The Stream, October 26: By 2030, New York Could Experience Major Flooding Every Five Years

The Global Rundown

The E.P.A.’s efforts to reduce arsenic levels in U.S. public water systems results in fewer lung, bladder, and skin cancers. The death toll in Puerto Rico from Hurricane Maria continues to rise due to waterborne illnesses. Global warming could bring major flooding to New York City every five years, according to a new study. Researchers find a link between media coverage of droughts and household water savings. Burning forests to clear land for palm oil crops causes permanent temperature spikes in Indonesia. Early flood warning systems help save lives throughout the Asia-Pacific region.

“Too many times, communities in high-risk areas learned of the threat too late and lost everything…With extreme weather events becoming more frequent and erratic, access to real-time, accurate information can save lives.” –Paul Conrad, a director of the aid group People in Need (PIN), in reference to improving flood early warning systems in the Asia-Pacific region. With the help of groups like PIN, communities in Bhutan, Cambodia, and other nations have installed flood sensors, weather stations, sirens, and other warning systems. Reuters  

By The Numbers

10 degrees Celsius Temperature difference between forest areas and freshly-cleared land in parts of Indonesia. Large amounts of Indonesia’s rainforest have been burned off in recent years to clear room for palm oil plantations. The practice, however, is proving detrimental to the environment as temperatures soar, water sources dwindle, and wildfires become more common. Reuters

51 The latest Hurricane Maria death toll in Puerto Rico. The two most recent deaths have been from leptospirosis, an infection that spreads through drinking water contaminated by floods. 76 cases of confirmed and suspected leptospirosis have been reported in Puerto Rico, and the risk of other waterborne diseases remains high. CNN

Science, Studies, And Reports

In 2006, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency reduced the maximum allowed arsenic levels in public water systems from 50 milligrams to 10 milligrams per liter. The change, according to a health survey of 14,127 individuals, resulted in a 17 percent reduction of arsenic levels among those using public water systems, along with hundreds of fewer lung, bladder, and skin cancer cases. The New York Times

A team of Stanford researchers recently identified a link between drought-related media coverage and increased household water savings. Using California’s drought as a case study, the researchers found that for every 100-article increase over a two-month period, an 11 to 18 percent decrease in water demand followed. Stanford University   

On The Radar

The effects of global warming—higher seas, large storm surges, and more intense hurricanes—could lead to frequent catastrophic flooding in New York, according to a new study. Climate models predict that by 2030, events like Hurricane Sandy will likely happen every five years. The Atlantic