Water Wars

Discussion in 'Current Affairs, News and Analysis' started by HectortheInspector, Oct 21, 2009.

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  1. Recent study on the melting Tibetan and Himalayan glaciers that feed most of the big Asian rivers.

    Glaciers in the high mountains of Asia (HMA) make a substantial contribution to the water supply of millions of people1, 2, and they are retreating and losing mass as a result of anthropogenic climate change3 at similar rates to those seen elsewhere4, 5. In the Paris Agreement of 2015, 195 nations agreed on the aspiration to limit the level of global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius ( °C) above pre-industrial levels. However, it is not known what an increase of 1.5 °C would mean for the glaciers in HMA. Here we show that a global temperature rise of 1.5 °C will lead to a warming of 2.1 ± 0.1 °C in HMA, and that 64 ± 7 per cent of the present-day ice mass stored in the HMA glaciers will remain by the end of the century. The 1.5 °C goal is extremely ambitious and is projected by only a small number of climate models of the conservative IPCC’s Representative Concentration Pathway (RCP)2.6 ensemble. Projections for RCP4.5, RCP6.0 and RCP8.5 reveal that much of the glacier ice is likely to disappear, with projected mass losses of 49 ± 7 per cent, 51 ± 6 per cent and 64 ± 5 per cent, respectively, by the end of the century; these projections have potentially serious consequences for regional water management and mountain communities.
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  2. Following the Hurricanes in the Caribbean, and Texas, here is a useful article on the sort of town planning that may move from being a hippy luxury to economic necessity.
    Retrofitting them to older cities will be very expensive, but in the long term, a damn sight cheaper than drying them out, making an insurance claim, then doing it all again next year ad infinitum.
    What would an entirely flood-proof city look like?
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  3. Good commentary on how water stress drives migration and instability.

    Recent water-related tragedies in Syria, Africa’s Sahel region and elsewhere present the prospect of darker times ahead, but there are many things we can do right now to improve the chance for a soft landing and a brighter future. This won’t happen on a business-as-usual path, however. We are going to need to do things very differently, and most people do not like change. But if the choice is change or die – and it could be – then clearly we need to change our relationship to water.

    In February 2012, the U.S. intelligence community produced an assessment of global water security, predicting that without improved water management, freshwater availability would fall short of demand in the years ahead. The assessment warned that water problems, combined with poverty, social tensions and ineffective leadership, could lead to social disruption and state failure. Over-pumping of groundwater could pose a risk to national and global food markets, the assessment said, while water shortages, combined with pollution, could hurt the economic performance of key U.S. trading partners. The publicly available version of the assessment did not name specific countries, but it noted that North Africa, the Middle East and South Asia would face major challenges.

    The intelligence community assessment also noted the likelihood that climate change would redistribute global water supply, from the mid-latitudes and dry tropics to the high latitudes and some wet tropical areas. The mid-latitudes areas, some of which are already highly water-stressed, would thereby get even more stressed. Furthermore, over the course of the 21st Century, water stored in glaciers and snowpack are projected to decline, impacting millions of people depending on meltwater. In addition to these climate change impacts on water, an increase in extreme weather events is expected to lead to increasingly severe droughts and floods in many areas around the world.

    Five years since the intelligence community assessment was published, the effects of water stress can be seen in the daily news. In 2015, over 1 million migrants and refugees streamed into Europe, precipitating political crises among and within EU member states. Most of the refugees came from Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq. In May 2017, a leaked German government report warned that up to 6.6 million migrants and refugees were waiting to cross into Europe from Africa and the Middle East. They included refugees from Syria and Iraq, but also economic migrants from Libya, Niger, Chad, Nigeria, Bangladesh, Guinea, Cote d’Ivoire and the Gambia. This prolonged migration crisis — driven in part by water scarcity — has had profound political impacts in Europe and the United States, influencing elections in European countries, helping to trigger Brexit and even influencing the U.S. election that ushered in Donald Trump.
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  4. I have occasionally highlighted concerns over "hydromigrants" who leave their homelands because there is not enough water or infrastructure to support them.
    It seems that the recent hurricane damage to Puerto Rico has flagged this up in America. It is a US dependency, so the PRs have US passports, but the island is bankrupt and the US government seems to be unlikely to find repair money for all the lost infrastructure. The upshot is a mass population migration to the mainland.
    With more and more violent hurricanes forecast, it might be that these islands become economically unsupportable.

    Puerto Ricans Could Be Newest U.S. Climate Refugees
    Last edited: Oct 15, 2017
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  5. Bloody hell! Like St Kilda but much much bigger.
  6. And with the scope to be much more of a problem, but generally fewer puffins.

  7. More on Trump's 'Interesting' view of handling a major disaster on American territory, affecting thousands of citizens and voters. What Katrina and New Orleans was to Bush, Puerto Rico may become for Trump- a bench mark in how not to handle a crisis.

