The Stream, May 5: Another El Nino Lurks On The Horizon

The Global Rundown

Analysts predict another global El Nino could form later this year. A sandstorm in China brought dangerous air pollution to Beijing, shutting down flights and forcing residents indoors. Seasonal rains in Somalia may provide some relief from a severe drought, but disease risks are growing. A community in Nigeria is suing the Eni oil company over water contamination from an oil pipeline explosion. Critics of Thames Water are raising doubts about the London utility’s financial decisions.

“Sand storm + industrial pollution = airpocalypse in the middle of spring.” –Li Shuo, a Beijing-based climate campaigner for Greenpeace, commenting on a sandstorm that brought dangerous levels of air pollution to Beijing on Thursday. The storm canceled flights and prompted officials to warn residents to remain inside, while environmentalists said it highlighted the risks of desertification in Inner Mongolia. (Guardian)

In context: Soaring temperatures, brutal winds, and deeper droughts are becoming the new norm in Inner Mongolia.

By The Numbers

$1.4 billion Amount England’s Thames Water utility paid in dividends to investors between 2006 and 2015. Critics say the private utility, which has been fined for sewage releases into the River Thames and its tributaries, is putting investors ahead of public interest, despite pursuing projects to curb pollution. Financial Times

$2.2 million Amount in damages a lawsuit against the Eni oil company seeks in compensation for a village in Nigeria’s Niger Delta, where residents say a pipeline explosion in 2010 polluted nearby water sources. Reuters

Science, Studies, And Reports

Conditions in the Pacific Ocean show key signs that an El Nino weather pattern could develop later this year, according to analysts. El Nino events disrupt rainfall around the globe, and the most recent event, in 2016, caused severe and widespread drought across eastern and southern Africa. Reuters

In context: The “Godzilla” El Nino is over, but the damage caused by the weather cycle will last much longer.

On The Radar

Seasonal rains that began last month now cover most regions in Somalia, bringing some relief from a drought that triggered widespread food shortages and the risk of famine. Officials warn, however, that the rain also carries a greater risk of disease. Reuters