History’s Greatest Sea is Dying

December 25, 2019usissuescomEnergy Policy, Foreign PolicyGas, Greece, Israel, Levant, Mediteranean, Oil, Sicily, War

By David Middleton – Re-Blogged From WUWT

GLOBAL
History’s Greatest Sea Is Dying
The failure of countries bordering the eastern Mediterranean helps explain the difficulty of carrying out successful climate-change negotiations.

PETER SCHWARTZSTEIN
DECEMBER 14, 2019

Most of the world’s seas are in some kind of environmental trouble, but few have declined as quickly or from such precipitous heights as the Mediterranean’s eastern edge. Although it midwifed some of history’s greatest civilizations, the eastern Med has become a grubby embodiment of the current littoral states’ failures. Where the ancients sailed, many of their successors now junk industrial waste. The accomplishments of the Greeks, Phoenicians, Romans, and pharaonic Egyptians, among others, have only accentuated their descendants’ political and economic rot.

An awful lot is riding on this moment. The Med is warming at one of the fastest paces in the world (up to 0.12 degrees Celsius, or 0.216 Fahrenheit a year, on the surface), and it is choked with plastic. Though the Mediterranean constitutes less than 1 percent of the world’s oceans, it holds 7 percent of its microplastics. The coastal states continue to sully the sea with tons of everything from shipping oil to untreated sewage, meaning there’s scarcely an untarnished ecosystem left. (It’s a similar story on land: Naval bases sit alongside garbage-strewn beaches and coastal dump sites—relatively high military budgets juxtaposed with penniless environment ministries.) For the millions of people who depend on the Med for employment, and the many millions more who treasure it as a “blue lung” in a region of sometimes suffocating heat and claustrophobic cities, the sea’s struggles threaten to become their own.

But there might be an even more important subtext to the eastern Med’s decline. For millennia, those who lived near it thrived off one another, always trading and frequently cooperating from coast to coast, creating some of the greatest civilizations in world history. Yet that was long ago, and the region’s intellectual slump mirrors its environmental decay. Stifled by unilateralism, greed, and chronic short-termism, antiquity’s greatest sea resembles the contemporary world in miniature—and with this year’s United Nations climate talks having concluded in Madrid with little tangible progress, the lessons the eastern Med offers are not particularly hopeful.

[…]

Some of the Med’s troubles are due to its unusual topography. Because it has few external outlets, it takes roughly 100 years for a drop of water to exit the sea, so there’s less dilution of toxins, and because some of the strongest currents flow west to east, the eastern Med bears the brunt of the entire littoral’s poor practices. But that’s only part of the story.

[…]

Years of economic and political dysfunction have also left a fearsome mark. Mired in varying degrees of financial crisis, parts of North Africa, Southern Europe, and the Levant have made marine protection even less of a priority.

[…]

Those might actually be the more resolvable problems. The eastern Med’s deterioration, particularly of late, is also the result of a world that appears more unable than ever to forsake short-term economic gains, even as its environmental woes worsen by the day. Over the past decade, huge hydrocarbon discoveries have sparked a dash for undersea riches, as the likes of Egypt, Israel, Cyprus, and Greece have moved to tap their finds. In states’ zeal to extract, conservationists fear spills—with good reason. When a tanker sank near Athens two years ago, ill-equipped authorities struggled to contain it despite perfect conditions and its proximity to the capital, according to WWF’s Ibrahim. Were anything to happen near one of the isolated major fields, the impact could be catastrophic.

[…]

Commercial interests might be the Med’s best bet, though not ones of the oil and gas variety. More than 200 million tourists cluster along the sea’s shores every year, and there’s a limit to the amount of trash on the beaches, rashes from poor-quality water, or jellyfish swarms that visitors will tolerate. If, or most likely when, deteriorating conditions start to devastate tourist businesses’ bottom line, the consequences will be severe. The Med economies are too fragile to sustain knockout blows to one of their primary industries. Governments, residents maintain, will have no choice but to act, however they might feel about one another.

[…]

PETER SCHWARTZSTEIN is an Athens-based environment journalist, who covers water, food security, and climate-conflict issues across the Middle East and Africa.

