One fourth of the planet’s population in 25 countries experiences extremely high water stress annually, using nearly all of their available water supply on a regular basis, according to new data from the World Resources Institute (WRI)’s Aqueduct Water Risk Atlas. Additionally, about four billion people live in conditions where they have high water stress for a minimum of one month out of the year, a report from WRI said. High water stress puts the lives, food, jobs and energy security of people in peril, as water is necessary for the essentials of human survival like agriculture, electricity production and the maintenance of human health.
Thirty years ago, in my economics textbook in India, the section on international trade referred to Argentina. It would be better, according to the textbook, for Argentina to concentrate on the production and export of beef, while Germany should direct its resources towards the production of electronics. This example was used to illustrate Adam Smith’s ‘absolute advantage’ principle – countries should focus on what they do ‘best’, rather than diversify their economies. It seemed churlish to me, that developing countries such as Argentina should only produce raw materials, while wealthy countries such as Germany went ahead with technological development.
Pressures on water supply around Arizona, along with an ongoing megadrought made worse by climate change, have been addressed by recent limits placed on the construction of new homes around Phoenix. The restrictions are meant to limit projects that would rely on groundwater, as the groundwater supply is already needed by existing properties. Most of Arizona’s water, around 41%, comes from groundwater, according to the Arizona Department of Water Resources. Another 36% comes from the Colorado River, although the state, along with California and Nevada, recently agreed to reduce their water intake from the river by 3 million acre-feet through 2026 as the Colorado River faces shortages.
More than half of the large lakes and reservoirs on the planet have diminished since the early 1990s due to climate change and human diversion and consumption, an international team of researchers has found. The findings have implications for people who rely on their supply of freshwater for drinking, hydropower and agriculture. The researchers looked at almost 2,000 of the largest lakes and found they are losing about 5.7 trillion gallons per year. That’s about the same amount as the entire U.S. used in 2015, or 17 times the volume of the biggest reservoir in the U.S., Nevada’s Lake Mead, between 1992 and 2020, the study said.
When California gets storms like the atmospheric rivers that hit in December 2022 and January 2023, water managers around the state probably shake their heads and ask why they can’t hold on to more of that water.
A group of agencies that provide water to millions of customers in the western U.S. has agreed to rip-up grass lawns in public spaces across multiple states as part of an effort to reduce water usage as the Colorado River continues to suffer from a major drought. More than 30 agencies that draw water from the river signed on to the conservation agreement last week. The pledge promises to remove 30% of grass lawns and replace them with “drought- and climate-resilient landscaping while maintaining vital urban landscapes and tree canopies,” that benefit communities and wildlife. The agencies will remove the many well-manicured lawns seen throughout parking lots, neighborhood entryways, and highway medians.
The group targeted sites near the city of Toulouse, calling golf the "leisure industry of the most privileged". The exemption of golf greens has sparked controversy as 100 French villages are short of drinking water. Golf officials say greens would die in three days without water. "A golf course without a green is like an ice-rink without ice," Gérard Rougier of the French Golf Federation told the France Info news website. He added that 15,000 people worked in golf courses across the country. The recent action targeted courses in the towns of Vieille-Toulouse and Blagnac. It was claimed by the local branch of the Extinction Rebellion movement. In a petition, the activists said the exemption showed that "economic madness takes precedence over ecological reason".
The climate crisis is making droughts more frequent and longer-lasting, a new UN report has announced. The report, Drought in Numbers, 2022, was released Wednesday in honor of Drought Day at the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD)’s 15th Conference of Parties (COP15) taking place in Abijan, Côte d’Ivoire from May 9 to 20. “The facts and figures of this publication all point in the same direction: an upward trajectory in the duration of droughts and the severity of impacts, not only affecting human societies but also the ecological systems upon which the survival of all life depends, including that of our own species.” UNCCD Executive Secretary Ibrahim Thiaw said in a press release.
