Humans are funny. As a certain segment of the population obsesses over ow expensive it is to fill up the ole completely necessary Escalade, climate shock marches on.  Yet most of the stories below barely make the news and if they do, hardly register.

Perhaps seeing the some snapshots from a global perspective may move a few people.  This is what’s going on in early 2022:

Australia floods

“Waves of Water Just Coming Down”

Australia’s new normal crashed the New Year with a rain bomb in the northeast, followed by cataclysmic flooding that has killed dozens and caused the evacuation of tens of thousands. Another 500,000 were under warning in New South Wales.

This disaster is the worst since 2011, which was described as “once in a thousand year flooding.” But clearly that description is wishful thinking.

For perspective, Shane Stone, the coordinator general of the National Recovery and Resilience Agency told the Sydney Morning Herald that “the taxpayer and the ratepayer cannot continue to pick up the bill for these huge, catastrophic damage events”. Stone is a buddy of Scott Morrison, and offers a pithy perspective from a right winger who is supposed to be helping them. Although, in a sick way he is correct.

See our video Australia’s New Normal.

Argentina Wildfires

After a scorching heatwave, Argentina is suffering another round  of raging wildfires that torched forests and farms across its northern region. Eight separate fire zones in Argentina’s Corrientes province have devastated 2 million acre so far.

Authorities estimate early losses at a quarter billion dollars and the counting has not yet begun in earnest. Argentina has already limited exports of beef this year because of the rain shortfall.

The region has been experiencing record heat this year, baking in unprecedented temperatures up to 113°F.

Kenya: Water Shortages, Dead Livestock and Ruined Harvests as Desertification Moves In

“People are still dying by the day.”

Kenya and the Horn of Africa (Ethiopia and Somalia) are in the third year of failed rainy seasons as the desert takes back the land. 5.5 million children in the region are threatened by acute malnutrition and an estimated 1.4 million by severe acute malnutrition. Millions of head of livestock have died of malnutrition and in Kenya, 62 elephants have starved to death.

And the people are using their flagging strength to fight over resources. The other bookend to climate migration is climate conflict. This is especially true in semi-nomadic pastoral economies as people and animals compete for dwindling water supplies. The results do not generate excellent TV news footage in the way that major wars and missile strikes do. But the results are the same.

Forecasts indicate that below average rainfall will continue into the foreseeable future.

“We are most definitely now sitting on the brink of catastrophe. “We saw animals dying together with their farmers, and the numbers I think are quite shocking.”

– Rein Paulsen

Food and Agriculture Organization Director of Emergencies and Resilience

Things Not Great At Great Salt Lake As Toxic Dust Events Loom

The inland sea that forms the iconic core of Utah’s Latter Day culture is in danger of disappearing as it reaches the lowest level since the Mormons arrived. About half of the original lakebed area is now dry land  In the process, thousands of square miles of dry lake bed is exposed, laying open vast expanses of toxic dust. The dust poses problems for human health but also for threatens natural systems in the area and mountain snowpack. 

 

As is the case with most climate related scenarios, the rapid decline of lake levels is caused by a combination of squabbling stakeholders, diversions and global warming driven drought. 

The ongoing disaster also creates another feedback loop, similar to the sea ice albedo scenario at the poles. It works like this:

“The dust darkens the snow surface and causes it to melt earlier.”

As the lake surface area decrease, it has less and less impact on critical lake effect winter storms. Fewer storms means less total moisture in the region, increasingly drier conditions; which in turn nurtures the ongoing drought.

Polar Ice At Both Poles Is Now Melting From Below

Sea levels continue to rise and when you read this summary it’s not hard to understand why. The trillions of tons of ice on Greenland and Antarctica are being dissolved from beneath the ice mass. One process is obvious, the other not so much, but equally alarming. Link here for this reporting.

Syrians Suffer Ongoing Famine As Drought Enters Its Third Decade.

The root cause of the so called civil war in Syria was an unrelenting drought that brought farmers to their knees. The uprising began when al-Assad’s government refused to offer aid.

Ten years later, the historic drought moves into its third decade and is reported to be the worst in the Middle East for at least 1,000 years.  Conditions have worsened in the past two years, exacerbated by war and poverty. Herds have been culled and crops are generally devastated.

The iconic Khabur river is at record lows, with irrigation for starving farmers limited. The depredations of a brutal Turkish government upstream have contributed to the disaster.

Winter Rains Were Not Enough As Record Heat Returns to California

 

The west coast had record heat combined with light-to-zero precipitation in early 2022, wiping out the modest gains from freak storms late last year. The temperatures averaged 15 to 25°F over normal. San Francisco, San Jose, Sacramento, Fresno and LA, along with some of the Sierra Nevada all recorded their driest January-February period on record.

Lake Shasta, the state’s largest reservoir, is at only 37 percent of its capacity. February ended with the news that water districts that supply Central Valley farms will allot no water from the Central Valley Project, further distressing critical agricultural areas.  The net result will be continued tapping into aquifers that are already being sucked dry.

Two decades ago, the critical Colorado River reservoir Lake Powell was full. Today it’s about 25% full. Once boat marina remains open.

The American West is in an extended megadrought, and it’s not the only region under water duress. This is what has been predicted and what is happening on the ground.

 

 

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