EDRO

Seeding Socioeconomic Avalanches! [Hacked by WordPress; filtered by Google!]

Posts Tagged ‘drought’

10 Facts on Climate Change

Posted by edro on February 8, 2010

AND Its Impact on the Weather Patterns

  1. OUR Home planet is undergoing an extended period of accelerating Climate Change.
  2. The impacts of Climate Change on our weather patterns are worsening exponentially.
  3. Extremes of change in the temperature, precipitation, drought… are intensifying.
  4. The time periods within which the changes occur are shortening, therefore the rate of changes are accelerating.
  5. As an outcome of (1) to (4) above, the frequency and severity of climatic disasters are exponentially increasing.
  6. The disasters are targeting the planet’s water, soil, food and energy resources, increasing human vulnerability and triggering a die-off.
  7. Emerging patterns strongly suggest that the consequence of climate change are increasingly more catastrophic, beyond the wildest worst case conditions ever imaginable.
  8. The period of change could last for years to decades, Millennia to epoch. [Most of that would prove of no consequence to humans.]
  9. There`re NO known patterns for definitive comparisons of the extent of the changes.
  10. Unless the adverse affects of  human impact on the planet are removed, or substantially reduced, die-off will occur sooner rather than later.

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Posted in die-off, human impact, human vulnerability, impact of Climate Change, Weather Patterns | Tagged: , , , , | 11 Comments »

Iraq Faces Environmental Catastrophe

Posted by edro on July 31, 2009

Man-made disasters drive Iraq to the verge of ecological collapse

War of occupation and the near total destruction of infrastructure, drought and water shortages, desertification and sandstorms, collective ignorance and pathological violence, fear and political corruption, and mismanagement of resources are accelerating the pace of destruction in Iraq, hastening the collapse of local and regional ecosystems.

Plagued by frequent dust storms, Iraq is  being transformed from a fertile country to a dust bowl.Iraq dust storm AP
Iraq dust storms. July 4, 2009. U.S. soldiers walk through dust at Forward Operating Base Warhorse in Baqubah, Iraq. Decades of war and mismanagement, compounded by two years of drought, are transforming what was once the region’s most fertile area into a wasteland.

Iraq is now entering its third year of drought, with no relief in sight. Wells, marshes and riverbeds are drying up, “turning arable land into desert, killing trees and plants, and generally transforming what was once the region’s most fertile area into a wasteland.”

Falling agricultural production means that Iraq, once a food exporter, will this year have to import nearly 80% of its food, spending money that is urgently needed for reconstruction projects. LATimes reported.

iraq_amo_2009210
The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Aqua satellite captured this true-color image of Iraq on July 30, 2009, the second consecutive day of heavy dust over the country. Thick dust blows southeastward over the Tigris and Euphrates floodplain and the Persian Gulf. The dust is thick enough to completely hide the land surface and water bodies below. [Acquired: July 30, 2009]  NASA image by Jeff Schmaltz, MODIS Rapid Response Team, Goddard Space Flight Center. Caption by Michon Scott.

july 5 dust storm over Iraq
Iraq dust storms. A satellite image of  dust storm over Iraq on July 5. Since the start of 2009 summer, the storms have struck the country almost daily.

For earlier images of dust storms over Iraq click here.

Nearly 30 years of war and occupation is finally taking its toll. As the drought and mismanagement of land continue, the frequency and extent of sandstorms rise as if proportionally. The storms have become longer-lasting.

The Ministry of Agriculture reported that 90% of the land has either turned to desert or is experiencing severe desertification, with the remaining arable land eroding at an annual rate of 5%, LATimes reported.

The director-general of the ministry’s Department for Combating Desertification said:

Severe desertification is like cancer in a human being… . When the land loses its vegetation cover, it’s very hard to get it back. You have to deal with it meter by meter.

