The Stream, August 28, 2019: Upcoming Rainfall Unlikely to Halt Amazon Rainforest Fires

The Global Rundown

Rainfall in coming weeks is unlikely to ease wildfires in the Amazon Rainforest, forecasts show. Environmentalists warn that coal ash may be contaminating wells in West Michigan. A new study warns that “100-year floods” may actually begin occurring every one to 30 years. An analysis finds that more than 100 U.S. coal ash dumps lie in high-risk flood zones. Researchers say that water scarcity is often a factor, but not a main driver, behind migration.

“International migration is very expensive and very risky and it lies beyond the reach of many of the poorest people who are most vulnerable to water security and drought.” –Guy Jobbins, a researcher from the London-based Overseas Development Institute, in reference to the relationship between water shortages and migration. Experts at World Water Week in Stockholm, Sweden, explain that water insecurity often plays a role in international migration, but is unlikely to be the only factor.  In general, water shortages alone are more likely to spur internal migration. Reuters

Latest WaterNews from Circle of Blue

What’s Up With Water – August 26, 2019 — This week’s edition of What’s Up With Water includes coverage on water shortages in the Global South, approval of the California Safe Drinking Water Act, and Legionnaires’ disease. 

HotSpots H2O: Hydropower Construction Heightens Political Pressure Along Mekong River — Low water levels are fueling tensions between those living on the Mekong River and those who aspire to wring electricity from the backbone of Southeast Asia by damming it.

By The Numbers

79 percent Increase in wildfires in the Brazilian Amazon compared to this time last year. Forecasts show that upcoming rainfall will not be enough to stop the devastating blazes, which have been attributed to a combination of deforestation and other human activities. Reuters

101 Coal ash sites that lie in high-risk flood areas in the United States, according to a recent analysis by POLITICO. The waste, which is generated by coal-burning power plants and contains hazardous contaminants like arsenic and mercury, has been known to seep into groundwater. For coal ash dumps lying in floodplains, the dangers to drinking water sources are even greater. POLITICO

In context: U.S. Courts Issue Contradictory Rulings on Groundwater and the Clean Water Act.

Science, Studies, and Reports

A new study by Princeton University found that “100-year floods” could soon become an annual event in New England, and take place every one to 30 years along the southeast Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico. A 100-year flood has a 1 percent chance of occurring each year, but researchers say rising sea levels and more frequent tropical storms could greatly increase the likelihood of severe coastal floods. Princeton University

On the Radar

Coal ash may be polluting wells in West Michigan, according to testing conducted by the Sierra Club. The group found elevated levels of arsenic in one out of four wells tested near the Consumers Energy’s J.H. Campbell coal power plant in West Olive, Michigan. The Sierra Club alleges that the contamination may be due to old, unlined coal ash pits at the plant, a claim that Consumers Energy denies. MLive

Coverage from World Water Week

Our World Water Week coverage continues. Pictured, Circle of Blue Director J. Carl Ganter demonstrates an interactive water hotspots dashboard powered by Earthrise Media at World Water Week. Photo © Cody Pope/Circle of Blue

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