- In the United States, a new study calls the megadrought in the Southwest the worst the region has seen in the last 1,200 years. Researchers at the University of California, Los Angeles also noted that the severity of the two-decade-long dry stretch is due, in large part, to the release of heat-trapping gases in the atmosphere. The American Southwest’s drying climate shows in dismally low reservoirs and bare mountain slopes that should be covered in snow at this time of year. California, for instance, is having its driest January and February on record, and these are typically two of the state’s wettest months. The news site CalMatters reports that state officials are preparing for another year of scarce water supplies. Farms and cities are bracing for mandatory conservation orders and environmental groups are scrambling to protect fish and birds.
- The drought situation is even worse in the Horn of Africa, where the UN’s World Food Program warns that 13 million people are facing acute hunger. Most of those at risk live in Ethiopia, Kenya, and Somalia. Al Jazeera reports that crops and livestock are dying due to three consecutive failed rainy seasons. At the same time, inflation is causing food prices to rise. The World Food Program says that Ethiopia, Nigeria, South Sudan, and Yemen are on the brink of famine. Famines are the most severe outcome of a food crisis, and are rarer these days because of improved monitoring and the rapid help of international aid. The last time the UN declared a famine was in South Sudan in 2017. But warning bells are again ringing. Ethiopia, Nigeria, South Sudan, and Yemen are all struggling with the deadly combination of conflict, climate extremes, and poverty. International aid groups say that famine is avoidable but immediate action is needed in these countries to avert hunger crises.
Eileen Wray-McCann is a writer, director and narrator who co-founded Circle of Blue. During her 13 years at Interlochen Public Radio, a National Public Radio affiliate in Northern Michigan, Eileen produced and hosted regional and national programming. She’s won Telly Awards for her scriptwriting and documentary work, and her work with Circle of Blue follows many years of independent multimedia journalistic projects and a life-long love of the Great Lakes. She holds a BA and MA radio and television from the University of Detroit. Eileen is currently moonlighting as an audio archivist and enjoys traveling through time via sound.