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Mon, 19 Nov 2018
The World for People who Think



Brazil drought crisis deepens in Sao Paulo and other areas

Brazil drought
© Associated Press
Water levels at the Atibainha dam, part of the Cantareira system, are extremely low.
The governor of the Brazilian state of Sao Paulo has asked for emergency clearance to siphon the remaining water out of the main reservoir serving Sao Paulo city, which has almost run dry.

After nine months of unprecedented drought, 95% of the water has gone.

Geraldo Alckmin, re-elected in last week's elections, has been criticised for not imposing water rationing to tackle the crisis.

Twenty-nine other Brazilian cities have been affected by the drought.

Bizarro Earth

California aquifers contaminated with billions of gallons of fracking wastewater

© Reuters / Lucy Nicholson

Industry illegally injected about 3 billion gallons of fracking wastewater into central California drinking-water and farm-irrigation aquifers, the state found after the US Environmental Protection Agency ordered a review of possible contamination.

According to documents obtained by the Center for Biological Diversity, the California State Water Resources Board found that at least nine of the 11 hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, wastewater injection sites that were shut down in July upon suspicion of contamination were in fact riddled with toxic fluids used to unleash energy reserves deep underground. The aquifers, protected by state law and the federal Safe Water Drinking Act, supply quality water in a state currently suffering unprecedented drought.

The documents also show that the Central Valley Water Board found high levels of toxic chemicals - including arsenic, thallium, and nitrates - in water-supply wells near the wastewater-disposal sites.

Arsenic is a carcinogen that weakens the immune system, and thallium is a common component in rat poison.

"Arsenic and thallium are extremely dangerous chemicals," said Timothy Krantz, a professor of environmental studies at the University of Redlands, according to the Center for Biological Diversity.

"The fact that high concentrations are showing up in multiple water wells close to wastewater injection sites raises major concerns about the health and safety of nearby residents."


California water expert: 'Nobody has any idea how disastrous it's going to be'

Newly released images created from NASA satellite data illustrate the staggering effect the California drought has had on groundwater supply in the state. As Mashable's Patrick Kulp explains, the images show the amount of water lost over the past 12 years, with different colors indicating severity over time. "Nobody has any idea how disastrous it's going to be," Mike Wade of California Farm Water Coalition told the Associated Press, as RT reports a growing number of communities in central and northern California could end up without water in 60 days due to the Golden state's prolonged drought. While California is bearing the brunt, experts note "We're seeing it happening all over the world, in most of the major aquifers in the arid and semi-arid parts of the world."
Via Mashable,
California is currently experiencing the third year of one of the most severe short-term droughts ever recorded. Data from U.S. Drought Monitor shows that as of Sept. 30, 82% of the state is facing extreme or exceptional drought conditions.

But the state is not the only area being plagued by critical drops in groundwater reserves. Data collected by GRACE indicates that the supply of groundwater is in decline worldwide, especially in regions that rely on it most.

"We're seeing it happening all over the world. It's happening in most of the major aquifers in the arid and semi-arid parts of the world where we rely on those aquifers. But we're able to see now the impact we're having on this over exploitation," Famiglietti told Science Magazine.

Comment: U.S. Drought Monitor: California drought covers 100% of state

Cow Skull

U.S. historic drought causes hungry bears to seek for food - 9 bears captured in 2 days near Reno, Nevada

The historic drought in the western United States has led to a surge of hungry black bears coming down from the Sierra Nevada in search of food.

In this photo provided by Nevada Department of Wildlife, a black bear captured in Carson City earlier in the day sits in a trap outside the Nevada Department of Wildlife headquarters in Reno, Nev., on Thursday, Oct. 2, 2014, awaiting its release back to the wild.
Just this week, nine black bears were captured in the Lake Tahoe area in a two-day span, Nevada Department of Wildlife officials said Thursday. Two mother bears and three cubs were captured in Reno, Nev., while a sow and two cubs were corralled near Stateline. A 2-year-old bruin was caught near Carson City. A 10th was struck and killed by a car in Reno.

"Nothing much gets in the bear's way when they are this hungry," Carl Lackey, the agency's chief wildlife biologist, told the Associated Press. "Nature's dinner bell is ringing." According to officials, 42 black bears have been caught since July 1, and 40 were released back into the wild. Two repeat offenders had to be killed, the agency said; 10 were killed by cars.

The influx was expected. The drought, coupled with cooler temperatures, has resulted in the bears coming down from the foothills to scavenge residential areas for food in preparation for winter hibernation. According to Nevada Department of Wildlife spokesman Chris Healy, bears typically eat up to 25,000 calories a day - the equivalent of 83 McDonald's cheeseburgers, he said.

Bizarro Earth

Shocking groundwater loss in California revealed in NASA images

This week, scientists working on the GRACE mission released a series of images that reflect the drastic loss of groundwater over the last dozen years. The image on the left was taken in June 2002, just three months after GRACE was launched. The one in the middle was taken in June 2008, and the one on the right is from June 2014.

These are not satellite photographs. The colors indicate how much groundwater has been lost over time.
© UC Irvine, NASA
This series of satellite images reflects the huge loss of groundwater in California
Worst hit, according to NASA, are the Sacramento River and San Joaquin River basins, where water has been pumped out to support agriculture in the Central Valley and elsewhere. Since 2011, the amount of water removed from these river basins each year added up to 4 trillion gallons. That's "an amount far greater than California's 38 million residents use in cities and homes annually," NASA noted.


