As governments prepare for the next round of climate change talks, pioneers are working on very different solutions in many places around the world. While many environmental movements still hope for the negotiations in Paris to produce new decisions, local initiatives are already implementing concrete measures with great success. They have recognized the meaning of a factor usually underestimated in climate change debates—water. A growing circle of experts confirms their pioneering work. Water is the puzzle piece that could enable us to find a quick and efficient solution for the climate catastrophe on a global scale.
November 2015: After five years of extreme drought, the long-desired rain is finally falling in California. What could actually be a blessing quickly develops into the next catastrophe. Masses of rain pour down onto desiccated land. In Lancaster, for example, two gallons of rain per square foot fell in only half an hour. The rain hits sealed, developed, overgrazed, parched and hardened ground. Where once humus-rich forest floors absorbed and stored these waters, it now rushes down the slopes carrying with it the last remaining fertile soil. Channelized riverbeds get filled with brown deluges, flooding streets and basements, causing millions of dollars in damages. The land will be left even more bleak and barren.
What happens in California is the symptom of a global phenomenon. Forests are cut; water is driven out as quickly as possible through drainages; soil is being sealed; cities create “hot spots” whose thermal lift no longer allows the clouds to discharge its rain.
This is what Michal Kravcik calls the “old water paradigm.” The Slovakian water engineer has been gathering data and practical experience for decades. (About the new water paradigm read here) His conclusion, which he presents at the climate summit, is that rainwater run-off does not only damage soil. It is also responsible for the rise of sea levels and global warming. His suggestion is both simple and fascinating: We could prevent climate change if every person on Earth stored 25,000 gallons of rainwater in the ground. This is the core of the Global Action Plan that he presents.
What is the basis of this suggestion?
In Slovakia he first observed increased rainwater run-off due to impervious surfaces and drainages created for urban development and industrial agriculture. Together with his team, he gathered and analyzed the exact figures of this phenomenon, projected these numbers on a global scale and compared them with what is being measured worldwide in terms of climate change. The results are astonishing; the annual loss of 50,000 square miles of forest and the additional soil sealing of 20,000 square miles per year have reduced the water that is able to circulate in small rainwater cycles. He estimates that, throughout the last century, around 8900 cubic miles of water for these climatically crucial cycles was lost. This equals three times the water volume of Lake Superior. If you calculate the effect this has on the oceans, you end up with a sea level rise of around four inches.
Kravcik also made another calculation. Rainwater and humidity are vital parts in the cooling system of the atmosphere. During evaporation, a gallon of water spends 2.5-kilowatt hours of solar energy. The loss of significant amounts of water and the desiccation of soil and of air therefore produce potential heat, which amounts to, as Kravcik calculated, the gigantic figure of 25 million-terawatt hours. This is 1600 times more heat produced annually than all of the planets’ powerhouses combined. This calculation provides us with a well-founded alternative explanation for global warming.
The Spanish meteorologist Prof. Millan Millan comes to similar conclusions. After thirty years of research he clearly sees that deforestation, intensive agriculture and impermeable surfaces near the coasts transform rain patterns on a large scale, impacting global warming and sea level rise.