    Trump: We cannot aid Puerto Rico 'forever' - CNNPolitics

    Washington (CNN)President Donald Trump suggested Thursday that Puerto Rico is going to have to shoulder more responsibility for recovery efforts from Hurricane Maria, saying the federal government's emergency responders can't stay there "forever."

    His comments -- in which he also blamed the beleaguered island for a financial crisis "largely of their own making" and infrastructure that was a "disaster" before the hurricane -- come as Puerto Rico still reels from a lack of electricity, public health access and a rising death toll. The remarks quickly prompted cries from Democratic lawmakers, who argue that Puerto Rico still needs a lot of help, as well as the mayor of San Juan, who said they were "unbecoming" and appeared to come from a "hater in chief."
  8. I don't really want to draw exact parallels to the two communities but a problem that faced the St Kilda population when it was evacuated from their poor social conditions will be the same I think. The St Kildans were hated by the main landers when they were relocated; seen as parasites. I'm not sure that that will be any better for the PRs after the Donald's TwitteRage.
  9. I expect that any relocating Puerto Ricans will head to established PR expat cities, where they will swell the local population, causing added local stress.
    Bitter, resentful people on both sides, one lot cursing the US Government for not coming to their assistance, and another lot cursing the new arrivals for competing with the established population.
  10. Article on desertification in Tunisia- similar problems across north Africa

    'If the land isn't worked, it decays': Tunisia's battle to keep the desert at bay

    ... “Ninety-five per cent of the [arable] land is in the process of desertification,” explains Sarah Toumi, president and founder of Acacias for All, a social enterprise aimed at checking the descent of Tunisia’s countryside into arid desert. “There is less than 1% of fertile organic material left in the soil, meaning it’s really poor and can easily become desert. By 2030, it will all become a desert if we do nothing.”

    Desertification is not exclusive to Tunisia. According to the International Fund for Agriculture Development, no continent, excluding Antarctica, is immune from the combined effects of intensive modern farming, dwindling fresh water supplies and rising temperatures, all of which can reduce fertile soil to desert. However, Africa, containing 37% of the world’s arid zones, and Asia, with 33%, are at acute risk.

    For post-revolutionary Tunisia, racked by social tension, high unemployment and an underperforming economy, the agricultural sector is vital, accounting for 14% of the country’s GDP and employing 20% of its workforce.
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  11. Risk of catastrophic flooding in Tibet and Nepal from expanding glacial lakes.
    Glacial lake floods threaten Tibet

    Geologists gathered in Beijing for the 33rd International Geographical Congress, held in August, reported that at least six of Tibet’s southern lakes could be classified as “very critically dangerous” since they could cause devastating glacial lake outburst floods (GLOFs).

    There have been at least 30 GLOFs in Tibet in the recent past according to Pradeep Mool, a geologist and remote-sensing expert with the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD) in Kathmandu, Nepal.

    In 1981, the rocky moraine ridge of Cirenma Co, a glacial lake 14 kilometres from the China-Nepal border, collapsed as a result of an ice avalanche, unleashing nearly 20 million cubic metres of water that picked up debris and blocked the Poiqu River — a transboundary river that originates in Tibet and flows through Nepal and India (known respectively as Bhote Koshi and Sun Koshi). It raised the water level by 30 metres over a 30 kilometre-stretch in Nepal.
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  12. Yemen cholera outbreak now largest in history. Mostly driven by deliberate destruction of infrastructure and economic collapse because of war.
    Yemen's cholera outbreak now the worst in history as millionth case looms
    The cholera epidemic in Yemen has become the largest and fastest-spreading outbreak of the disease in modern history, with a million cases expected by the end of the year and at least 600,000 children likely to be affected.

    The World Health Organization has reported more than 815,000 suspected cases of the disease in Yemen and 2,156 deaths. About 4,000 suspected cases are being reported daily, more than half of which are among children under 18. Children under five account for a quarter of all cases....

    ...Kirolos said: “There’s no doubt this is a man-made crisis. Cholera only rears its head when there’s a complete and total breakdown in sanitation. All parties to the conflict must take responsibility for the health emergency we find ourselves in.”

    More than two years of fighting between the Saudi-led coalition and Houthi rebels has crippled the country, causing widespread internal displacement, the collapse of the public health system, and leaving millions on the brink of famine.

    The crisis was exacerbated when sanitation workers whose salaries had gone unpaid went on strike. This meant garbage was left on the streets, which was then washed into the water supply. It is estimated that 19.3 million Yemenis – more than two-thirds of the population – do not have access to clean water and sanitation.

    The government stopped funding the public health department in 2016, meaning many doctors and hospital staff have not received salaries for more than a year. Healthcare has since been provided mainly by international organisations, the efforts of whom have been hampered by the conflict.

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