U.S. Drought Monitor: California drought covers 100% of state

U.S. Drought Monitor for California as of September 30, 2014:


Bizarro Earth

The demise and resurrection of Kazakhstan's Aral Sea

ships aral sea
© Reuters / Shamil Zhumatov
Children run past ruined ships abandoned in sand that once formed the bed of the Aral Sea near the village of Zhalanash, in southwestern Kazakhstan
The basin of Kazakhstan's Aral Sea, once the fourth largest lake in the world, is now completely dry. The history of the sea, which derived its name from a Kyrgyz word meaning "Sea of Islands," is revealed in a series of 10 videos.


Northern California: Growing list of communities running out of water in 60 days

California's water shortage has reached a critical stage.
Critical areas that are running out of water in 60 days.
At least a dozen communities in Northern and Central California are at risk of running out of water in just 60 days. The areas in jeopardy include Colusa and El Dorado County. These are relatively small communities and they rely on one source of water.

Butte County north of Sacramento is getting hit hard. At Big Bend Mobile Home Park near Oroville, home to more than 30 families, the water supply is so low that between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m., it is completely shut off.

"Hard when you have to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night," said resident Michelle Payne. "I guess we're not flushing." The only water source for her entire community is a single well. There are other wells on the property, but they have all run dry.

"There's really nothing can you about it," said resident John Dougherty. "I don't water any plants... try to cut back on toilet usage... whatever we can do is what you gotta do...all we can do." "Pretty much anything that was alive weeks ago is dry, 'cuz we haven't been able to water," said Payne.

Some families have started driving five miles down the road to get drinking water from a spring box, for themselves and their animals.

Statewide the water shortages are getting worse. In just a month, the Water Resource Board's list of communities at risk of running out of water in 60 days has grown from 8 to 12. Big Bend Mobile Home Park made that list.

Comment: From February, 2014:
California drought: 10 communities at acute risk of running out of drinking water in 60 days

Cloud Lightning

Ups and downs: 2013's natural disasters in review

earth changes
According to the "Annual Disaster Statistical Review 2013" published this month by the Centre for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters (CRED), 2013 is a year with 330 registered natural disasters. This is less than the average annual disaster frequency observed from 2003 to 2012 which is 388, and represents a decrease in associated human impacts of disasters which were, in 2013, at their lowest level in last 16 years.

The death toll of natural disasters still killed a significant number of people totaling to 21,610 but this is largely below the annual average between 2003-2012 which is 106,654.

96.5 million people became victims worldwide, which was also below the 2003-2012 annual average of 216 million. On the side of the economy, economic damages from natural disasters shows, in 2013, a decrease to average levels, 2013 US$ 156.7billion, with estimates placing the costs at US$ 118.6 billion.

Trends in occurrence and victims (deaths and affected)
For the last decade, China, the United States, Indonesia, the Philippines and India constitute together the top 5 countries that are most frequently hit by natural disasters.

In 2013, China experienced its highest number of natural disasters of the last decade. The country was affected by a variety of disaster types, including 17 floods and landslides, 15 storms, 7 earthquakes and one mass movement of geological origin, one drought and one period of extreme temperature.

Comment: In sum, 2013 saw fewer disasters, deaths, victims and economic damages on the whole. However, it saw isolated instances of record-breaking disasters, while floods and storms were responsible for the worst damage in terms of people affected. China and the U.S. continue to be hit the hardest, with China enduring its highest number of disasters in the last decade.

As Pierre Lescaudron describes in his book, Earth Changes and the Human-Cosmic Connection, this apparent decrease in disasters is probably due to an overall decrease in the Earth's electric field (due to a solar-companion-induced drop in the Sun's activity) and an increase in the conductivity of that field (due to the increase in comet dust entering our atmosphere). The result: more frequent, smaller storms (hurricanes, tornadoes, lightning, etc.). This will show up in the statistics as a drop in major natural disasters, but as we can see around us, it doesn't say much about the continued crazy weather the planet has been experiencing the last couple years.

It's the time for floods and storms to do their damage, while cosmically-induced processes perhaps build up for some future, major disasters. Think Chelyabinsk. Think Ebola.


California firefighters battle out of control wildfire as area withers under triple-digit temperatures

Los Angeles - Hundreds of firefighters spent a second day on Saturday battling a wildfire burning out of control in a national forest southeast of Los Angeles, as the region baked under triple-digit temperatures that prompted authorities to issue a "heat alert."

The so-called Silverado Fire, which broke out in the Cleveland National Forest on Friday morning, had charred some 1,600 acres (647 hectares) by Saturday afternoon as it burned through brush and chaparral left bone dry by California's record drought.

Evacuation orders were issued for more than 200 homes in and around Silverado Canyon as some 740 firefighters worked to gain a measure of control over the flames, assisted by 10 water-dropping helicopters and five fixed-wing aircraft, according to the U.S Forest Service fire-tracking website InciWeb.

The heat wave that has sent temperatures soaring over 100 Fahrenheit (38 Celsius) in parts of Southern California on Saturday and was not expected to break until late Sunday. The sweltering heat prompted Los Angeles health officials to issue a "heat alert" for this weekend, urging residents to take special precautions.

"Extreme heat such as this is not just an inconvenience, it can be dangerous and even deadly, but we can protect ourselves, our families and our neighbors if we take steps to remain cool and hydrated," Dr. Jeffrey Gunzenhauser, the city's interim health director, said in issuing the heat alert.