The Stream, February 6: Water Pollution is Rough Sailing for 2016 Rio Olympics

The  Global Rundown

The Global Rundown

South Africa, West Africa, and Thailand are seeing reduced harvests due to drought – sugar cane, cocoa bean and rice crops are suffering. El Nino is more than fashionably late to the party this year, and scientists don’t know why. The World Bank has put out updated estimates of the return-on-investment for universal water access. Rio 2016 organizers are concerned about the impacts of pollution on Olympic sailing.

“When you have plastics and debris floating in the water it can damage the boats and you could eventually have a race decided by garbage and that’s the biggest issue for us.” — Torben Grael, Brazilian sailing coach, on the problems with 2016 Olympic sailing in Rio de Janeiro’s polluted waters. (BBC)

By the Numbers

By The Numbers

20 percent – Projected decrease in cocoa harvest in the Ivory Coast as compared to last year. Cocoa crops in West Africa are suffering from an extended dry period, complete with tree-battering winds coming in from the Sahara. Bloomberg News

$US 81 million – Projected drought-related losses for South Africa’s sugar producers this season. In KwaZulu Natal, the region where more than 80 percent of the country’s sugar is produced, 9 out of 11 districts have received disaster area designations. Bloomberg News

15 years – Time since Thailand has faced a drought like the one it faces now, the Thai irrigation department said on Thursday. Thailand’s worst drought in over a decade will reduce the off-season rice harvest by more than 30 percent. Reuters


Science, Studies, And Reports

El Nino’s failure to appear has scientists scratching their heads. Forecasters have been predicting El Nino’s arrival since last March, but while characteristic warming over the equatorial Pacific has occurred, the global weather reaction that usually accompanies it has not materialized. Bloomberg News

The World Bank has released new estimates on the economic benefits of investments in water. Bringing safe drinking water access to the 750 million people who lack it would cost $US 14 billion a year until 2030, but yield benefits of $US 52 billion. Reuters

On the Radar

On The Radar

Organizers of the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, are concerned about the impact that pollution in Guanabara Bay will have on Olympic sailing events. Floating debris and drug-resistant bacteria have both been found in the bay, but organizers maintain that progress is being made and that they will be ready for Rio 2016. BBC

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