Posts Tagged ‘Water Shortage’

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The coming hunger: Record food prices put world ‘in danger’, says UN

Thursday, January 6th, 2011

Food riots, geopolitical tensions, global inflation and increasing hunger among the planet’s poorest people are the likely effects of a new surge in world food prices, which have hit an all-time high according to the United Nations.

The UN’s index of food prices – an international basket comprising wheat, corn, dairy produce, meat and sugar – stands at its highest since the index started in 1990, surpassing even the peaks seen during the 2008 food crisis, which prompted civil disturbances from Mexico to Indonesia.

“We are entering danger territory,” said the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation’s chief economist, Abdolreza Abbassian.

Global food prices have risen for the sixth month in succession. Wheat has almost doubled since June, sugar is at a 30-year high, and pork is up by a quarter since the beginning of 2010.

The trends have already affected the UK where the jump in food prices in November was the highest since 1976. Meat and poultry were up 1 per cent and fruit by 7.5 per cent in one month.

Food producers have been told to expect the wheat price to jump again this month, hitting bakers and the makers of everything from pasta to biscuits.

More is sure to follow and that in turn will add to pressure on the Bank of England to raise interest rates to control rising prices. Higher mortgage bills by the end of the year will add to the unpleasantness facing “middle England” from a year of tax hikes and below-inflation pay rises.

However, the biggest impact of the food price shock will be felt in countries in the developing world where staple items command a much larger share of household incomes.

Economists warn that “soft commodity” food prices show little sign of stabilising, and that cereals and sugar in particular may surge even higher in coming months. In addition, long-term trends associated with growth in population and climate change may mean higher food costs become a permanent feature of economic life, even though the current spike may end in due course. Speculation, too, may be part of the crisis, as investors climb on to the rising food-price bandwagon.

Mr Abbassian said the UN agency is concerned by the unpredictability of weather activity, which many experts link to climate change. He said: “There is still room for prices to go up much higher, if for example the dry conditions in Argentina tend to become a drought, and if we start having problems with winterkill in the northern hemisphere for the wheat crops.”

One concern, especially in Ukraine and Russia, is that the cold winter, following disastrous droughts and summer fires, will have damaged the seeds for next year’s crops, leading to an even more acute crisis than seen last year. Government policies, especially the export bans imposed by nervous Indian and Russian governments, have exacerbated such problems in world markets.

Meanwhile, burgeoning consumption in the booming economies of east Asia and the pressure exerted by the demand for crops for biofuels rather than food, especially in the US, is adding to the unprecedented squeeze on world food supplies.

The latest surge in crude oil prices adds to the risk of turmoil. Many experts say oil prices show few signs of abating, and the price of a barrel is set to breach the $100 barrier again soon. Opec officials yesterday said they were happy with such a level. Oil peaked at just under $150 a barrel in 2008; any sign of renewed tension in Iran would see the price exceed that. Higher oil prices add to food price inflation by increasing transportation costs.

The interplay of rising fuel prices, the growing use of biofuels, bad weather and soaring futures markets drove up the price of food dramatically in 2008, prompting violent protests in Mexico, Indonesia, Egypt, Cameroon and Haiti. Last year’s spike was provoked mainly by the freakish weather conditions in Russia and Ukraine, but one of the underlying trends is the growing and changing appetites of east Asia.

As more Chinese enter the middle classes they tend to consume more poultry and meat, just as Westerners did at a similar stage in their economic progress. However, meat and poultry husbandry consumes at least three times the resources that grains do, while the drift towards the cities in China is reducing the yields of its farms. Similar trends are visible in the other fast-growing, populous nations such as Brazil, India and Indonesia.

Countries that are poor and produce relatively little of their own food are most vulnerable to the food price shock – Bangladesh, Morocco and Nigeria top the “at risk” list, according to research by Nomura economists, who also identify growing shortages of water as a critical factor restraining any growth in agricultural productivity.

