Archive for the 'climate change' Category

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Drought and Misuse Behind Lebanon’s Water Scarcity

Photo retrieved from: www.ipsnews.net

“In a normal year, the water trucks do not appear until September, but this year they have started working even before summer because of the severe drought currently affecting Lebanon.

This comes on top of the increased pressure on the existing water supply due to the presence of more than one million Syrian refugees fleeing the war, exacerbating a situation which may lead to food insecurity and public health problems.

Rains were scarce last winter. While the annual average in recent decades was above 800 mm, this year it was around 400 mm, making it one of the worst rainfall seasons in the last sixty years.

The paradox is that Lebanon should not suffer from water scarcity. Annual precipitation is about 8,600 million cubic metres while normal water demand ranges between 1,473 and 1,530 million cubic metres per year, according to the Impact of Population Growth and Climate Change on Water Scarcity, Agricultural Output and Food Securityreport published in April by the Issam Fares Institute (IFI) at the American University of Beirut.

However, as Nadim Farajalla, Research Director of IFI’s Climate Change and Environment in the Arab World Programme, explains, the country’s inability to store water efficiently, water pollution and its misuse both in agriculture and for domestic purposes, have put great pressure on the resource.

According to Bruno Minjauw, Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) representative ad interim in the country as well as Resilience Officer, Lebanon” “has always been a very wet country. Therefore, the production system has never looked so much at the problem of water.”

Read more: IPS

 

 

Saving Water in California

 

Photo retrieved from: www.huffingtonpost.com

“California is in the third year of its worst drought in decades. But you wouldn’t know it by looking at how much water the state’s residents and businesses are using. According to a recent state survey, Californians cut the amount of water they used in the first five months of the year by just 5 percent, far short of the 20 percent reduction Gov. Jerry Brown called for in January. In some parts of the state, like the San Diego area, water use has actually increased from 2013.

Without much stronger conservation measures, the state, much of which is arid or semiarid, could face severe water shortages if the drought does not break next year. Los Angeles recently recorded its lowest rainfall for two consecutive years, and climate change will likely make drought a persistent condition, according to the National Climate Assessment report published in May.

Yet, even now, 70 percent of water districts have not imposed reasonable mandatory restrictions on watering lawns and keeping backyard pools filled. The State Water Resources Control Board is to consider placingrestrictions on some outdoor water uses like washing paved surfaces at a meeting on July 15.

California’s agriculture sector is the largest in the country, and it accounts for about 80 percent of the state’s water use. Even a small percentage reduction in the fields could have a sizable effect on total water consumption.”

Read more: The New York Times

 

 

AMERICA IS RUNNING OUT OF WATER

Photo retrieved from: www.vice.com

“Although most Americans believe water scarcity occurs only in countries where Angelina Jolie campaigns for peace, two of the world’s most overexerted rivers are right here in the United States. According to the World Resource Institute, both the Colorado and Rio Grande suffer from extremely high stress, meaning that we annually withdraw more than 80 percent of each river’s renewable water supply, and at least a third of the US exhibits medium to high water stress or greater.

Take Lake Mead. Located outside Las Vegas, the lake has experienced an alarming decline in elevation. The US Bureau of Reclamation commissioned the Hoover Dam in 1931 to protect the water needs of the area, but according to the Las Vegas Sun, experts predict that Lake Mead could run dry by 2050, with declining power generation possibly occurring in as little as a year. According to the Sun, the Colorado River “provides drinking water for 36 million Americans, supplies irrigation for 15 percent of the nation’s crops, and supports a $26 billion recreation economy that employs 250,000 people.” In other words, if Lake Mead dries out, we’re fucked.

What should we do to fix this and other water problems? Glen MacDonald, a UCLA distinguished professor, a UC presidential chair, and the director of the UCLA Institute of the Environment and Sustainability, believes he has the answers. I emailed him to discuss America’s water problem, the issues in the Southwest, and what the government can do to save our water supply.”

Read more: Vice

 

Climate change could lead to China-India water conflict

Photo retrieved from: www.rtcc.org

“Based on latest research by the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the study has been published by the Global Military Advisory Council on Climate Change and Cambridge University.

