The Stream, November 21: Glacier Melt in China Threatens Water Supply of 1.8 Billion People

The Global Rundown

Glacier melt in western China increases, threatening the water supply of 1.8 billion people. Tests results following a massive fish die-off in Iraq’s Euphrates River show high levels of bacteria and heavy metals in the waterway. Scientists fear that deforestation of the Amazon rainforest will disrupt the global water supply cycle. Equipment owned by Husky Energy Inc. leaks an estimated 1,500 barrels of oil into waters of the coast of Newfoundland & Labrador, Canada. One-hundred percent of California is in drought conditions, fueling the state’s wildfires.

“This is a wake-up call for China and the world. Glaciers in China supply water to 1.8 billion people, and they’re melting, fast. In just the last few months, thousands of people have been evacuated from their homes due to threats of flooding.” –Liu Junyan, Greenpeace’s climate and energy campaigner, in reference to the rapid melting of several key Chinese glaciers. Satellite data shows that glacial melt in some areas has doubled in recent decades. Reuters

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By The Numbers

100 percent Proportion of California that is experiencing some degree of drought, versus 26 percent at this time last year, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor. The dry conditions are exacerbating wildfires across the state, which have killed a record 77 people. Bloomberg

1,572 Barrels of oil that leaked into waters off the coast Newfoundland & Labrador, Canada. The leak originated in a storage vessel owned by Husky Energy Inc, and led to an area-wide shutdown of production. The company says they are carefully monitoring possible damage to water and wildlife. Reuters

Science, Studies, And Reports

A massive carp die-off earlier this month in Iraq’s Euphrates River was caused by a mix of bacteria, heavy metals, and ammonia in the waterway, according to laboratory tests by the World Health Organization (WHO). The WHO claims that the pollution, which killed hundreds of tons of fish, is not toxic for humans. AP

On The Radar

Brazilian deforestation of the Amazon rainforest has been widespread, and will likely accelerate once President-Elect Jair Bolsonaro takes power in January. Experts say that moderate increases in deforestation could have a detrimental impact on water supplies in Brazil and neighboring countries, while massive deforestation could disrupt water supplies worldwide. The rainforest plays a key role in regulating carbon dioxide emissions and global weather patterns. National Geographic

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