Owen Job, strategist at Nomura, said: “The economists’ model of increasing supply as demand grows may be breaking down. Supply cannot keep up with factors such as biofuels and the urbanisation of China. Some 30 per cent of all water used in agriculture comes from unsustainable sources.”

* David Cameron has disclosed that the Treasury was considering introducing a “fuel stabiliser”. Under the move, tax paid by motorists would be cut when the cost of oil surged worldwide and rise when it dropped. He said: “We are looking at it. It’s not simple but I would like to try and find some way of sharing the risk of higher fuel prices with the consumer.”

Source: The coming hunger: Record food prices put world ‘in danger’, says UN – The Independent

Date: 6 January 2011

Vietnam capital hit by floods

Tuesday, July 13th, 2010

Heavy rains after weeks of drought turned the streets of Vietnamese capital Hanoi Tuesday into rivers up to half a metre deep.

A heavy downpour that lasted for more than two hours forced motorbike commuters to push their machines through the dirty water and trees were down.

Police said on state radio that scores of locations in the city of several million people were flooded or snarled by traffic jams.

A meteorologist said the city centre was hardest hit, with about 120 millimetres of rain falling in the rush-hour period.

Hanoi had been suffering for weeks from a drought which meteorologists said was the worst in decades.

It worsened power shortages and led to blackouts in the country, which gets more than one-third of its electricity from hydropower.

Source: Vietnam capital hit by floods – straitstimes

Date: 13 July 2010

Water well upgrades offer solution for Syria’s drought-hit northeast

Thursday, July 8th, 2010

An innovative approach to water resource management in Syria is estimated to be helping 18,000 people hit by a three-year long drought.

UNDP and its partners are upgrading a network of ancient water sources under the barren terrain of the country’s northeast, where water shortages have led to large-scale population displacement in recent years.

More than one million people, have been affected by the drought which has driven tens of thousands of families to urban settlements such as Aleppo, Damascus and Deir ez Zour.

Beginning in 2009, the Government of Syria, Spanish Development Agency and UNDP began rehabilitation of Roman- and Arab-built wells that were constructed some 2000 years ago.

Well rehabilitation involves cleaning and pumping out stagnant water, widening and deepening wells to increase water capacity, analyzing water quality, and finally handing over to local authorities and communities. The upgraded wells provide access to safe drinking water and undoubtedly improve quality of life.

These wells also contribute to sustainable and environmentally-friendly local development, protect traditional ways of life and reduce pressure on rural residents to migrate to urban centres, a move that can have devastating social and economic impacts.

Water scarcity is one of the most pressing issues facing the world today, particularly in the Middle East where populations are expanding and fresh water supplies are diminishing fast.

Source: Water well upgrades offer solution for Syria’s drought-hit northeast – Reliefweb

Date: 08 July 2010

Starvation, thirst kill many antelope in Jodhpur

Sunday, July 4th, 2010

The antelope, including chinkaras and black bucks, continue to die at regular intervals in the arid region of Jodhpur and Barmer. This has been primarily attributed to starvation and thirst, say sources On Saturday, the members of the Bishnoi Tiger Vanya Evam Paryavaran Sanstha, brought the carcasses of 25 chinkaras from Dhawa village at the office of deputy forest conservator (wildlife).

According to the general secretary of the organization, Ram NiwasBudhnagar, some 60-70 antelope, the major portion of which are theblack bucks, have died in the past 5-6 days due to acute shortage of water and fodder. He claimed they kept drinking the brackish water due to which their stomach got swollen as they could not digest their food and died a slow and painful death.

He blamed the forest department for this situation for it had “brazenly relied upon the monsoon rains.”

Budhnagar said, “We have demanded the present DFO be removed from office for failing to bring relief to the antelope.”

All these antelope were found dead in such villages like Bhawanda, Dhawa, Satlana, Dhundhara and Bhacharan etc. A medical team had visited a village and conducted post-mortem of six black bucks which confirmed their death from starvation and thirst.

According to experts, these animals are very shy in nature and due to the presence of stray dogs in the vicinity of water holes they fear to go there and prefer to remain thirsty, which lead to death.

