization by the United States that leads the world in so many beneficial and harmful avenues.  The beneficial ones get much deserved praise.  The harmful ones scream for more immediate attention.  They include debt, incarcerations, guns, greed, equality, climate-change deniers, and endless wars.
Saving Water:   Grow and produce things in the right place. Water-intensive crops like cattle, almonds, rice, cotton, wheat, corn, soybeans, alfafa, and cotton should be concentrated in water-rich regions.  This demands  a mutually-agreed system of trade, policed by a dynamic and fair World Trade Organization.
In a global economy, drought can be a big issue even in water-rich countries, because of a growing dependence on imports. Around 38 percent of the European Union’s water consumption is reliant on water availability in other countries, to grow and manufacture the products that it imports. 
The World Bank concludes its report by asserting the high cost of clean water risks jeopardizing the ability of countries to meet the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal of providing access to safe and affordable sanitation for all by 2030,    It is a problem that demands current and continuing attention.
Ye Olde Scribe    georgesweanor@comcast.net