The Stream, February 3: Australia After the Storm

While a blizzard forced many in the Midwest to hole up in their homes, thousands in northern Australia evacuated ahead of the monster cyclone Yasi that raged Wednesday in the the country’s already waterlogged coastal regions. The damage to crops in Queensland pushed global commodity prices to record highs. And while The Australian published a special Cyclone Yasi print edition, some foreign media wondered if the cyclone would prompt Australia to reconsider its stand on climate change.

A wave of anti-government protests is sweeping the Arab World, but a December report by the Center for Strategic and International Studies warns that the real wild card for political and social unrest in the Middle East in the next 20 years will be water.

Meanwhile, water shortages are already triggering ethnic tensions in Iraq’s Kirkuk Province, where Arab farmers blame Kurdistan for closing the gates to a dam vital for irrigation and drinking water supplies.

In South Africa, gas exploration plans in the arid Western Cape province are ruffling feathers among environmentalists worried about the risks of hydraulic fracturing.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced that it will start regulating perchlorate and 16 other chemicals in drinking water, in an apparent reversal of Bush-era tap water standards, The Washington Post reports.

The Stream is a daily digest spotting global water trends. To get more water news, follow Circle of Blue on Twitter and sign up for our newsletter.

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