The Stream, November 8, 2019: Worst Drought in Decades Hits China’s Yangtze Region

The Global Rundown

The worst drought in decades strikes stretches of China’s middle and lower Yangtze River region. Investigators in Flint, Michigan, issue search warrants to two state government departments. Severe drought affects large swathes of southern Africa, threatening 45 million with hunger and jeopardizing grain crops in South Africa. Engineers detect safety issues with the Mojave River Dam in California, warning that it could collapse in the event of an extreme flood. 

“This dam was built in 1971, when climate change was still an unknown phenomenon. Climate change creates more uncertainty, which, going forward, will be taken into account.” –Gary Lee, chief safety engineer for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Los Angeles District, in reference to the Mojave River Dam in southern California. Army Corps officials recently raised the risk factor of the dam from “low” to “high urgency action” over concerns that an extreme flood event could cause the structure to erode and collapse. A dam failure could affect 16,000 people and $1.5 billion in property. The Los Angeles Times

In context: Oroville Emergency a Warning for U.S. Dam Safety

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By The Numbers

45 million People in southern Africa who are facing food insecurity due to deepening drought. Aid agencies are planning emergency food deliveries to parts of South Africa, Zambia, Zimbabwe, and other nations in the region. The drought has been fueled by months of low rainfall and high temperatures. U.S. News & World Report

2 Michigan governments departments that were served search warrants in relation to an investigation of the Flint water crisis. The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Environment, Great Lakes & Energy both confirmed that they had received the warrants in recent weeks. The warrants are the first action taken in the investigation since this spring, when Attorney General Dana Nessel dropped all pending criminal charges and began a new investigation. MLive

In context: Circle of Blue’s coverage of the Flint water crisis.

Science, Studies, and Reports

Drought along the middle and lower sections of China’s Yangtze River is among the worst in 40 years, according to the government-owned People’s Daily publication. The newspaper said that the drought has disrupted grain and rapeseed production in the region, and noted that temperatures are 3°C (5.4°F) higher than normal in some areas. Reuters  

On the Radar

Farmers in South Africa say that a current drought is likely to hamper grain planting and yields. The country’s 2018/2019 season was already drier-than-average, experts say, which could further impact the 2019/2020 season. Reuters

In context: HotSpots H2O: South Africa Imposes Emergency Water Restrictions to Prevent Another “Day Zero”

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