“There are concerns that tensions will increase due to climate driven water variability in the Trans-boundary drainage systems linked to the vast Tibetan plateau in central Asia, where rivers supply more than one billion people with water,” it says.

Around 40% of the world’s population rely on water from the plateau for survival. It is the source of some of the world’s great rivers, including the Indus, Ganges, Irrawaddy, Mekong and Yangtze.

Speaking to RTCC, former Royal Navy Rear Admiral Neil Morisetti, who reviewed parts of the report, said water shortages would increase the risk of instability in the region.

“If the glaciers melt as a result of the increase in temperatures, after an initial burst of too much water there’s going to be a shortage, and it’s going to compound the problem,” he said.

“Clearly there is a politics in that part of the world which needs to be taken into account when looking at those risks.”

Emerging powers

China-India troop clashes over the past five decades has caused deep mistrust on both sides, while memories of a short but brutal war in 1962 are fresh in the minds of many older politicians.”

Read more: RTCC

Rain Holds Key to Thirsty Summers

Photo retrieved from: www.gsmroofing.com

“BANGALORE: Rainwater harvesting is a win-win situation for all – borewells are full, the quality of water is better and the city gains, declares David Saldanha, a resident of Residency Road.

Faced with dipping water level in the two borewells in the area in 2010, Saldanha did not throw up his hands. Instead, he opted for rainwater harvesting to recharge the borewells. Estimating the annual rainfall in Bangalore at 1,000 mm, he says he is able to harvest 1 million litres of rainwater annually and also breathe life back into the borewells.

“The water level in the two borewells ran lower than 100 metres deep, and the yield was low. The advantage is continuous water supply and les power consumption to pump up water. I’m thrilled with the result. The water yield has gone up and its quality is much better too,” says Saldanha.

Saldanha’s success story deserves to be emulated across the city, especially with the monsoon around the corner. Experts say one-third of the city’s water demand can be met through RWH.

Experts term rainwater harvesting one of the best ways of conservation, more so at a time when Bangalore faces acute water scarcity. Harvesting in urban areas is the process of collecting, filtering and using rainwater which falls on roofs and on porticos, and is channeled in three ways: recharging borewells, replenishing groundwater and collecting rainwater for re-use later.”

Read more: Times of India

California Gov. On Drought, Wildfires: ‘Humanity Is On A Collision Course With Nature’

Photo retrieved from: www.thinkprogress.org

“California Governor Jerry Brown linked his state’s severe drought and wildfires to climate change on Sunday, saying California was “on the front lines” of the warming problem.

Brown said on ABC’s This Week that though California’s wildfires are relatively under control right now, the state is “in a very serious fire season” — one that’s seen about twice as many fires this year as the average — and future control of the fires depends largely on the weather. He said that as the climate changes in California, the state will need thousands more firefighters and California residents will have to be more careful about where and how they build.

“As we send billions and billions of tons of heat-trapping gases, we get heat and we get fires and we get what we’re seeing,” he said. “So, we’ve got to gear up. We’re going to deal with nature as best we can, but humanity is on a collision course with nature and we’re just going to have to adapt to it in the best way we can.”

Brown also lambasted those in Congress who deny that climate change is occurring or is caused by humans, saying in California, there’s no question climate is changing.

“It is true that there’s virtually no Republican who accepts the science that virtually is unanimous,” he said. “There is no scientific question — there’s just political denial for various reasons, best known to those people who are in denial.”

Right now, the entire state of California is in the severest rankings of drought, conditions which, as Joe Romm points out, have created a soil moisture level reminiscent of the Dust Bowl. Last week, more than 20,000 residents were forced to flee their homes as heat and strong Santa Ana winds created conditions ripe for fires that spread through San Diego County.”

Read more: Climate Progress

 

California drought: Feds say farmers won’t get any Central Valley Project water this year

President Barack Obama speaks to the media on California’s drought situation Friday, Feb. 14, 2014 in Los Banos, Calif. Farmers in California’s

Photo retrieved from: SJ Mercury News

“In a crushing reminder of the state’s parched plight, federal officials announced Friday that the Central Valley Project — California’s largest water delivery system — will provide no water this year to Central Valley farmers and only 50 percent of the contracted amount to urban areas such as Santa Clara and Contra Costa counties.

