Trump’s Border Wall Endangers Arizona’s Wildlife Amid Drought

Trump’s Border Wall Endangers Arizona’s Wildlife Amid Drought

SOURCE: Truthdig DATE: October 4, 2019 SNIP: August is normally Arizona’s wettest month. Not this year, though. The usual monsoon season failed to arrive, and just 1.5 inches of rain fell sporadically on the state throughout the month — the same period that the city of Phoenix experienced record high temperatures of up to 114 degrees Fahrenheit. It’s also driven wildlife managers to fret over whether the state’s abundant wildlife — which rely on infrequent rains — will have enough water to survive. “As the drought has deepened, the waters that wildlife traditionally used are going away or have completely disappeared,” says Kevin Woolridge, a teacher at Blue Ridge High School in Arizona who, with his students’ help, has collaborated with the Arizona Game and Fish Department to monitor the drought and its impact on wildlife. Meanwhile a new manmade threat to Arizona’s water has cropped up. The Trump administration has begun construction on a stretch of the U.S.-Mexico border wall at Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument, a UNESCO biosphere reserve. As part of construction, the Trump administration plans to pull up some of Arizona’s precious groundwater — not to hydrate people or animals, but to mix with concrete to build a 44-mile section of the border wall. While the federal government spends billions on its wall across the border and sucks up some of Arizona’s last remaining ancient groundwater in the process, Arizona wildlife officials are asking the public for millions of dollars in donations to fund the delivery of water to animals in parched areas across the state. Beginning in the 1940s, long before the world was...
Somali aid community faces up to a new reality of recurring drought

Somali aid community faces up to a new reality of recurring drought

SOURCE: Devex DATE: July 9, 2019 SNIP: If she were to meet someone from her past life, Halima Dahir Mahmoud is not sure they would recognize her. She’s lost weight and is constantly stressed. She was once a nomadic herder who would roam the Ethiopian countryside with her 200 sheep and goats, and 50 camels. Now she lives in a displacement camp on the outskirts of Somaliland’s capital city of Hargeisa. A few years ago, her animals started dying because of a regional drought. Eventually, there were none left. Her family left Ethiopia and walked 12 hours until they reached the displacement camp where they now live. Drought has burdened the region year after year since 2015, killing off livestock and crops. Globally, there has been an increase in the intensity and frequency of extreme weather events. In the Horn of Africa, scientists have linked climate change to frequent drought conditions. “We’ve faced five years of consecutive drought in this country. Livelihoods have collapsed,” said Mohamed Abdalle Hussein, director of administration and finance at the National Disaster Preparedness and Food Reserve Authority in Somaliland — a region that unilaterally declared independence from Somalia in 1991, although this is not internationally recognized. In the past, there was typically a buffer zone of good rainy seasons in between droughts that allowed people to recover and rebuild their assets, Hussein said. “Drought is a common disaster we’ve always faced, but the interval has changed. Before, it was a five to seven-year interval between [periods] when we experienced drought. Now that interval has decreased to one to two years,” he said. “If you...
Drought and climate change blamed for the death of centuries-old sandalwood trees

Drought and climate change blamed for the death of centuries-old sandalwood trees

SOURCE: ABC (Australia) DATE: July 6, 2019 SNIP: Rare Australian sandalwood trees that are more than 200 years old are dying in South Australia’s outback. Ecologist John Read spotted the dying trees on his property at Secret Rocks, between Whyalla and Kimba, on the state’s Eyre Peninsula. The trees had been seen by the explorer Edward John Eyre in 1840. “If it was just a single species of tree, you might think it would be a pest or disease that’s gone through, but we’ve noticed quite a significant die-off of wattles and long-lived pine trees.” Mr Read called for national action on climate change and said: “old trees don’t...
Indian villages lie empty as drought forces thousands to flee

Indian villages lie empty as drought forces thousands to flee

SOURCE: The Guardian DATE: June 12, 2019 SNIP: Hundreds of Indian villages have been evacuated as a historic drought forces families to abandon their homes in search of water. The country has seen extremely high temperatures in recent weeks. On Monday the capital, Delhi, saw its highest ever June temperature of 48C. In Rajasthan, the city of Churu recently experienced highs of 50.8C, making it the hottest place on the planet. Further south, less than 250 miles from the country’s commercial capital, Mumbai, village after village lies deserted. Estimates suggest up to 90% of the area’s population has fled, leaving the sick and elderly to fend for themselves in the face of a water crisis that shows no sign of abating. Wells and handpumps have run dry in the 45C heatwave. The drought, which officials say is worse than the 1972 famine that affected 25 million people across the state, began early in December. By the end of May, Hatkarwadi had been deserted with only 10-15 families remaining out of a population of more than 2,000. With 80% of districts in neighbouring Karnataka and 72% in Maharashtra hit by drought and crop failure, the 8 million farmers in these two states are struggling to survive. More than 6,000 tankers supply water to villages and hamlets in Maharashtra daily, as conflict brews between the two states over common water resources. By the end of May, 43% of India was experiencing drought, with failed monsoon rains seen as the primary reason. The country has seen widespread drought every year since 2015, with the exception of 2017. Groundwater, the source of 40%...
In Southeast, Alaska is seeing its first extreme drought ever recorded, climatologists say

In Southeast, Alaska is seeing its first extreme drought ever recorded, climatologists say

SOURCE: Anchorage Daily News DATE: May 26, 2019 SNIP: Alaska’s wettest region is experiencing an extreme drought for the first time in recorded history, climate scientists say. The southernmost portion of Southeast Alaska, including Ketchikan, Prince of Wales Island, Wrangell and Metlakatla, has been in a drought for the last two years, said Rick Thoman, a climatologist at the Fairbanks-based Alaska Center for Climate Assessment and Policy. Last week, though, the drought was updated to a D3, or “extreme” drought, the second-highest category the U.S. Drought Monitor measures. It’s the first time those conditions have ever been recorded in Alaska, according to the Drought Monitor. Meanwhile, areas experiencing lesser “severe” and “moderate” droughts on the Panhandle have expanded, the Drought Monitor said. Although this week represents the first time an “extreme” drought classification has ever been recorded in Alaska, it’s likely not the first the region has ever seen, climatologists caution. Similar deficits were measured in the early 1990s — before the U.S. Drought Monitor was established — and episodically throughout the 2000s. The drier conditions have also caused ecological damage, including an increase in insect pests like the saw fly, damage to coastal foliage and warmer stream temperatures that may inhibit salmon spawning, climatologists...