The Stream, May 8: Illegal Sand Mining Causes Increased Floods, Droughts Across Globe

The Global Rundown

Extensive sand mining is devastating riverways across the globe, a UN report warns. A new interactive map details PFAS risks throughout the United States. Namibia declares a state of emergency due to drought. Rising water levels in the U.S. Great Lakes bring flooding and erosion. Communities without levees along the Mississippi River grapple with ongoing floods.

“Every time they build a levee or raise one, it hurts everybody without a levee. Flooding, it’s natural, and the river used to be able to handle it a lot better.” –Peter Allen, a restaurant owner in Grafton, Illinois, in reference to recurrent flooding in his city, which has no barrier against rising waters. As the Midwestern U.S. grapples with severe flooding this spring, many communities are building or improving their levees. Cities without a levee, though, feel that the construction may put them at a greater disadvantage during future floods. The New York Times

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HotSpots H2O: Floods, Sanctions, and Shortages Deluge IranThe Trump administration announced last week that it will no longer provide sanction exemptions to countries importing oil from Iran, a move that could hurt Iran’s economy and impair its capacity to respond to devastating floods that rampaged through the county just weeks ago.

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By The Numbers

500,000 People in Namibia who are facing food insecurity after several years of poor rains. Namibian president Hage Geingob recently declared the country’s second drought-related state of emergency in three years. BBC

26 inches above-average Current water level in Lake Erie. All five of the U.S. Great Lakes are experiencing high water levels, with Lakes Erie and Superior expected to set records this summer. Experts say the unusually high water levels are likely tied to a warming climate. Detroit Free Press

Science, Studies, and Reports

The Environmental Working Group and researchers at Northwestern University have created an interactive map of PFAS contamination in the United States. According to the data, more than 600 drinking water sources in 43 states may contain toxic levels of PFAS, affecting more than 19 million Americans. U.S. News & World Report

In context: PFAS: What You Need To Know.

On the Radar

Illegal sand mining is jeopardizing rivers and coastal areas worldwide, especially in major Asian river deltas, according to a recent United Nations report. Global demand for sand equates to roughly 50 billion tonnes per day, and much of it is dredged illegally. The degradation has led to flooding, groundwater shortages, droughts, and landslides in some areas. Reuters

In context: Pursuing Riches, Miners Plunder Tamil Nadu’s River Sand.

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