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Wed, 23 May 2018
The World for People who Think



Central America braces for drought-linked food crisis

drought map C America
© www.bluechannel24.com
Extreme and persistent drought conditions affect most of Central America.
BOGOTA (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Low rainfall linked to the El Nino weather phenomenon has led to drought in parts of Central America, causing widespread damage to crops, shortages and rising prices of food, and worsening hunger among the region's poor.

An unusually hot season and extended dry spells have brought drought to areas in eastern and western Guatemala and El Salvador, southern Honduras and northern and central Nicaragua, destroying swathes of bean and maize crops, the region's staple foods, and putting pressure on subsistence farmers and food prices.
"Extremely poor households across large areas of Guatemala, Nicaragua, Honduras, and El Salvador will experience a rapid deterioration in their food security in early 2015.
"Atypically high levels of humanitarian assistance, possibly the highest since Hurricane Mitch in 1998, will likely be required in order to avoid a food crisis," said a recent report by the Famine Early Warning Systems Network (FEWS NET), run by the US Agency for International Development (USAID).

Comment: The problem with FEWS NET working in conjunction with and funded by USAID smacks of it being an information source and subsidiary front for the CIA. How better to gain the confidence of starving people and troubled farmers/ranchers than to send tentacles into their communities through humanitarian aid organizations and research groups engaging local talent and resources for strategic fixes.

USAID (CIA) has had known undercover activities directly, through NGOs, contracted companies or various agencies in: Ukraine, Syria, Libya, Egypt, Iran, Cuba, Haiti, Indonesia, Pakistan, Bolivia, Nicaragua, Peru, Palestine, Philippines, Laos, South Vietnam, Thailand, Palau, Malaysia, Uruguay, Albania, Kazakhstan, Senegal, Nigeria, Gabon, Gambia, Madagascar, Uganda, Tanzania, Java, Sumatra, Honduras, Nepal, Costa Rica, Georgia, Kyrgyzstan, Caucasus, Eritrea, Tanzania, Zaire, South Africa...to name a few.

USAID (CIA) under-cover activities include: fomenting rebellions, NSA info gathering, political coups, installing dictatorships, reengineering economies, cronyism, destabilizing banking systems, undermining governments and elected politicians, spying, bribery, training special forces in torture tactics, weapons purchase and distribution, election interference, absconding and re-appropriating funds, funding or training guerrilla armies and movements, propaganda broadcasts, destabilizing regimes, distributing narcotics as rewards, links to terrorist organizations, assisting border wars, "accidental" assassinations, funding figureheads, breaking U.S. laws, money funneling to contras, co-opting national movements, exploitation of local resources, instability assessments, fraud and smuggling.

What are the chances FEWS NET is what it says it is?

Cow Skull

Sao Paulo, Brazil's biggest city, faces water rationing amid drought

Brazil's biggest city is running out of water and options. The worst drought to hit the Sao Paulo region in 84 years is forcing local authorities for the second time in a year to put water pumps below the gates of the main reservoir, where the level has dropped sharply, so water can flow to the city's 9 million people.

Federal prosecutors are also demanding that state officials immediately present a plan for water rationing, warning that otherwise the reservoir could go dry. At Jaguari dam, one of the basins of the Cantareira System, cracks are spreading in the mud, scaring longtime residents who say they haven't experienced a water shortage like this in a long time.

"I had never seen the reservoir like this, nor anyone else living here," said Nestor Algario, who lives in Braganca Paulista, north of Sao Paulo.

The region got only a third of the usual rain during Brazil's wet season from December to February. Experts complain about the government's response, saying officials have been more focused on the city's hosting of several World Cup games, and the campaigning by candidates for presidential and gubernatorial elections.


While California has hottest start to the year, the Midwest chills

drought sign LA
© mashable.com
Freeway sign in Los Angeles. No end in sight for California drought.
The heat records keep falling for California. The state has had its hottest first seven months of the year, crushing the previous mark. Neighboring states have also baked, though not quite at record levels, helping contribute to both the spread of drought and large wildfires. At the same time, cool weather had a number of Midwest states experiencing July temperatures that were closer to September norms.

On Tuesday, the National Climatic Data Center (NCDC) released its monthly climate update for the U.S. and it contained more cruel news for California. Precipitation was near average throughout the state, but it had a negligible impact on the state's record-setting drought because summer is its dry season. To reinforce that, NCDC noted that while San Francisco received 800 percent of its usual July rainfall, that equalled only 0.08 inches.
temp map USA
Heat continued to bake the state, fueling a drought that's projected to cost $2 billion by year's end. California had its fifth-warmest July on record, including pockets of record warmth along the northern coast. July's heat kept the state on track for its warmest year in 120 years of recordkeeping. Since January, the state's average temperature has been 4.6°F above the 20th-century average. That smashes the previous record by 1.4°F.

Five other western states had their top 10 warmest Julys as well, which helped to fuel large wildfires. In Washington, which had its fifth-warmest July, the Carlton Complex Fire burned more than 250,000 acres. In Oregon, which had its second-warmest July, the Buzzard Complex Fire charred more than 400,000 acres. Despite those two large fires, the amount of acres burned by wildfires nationwide is at a 10-year low.