Source: Starvation, thirst kill many antelope in Jodhpur - timesofindia.indiatimes

Date: 04 July 2010

Revealed: Shocking satellite images of lakes show extent of man’s impact on world’s water supply

Saturday, July 3rd, 2010

These dramatic before-and-after satellite photos show the terrifying effect man is having on the world’s resources.

Taken over nearly 40 years, photographs show the drying up of several bodies of water around the world – receding as mankind’s demand for water grows.

Included in the shocking collection is the once mighty Aral Sea in Central Asia.

The expanse of water, like several others across the globe, has been reduced to worryingly sparse levels. In April the situation at the Aral Sea was described as ‘one of the planet’s worst environmental disasters’ by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon.

1973: Satellite image of the Aral Sea used to be the fourth largest lake in the world  Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-1291433/Shocking-extent-mans-impact-worlds-water.html#ixzz0tJbT54ux

1973: Satellite image of the Aral Sea used to be the fourth largest lake in the world

1999: More than 25 years on the sea has noticeably shrunk to less than half its size  Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-1291433/Shocking-extent-mans-impact-worlds-water.html#ixzz0tJbkxZhc

1999: More than 25 years on the sea has noticeably shrunk to less than half its size

2009: Satellite image taken last year shows a situation described as one of the planets worst  Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-1291433/Shocking-extent-mans-impact-worlds-water.html#ixzz0tJcJS9pj

2009: Satellite image taken last year shows a situation described as 'one of the planet's worst'

Shown here in images taken from space between 1973 and 2009, slowly but surely the Aral – in fact a salt water lake – has shrunk from being the size of Ireland to a cluster of contaminated ponds.

An inland lake, the Aral is found between Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan and used to be the fourth largest lake in the world. Since the 1960s, it has lost more than half of its volume.

The drying is due to overuse of the lake’s feeder rivers. In the 1960s the former Soviet Union diverted the Syr Darya and Amu Darya for the irrigation of cotton and paddy fields.

Now 50 years later the water is at a dismal 10 per cent of its level when the projects first began.

So great was the impact on the region the local climate was thought to have changed and pollution has risen to dangerous levels.

The destruction of the lake has also decimated the local fishing industry, causing severe knock-on unemployment and further economic woe for the people living around it.

Across the globe once rich and fertile lands are facing the same catastrophe.

Arid and desolate Iraq was once a green, lush environment even reputed to be the setting of the Garden of Eden.

Seen from above between 1973 and 2000 the Mesopotamia marshlands straddle the borders between Iraq and Iran near the mighty Tigris and Euphrates rivers.

1990: Satellite image of drained areas (grey) amongst marshland (dark red) around the Tigris and Euphrates rivers in Iraq. Darker areas show deep water  Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-1291433/Shocking-extent-mans-impact-worlds-water.html#ixzz0tJdKeEmO

1990: Satellite image of drained areas (grey) amongst marshland (dark red) around the Tigris and Euphrates rivers in Iraq. Darker areas show deep water

2000: The same image shows how dramatically the water has receded in just 20 years. The rivers were drained to provide agricultural land  Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-1291433/Shocking-extent-mans-impact-worlds-water.html#ixzz0tJdShqna

2000: The same image shows how dramatically the water has receded in just 20 years. The rivers were drained to provide agricultural land

The marshes were systematically drained in the mid- to late 20th century. This was done to provide agricultural land, but also to destroy the habitat of the Shi’a Muslim Marsh Arabs, who were persecuted by the Iraqi ruling Ba’athist Party.

Also included in the before-and-after pictures are the Toshka Lakes, in southern Egypt.

They were formed in the 1990s by diverting water from Lake Nasser, an artificial lake formed behind the Aswan High Dam on the river Nile.

The region was planned to be a major new agricultural and industrial site for Egypt. But as these images show, the region is drying fast.

One image taken in March 2001, shows the lakes near their maximum capacity. A later satellite picture from December 2005 shows how the waters receded due to drought and rising demand for water, leaving a ring of brown wetlands around the edges of the lakes.