Three people were arrested Monday at a prayer lodge along the Mississippi River near an Enbridge construction site as questions persist that the pipeline work is worsening water shortages in northern Minnesota. According to the Aitkin County sheriff’s office, three people were charged with misdemeanor trespass and remained in custody late Tuesday. Police did not release their names. Meanwhile, a large law enforcement presence remained near the prayer lodge Tuesday, said Shania Mattson, a water protector from Palisade, Minnesota. The prayer lodge was built by Tania Aubid of the Milles Lacs Band of Ojibwe and Winona LaDuke of the White Earth Band of Ojibwe on 1855 Treaty ceded lands that are guaranteed for use by Ojibwe people for hunting, fishing and gathering, according to LaDuke and Aubid. LaDuke is executive director of Honor the Earth, a Native American environmental advocacy organization.
As what the National Weather Service described as "dangerous and record-breaking heat" affects 50 million people across the Western United States even before the first day of summer, climate experts and activists are using the hot conditions to reiterate warnings and calls for policy change as scientists are seeing their dire predictions come true. "The current heatwave and drought leave no doubt, we are living the dangerous effects of the climate crisis," activist and former Democratic presidential candidate Tom Steyer tweeted Friday. "Action is urgently needed." Steyer shared a Thursday New York Times report on the extreme heat that also caught the attention of Campaign for Nature director Brian O'Donnell, who warned that in the absence of bold action to address the climate emergency, "this will all get much worse."
The American West is having a drought. So, what else is new? And, that's just the point. The American West has been in an extended drought since 2000, so far the second worst in the last 1200 years. Here is the key quote from the National Geographic article cited above: In the face of continued climate change, some scientists and others have suggested that using the word "drought" for what’s happening now might no longer be appropriate, because it implies that the water shortages may end. Instead, we might be seeing a fundamental, long-term shift in water availability all over the West. That is what climate scientists have been warning about all along. The problems we are now experiencing are not just cycles or fluctuations—although those continue to be important—but rather, permanent changes in the climate (that is, on any timeline that matters to humans).
Pick almost any slice of time in the recent past and you can find clues to how climate change is jacking up dangerous weather extremes. In the 10 days after the potential global heat record in Death Valley, an unusual lightning storm blasted California with more than 11,000 lightning strikes that sparked hundreds of fires; more heat records were set in the Northern and Southern Hemispheres; unprecedented flooding in Asia washed away villages and threatened China's Three Gorges Dam; and twin hurricanes threatened the Gulf of Mexico, with Hurricane Laura generating a storm surge as high as 11 feet that pushed far inland along the Texas and Louisiana coast.
London – Climate change could be pushing the US west and northern Mexico towards the most severe and most extended period of drought observed in a thousand years of US history, a full-blown megadrought. Natural atmospheric forces have always triggered prolonged spells with little rain. But warming driven by profligate human use of fossil fuels could now be making a bad situation much worse. The warning of what climate scientists call a megadrought – outlined in the journal Science – is based not on computer simulations but on direct testimony from more than a century of weather records and the much longer story told by 1200 consecutive years of evidence preserved in the annual growth rings of trees that provide a record of changing levels of soil moisture.
You have certainly not heard much about this in the West. And it didn’t get a fraction of the media attention (and none of the hundreds of millions of Euro pledges by the perversely rich) that the Notre Dame fire did. However, if disastrous floods had hit 28 out of 31 provinces and affected 10 million people in some European country or in the US, I believe you would have heard about it from Day One. But now it is Iran. Only the Iranians. The situation is disastrous but not so much because thousands have died. Rather, because floods of this magnitude are likely to have terrible long-term consequences for agricultural and other production, infrastructure, energy production, transport and daily lives (see pictures below and on the links).
CAPE TOWN, 7 February, 2018 – Day Zero is real. The Day Zero concept means that Cape Town’s utility managers will switch off water to residential buildings and businesses, and continue to supply only critical services such as hospitals, and also the communal taps in slum neighbourhoods where people already collect their water in buckets every day. This means most people in the suburbs will have to collect their daily 25l (0.88 cubic feet) water ration from 200 new distribution points. People have been warned that the military and police are on standby to manage any civil unrest. The fear is that the entire economy will grind to a halt, as businesses and schools shut down, lacking water to drink or to flush toilets. Households are currently asked to stick to a daily limit of 50l, but enforcement is difficult. The city says significant numbers of households, mostly wealthier ones, still massively exceed this figure.