While heat was the story in the West, persistent cool weather continues to be the story for the eastern half of the country. The Midwest and Southeast were in the bullseye for a mid-summer's chill with 12 states stretching from Louisiana to Michigan recording one of their 10-coldest Julys. That includes a record cool July for Indiana and Arkansas.

Comment: Climate Central claims it is "a leading authority on climate science that cuts through the hype with a clear-eyed analysis of climate change, delivering just the facts and findings." Its world weather attribution project looks at the role of global warming in extreme weather events and identifies a human fingerprint. This initiative performs extreme "weather autopsies" immediately after an extreme weather event and makes a snap determination for the waiting media. They state four possible outcomes of the attribution analysis: #1) global warming increased the likelihood of the event, #2) global warming did not play a role in the event, #3) global warming reduced the likelihood of the event, and #4) the model was unable to reproduce the event. In example, Climate Central has deemed "manmade climate change significantly increased the odds of the killer European heat wave of 2003 and the Russian heat wave of 2010. Their bottom line is "YES, these events fit a pattern that climate scientists have long expected to appear as the result of increased greenhouse gasses in our atmosphere." A general scientific agreement is that global warming has contributed a trend toward more intense extremes of heat and precipitation around the world, is partly to blame for specific extreme weather events and will continue to influence both in the future."

Sounds like this ultra-scientific, fact-finding, data-digging, leading authority is feeding a pre-determined agenda with pre-determined results. It is doubtful outcomes #2,#3,#4 are ever factors. Those options do not make headlines. Greenhouse gas does.


California drought spreading at unprecedented rate

© Reuters/Max Whittaker
Marin County firefighters haul a hose on a fire line while battling the fast-moving wildfire called "Sand Fire," near Plymouth, California July 26, 2014.
The drought in California is getting worse as more than half the state now suffers from the most severe drought conditions possible, according to a new report.

The recent study published by the US Drought Monitor noted that 58 percent of California is experiencing "exceptional drought," which is the most serious category on the agency's five-level scale.

It's also the highest percentage to be recorded since the federal government started monitoring drought levels in the 1990s.

What's more alarming, however, is the fact that before 2014, no parts of California ever suffered from such severe conditions. As the Los Angeles Times notes, the rate at which this level of drought has spread throughout the state is unprecedented. In fact, about 22 percent of the state was moved into the "exceptional" category during the last week.

"You keep beating the record, which are still all from this year," National Drought Mitigation Center climatologist Mark Svoboda told the Times.


UCLA campus flooded by broken water main amid worst drought and strict water-use restrictions

UCLA flooding
© Reuters/Danny Moloshok
A woman looks up from an underground parking structure outside UCLA's Pauley Pavilion sporting arena as water flows down the stairs from a broken thirty inch water main that was gushing water onto Sunset Boulevard near the UCLA campus in the Westwood section of Los Angeles July 29, 2014
An official at the city's Department of Water and Power, or DWP, was questioned about the delay in stopping the flow of water after an estimated eight to 10 million gallons of water poured out from a ruptured 93-year-old water pipe, according to the Los Angeles Times.

"We had to do research to get to the correct valve," Jim McDaniel, a DWP senior assistant general manager, said, according to the LA Times, adding that the closure of a wrong valve could have left many people without water. The water had been reportedly flowing for more than three hours before the flow was cut off.

Los Angeles Councilman Paul Koretz reportedly said: "Unfortunately, we lost a lot of water, around 35,000 gallons a minute, which is not ideal in the worst drought in the city's history."


Drought draws rattlesnakes close to California homes

man and snake
© www.dcnr.state.pa.us
Rattlesnake removal from their temporary residences near homes and parks.
The drought is bringing out all kinds of animals, but one has a bite you don't want to mess with.

Len Ramirez says his rattlesnake removal business says this is one of the busiest year's he's seen in nearly 30 years. And it's only halfway done. "We've made four calls today, and tonight I don't know how many I'm going to make this evening, but it's going to be a long evening," he said.

A room where he keeps rattlesnakes he catches before releasing them into the wild is evidence of how busy he's been. "We've removed 72 rattlesnakes this week," he said.

Drought conditions have kept the calls coming in from people spooked by a snake that's way too close for comfort. "For a lot of homeowners just moving in from the Bay Area, first-time encounter with a rattlesnake is very scary," he said.

More snakes are coming closer to homes, something he says is likely because of the drought. People aren't watering as much, so there isn't water all over the ground away from homes. That leads rodents that are a food source for the snakes closer to homes in search of water.

He says pets could be most at risk if they accidentally sniff a spot a rattlesnake calls home. He also recommends keeping garage doors closed.

Comment: Snake bites can cause severe swelling, bruising pain at the bite site, internal bleeding and sometimes breathing problems. If treated with antivenom at a hospital, they are rarely fatal. Since snake bite kits have recently been considered an outmoded and dangerous idea and the Sawyer Extractor is not very effective, the best recommendation is to dial 911 and get to a hospital ASAP. Immobilize the bitten limb and keep it below the level of the heart...but get help pronto.