The Atlantic

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There’s a lot of nonsense to unpack here, just in the passages I quoted.

Athens-based environment journalist:

For millennia, those who lived near it thrived off one another, always trading and frequently cooperating from coast to coast, creating some of the greatest civilizations in world history. Yet that was long ago, and the region’s intellectual slump mirrors its environmental decay.

Reality:

The Mediterranean, particularly the eastern Mediterranean has been a region of almost constant conflict over territory, resources, culture and religion for pretty well all of recorded history, starting with World War Zero.

World War Zero brought down mystery civilisation of ‘sea people’

HUMANS 12 May 2016
By Colin Barras

The Trojan War was a grander event than even Homer would have us believe. The famous conflict may have been one of the final acts in what one archaeologist has controversially dubbed “World War Zero” – an event he claims brought the eastern Mediterranean Bronze Age world crashing down 3200 years ago.

And the catalyst for the war? A mysterious and arguably powerful civilisation almost entirely overlooked by archaeologists: the Luwians.

By the second millennium BC, civilisation had taken hold throughout the eastern Mediterranean. The Egyptian New Kingdom coexisted with theHittites of central Anatolia and the Mycenaeans of mainland Greece, among others.

In little more than a single generation, they had all collapsed. Was the culprit climate change? Some sort of earthquake storm? Social unrest? Archaeologists can’t seem to agree.

Eberhard Zangger, head of international non-profit, Luwian Studies, based in Zurich, Switzerland, says that’s because one crucial piece of the puzzle is missing. Another powerful civilisation in western Anatolia played a crucial role in the downfall

Read more: https://www.newscientist.com/article/2087924-world-war-zero-brought-down-mystery-civilisation-of-sea-people/#ixzz68YaYRmPL

New Scientist

Figure 1. World War Zero (New Scientist)

While World War Zero and the Trojan War itself are examples of speculative history, the Mediterranean has no lack of reasonably documented historical conflicts… Conflicts in which the losers were usually subjugated, if not wiped out of existence.

I built this table from a cursory review of major wars of antiquity in the Mediterranean theater. Apart from the Punic Wars, these mostly took place in the eastern Mediterranean. It is not intended to be comprehensive. A negative sign indicates BC.

Conflict
FromToPeaceWarMajor Participants
-1180-725World War ZeroLuwian (Sea People)Rest of the known world
-750-725Trojan WarMycenaean GreeceTroy
-499-488226Ionian Revolt/First Persian WarGreek City-States CoalitionPersain Empire
-431-40457Peleponesian WarAthenian empirePeleponesian league (Sparta)
-430-425-26Archidamian WarAthensSparta
-416-4169Sicilian warSyracuseSicily
-414-4042Ionian (Decelean) WarAthensSparta
-338-32666Conquests of Alexander the GreatMacedonian GreecePersain Empire, Egypt, India
-264-24162First Punic WarRomeCarthage
-218-20123Second Punic WarRomeCarthage
-214-148-13Macedonian WarsRomeGreece
-149-146-1Third Punic WarRomeCarthage
622750768Early Muslim ConquestsMuhammad et al.Rest of the known world
10961099346First CrusadeChristiansMuslims
1147114948Second CrusadeChristiansMuslims
1187119238Third CrusadeChristiansMuslims
1202120410Fourth CrusadeChristiansMuslims
120812714Final CrusadesChristiansMuslims
1285192314Ottoman Empire Conquests and FallOttoman EmpireRest of the world

It’s difficult to see how “for millennia, those who lived near it thrived off one another, always trading and frequently cooperating from coast to coast,” could be even remotely consistent with history.

Athens-based environment journalist:

Some of the Med’s troubles are due to its unusual topography. Because it has few external outlets, it takes roughly 100 years for a drop of water to exit the sea, so there’s less dilution of toxins, and because some of the strongest currents flow west to east, the eastern Med bears the brunt of the entire littoral’s poor practices. But that’s only part of the story.

Reality:

It appears that the actual circulation of the Mediterranean is fairly effective in moving littoral pollution out to the open ocean. Nor does there appear to be a bias toward water flowing from west to east.