Sandstorms are just one of the massive problems that Iraq faces. According to the LATimes report:

The effects extend far beyond the immediate inconveniences of dust storms. Drinking water is scarce in many areas of the south as seawater leaches into the depleted rivers. The fabled marshes of southern Iraq, drained by Saddam Hussein and then re-flooded after the U.S.-led invasion in 2003, are drying up, and the traditional Marsh Arabs who depend on them for their livelihood are being forced to leave again.

Now, Iraq faces a very certain future with most of its fragile ecosystem dramatically collapsing, almost on a daily basis.

Baghdad dust storm - AP
Iraqis cover their faces during one of Baghdad’s increasingly frequent dust storms. Officials say decades of war and mismanagement, compounded by two years of drought, are wreaking havoc on the ecosystem. Photo Karim Kadim/Associated Press. Caption LATimes. Image may be subject to copyright.

Vanishing Marshes of Mesopotamia

landsat_mesopotamia  1973-1975Landsat satellite imagery reveals that in the last 10 years, wetlands that once covered as much as 20,000 square km (7,725 square miles) in parts of Iraq and Iran have been reduced to about 15 percent of their original size. Through the damming and siphoning off of waters from the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers, the ecosystem has been decimated and, as a result, a number of plant and animal species face possible extinction.

The top image is a false-color composite made from data collected by the Multi-Spectral Scanner (MSS) aboard Landsat from 1973-76. Four Landsat scenes were stitched together to make an image of the whole region. In this scene, dense marsh vegetation (mainly phragmites, or marsh grass) appears as dark red patches. The elongated red patches along the banks of the Shatt-al-Arab River are Date Palm groves. The Shatt-al-Arab begins where the Tigris and Euphrates meet and carries their waters southeastward into the Persian Gulf.

The middle image (not shown above; click to see the full resolution) shows the state of the marshlands on September 7, 1990, shortly after the Iran-Iraq war. This image was acquired by the MSS aboard Landsat 5. The scene reveals that a large eastern swath of the Central and Al Hammar Marshes as well as the northwestern and southern fringes of the Al Hawizeh Marsh (the large red areas immediately above and below the Euphrates River, running west to east toward the bottom of this scene) had dried out as a result of causeways constructed to ease military transport in otherwise difficult terrain.

The bottom image is a false-color composite of data from the Landsat 7 Enhanced Thematic Mapper Plus (ETM+), acquired on March 26 and May 4, 2000. In this scene, most of the Central Marshes appear as olive to greyish-brown patches indicating low vegetation cover on moist to dry ground. The very light to grey patches are areas of exposed ground with no vegetation, which may actually be salt flats where before there were lakes. The Al Hawizeh Marsh (straddling the Iran-Iraq border just east of the Tigris River) appears to be all that remains of the region’s natural wetlands, and it has been reduced in size by about half.

Today, river flow into the Mesopotamian marshlands has been cut by 20-50 percent, and the spring floods that sustained the marshlands have been eliminated. The end result is what was once a lush wetland environment roughly the size of the state of New Jersey has been reduced by about 85 percent in area to roughly the size of the small island nation of the Bahamas. What was once a vast, interconnected mosaic of densely-vegetated marshlands and lakes, teeming with life, is now mostly lifeless desert and salt-encrusted lakebeds and riverbeds.

Even for the 1,270 square km (490 square miles) of marshlands that still remain, quality of life has been adversely impacted by a decline in water quality. Human irrigation practices render the Tigris and Euphrates waters saltier than they originally were. And, with the boom in agriculture, there have been dramatic increases in the levels of chemicals as well as a rise in urban and industrial effluents in the rivers. Conversely, most of the load of natural sediments and silts the rivers used to carry now remains trapped behind multiple dams. Lower levels of silt decrease plankton and levels of organic carbon in the water which, in turn, adversely affect fish populations as well as soil fertility along the riverbanks and in the marshlands.

All of these negative trends point to the inevitable demise of the Mesopotamian marshland ecosystem within 2-3 years unless steps are taken soon to reverse the damage being done. Regarded by historians as one of the cradles of civilization, the Mesopotamian Fertile Crescent has supported Marsh Arab society for millennia. The culture of the half million or so Marsh Arabs living in the region is rooted in the dawn of human history, dating back to ancient Sumeria about 5,000 years ago.

