Are Houston's Oil Refineries a Victim of Their Own Device?

A recent post by Ron Powell discussing the personal nature of the affect of Hurricane Harvey  on members of his own family, as well as a comment by moki ikom about depletion of aquifers on ground level set me off on an search for projected Texas coastlines secondary to climate change.

That turned out to be harder than I had anticipated.

What I noticed was that there are articles about various changes in climate with strategies to address them, but no serious long term projections of changes in coastlines, or a synthesis of all of the various aspects of rising temperature, increase in storms, effects of flooding on groundwater or changes in cities in North America. 

There are projections of the effect of rising temperatures on Texas over the next 100 years.

Key Message: Risks to Coastal Aquifers and Wetlands

Sea level rise, storms and storm surges, and changes in surface and groundwater use patterns are expected to compromise the sustainability of coastal freshwater aquifers and wetlands. “

Seemingly paradoxically there are predicted to be both increases in precipitation in some areas and increase in drought in others.  Precipitation will be unable to keep pace with aquifer withdrawal generally.

Economic damage is expected to be severe.  Ironically, the worst areas of loss will be in the regions of the country where large numbers of people don’t believe in global warming.  As Neil DeGrasse Tyson said about science, it's true whether you believe in it or not.

Climate change exhibits non-linear dynamics due to the complexity of features that affect it.  Complexity theory says that because of the non-linear affects of various factors on climate, extreme changes may happen fairly rapidly and unexpectedly.  In past geological periods there have been rapidly occurring ice ages due to the rapid change of the flow of the gulfstream and Japanese warm currents.  The best projections of climate change are fairly linear and don’t take into account sudden changes.

Hurricane Harvey is reported to be over and above anything experienced in U.S. History.  Climate change predicts that this will not be the last unforeseen and never observed natural disaster.

It seems ironic that perhaps the greatest cause of man made climate change sits a victim of its own device.

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Comment by Rodney Roe on August 31, 2017 at 7:15pm

We have had a lot of rain and tornado watches and warnings throughout the day today at our nieces's house in West Memphis.  The rain is supposed to stop tomorrow.

Hope you are safe and dry wherever you are.

Comment by Rosigami on August 31, 2017 at 7:28pm

This was so interesting. Thank you, Rodney. 

Comment by koshersalaami on August 31, 2017 at 8:06pm

Yes, thank you

Comment by moki ikom on August 31, 2017 at 8:16pm

We have surrendered to our better senses, not to our best senses, when refinery owners, the fossil fuel industry, can convince us that they, like us, are victims of climate change when such an assertion is wholly contrary to said industrialists', financiers', lobbyists' assertions that we like they will not be victims of climate change due to green gases originating in the oxidation and worse, the partial oxidation, of fossil fuels and natural gas.

Comment by Rodney Roe on September 1, 2017 at 3:13am

Terry, the market seeks the cheapest solution for short term success.

Comment by greenheron on September 2, 2017 at 6:38am

Two winters ago, we had a record breaking snowfall here, more than 102 inches in a month and a half, more than Anchorage Alaska. We made the news for it only slightly , probably because only a couple people died shoveling snow, one falling into a snow bank and not being found. The T shut down for two weeks, city of Boston closed to traffic for a couple days, snowbanks beside the road grew so high they reached second story windows. It was as freakish as Harvey if not as deadly, and made us all miserable and depressed for months. Last winter, we had PTSD every time it snowed. 

There are so many things I am angry and heartsick about re;Trump administration, but my three pet angers: harm to public education, DACA repeal (about ten percent of our students are DACA), and pulling out of the Paris accord. Who the hell does Trump think he is??!!  Even though all things point to this hurricane being exaggerated by climate warming, all the money, not to mention human suffering, it cost, it will be ignored for bizness bizness bizness.

Sounds horrible to say, but I am glad to be 63 because I will be dead when these chickens truly come home to roost in the most tragic sense.  

Comment by Foolish Monkey on September 2, 2017 at 11:04am

I wonder if these storms are making an impression.  I can't imagine they're not, but people can be dense.  Of course, the truth is these people trust their representatives to make decisions on their behalf.  Maybe it's time for the press to start digging out the dirt on who's receiving what from what developer who did this that or the other and profited to the tune of X number of gazillions.  THAT"S where the money should be coming from but of course, it won't.  Its not just the west and southern states.  We've over developed all the coastlines from canada to mexico.  Coastal properties are very desireable.  

I just finished reading Savages by Don Winslow.  I will add the book is a hell of a lot more powerful than the film.  theres a chapter in it that's worth reproducing here:

We had for a brief time a civilization that clung to a thin strip of land between the ocean and the desert.

Water was our problem, too much of it on one side, too little on the other, but it didn't stop us.  We built houses, highways, hotels, shopping malls, condo complexes, parking lots, parking structures, schools, and stadiums.

We proclaimed the freedom of the individual, bought and drove millions of cars to prove it, built more roads for the cars to drive on so we could go the everywhere that was nowhere. 

We watered our lawns, we washed our cars, we gulped plastic bottles of water to stay hydrated in our dehydrated land, we put up water parks.

We built temples to our fantasies - film studios, amusement parks, crystal cathedrals, megachurches - and flocked to them.

We went to the beach, rode the waves, and poured our waste into the water we said we loved.

We reinvented ourselves every day, remade our culture, locked ourselves in gated communities, we ate healthy food, we gave up smoking, we lifted our faces while avoiding the sun, we had our skin peeled, our lines removed, our fat sucked away like our unwanted babies, we defied aging and death.

We made gods of wealth and health. 

A religion of narcissism.

In the end, we worshipped only ourselves.

In the end, it wasn't enough. 

Comment by Rodney Roe on September 2, 2017 at 11:41am

F.M.that's it in a nutshell, isn't it?  Thanks for posting.  Say the movie wasn't that good?  I'm going to look for it anyway.

Comment by Foolish Monkey on September 2, 2017 at 12:14pm

Oh I loved the movie but well...pulpish....directed by Oliver Stone.  The book though, is something else.  

Comment by Foolish Monkey on September 2, 2017 at 12:53pm

it's not my summary - it was a quote from the book SAVAGES.  it's a marvelous book (and it was a great film!) (but kinda typical over the top, drug cartel flick a la O Stone). 

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