Lake Chad, located in the Sahel region near the Sahara, was the fourth largest lake in Africa in the 1960s and had an area of more than 10,000 square miles.

But by the 21st century it had shrunk to less than 600 square miles – around a twentieth of its size. This was caused by increased use of irrigation combined with severe droughts.

The Toshka Lakes in southern Egypt were formed in the 1990s by diverting water from Lake Nasser, an artificial lake that formed behind the Aswan High Dam on the river Nile.

The region was planned to be a major new agricultural and industrial site for Egypt but as these images show – between 2001 and 2005 – the region is drying fast.

The waters have receded, leaving a ring of brown wetlands around the edges of the lakes, because of drought and a rising demand for water in the area.

Dr Benjamin Lloyd-Hughes of the Walker Institute for climate system research, University of Reading, said: ‘Ultimately the disaster seen at the Aral Sea and the marshes are the combined effects of man and rising temperatures in those regions.

‘There has not been much change in rainfall in those areas but the temperature has risen by over 1 degree Centigrade since 1970, which will have enhanced losses due to evaporation.

‘Pollution in the area will have become worse because as the water evaporates, pollutants in the water become more concentrated and less diluted.’

At Lake Chad and the Toshka Lakes the same effect of man in combination with climate change has been observed.

Dr Lloyd-Hughes added:

‘There has been a 30% reduction in annual rainfall since 1900 in these regions but not a significant change in temperature.

‘Reductions in lake levels here seem to driven by reductions in rainfall rather than increased evaporation.

‘The outlook is that there will be no change in rainfall but temperature could increase by another two degrees Centigrade by 2100. This is not good but not so bad as for the Aral Sea and Mesopotamia.

‘Global warming is a problem that is happening everywhere but if drought is happening in your region then it is a far greater problem.’

With the growth of mass-agriculture to feed a severely ballooning global population, water demand has begun to perilously outstrip supply, making disasters like the Aral Sea a grim and alarming likelihood for the future.

Source: Revealed: Shocking satellite images of lakes show extent of man’s impact on world’s water supply – dailymail.co.uk

Date: 03 July 2010

Central Vietnam dries up

Saturday, July 3rd, 2010

The outlines of the MARD report were briefed on July 1. Members of a MARD mission just returned from Vietnam’s central region confirmed that nearly 200,000 hectares of rice and vegetables are withering. Half of the area suffers from serious drought. At least 15,000 hectares of rice will be a dead loss.

Drought is also drying up also daily water supply. At least 40,000 households in nine districts of Binh Dinh province, on Quang Ngai’s Ly Son Island, and along the lower reaches of the Thu Bon river (Quang Nam) are living without adequate supplies of clean water.

At a meeting chaired by First Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Bui Ba Bong on July 1, Pham Hong Quang, head of the mission to the central region, said that drought most serious in the north central region – the coastal provinces of Thanh Hoa, Nghe An and Ha Tinh.

Quang said that of more than 250,000 hectares of summer-autumn rice, 62,000 are seriously short of water, including 55,000 hectares in the aforementioned provinces. Another 70,000 hectares of ricefields have been left fallow because of drought.

On the central coast, 25,000 hectares of rice and 23,000 hectares of vegetables are reported to lack water. The worst hit provinces are Binh Dinh (6000 hectares), Quang Nam (5000 hectares), Khanh Hoa (5000 hectares), Phu Yen (2000 hectares) and Da Nang (700 hectares).

Quang forecast that if baking sun continues for another five to seven days, losses will rise considerably. Specifically, the north-central region would have to write off another 12,000 hectares rice while losses on the central coast will double to reach 45,000 hectares.

The hot dry weather has persisted for more than two months, drying up rivers, reservoirs and streams in the region.

Major rivers like the Tra Khuc (Quang Ngai), Vu Gia and Thu Bon (both Quang Nam) are all dry. The level of water in reservoir at Quang Ngai’s Thach Nham dam is one meter below the spillway.

