The Stream, December 13: Indian State Officials Assert Chinese Construction Projects are Polluting Brahmaputra River

The Global Rundown

Researchers reveal a new satellite-based drought monitoring tool that accounts for groundwater levels. Cholera resurges in Lusaka, Zambia, and is expected to worsen as the rainy season begins. Officials in northeast India claim Chinese construction projects are polluting the Brahmapurta River. Countless trees in the American West are expected to die as droughts become longer and hotter. A report finds that thousands of U.S. homes are built in violation of flood-mitigation standards, heaping costs on the country’s cash-strapped federal flood insurance program.

“Long droughts are what it takes to kill trees. As you crank up the heat though, the time it takes to kill trees is less and less.” –Henry Adams, an Oklahoma State University plant biologist, in reference to the number of trees at risk of dying due to drought in the Western United States.  Over the past several decades, millions of trees have already died amid increasingly hot, dry spells. A recent study forecasts that forest mortality will increase as climate change worsens. The New York Times

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By The Numbers

562 Number of people who have contracted cholera in Lusaka, Zambia, since late September. Cases of the waterborne disease are expected to increase as the rainy season begins and sanitation deteriorates. Reuters

$9 billion Amount of claims made to the U.S. federal flood insurance program between 2000 and 2015 for structural damage. Many newer homes were built in violation of U.S. flood-mitigation rules and experts estimate that numerous claims could have been avoided if proper oversight had been in place during the initial construction process. Reuters

Science, Studies, And Reports

Researchers at the University of California – Irvine have debuted a new drought severity index based on satellite imagery from NASA. The index tracks changes in groundwater storage, making it a valuable tool for drought monitoring and assessment. Science Daily

On The Radar

India’s northeast states claim that Chinese construction activities are polluting the Brahmaputra river with bacteria and iron, making it unfit for human consumption. State officials are asking the Indian government to discuss the contamination with Beijing. ABC News