This caption was based upon a study conducted by United Nation Environment Programme’s Division of Early Warning and Assessment. Click to access the entire UNEP report (in PDF format), entitled The Mesopotamian Marshlands: Demise of an Ecosystem.

Images courtesy Hassan Partow, UNEP; animation by Lori Perkins, NASA GSFC Science Visualization Studio, based on data from the Landsat 7 science team and the USGS EROS Data Center. Original caption. Source: Earth Observatory/NASA.

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Posted in 286W, baghdad, Euphrates, First Wave of Collapsing Cities, marshlands, Mesopotamian marshlands, Tigris | Tagged: , , , , | 10 Comments »

Cyprus Collapse May Be Imminent!

Posted by edro on July 19, 2008

Submitted by a CASF Member

Cyprus’ extreme environmental stress may lead to early collapse!

Ex-govt official: “We are going through a visual process of desertification.”

Main Causes of Collapse

Climate Change
– Persistent Droughts
– Disruption in climatic patterns
– Low Precipitation
– Higher than normal temperatures
– Heatwaves
– Wildfires and other natural phenomena [disasters] exacerbated by warming

Land
– Urbanization
– Land use and land cover change
– Loss of topsoil
– Soil degradation, especially salination
– Soil erosion caused by high temperatures, low precipitation and hot dry winds

Water
– Extreme water shortages throughout the island worsened by additional [including unforeseen] factors

Tourism
– Causing additional environmental stress
– Creating excessive waste and pollution
– Weakening the Island’s natural defense mechanisms

Main Effects

– Reduced ability to produce food
– Crop failure
– Continued water scarcity (compounded by economic/monetary issues)
– Breakdown of sewage, water and sanitation systems
– Spread of disease pandemics
– Overshoot of Carrying Capacity: The Island may have already passed the tipping point
– Resumption of the Cypriot civil war between the north and south enclaves reignited by the specter of ecological collapse
– Collapse of local ecosystems
– Desertification
– Land abandonment
– Population displacement/climate refugees

Possible Timeline

2011- 2013

Country Data

Estimated Population: 793,000 (July 2008 Estimate)
Area:
Total: 9,250 sq km (of which 3,355 sq km are in north Cyprus)
Land: 9,240 sq km
Water: 10 sq km

No. of Tourists: About 3,000,000

Land use:
Arable land: 10.81%
Permanent crops: 4.32%
Other: 84.87% (2005)

Irrigated land: 400 sq km (2003)

Total renewable water resources
: 0.4 cu km (2005)
Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural):
Total: 0.21 cu km/yr (27%/1%/71%)
Per capita: 250 cu m/yr (2000)

Primary Energy Consumption year 2007: 0.13 Quad BTU [CASF estimate based on EIA data]
Percentage rise compared to year 2000: 20.8 percent

Fossil Fuel consumption (excluding aviation fuel) year 2007: 2,431,399 tonnes of oil [source]
Percentage rise compared to year 2000: 18.4 percent

CO2 Emissions From Consumption of Fossil Fuels year 2007 : 9.65 MMT [CASF estimate for 2007]
Percentage rise compared to year 2000: 22.5 percent

Natural hazards: moderate earthquake activity; droughts

Environment – current issues:
water resource problems (no natural reservoir catchments, seasonal disparity in rainfall, sea water intrusion to island’s largest aquifer, increased salination in the north); water pollution from sewage and industrial wastes; coastal degradation; loss of wildlife habitats from urbanization.

Human Rights Issues
Cyprus [like New Zealand] is primarily a destination country for a large number of women trafficked from Eastern and Central Europe, the Philippines, and the Dominican Republic for the purpose of sexual exploitation; traffickers continued to fraudulently recruit victims for work as dancers in cabarets and nightclubs on short-term “artiste” visas, for work in pubs and bars on employment visas, or for illegal work on tourist or student visas. (Source CIA Factbook, Wikipedia, others)

Population density: It is estimated that at peak tourist season, the effective population density of [Southern] Cyprus exceeds that of the Netherlands (ranked world’s 25th most densely populated).


