The Stream, December 6: Melting Arctic Ice Could Worsen California Drought

The Global Rundown

A U.S. District Court Judge orders Dakota Access Pipeline operators to develop an oil spill response plan. Somalia’s semi-autonomous Puntland region declares a state of emergency due to severe drought. Three companies are sued over water contamination in west Michigan. Testing reveals heavy metals in Hong Kong household water. Researchers find a link between trace elements of lithium in drinking water and a decrease in rates of Alzheimer’s, diabetes, and obesity. Melting ice in the Arctic could worsen California droughts, a study concludes.

“These people are worried, they’re worried about the uncertainty of where there is contamination… The community is very distressed and reasonably so.” –Sharon Almonrode, a representative of The Miller Law Firm, in reference to polyfluoroalkyl chemicals detected in several household wells throughout west Michigan. A class action lawsuit was filed on Friday, December 1 against three companies, including Wolverine Worldwide, 3M Corporation, and Waste Management Inc., all of whom allegedly played a role in the contamination. The Detroit News

In context: Non-stick chemicals slipped into water, causing health, environmental, regulatory mess.

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By The Numbers

5 Number of metallic impurities, including lead, aluminum, iron, zinc, and copper, that were found in the water after a Hong Kong neighborhood complained of foul-smelling water. The water is also reportedly causing skin problems among some residents. South China Morning Post

34,000 Number of households in Puntland, Somalia, that have been affected due to successive failed rainy seasons. Puntland recently declared a state of emergency over the drought, appealing for water, food, and other resources. Dry conditions in the region are expected to continue for at least five months. Reuters

Science, Studies, And Reports

Melting ice in the Arctic Ocean is likely to change atmospheric pressure, which could lead to a higher recurrence of drought in California, according to scientists from the U.S. Department of Energy and University of California, Berkeley. Models show that dwindling sea ice could cause a 10 to 15 percent decrease in California’s rainfall. Reuters

A recent study published by IOS Press found that trace amounts of lithium in drinking water may slow death rates from Alzheimer’s disease. The study also found that areas with an above-median level of lithium in tap water had decreased rates of obesity and Type 2 diabetes. Science Daily

On The Radar

U.S. District Court Judge James Boasberg ruled that operators of the Dakota Access pipeline must coordinate an oil spill response plan with federal and local officials near Lake Oahe, North Dakota. Boasberg concluded that an oil leak is an inherent risk with any pipeline, and that the public has “an interest in ensuring the status quo at Lake Oahe is preserved.” The Hill