Salt Water in Your Tap? Hidden Climate Change
Hurricanes, fires, and floods are the common signs of climate change’s destructive force. But southern Louisiana, that Achilles Heel of the Deep South, is once again facing a climate-related threat and this one is invisible.
Imagine turning on your tap and tasting salt. Now imagine an entire region, the Mississippi delta, threaded everywhere with water, gradually converting from fresh drinkable water to undrinkable salt water.
The area, so known for storms and floods, is now in a major drought, limiting the Mississippi river’s ability to push ocean salt water back away from the land. The freshwater is retreating without the flow needed to hold back the ocean.
And that ocean water now threatens the major city of New Orleans and there’s no quick fix, other than praying for rain. This is another nail in the coffin for a place where large numbers of humans can no longer live. As usual, the locals want to be rescued from yet another calamity.
And this is a new one, which once again brings up that ‘rebuild or leave?’ question. The rebuilding in this case would be constructing an entire water system based on desalination plants and huge pumping systems, costly and inefficient projects that are likely only temporary fixes.
We can’t drink salt water. It is literally poison. And desalination is a technology that is costly and not currently scalable to large metropolitan areas.
We have traditionally taken the route of ‘conquering’ nature by using engineering and massive investments to keep unsustainable areas liveable. This mindset is simply not a long term solution to anything. Yet communities in high climate impact areas cling to the idea of rebuilding and holding off the inevitable.
There’s a certain machismo aspect to this, the idea that we can fight against weather patterns that are bigger than the entire continent using technology. Temporary technology that is mostly impractical, costly, and outdated.
There’s going to be a time when reclaiming certain parts of the planet may become viable, but right now that is science fiction coming up against science reality and the reality of economics.