Friday, August 30, 2013
As Floods Ravage Sudan Young Volunteers Revive A Tradition Of Aid
By ISMA’IL KUSHKUSH
KHARTOUM, Sudan — Their temporary headquarters are a beehive of young volunteers buzzing in and out of rooms, up and down stairs, carrying bags of donated food, medicine and large packets of plastic sheets.
“What happened to your house?” one volunteer asks on the phone, as others load aid on trucks or create maps and charts on laptops. “And where do you say you are? We’ll have a team out there soon.”
They are the members of Nafeer, a volunteer, youth-led initiative that responded swiftly to the humanitarian crisis caused by heavy rains and flash floods that struck Sudan this month.
The deluge has taken a heavy toll. Beyond the dozens of people killed, more than 300,000 people have been directly affected, with 74,000 homes damaged or destroyed, according to the United Nations. The spread of diseases like malaria is also reported to be on the rise.
The impact of the heavy rains and floods has been felt in most of Sudan, including the camps for displaced people in the war-torn region of Darfur. In one case, six United Nations peacekeepers were swept away by a current. Four are still missing.
But the area around Khartoum, the capital, suffered the hardest blow. More rain is expected, and as the Nile and the Blue Nile rise to record levels, many fear the worst is yet to come.
“We saw that the heavy rains and floods were going to impact the lives of many, and we felt we had a social responsibility to help people,” said Muhammad Hamd, 28, a Nafeer spokesman. “The idea came out of a discussion on Facebook among friends.”
A “nafeer” is a Sudanese social tradition that comes from an Arabic word meaning “a call to mobilize.” The group’s formation was all the more important because the Sudanese government was slow to respond, some critics say.
“It was a weak response,” said Khalid Eltigani, the executive editor of Ilaf, a weekly newspaper. “The Nafeer youth broke the silence on the flood situation.”
Government officials said that the level of rain this year had surpassed their expectations, but they maintained that matters were under control.
“There is no need to declare a state of emergency,” said Sudan’s interior minister, Ibrahim Mahmoud Hamid.
Mark Cutts, the head of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in Sudan, described the situation as a “huge disaster,” which his agency called the worst floods in 25 years. Aid has arrived from United Nations agencies, Qatar, the United States, Japan, Egypt, Ethiopia and others.Z
The rainy season started late this year in Sudan, but when it arrived, it came with a vengeance.
“We can attribute this to climate change,” said Nagmeldin Elhassan of the Higher Council for Environment and Natural Resources, a government agency.
Mr. Elhassan, who has contributed to reports by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, referred to studies that predicted what he called “incidents of frequent and intense droughts and incidents of high levels of rains” in the region and “shifts in rain patterns,” like later start dates of the rainy season.
Poor urban planning, however, may have also contributed to the immense damage caused by flash flooding, especially around Khartoum.
“You have to imagine yourself in their place — no shelter, no food, no water,” she said. “You wouldn’t stand it.”
End of excerpt
Floods Kill Many People In Sudan
Thousands of people have died in extreme weather events in just the last five years. Yet, no international outcry over this. No outcry over the agriculture lost. The biodiversity. The lives. No urgent calls to do what is now necessary to prepare this world for what is coming now and in our future. We will see more events like this taking place as we continue to push the envelope of our climate system. We will continue to see more people in our world especially who live in poverty subjected to the worst of these catastrophes because of poor infrastructure, sewage and lack of preparation and the disease it brings as well as political stagnation, ideology and pride. This is indeed the greatest moral challenge of our time and yet, we continue to monopolize time needed to solve this squabbling with those in a minority who for their own arrogant selfish reasons would rather sit and massage their egos rather than see this reality.
And if we look at just the last couple of months we see these events happening more severely globally. However, it seems to now be treated as war is. People are becoming desensitized to the true urgency of the climate crisis because the media hides the truth. The media covers for those making profit from deception.
It is wonderful to see youth in Sudan taking up the call to provide aid in place of a government that is uncaring or overwhelmed by this. However, this is hardly enough to bring the aid truly needed.