“I’ve never seen such a serious drought in my life. Trees can’t live in scorching sun and water shortage like this. Several years ago, the sun was fierce but we still had water,” senior farmer Nguyen Thanh Hung from Dien Ban district (Quang Nam) told VietNamNet.

“God is too cruel! How can we survive in this weather!” lamented senior farmer Le Than.

Most estuaries in the central region have been infiltrated by sea water. As a result, pumping stations are idle.

To save over 500 hectares of rice, Tam Ky city, Quang Nam province, spent over 800 million dong ($42,000) to build a dam against salt water intrusion.

On Ly Son island, twenty kilometers off the coast of Quang Ngai province, 110 families have built tanks to collect rain-water when wells became unreliable. However, their tanks are now bone-dry because there has been no rain since mid-March.

The island’s 20,000 residents must purchase water brought from the mainland on boats. They are being charged as much as 190,000 dong ($10) per cubic meter.

The MARD mission confirmed that central provinces have established steering boards to combat the drought and ordered drastic measures but the situation is not improved. Average temperatures in May and June were nearly 2°C higher than average.

MARD’s Cultivation Department and the General Department of Irrigation have recommended that drought-stricken provinces reconsider where the selection of crops should be changed to cope with drought, dredge canals, redouble efforts to manage irrigation effectively and dig more wells.

MARD will ask the government to mobilize anti-drought assistance urgently for the central provinces.

Source: Central Vietnam dries up – english.vietnamnet.vn

Date: 03 July 2010

Drought Hits over 41,000 Bolivian Families

Friday, July 2nd, 2010

Bolivian Rural Development Minister Nemesia Achacollo termed critical the environmental and economic situation resulting from the water shortage affecting over 41,000 families in El Chaco (Tarija, Chuquisaca and Santa Cruz).

Minister Achacollo talked of 24,764 hectares of crops, namely maize, sunflowers, peanuts, potato and tomato, while 6,300 bovines are also at risk, hence the urge to municipal and state authorities to support the government efforts.

The announcement follows delivery by President Evo Morales of drills to bore 600m deep water holes, plus three water tankers, trucks and lab facilities, among other logistics purchased to China at $6M, to try and ease the crisis.

Source: Drought Hits over 41,000 Bolivian Families - plenglish

Date: 02 July 2010

Using the rays of the sun to convert sea- to drinking water

Thursday, July 1st, 2010

Fraunhofer ISE intends to contribute to the development of solar-powered water desalination plants such as the one shown here, in Gran Canaria. (© Fraunhofer ISE)

Many of the world’s remote areas with water shortages also have three things in abundance: Sun, wind and sea. How renewable energies can be harnessed more effectively in the future to transform salty seawater and brackish water into drinking water is the subject of a current study issued by an EU initiative dubbed “ProDes”.

Worldwide, more and more people are obtaining their drinking water either from the sea or from increasingly salty inland sources. Analysts at Global Water Intelligence, an industry service, estimate that in 2008, desalination facilities around the world produced nearly 52 million cubic meters (12 billion gallons) of water each day – the equivalent of four or five times the daily production of water in Germany.

When it comes to desalination plants run on renewable energies, the spectrum ranges from simple solar distillation plants with a capacity of a few liters a day to wind-powered reverse-osmosis plants capable of desalinating up to nearly 2,000 cubic meters (half a million gallons).

“The more remote the location, the more worthwhile and profitable it is to use plant systems run on renewable energy and to set up a water treatment operation that is not dependent on an external energy supply”, Wieghaus observes.

“ProDes” was launched in October 2008 as an “Intelligent Energy” project of the EU Commission.

Source: Using the rays of the sun to convert sea- to drinking water – physorg

Date: 01 July 2010

Climate change threatens food supply

Tuesday, June 22nd, 2010

Climate change and extreme weather events pose a grave challenge to the country’s food supply, agricultural researchers have warned.

Gu Lianhong, a senior researcher with Oak Ridge National Laboratory in the US, said the lab’s research had shown climate change will cause China’s per capita grain output will dramatically drop after 2020, even taking technological progress into consideration.

