The Stream, May 18: Avocado Production is Drying Up Chile’s Petorca Region, Villagers Claim

The Global Rundown

Villagers in Petorca, Chile, claim that avocado plantations are sapping the region’s water supply. A study in South Africa’s Kruger National Park reveals that river ecosystems are being disrupted by an increase in cyclone-driven extreme floods. Fog catchers provide water to villages in the mountains of Morocco. Warming ocean temperatures are pushing fish away from U.S. coastlines and into cooler waters. The United Nations predicts rapid urbanization over the next thirty years, highlighting the importance of sustainable urban resource management.

“When urban growth is rapid, ensuring access to housing, water, sanitation, electricity, public transport, education, and health care for all is especially challenging.” –John Wilmoth, director of the Population Division, discussing a UN prediction that 68 percent of the world’s population will live in urban areas by 2050, compared to 55 percent now. Although urban populations often have better access to healthcare and education, the breakneck growth of many cities has left countless residents without proper access to water, sanitation, and other basic amenities. Reuters

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By The Numbers

27 percent Increased demand for avocados in the United Kingdom last year. A large portion of the U.K.’s avocados are sourced from the Chilean province of Petorca, where villagers claim that growers are illegally diverting rivers to irrigate their crops. High demand for avocados, villagers say, is causing rivers to run dry and groundwater levels to fall. The Guardian

5 kilometers (3 miles) Distance that women living on Morocco’s Mount Boutmezguida used to walk to fetch water. Now, villages in the mountainous region are connected to the world’s largest functioning fog collection project, which produces enough water to meet basic needs. Reuters

Science, Studies, And Reports

Researchers from the Geological Society of America found that fragile river habitats in South Africa’s Kruger National Park are being destroyed due to an increase in cyclone-driven floods. Turbulent, fast-moving water strips away sediment and vegetation, disrupting river ecosystems and causing species loss. Science Daily

On The Radar

As oceans warm, fish and marine life living along U.S. coastlines will permanently move to cooler northern waters, new research predicts. Certain species will only move a few miles, but others, like the Alaskan snow crab, could move up to 900 miles northward. Researchers are unsure how quickly the phenomenon, which is already occurring on a small scale, will take place. NPR  

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