Flooding

Extreme Weather Extreme flooding along the Madeira River in the Amazon basin, which killed 60 people and displaced 68,000 families this year, was the result of massive deforestation in Bolivia and Peru, according to a scientist who was previously the head of the Inter-American Development Bank environmental division, IPS reported. His assessment contradicts the views […]

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China A startup program in China, initiated by the company behind the Taobao Marketplace, seeks to create a map of water quality across the country by allowing residents to purchase water quality testing kits and upload the results with their smartphones, Bloomberg News reported. The results will be aggregated in a map that the company’s […]

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An American landslide as a global metaphor.

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To the pile of existing state and federal legislation that provides drought and disaster relief to California and the U.S. West, add two more bills. First, a bipartisan contribution from two Northern California congressmen. John Garamendi, a Democrat, and Doug LaMalfa, a Republican, are using the drought to justify a new reservoir in their territory. […]

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Agriculture A switch to solar-powered irrigation pumps could save India $US 6 billion each year in electricity and fuel subsidies, Bloomberg News reported. The government is looking to replace 200,000 old pumps with solar pumps in the next five years, but will require farmers that receive subsidies to buy the new pumps to switch to […]

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Energy A grant worth more than $US 70 million is at stake when the World Bank decides whether or not to go ahead with initial funding for the Inga 3 hydropower project in the Democratic Republic of Congo—a decision that has now been postponed indefinitely, International Rivers reported. Nongovernmental organizations have raised concerns about the […]

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Drought As California endures a drought that could be the worst in 500 years, federal politicians are wrangling over how best to allocate available water supplies, the San Jose Mercury News reported. You can see Circle of Blue’s reporting on California’s drought and water pollution here. Severe droughts are also threatening water supplies for communities […]

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For the first time since 2008, Australia’s government will sell some of its water allocations in the Murray-Darling Basin, making as much as 10 gigaliters available to irrigators, the Guardian reported. The decision has been applauded by drought-hit farmers, but members of the Greens political party worry that the sell-off could damage communities and environments […]

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While both federal and local government budgets for flood defenses dwindle, the United Kingdom’s government is spending large amounts of money on policies that are counterproductive to flood control, the Guardian reported. Agricultural subsidies that require farmers to keep their land bare of trees, increasing runoff, are just one example of such policies. Africa Improving […]

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Water Pollution A chemical foaming agent used to process coal spilled into the Elk River in Charleston, West Virginia Friday, prompting a tap water ban for approximately 300,000 people and the declaration of a state and federal disaster, CBS News reported. Stores in the area quickly sold out of bottled water, and the National Guard […]

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Climate Change Introducing large quantities of sulfate particles into Earth’s atmosphere in an effort to simulate large volcanic eruptions and keep global temperatures from rising could have the unintended consequence of greatly reducing rainfall in parts of the world, the Guardian reported, citing a new study published in Environmental Research Letters. The study showed that […]

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Extreme Weather Shortages of water and electricity have crippled Buenos Aires after weeks of soaring temperatures, with some residents living with outages for as long as two weeks, International Business Times reported. The heat has created record demand for electricity, which the country’s power companies and outdated infrastructure have been unable to supply. Heavy rain […]

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Water Supply It is likely that California will record its driest year ever in 2013, and dry conditions are expected to continue for the third winter in a row, USA Today reported. The dry conditions are expected to create water shortages for farmers and will increase the risk of large wildfires next year. An article […]

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Drinking Water A new device is capable of removing 95 percent of the arsenic in water within five minutes by using organic material like barley husks or coconut shells as a filter, the Guardian reported. Non-government organizations in Canada and Bangladesh are working to install the device in Bangladesh communities, where arsenic poisoning is a […]

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Water Supply Tropical forests act like sponges that trap water during storms, making them critical to protecting surrounding areas from excessive runoff and flooding, say scientists from the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, Phys.org reported. By looking at changes in land use in Panama, the researchers found that tropical forests are much more efficient at trapping […]

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Climate Change An increase in global temperatures by 2 degrees Celsius would likely result in chronic water scarcity—less than 1,000 cubic meters per person per year—for 21 percent of the global population, according to new climate models developed by the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, Climate Progress reported. An increase of just 1 degree […]

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Water and Government Bhutan plans to increase its hydropower capacity from 1,480 megawatts to 10,000 megawatts by 2020 in an effort to create revenue for its many public programs, journalist James Fahn explains in an op-ed for The New York Times. He also explores what the country’s new democracy—based around a principle of achieving “Gross […]

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Analyzing two reports about future water stress in the United States, the Huffington Post created a list of the top 11 cities that could face water shortages due to factors like population growth, increasing water demand from industries, and climate change. Los Angeles, which imports much of its fresh water, tops the list. Water Pollution […]

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Agriculture Huge soybean farms in Brazil’s Mato Grosso state are very efficient at keeping nutrient pollutants like phosphorus out of nearby waterways, but it is unclear if the more intensive form of farming will slow down deforestation in the Amazon, according to an editorial published in The New York Times. Brown University professor Stephen Porder […]

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Mining Barrick Gold Corp, the company behind the massive $US 8.5 billion Pascua-Lama gold mine project on the Argentina-Chile border, said it is suspending construction at the site, Reuters reported. The mine has faced stiff opposition and legal battles due to concerns about its effect on glaciers and water supplies. In Indonesia, coal’s “last frontier” […]

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