Location map: Cyprus (dark green) / European Union (light green) / Europe (dark grey). Credit: User 3meandEr, via Wikimedia Commons

Water Facts

  • After little winter rainfall, the drought in Cyprus is now in its fifth year.
  • Cypriot water reserves are at their lowest for 100 years; however, the effective population of Cyprus (citizens and tourists) have multiplied by about 150 folds.
  • “As long as the population remained [as] low [as] in the pre-industrial period, the water was sufficient for supplying cities which received water either from the mountains through the aqueducts or through the groundwater supply.” Said Chris Schabel, medieval historian at the University of Cyprus.
  • The entire island including both the Turkish Cypriot north and the Greek Cypriot south divisions are drought stricken.
  • The Island has an annual requirement of about 210 million cubic meters of water.
  • As of July 16, 2008 the water reservoirs were only about 6.5 percent full. Down one percent in the last three weeks (33 percent of the level 12 months ago).
  • Southern Cyprus’ 17 main reservoirs currently contain a paltry 17,733 cubic meters of water, some of which may be unsuitable for drinking.
  • Emergency measures have limited the supply of running water to homes to only twice weekly.
  • Most of the municipal wells have been shut down to avoid the risk of seawater contamination.
  • “The British policy of drilling boreholes throughout the island resulted in a serious depletion, due to excessive pumping of the groundwater reserves, in the main water bearing areas of Famagusta, Morphou and Akrotiri. It was calculated a few years ago that groundwater resources of Cyprus are over-pumped every year by 40 per cent over the allowable safe yield.” (Source)
  • Cyprus is buying from Greece 8 million cubic meters (2.1 billion gallons) of water to be delivered by November 2008 at a cost of €40 million (US$64 million). The water will only be distributed in the Greek Cypriot south.
  • The first ship carrying water from Greece arrived June 30 at Limassol (Cyprus’ main port). The officials then realized they could not pump the water from tanker because their makeshift pipeline was 10 feet short. Because of the delay, the water turned “odorous” and was deemed unsafe for drinking. The entire tanker load of 40,000 cubic meters was subsequently pumped into the ground, instead of the city’s water network due to contamination fears!
  • Under the initial agreement, two water-laden tankers were scheduled to leave Elefsina near Athens bound for Cyprus every day for six months (6 tankers delivering 200 shipments) between June and November 2008.
  • The Turkish Cypriot north is negotiating a separate arrangement with Turkey for their water needs.
  • The Greek Cypriot south plans to build a third desalination plant.

Agriculture, Wildfires, Desertification

“Extremely hot and dry weather conditions in Cyprus, combined with strong winds led to a disastrous upsurge of forest fires and wildfires in the Troodos Montain area on 29 June 2007. … Small villages had to be evacuated. Some houses were destroyed. Cyprus reported severe material damages in the area. Moreover, two forest fires hit Cyprus on 16 July 2007 in touristic areas of the Island. The first hit the vicinity of the Kalavasos village area … The other was close to Kornos village, which is located 20 km south of Nicosia [capital city]. The total burnt area … in Cyprus measured from satellite imagery on 31 July 2007 was 12 286 hectares.” European Civil Protection.

Climate change is pointing at us “like a loaded gun,” warned the EU Agriculture Commissioner Mariann Fischer Boel at a conference on water policy last week.

“Global warming is happening,” she said. “It’s taken thousands of years for global temperatures to rise by just one degree. In this century we expect to see an increase in global temperatures of between two and six degrees Celsius.”

“Climate change has arrived. Drought has arrived. We need to take out insurance now. Good business sense demands better use of water. For those farmers caught unprepared, climate change could be a sledge hammer,” said Boel. “Maybe there are areas that will benefit from this, like in the north, but we expect climate change to leave a wave of destruction. We expect more heat waves, drought, floods and crop failures.”