Surface circulation in the Mediterranean Sea

The large-scale circulation of the Mediterranean Sea has been described as sub-basin-scale and mesoscale gyres interconnected and bounded by currents and jets with strong seasonal and inter-annual variability (Millot and Taupier-Letage 2005). This general circulation flow impinges on the coastal regions and strongly influences the local dynamics of currents. Shelf areas in the Mediterranean are comparatively small and are separated from the deepest regions by steep continental shelf breaks. This configuration makes possible the intrusion of the large-scale flow field on the coastal/shelf areas and the direct influence of the large-scale currents on coastal flow. Transport of material from the coastal areas to the open ocean is enhanced by this mechanism, with important consequences for the maintenance of the ecological cycles in the basin (EEA and UNEP 1999) and for the potential for redistribution of pollution from land-based sources.

Year: 2013

From collection: State of the Mediterranean Marine and Coastal Environment

Cartographer: GRID-Arendal

UNEP

Figure 2. Surface circulation in the Med (UNEP)

For that matter, sea level rise over most of the Mediterranean is fairly insignificant.

Figure 3. Mediterranean sea level variation (UNEP)

Irony can be so… ironic…

Sea level is rising significantly in the Eastern Mediterranean, with an average 12 cm rise registered on the Levantine coast since 1992. However, causes are not yet known, and a cause-effect relationship with climate change has not yet been established.

Year: 2013

From collection: State of the Mediterranean Marine and Coastal Environment

Cartographer: GRID-Arendal

UNEP

Figure 4. “That there is funny!”

Athens-based environment journalist:

Commercial interests might be the Med’s best bet, though not ones of the oil and gas variety. More than 200 million tourists…

Who else is surprised that the Athens-based environment journalist would advise eastern Mediterranean nations to forego development of their vast oil & gas potential in favor of tourism? Kind of like “Make the Middle East Florida Already”. Unsurprisingly, reality differs from the environment journalist’s fantasy land.

Reality, as reported from Athens:

Global Development: An oil boom is transforming the eastern Mediterranean — and changing relationships, especially with Israel

By MARIA PETRAKIS MARCH 12, 2019

Reporting from Athens —

In 2007, Mathios Rigas spent $1.13 million to buy a near-dormant oil well in Greece with a license that was about to expire. The engineer-turned-banker hired a Venezuelan petroleum chemist, the only person he had met in Greece who knew about oil and gas. He called his company “Energean,” a play on the words energy and the Aegean Sea.

It paid off. The Prinos oilfield, Greece’s only oil-producing asset, held more reserves than thought and is now producing thousands of barrels a day. In 2016, armed with the experience, Rigas placed another bet and bought the rights to develop the Karish and Tanin natural gas fields off the coast of Israel — a country that bigger oil and natural gas exploration companies were avoiding because it could affect their business with Arab countries or Iran.

[…]

The eastern Mediterranean, better known for strife and conflict, has become a hive of prospecting activity. Israel was once at the mercy of volatile, largely unfriendly neighbors for fuel supplies but now has enough natural gas for itself and to sell to others. Egypt boasts facilities that can process and export natural gas both from its own field, the largest in the region, as well as its new gas-rich neighbors. Tiny Cyprus is grappling with how to best exploit newly discovered natural gas fields off the shores of the long-divided island. And Greece has joined the oil and natural gas search, hoping for another bonanza in its waters after a bruising decade of economic depression.

Israel is the poster child of the natural gas rush that is transforming energy paupers into princes. In 2009, a natural gas field about 50 miles west of the Israeli port of Haifa, dubbed Tamar, was discovered. Then, in 2010, Houston-based Noble Energy Inc. located massive offshore fields 80 miles from Haifa. Named Leviathan, it is a monster of a natural gas field that would not only make Israel self-sufficient but also allow it to export.

[…]

LA Times

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Leviathan is fracking YUGE!

