The Stream, March 3: Syria Drought Most Severe In 900 Years

The Global Rundown

The recent 15-year drought in Syria is likely the region’s driest period in nearly a millennium, a new study found. A drought in Tasmania is curbing hydropower supplies, and California snowpack is still below average. Meanwhile, intense rain triggered floods and landslides in Peru. Mining companies responsible for a deadly tailings dam failure agreed to pay Brazil billions of dollars, officials in Michigan revealed that drinking water is still contaminated with lead in some areas of Flint, and Iraq signed a contract with an Italian company to repair the Mosul dam. More communities in the Niger Delta are suing Shell over oil pollution.

“We don’t want any kneejerk reactions that result in overinvestment, given we’ve got spring inflows 50% below 30-year lows and Basslink failing, which have all conspired to hammer us.” –Marc White, principal consultant at Goanna Energy consulting in Tasmania, on tough choices the hydropower-rich state must make about its future energy mix amid a severe drought and unreliable electricity imports. (Guardian)

By The Numbers

$5.1 billion Amount mining companies will pay the Brazilian government for a tailings dam failure at an iron ore mine last November that killed 19 people and polluted nearby rivers. Reuters

83 percent of average Amount of snowpack currently in California, according to snow surveys on Tuesday. Associated Press

37 sites Number in Flint, Michigan where drinking water still tests positive for high lead levels, making up 9 percent of the sites tested across the city. Reuters

Science, Studies, And Reports

The drought in Syria is most likely the worst the region has seen in 900 years, according to a new study published in the Journal of Geophysical Research-Atmospheres. The drought has previously been noted as a contributing factor to the unrest that led to Syria’s civil war. Climate Central

On The Radar

U.S. officials again warned this week that Iraq’s Mosul dam is at risk of catastrophic collapse and could send a devastating flood downstream to the city of Mosul. Iraq signed a deal Wednesday with an Italian company it has contracted to repair the dam. Bloomberg

Peru is recovering from a week of severe flooding and landslides that officials called the worst since the 1997 El Nino. Five people have died, landslides blocked Peru’s central highway, and water flows are twice as high as normal in some major rivers. Reuters

Two more communities from the Niger Delta are moving forward with lawsuits against the Shell oil company over pollution in the delta. The legal challenges are playing out in a London court. Guardian

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