Warming, Water Crisis, Then Unrest: How Iran Fits an Alarming Pattern

Warming, Water Crisis, Then Unrest: How Iran Fits an Alarming Pattern

SOURCE: New York Times and LA Times DATE: January 18, 2018 SNIP: Nigeria. Syria. Somalia. And now Iran. In each country, in different ways, a water crisis has triggered some combination of civil unrest, mass migration, insurgency or even full-scale war. In the era of climate change, their experiences hold lessons for a great many other countries. The World Resources Institute warned this month of the rise of water stress globally, “with 33 countries projected to face extremely high stress in 2040.” Iran is the latest example of a country where a water crisis, long in the making, has fed popular discontent. That is particularly true in small towns and cities in what is already one of the most parched regions of the world. Climate change is projected to make Iran hotter and drier. A former Iranian agriculture minister, Issa Kalantari, once famously said that water scarcity, if left unchecked, would make Iran so harsh that 50 million Iranians would leave the country altogether. Water alone doesn’t explain the outbreak of protests that began in early January and spread swiftly across the country. But as David Michel, an analyst at the Stimson Center put it, the lack of water — whether it’s dry taps in the city, or dry wells in the countryside, or dust storms rising from a shrinking Lake Urmia (pictured) — is one of the most common, most visible markers of the government’s failure to deliver basic services. “Water is not going to bring down the government,” he said. “But it’s a component — in some towns, a significant component — of grievances and...
Climate scientists see alarming new threat to California

Climate scientists see alarming new threat to California

SOURCE: Los Angeles Times DATE: December 5, 2017 SNIP: California could be hit with significantly more dangerous and more frequent droughts in the near future as changes in weather patterns triggered by global warming block rainfall from reaching the state, according to new research led by scientists at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. Using complex new modeling, the scientists have found that rapidly melting Arctic sea ice now threatens to diminish precipitation over California by as much as 15% within 20 to 30 years. Such a change would have profound economic impacts in a state where the most recent drought drained several billion dollars out of the economy, severely stressed infrastructure and highlighted how even the state most proactively confronting global warming is not prepared for its fallout. “As we learn more about the subtleties in the dynamics of climate change, we are learning that certain climate change impacts, like California drought, may be far worse than we had previously thought,” [Michael] Mann [director of the Earth System Science Center at Pennsylvania State University] wrote. “It also means that, when it comes to water resource issues in California, the impacts of climate change may exceed our adaptive capacity. That leaves only mitigation — doing something about climate change — as a viable strategy moving...
Climate change: Jordan water crisis ‘to get worse’

Climate change: Jordan water crisis ‘to get worse’

SOURCE: Al Jazeera DATE: November 7, 2017 SNIP: Water shortages in Jordan are likely to get far worse over the coming years, according to a recent study by Stanford University. The researchers said that, in the absence of international climate policy action, the country could receive 30 percent less rainfall by 2100 and annual temperatures could increase by 4.5 Celsius. This would double the number and duration of droughts when compared with the 1981-2010 period, raising concerns in a country already dealing with water shortages. Currently, the reservoirs in Jordan are at a record low – only one-fifth full – and the vital winter rains are becoming increasingly erratic. There seems little respite for the country, which draws 160 percent more water from the ground than is replenished by...
Parched Cape runs out of time

Parched Cape runs out of time

SOURCE: Business Live, South Africa DATE: October 30, 2017 SNIP: [T]here is a growing likelihood of mass migration of people over a frighteningly short time as the Cape’s economy begins to fail. In the worst-case scenario, SA may be faced with millions of water refugees. And the people who are unable to migrate will face enormous difficulties just to gain access to drinking water, while the sewerage system collapses, disease breaks out and medical services fail. The Cape’s water crisis is a humanitarian disaster in the making from which the country certainly cannot...
Floods are bad, but droughts may be even worse

Floods are bad, but droughts may be even worse

SOURCE: CBS News DATE: October 24, 2017 SNIP: It is by now a familiar story: The storm hits, the cities flood, dramatic rescues ensue to save people from the rising waters, followed by the arduous and expensive cleanup. But chances are you’ve thought less about the deadly and economically destructive consequences of a slower-moving culprit: drought. Repeated droughts around the world are destroying enough farm produce to feed 81 million people for a year and are four times more costly for economies than floods, the World Bank found in a new study. Beyond hindering food production, erratic rainfall patterns and longer droughts as the climate changes are causing a host of problems for cities, including businesses. “There are many, many parts of the globe where the one-in-50 year ‘dry shock’ appears in six out of the last 10 years for which we have data,” he said. “There are other parts of the world where these dry shocks have emerged for seven or eight of the last 10 years. This is not a problem for the future — it’s a problem for the here and now.” Dwindling supply makes it more likely that water becomes stagnant or contaminated. People may wash their hands less if they are conserving, leading to disease. And children may fail to grow normally, stunting development and raising health costs, Damania said. On farms, the consequences are also grim for the food supply and the planet, the study found. Below-average rainfall over years hurts crop yields and pushes farmers into forests, cutting down a natural “climate stabilizer.” That leads to more drought, exacerbating the problem. Other...