Cloud Lightning

Freak California weather: Wildfires, lightning and drought wreak havoc in US state leaving 1 dead

sand fire3
© Max Whittaker
Members of the CAL Fire Vina Helitack crew battle a spot fire as the fast-moving wildfire called "Sand Fire" burns near Plymouth, California
Two wildfires in northern California destroyed 13 homes on the weekend, while one man died after being struck by lightning in the south of the state

Wildfire has ravaged the drought-stricken region of northern California obliterating 13 homes and forcing the evacuation of hundreds on the same weekend that thunderstorms and freak lightning swept through the south of the state killing one.

As many as 1,900 fire personnel are battling a raging blaze in the Sierra Navada foothills amid a dangerous combination of high winds and temperatures above 38C.

The sand fire has burned through roughly 3,800 acres or six square miles since it started on Friday, but still threatens at least 515 properties, the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (Cal Fire) says.

It is now 50 per cent contained - with a fire-fighter sustaining minor injuries - as it continues to rip through the border of Amador and El Dorado counties, five miles north of the city of Plymouth.

Authorities have listed its cause as "vehicle into dry vegetation," leading to a blaze that has also resulted in the destruction of 38 outbuildings.

Bizarro Earth

Disturbing NASA study shows water reserves in western US being drained underground

As droughts have ravaged the western US for over a decade, much of the water loss has come from underground resources in the Colorado River Basin, a new study has found. The water loss may pose a greater threat to the West than previously thought.
western US water shortage
© Reuters / David Becker
The study by NASA and the University of California, Irvine found that more than 75 percent of the water loss in the drought-stricken Colorado River Basin since late 2004 came from underground resources. It is the first time researchers have quantified the amount that groundwater contributes to the water needs of western states, NASA said.

The research team measured the change in water mass monthly from December 2004 to November 2013, using data from NASA's Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE) satellite mission to track changes in the mass of the Colorado River Basin. Changes in water mass are related to changes in water amount on and below the surface.

Bizarro Earth

NBC News declares 'billions could starve' as America's water aquifers run dry

© Unknown
In America, a crisis is unfolding right under the public's feet. Water scarcity is beginning to creep into the Texas panhandle and the breadbasket region of the United States. A valuable aquifer that once provided water security is drying up beneath farmers' feet as drought-like conditions linger.

"This country became what it became largely because we had water security," says Venki Uddameri, Ph.D., director of the Water Resources Center at Texas Tech. "That's being threatened to a large degree now."

The vital Ogallala Aquifer is drying up, putting billions of people at risk

The Ogallala Aquifer, sprawled out beneath eight states in the heart of the US, is being depleted with mathematical certainty. Spanning 111.8 million acres and 175,000 square miles, this vital aquifer feeds the sophisticated agricultural region from South Dakota through Nebraska and Kansas to the Texas panhandle.

As NBC News recently declared, "If the American Breadbasket cannot help supply ever-growing food demands, billions could starve."

"The depletion of the Ogallala is an internationally important crisis," said Burke Griggs, Ph.D., consulting professor at Stanford University, stating how populations around the world rely on the agricultural production of the breadbasket region of the US. "How individual states manage the depletion of that aquifer will obviously have international consequences."

Parts of the aquifer have already dried up and receded. A farmer in the Texas panhandle named Lucas Spinhirne attests to this. Just a decade ago, water flowed boundlessly under his farmland. By 2011, that water had all been pumped out, leaving Spinhirne only one source of water for his wheat and sorghum crops -- the rainwater from the sky.

"We try to catch anything that falls," Spinhirne said.

The Ogallala aquifer has been used up at an unsustainable pace since the early 1980s when big agriculture began using automated center pivot irrigation devices. Once farmers started putting these devices into widespread use, the Ogallala became a center for abuse, precipitously drained year after year. The Ogallala is unique; it cannot be replenished by surface water or precipitation. When it's used up, there's no more water to go around.


Five of the world's lakes drying up completely due to drought, water reallocation and big business

Due to drought, water reallocation and industrialization, nations across the globe are finding that some of the world's most iconic bodies of water are disappearing.

1. Aral Sea

Once the world's fourth largest lake, located between Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan, the Aral Sea has undergone numerous changes over the centuries, but today it is nearly dried up.

Formed by the combined flows of both the Syr Darya and Amu Darya rivers, the Aral Sea was re-figured in the 1960's by the Soviet Union, in an attempt to make the region's desert landscape more hospitable for farming.

Nearly 40 years later, the northern and southern parts of the lake separated and the southern part of the lake was split into two parts - east and west. In 2001, the southern connection was detached and the eastern portion of the lake began to recede. Soon after a drought plagued the area for approximately four years, from 2005 to 2009, cutting the water flow of the southern part of the lake to the Amu Darya, according to NASA.
© NASA Earth Observatory)
The Aral Sea is captured by NASA's Earth Observatory on Aug. 25, 2000, showing the diminished shoreline from where the lake sat in 1960.