“Farmers had been bracing for the bad news because California received less rain in 2013 than any year since it became a state in 1850. Despite some storms this month, the state is still grappling with low reservoirs and a Sierra Nevada snowpack that’s 25 percent of normal.

“Friday’s announcement will particularly affect San Joaquin Valley farmers who are last in line to get federal water. Many will have to either heavily pump already overburdened wells, or let fields go unplanted this summer.

“California produces almost half of the nation’s fresh fruits and vegetables. And without adequate water in California, food supplies from other states or other countries may be the only option to fill the gap,” said Mike Wade, executive director of the California Farm Water Coalition.”

Read more: San Jose Mercury News

 

Why global water shortages pose threat of terror and war

Photo retrieved from: www.newsecuritybeat.org

“Already a billion people, or one in seven people on the planet, lack access to safe drinking water. Britain, of course, is currently at the other extreme. Great swaths of the country are drowning in misery, after a series of Atlantic storms off the cough-western coast. But that too is part of the picture that has been coming into sharper focus over 12 years of the Grace satellite record. Countries at northern latitudes and in the tropics are getting wetter. But those countries at mid-latitude are running increasingly low on water.

“What we see is very much a picture of the wet areas of the Earth getting wetter,” Famiglietti said. “Those would be the high latitudes like the Arctic and the lower latitudes like the tropics. The middle latitudes in between, those are already the arid and semi-arid parts of the world and they are getting drier.”

On the satellite images the biggest losses were denoted by red hotspots, he said. And those red spots largely matched the locations of groundwater reserves.

“Almost all of those red hotspots correspond to major aquifers of the world. What Grace shows us is that groundwater depletion is happening at a very rapid rate in almost all of the major aquifers in the arid and semi-arid parts of the world.”

The Middle East, north Africa and south Asia are all projected to experience water shortages over the coming years because of decades of bad management and overuse.”

Read more: The Guardian

 

River Thames Bursts Banks, Flooding Homes Near London

Photo retrieved from: www.online.wsj.com

“As of late Monday, the Environment Agency had severe flood warnings—meaning there is a danger to life—for 14 areas in the southeast of England and two in the southwest, one of the hardest hit regions. It also warned that flooding was expected and immediate action required for 131 further areas across England and Wales, with the highest risk seen in the Midlands, southeast and southwest of the country, and flooding was also possible in a further 216 areas.

The Thames Barrier, one of the largest movable flood barriers in the world, closed Monday morning and would be closed again later until early hours of Tuesday, the agency said. Since the beginning of January 2014 the barrier, designed to protect 125 square kilometers of central London from flooding caused by tidal surges, has been closed 29 times.

“Extreme weather will continue to threaten communities this week, with further severe flooding expected Monday evening into Tuesday along the Thames in [the counties of] Berkshire and Surrey,” Paul Leinster, the chief executive of the Environment Agency, said in a statement. “River levels are high across southwest, central and southern England and further rain has the potential to cause significant flooding.”

Significant groundwater flooding was also expected in the southeast, including parts of London, the agency said.”

Read more: The Wall Street Journal

 

California Dries Up as Brown Pushes $15 Billion Tunnel

Photo retrieved from: www.bloomberg.com

California’s worsening drought is raising the stakes for a $15 billion plan endorsed by Governor Jerry Brown to build two 30-mile (48-kilometer) water tunnels under an ecologically sensitive river delta east of San Francisco Bay.

The tunnels, each as wide as a two-lane interstate highway, would ship water more reliably from northern California to thirsty farms and cities in the south. They would also bolster the ecosystem of the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta, which is on the verge of collapse from feeding water to 25 million people and 750,000 acres (304,000 hectares) of farmland.

The drought, which officials say could be one of the worst in California’s history, is forcing farmers in the fertile central valley region to fallow thousands of acres of fields and has left 17 rural towns so low on drinking water that the state may need to start trucking in supplies. The tunnels are the biggest part of a $25 billion Bay Delta Conservation Plan.

Reservoirs are at about 60 percent of average, according to state water data, and falling as rainfall remains at record low levels. Mountain snowpack is about 12 percent of normal for this time of year. Brown is urging the state’s 38 million residents to conserve and warning that mandatory restrictions are possible.”

Read more: Bloomberg