Late monsoons with extreme flooding and deluges as the Himalayas on the whole continue to melt.
This video is in Pakistani, but you only need eyes to see.
Russia's Far East Hit With Most Severe Flooding In 120 Years
China has been one of the epicenters of climate change with more severe and extreme flooding, drought and storms.
Colorado, US. Flooding, Hail storms, Wildfires
The Philippines as well has been hard hit by more severe storms:
Greece only a couple months ago.
Torrential rains hit Athens over only a few hours. This while another monster storm hits the Midwest in the US and heavy snows hit East China. Extreme weather globally is now being called the "new normal" but is anything but. Shifting weather patterns are now putting our global agricultural output in danger and causing economic and social upheaval particularly in poorer areas of the world. This is what obfuscation, political partisanship, ideology, warped political alignments and oil lies have brought us. We simply cannot afford to keep burning oil and thinking it has no effect on our environment and climate.
Take a look at this recent storm in Belgium:
Days Of Torrential Rain In China
Alberta Flooding, India Monsoons, Flooding Lourdes
Central Europe Floods, Midwest Floods, Heatwaves, etc.
So are we to now continue on this road where these events are just "move along nothing to see here" to suit an elitist minority that cares more for their stock portfolios? Or are we going to come together as citizens of the world untied to arrogance, pride, biases and prejudices to open our eyes? To at the very least spread that tradition of aid?
Climate change is real and no temporary "lull" being pushed by the usual subjects for their own agenda can cover up the trend we have been seeing as the time lag effect of our folly now falls down upon us.
“There is no doubt that humans are changing the weather, mainly through changes in the atmospheric composition from burning fossil fuels. The resulting global warming is clearly evident in temperature increases, melting glaciers and Arctic sea ice, rising sea levels, and changes to more extreme rain storms. Stronger drought, heat waves and wild fires are also a result."
Kevin Trenberth, who studies the influence of climate change on extreme weather as head of the Climate Analysis Section at the USA National Center for Atmospheric Research.
Monday, August 26, 2013
Feds Slash Colorado River Release To Historic Low
for National Geographic
Published August 16, 2013
A "No Fishing" sign sits improbably along a dry desert road in Nevada. The largest man-made reservoir in the U.S., Lake Mead, once extended this far—but the watery destination of anglers and boaters has shrunk so much that the lakeshore now is about a half-mile away. (View an interactive map of the region.)
The recession of the massive lake that straddles Nevada and Arizona is symbolic of a long-standing problem that just got a lot worse: The Colorado River's record-low flows and the shrunken reservoirs of lakes Mead and Powell (pictured above) for the first time have triggered big cuts in the amount of water allowed to flow downstream. The loss has prompted one alarmed official to float the idea that Western states ask for federal aid.
A new report has brought a sense of urgency to the slow-moving disaster represented by the shrinking Colorado River.
For days and weeks, water officials fretted that the federal Bureau of Reclamation's anticipated 24-month study would deliver bad news, and it did. The agency—a division of the Department of Interior that provides water and power in the West—announced today it would cut water released from Lake Powell's Glen Canyon Dam by 750,000 acre-feet next year. That's about enough water to serve 1.5 million homes.
"Unprecedented," said Scott Huntley, spokesperson for the Las Vegas-based Southern Nevada Water Authority, whose chief, Pat Mulroy, has mentioned the idea of seeking federal aid.
A business coalition warned of an "unprecedented water crisis within the next few years," thanks to the situation in lakes Mead and Powell, the latter of which straddles Arizona and Utah.
It's the first time in the history of the nearly 50-year-old Glen Canyon Dam that water going downstream would be cut. "This is the worst 14-year drought period in the last hundred years," said Upper Colorado regional director Larry Walkoviak in a press release.
Among the effects, said Gary Wockner of SavetheColorado.org, are negative impacts on fish, wildlife, and the ecosystem in the Grand Canyon. "The river is already severely endangered due to way too many dams and diversions," said Wockner. "The impact on the health of the Colorado River is unsustainable."