We are going through a visual process of desertification. Krasochorio near Limassol, has lost its environment [Ecosystems have collapsed]. Around 85 per cent of the population has left. In Lania, 30 villas are surrounded by burnt land after the fires. What can the villagers do with them now?” Said the former Cypriot Agriculture Ministry official, Antonis Constantinou.

“What Cyprus is not good at is holding water, avoiding erosion, adapting to water shortage, and not giving incentives which can’t guarantee a better future for the island. We are also not so good at keeping greenery, avoiding fires, fighting fires, giving incentives to people to manage land, even non-agricultural land owners,” he added. (Source)

Recent History

Cyprus is situated in the eastern Mediterranean south of Turkey, north of Egypt, and east-southeast of Greece, It is the third-largest Mediterranean island and a busy tourist destination, attracting about 3 million tourists each year.

A former British colony, it gained independence from the UK in 1960 claiming sovereignty over 97% of the island and surrounding waters, with the United Kingdom controlling the remaining three percent. It became a member of the European Union May 1, 2004.

In 1974, following a period of violence between Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots and an attempted Greek Cypriot coup d’état aimed at annexing the island to Greece and sponsored by the Greek military junta of 1967-1974, Turkey invaded and occupied one-third of the island. This led to the displacement of thousands of Cypriots and the establishment of a separate Turkish Cypriot political entity in the north. Cyprus is thus divided to:

  • The area under the effective control of the Republic of Cyprus in the south of the island
  • The Turkish-occupied area in the north, calling itself the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (recognized only by Turkey)
  • The United Nations-controlled Green Line, separating the two
  • Two “Sovereign Base Areas” or military bases Akrotiri and Dhekelia, where United Kingdom is the sovereign despite Cypriot independence. (Source: Wikimedia)


Map of Cyprus: WSBA and ESBA (British military bases at Akrotiri and Dhekelia) are in pink, UN buffer zone dividing the northern (Turkish) and southern (Greek) administrations is shown in gray. The map is adapted from the CIA World Factbook map. (Source).

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Posted in climate change, health, politics, pollution, soil erosion, topsoil, Tourism, Travel, war | Tagged: , , , , | 9 Comments »

The Exponential Growth Economy Elephant in the Room

Posted by edro on July 2, 2008

Original Entry: Blind “experts” examining the elephant

Posted in atmosphere, climate change, energy, environment, future, lifestyle, pollution, soil, war | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Nature’s Defense Mechanisms

Posted by edro on June 27, 2008

How Do Natural Events Form Nature’s Defense Mechanisms?

1. Extremity. They exceed the normal parameters creating significant differences in the events outcome.
2. Selective Targeting. This phenomenon could probably be explained as reflex action.
3. Change of Rhythms. Changes in the established cyles, patterns, tempo and behavioral modes of natural events may offset positive feedback systems.
4. Other Mechanisms.

Are Extreme Precipitation Events Nature’s Defense Mechanisms?

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California ‘Mojavefied’ by 2011?

Posted by edro on June 13, 2008

Water Emergency in Calif

As most of the croplands in the Central U.S. is submerged under floodwater, the heart of California’s farming area is feeling the heat. Gov. Schwarzenegger who proclaimed last week a drought in California, declared yesterday a state of emergency in nine counties in Central Valley.


Coyote Dry Lake, Mojave Desert. Image: AnimAlu via Wikimedia. This file is licensed under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation license, Version 1.2 or any later version published by the Free Software Foundation.

Coyote Dry Lake is a dry lake bed in the Mojave Desert located about 24 km northeast of Barstow, and north of Interstate 15 in southern California. The lake measures about 10 km long and about 6 km wide at its widest section.

Main Entry:

Schwarzenegger Proclaims Water Emergency in Nine Counties

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edro

Posted in atmosphere, climate change, economy, energy, environment, future, lifestyle, pollution, soil, war | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 20 Comments »