Noble Energy made the first discovery offshore Israel in 1999 and has discovered 40 trillion cubic feet (Tcf) of recoverable natural gas resources in the Eastern Mediterranean. Mari-B delivered first domestic gas in 2004, and Tamar currently fuels 70 percent of the country’s electricity generation. The Leviathan field, which holds 33 Tcf of natural gas resources in place (22 Tcf recoverable) and was discovered in December 2010, 125 kilometers west of Haifa, was one of the largest natural gas finds in the world in the last decade. The Leviathan Partnership invested $3.75 billion in development of the Leviathan field. With a total production capacity of 1.2 billion cubic feet of natural gas per day (Bcf/d), Leviathan will more than double the quantity of natural gas flowing to the Israeli economy today.

Noble Energy

The Levant Basin is largely unexplored.

Figure 5. Levant Basin (Offshore Technology)

The Levant Basin is proof that “dying” is no big deal to the Mediterranean Sea…

The Levantine geological basin was formed in several main tectonic stages, and early Mesozoic rifting led to the shaping of a large graben and horst system, stretching across the onshore and offshore Levant Basin. The basin is infilled by post-rift tertiary sedimentation.

Reservoirs within the basin mainly contain Mesozoic and Paleogene sandstones, near shore marine and submarine sandstones and Jurassic and Cretaceous shelf-margin carbonates.

The Oligo-Miocene reservoir rocks at Leviathan field are deep-water slope and fan sandstones sealed by sedimentary rocks of the mid to late Miocene age and Messinian age salt. Natural gas at the Leviathan field was found in several sub-salt Miocene intervals.

As per the US Geological Survey (USGS) estimates, the entire Leviathan Basin holds a mean approximation of 1.7 billion barrels of recoverable oil and a mean of 122 trillion cubic feet of recoverable gas.

The Leviathan gas field’s natural gas reserves are estimated to be 18 trillion cubic feet (tcf). Besides natural gas, the field is said to contain 600 million barrels of oil beneath the gas layer.

Offshore Technology

The reservoirs (“Mesozoic and Paleogene sandstones, near shore marine and submarine sandstones and Jurassic and Cretaceous shelf-margin carbonates”) of the Leviant Basin were deposited in the old Mediterranean Sea before it died. The pink layer on the cross-section (Messinian Evaporites) represents a thick layer of halite (salt) and gypsum that precipitated from the old Mediterranean Sea as it evaporated during the late Miocene Epoch.

Figure 6. Schematic cross-section of the Leviathan Basin (Bowman, 2011).

During the late Miocene, the Mediterranean Sea literally dried up and deposited a layer of halite and gypsum about a mile thick (Messinian salinity crisis). Then in the early Pliocene Epoch, the Mediterranean rapidly flooded (Zanclean megaflood), leading to the formation of the modern Mediterranean Sea. The Zanclean megaflood was a doozy.  If Gavin Schmidt’s Silurian civilization had been thriving on the Messinian  salt flats during the Late Miocene, the Zanclean megaflood would have wiped them out without a trace.  The transition from the MSC to the Zanclean megaflood marks the transition from the Miocene to the Pliocene.  It left a serious mark on the stratigraphic record.

Some reconstructions of the Zanclean megaflood suggest that sea level in the Mediterranean could have risen at a rate of 10 meters per day during the peak flow of water from the Atlantic into the Mediterranean basin.

A Megaflood-Powered Mile-High Waterfall Refilled the Mediterranean

Evidence of the Zanclean megaflood in the eastern Mediterranean Basin

Catastrophic Flood of the Mediterranean After the Messinian Salinity Crisis

Now, that’s what I call climate change!

So, don’t worry about conflicts over resources, territory and culture in the eastern Mediterranean… It’s been the norm for thousands of years. And don’t lose any sleep over history’s greatest sea dying… It’s been there, done that and then recovered… There might even be a t-shirt.

Reference

Bowman, Steven. (2011). “Regional seismic interpretation of the hydrocarbon prospectivity of offshore Syria”. GeoArabia. 16.

CONTINUE READING –>

Published by technofiend1

Kazan- Kazan National Research Technical University Казанский национальный исследовательский технический университет имени А. Н. Туполева he graduated in Economics in 1982

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