Las Vegas effectively has two straws into Lake Mead, which is roughly 300 miles (480 kilometers) downstream of Lake Powell, to get its water. One of those straws could stop working once the lake drops too far—somewhere between 1,050 feet (320 meters) and 1,075 feet (328 meters) above sea level, it's thought. Perhaps as early as autumn 2014, Lake Mead is expected to drop to 1,075 feet (down 25 feet from the current level).
Anticipating trouble earlier, the city's water authority has been busy installing a third straw to reach a deeper part of Lake Mead.
"It's essentially a race for us," Huntley said, as the lake "is going to drop more precipitously than seen in the past."
If things continue to worsen as climate change brings more evaporation and less rain over time, other issues will come into focus for the seven states and part of Mexico that rely on the Colorado River. Power production at Hoover Dam would stop if the water's elevation drops enough, for example.
"You won't be able to put water through the turbines," Huntley said. "You don't have enough really to be much more than a river at that point, as opposed to a storage reservoir."
(Related: "8 Rivers Run Dry.")
What the Report Means
"It's a kick in the pants or a blow to the head to make us pay attention to both short-term and long-term projections of supply and demand imbalances," Brad Udall said of the Bureau of Reclamation report. Udall is the director of the University of Colorado Law School's Getches-Wilkinson Center for Natural Resources, Energy, and the Environment.
Record drought and overuse of water from the meager Colorado River have taken a toll. Tree-ring reconstructions of stream flow suggest the past 14 years rank among the lowest stream-flow periods in 1,200 years, according to Udall and Michael Connor, commissioner of the Bureau of Reclamation.
"Something very, very unusual is going on," said Udall, who suspects climate change is playing a part.
It's as if a giant sucked up an astonishing amount of water with a straw. Some 8.23 million acre-feet of water is supposed to flow each year into Lake Mead from Lake Powell to serve Nevada, Arizona, California, and Mexico, per long-standing interstate and international agreements. But the past 14 years have been tough.
"Basically, Mead has lost the equivalent of one entire year's worth of flow," Udall said. "It's missing 8 million acre-feet of water." (An acre-foot of water is equivalent to one acre with 12 inches of water on it.)
Lake Powell also is missing a year's worth (about 15 million acre-feet). Drought is the main culprit for Lake Powell, Udall said, while Lake Mead's issue is overuse.
The Colorado River Basin "is one of the most critical sources of water in the West," Connor said in written comments submitted to a Senate subcommittee hearing in July. The river and its tributaries quench the thirsts of 40 million people and nearly 5.5 million acres of farmland, plus seven national wildlife refuges, four national recreation areas, and 11 national parks.
end of excerpt.
Climate Change Reflected In Lake Mead
In the article above regarding climate change reflected in Lake Mead the author is hopeful that snows will return and the river system can be saved. I too share that hope. However, after watching this play out over the last decade there is no doubt that climate instability has taken hold in this region of the country. Anyone paying attention knows of the increase in drought and wildfires in concert with the decreasing level of the Colorado River. I think we are now at the stage when we will see more people coming forward to do all they can to conserve and preserve this treasure. However, the question we now need to ask is will it be enough? Has it gone too far?
This is why it is so important to listen to scientific reports on these regions that for the most part have been correct and not get sidetracked by the noise of those who continually seek to deny this reality for their own selfish reasons. We must never see the day when the Colorado River can no longer support life. This goes so far beyond the vendetta of politically, ideologically and financially motivated special interests. This is about our heritage, our culture, the very heart of America. And this is not trite: This IS about our children and all species that share this life source with us.
"It's as if a giant sucked up an astonishing amount of water with a straw."
Yes, and dumped it on NJ, Missouri, Colorado...
The warnings of the past are now present. We still have time to listen, learn and act.
Lake Mead Is Drying Up
The Greatest Water Crisis In The History Of Civilization: Coming To The American West?"
Colorado River- Running On Empty
Colorado River Reservoirs Could Bottom Out By Mid-century
Southwest Turns Anxious Eye To Shrinking Lake Mead
So All May Drink Wisely From The Colorado
Southwest Water Woes
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