The study suggests the projected geographical pattern of earth’s surface temperature will dramatically increase in the late 21st century (2090-2099). This will cause more extreme weather and climate events to impact such industries as agriculture, Gu said.

He stressed that increasing droughts and heavy precipitation, more intense tropical cyclones and warmer days will very likely happen globally.

“These are all closely related with grain output,” Gu said.

The researcher made the remarks on the sidelines of the International Forum on the Mitigation of Desertification, Land Degradation and Drought (DLDD) in World Dryland, which ended over the weekend.

By the 2050s, freshwater availability in Central, South, East and Southeast Asia is projected to decrease, particularly in large river basins, Gu said. The regions’ coastal areas, especially heavily populated mega deltas, will be at great risk due to increased flooding from the sea or rivers.

Because China is the world’s most water-deficient country, climate change will definitely harm its agricultural production, Gu said.

The researcher’s warning came as China is faced with a challenging grain situation this summer because of strong rainfalls in the south during the summer harvest season. Other problems include droughts in northern grain production areas and lingering low temperatures in the south.

In the past few years, the country has experienced more frequent extreme weather events against the backdrop of global climate change. These include severe droughts, ice storms, sandstorms and floods that harm the economy and security.

The severe drought in Southwest China, which has lasted since late 2009 and is one of the worst in decades, has affected about 8.3 million hectares of arable land. It also left at least 17.9 million people and 12.4 million heads of livestock facing water shortages as of this May, the Office of State Flood Control and Drought Relief Headquarters said in a statement.

A report by McKinsey & Co released last year said extreme drought caused by a “high climate change scenario” could more than triple crop losses in Northeast China. They could reach 13.8 million metric tons, or 12 percent of the total, by 2030.

The average annual temperature in China has increased by 0.5 C to 0.8 C, a little higher than the global average, over the past 100 years and especially in the past five decades. But the country’s precipitation volume did not change much during the period, China’s National Climate Change Program said in June 2007.

The average temperature in China will possibly rise 1.3 C to 2.1 C from 2000 to 2020, increasing the risks of extreme weather and climate events in the country, the plan said.

China must maintain an annual grain output of 500 million tons to feed the nation’s 1.3 billion people, the Ministry of Agriculture said.

The country’s summer grain output rose six years in a row to exceed 123.35 million tons in 2009, 2.6 million tons more than the previous year.

Source: Climate change threatens food supply – China Daily

Date: 22 June 2010

Israel to provide Jordan with 30 mln cubic meters of water

Friday, May 28th, 2010

Israel agreed to pump 30 million cubic meters of water from Sea of Galilee to Jordan during the summer, a Jordanian newspaper said Friday.

The result of the “difficult” meetings of the Israeli-Jordanian Joint Water Committee, which ended Thursday nightm turned out to be “positive,” said the ‘Al-Dustour’ newspaper, quoting the representative of the Jordanian side Moussa Al-Jammani.

Israel promised to look into a Jordanian request regarding the 5.5 million cubic meter of water wasted in the area connecting Israel to Jordan so that the responsibility would be shared, said Al-Jammani, who also serves as Secretary General of Jordan Valley Authority.

Al-Jammani said that he was hopeful that the Israeli decision would be “positive.” Wadi Araba Treaty, ratified by Israel and Jordan in 1994, states that Jordan’s share of Yarmouk River’s water was at 25 million cubic meter; 12 million during summer, and 13 million in winter.

In winter, Jordan stores 20 million cubic meter at Sea of Galilee. The water stored is pumped by Israel in the summer from Yarmouk River from May 15 to November 15, the peace treaty dictates.

Jordan which is listed on the world’s top 10 poorest countries in water, is aiming at boosting its water resources – especially that of drinking water – through engaging in strategic water projects. (end) ab.aia KUNA 280955 May 10NNNN

Source: Israel to provide Jordan with 30 mln cubic meters of water - Kuwait News Agency

Date: 28 May, 2010

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