At least 10 people have been killed by catastrophic floods in northern regions of Chile after thunderstorms brought the equivalent of 7 years of rain in just 12 hours on March 26. Search and rescue operations are still in progress and authorities fear the number of casualties will rise. Flooding has affected the regions of Atacama, Antofagasta and Coquimbo, all located in the Atacama Desert, one of the driest regions of the world.
Heavy rainfall and consequent river overflow, flash floods and landslides knocked out power and communication lines, destroyed infrastructure and made roadways impassable.
A state of emergency is in effect since March 26 for the Atacama Region and the Antofagasta municipality. The Health Ministry has declared a Sanitary Alert in Copiapó, Tierra Amarilla, Diego de Almagro and Alto del Carmen.
Chile’s Deputy Interior Minister Mahmud Aleuy called the flooding “the worst rain disaster to fall on the north in 80 years.”
The Atacama Desert is an extremely arid region and has been for millions of years, Weather.com senior meteorologist Nick Wiltgen explains. “As a result, the terrain is hard and rocky because rainfall isn’t frequent or abundant enough for either weathering rocks into sand or supporting the kind of ecosystem that would help turn rocks and minerals into soil. Without soil and plant cover to help absorb rainfall, it just runs off instantly as torrents of water.”
Between Thursday and Friday about 24 mm fell on the city of Antofagasta, an area that typically receives about 1.7 mm of rain in a year, according to the Chilean meteorological service.
Southern Peru was also affected by recent heavy rain. Intense rainfall in Chosica caused deadly mudslide on March 23 which left 8 fatalities, 6 missing and 25 people injured. In addition, 153 houses have collapsed as a result of this event.
April 1, 2015
April 1, 2015
In 1977, amid one of California’s most severe droughts, the Metropolitan Water District proposed a “model” ordinance to penalize repeat water wasters with “a fine of up to $300 or 30 days in jail or both,” according to Los Angeles Times articles.
Many of the outlawed uses were similar to the restrictions being imposed during the current drought: Residents were barred from hosing down sidewalks and driveways, watering during peak hours and refilling fountains and pools.
Those suspected of violating the 1977 ordinance would be served a written notice and, if they continued to ignore the law, local water agencies could limit their water flow – or turn it off altogether. A second offense constituted a misdemeanor. Local police agencies enforced the law, which the city of Los Angeles adopted, according to Times reporting.
Faced with another drought in 1990, local water agencies again adopted emergency regulations. The Central Basin Municipal Water District considered an ordinance that would have made “wasteful water practices” a misdemeanor, publishable by a fine of up to $1,000 or six months in county jail. In Northern California, a Marin County rationing plan called for a $1,000 fine and 30 days in jail for repeat offenders.
State Department of Water Resources spokesman Doug Carlson said he did not know of any cases of people put behind bars for water waste, but he did not rule out the possibility that it had happened.
He would not speculate on what it would take to impose jail time on profligate water waters during the current drought.
“But I can imagine that it might happen,” he said, “if the water conditions continue to degrade to an unprecedented level.”
April 1, 2015
If you live in mid-North America, and have not been outside today, you are in for a treat.
April 1, 2015
Perfect headline for April Fools, right?
Except, mark my words, in the minds of the paranoid right wing, this will be a thing
You read it here first.
In a historic move, California is ordering water use to be slashed by 25 percent across the state to deal with a drought that just won’t quit.
With more than 98 percent of the state suffering from a drought that has stretched into its fourth year, Governor Jerry Brown issued an executive order from the mostly snow-bare Phillips Station in the Sierra Nevada mountains — an area that would usually have snow pack more than 66 inches deep at this time of year.
“Today we are standing on dry grass where there should be five feet of snow. This historic drought demands unprecedented action,” Brown said in a statement. “Therefore, I’m issuing an executive order mandating substantial water reductions across our state. As Californians, we must pull together and save water in every way possible.”
Similar measures were considered during California’s 1970s drought but were never implemented, according to the governor’s office.
Brown announced the emergency measures at one of the regular surveys researchers take of the snow pack at what in wetter, colder times is a popular ski destination. Snow built up over the winter provides an important measure of the amount of water that will be available for California’s taps and irrigation systems in the months to come.
Even before the governor’s order on Wednesday, that supply wasn’t looking good. Statewide, snow surveys were at about 5 percent of their average for the start of April, according to the California Department of Water Resources.
In his press conference above, Gov. Brown warned new water rationing regs would “affect golf courses, people’s lawns, universities, campuses, all sorts of institutions..”
Oh my God.
Ted Cruz Warned us.
In an article that would appear to be a poorly-executed parody of Texas Senate candidate Ted Cruz’s (R) right-wing beliefs if Cruz had not posted it on his own website, the Tea Party stalwart touts a truly ridiculous conspiracy theory about George Soros secretly partnering with the United Nations to come into our cities and eliminate our right to play golf:
April 1, 2015
Dr. Naomi Oreskes is the science historian whose book “Merchants of Doubt” was the take off point of the new must-see movie of the same name.
John Cook interviewed her in San Francisco this past December, and I was lucky enough to listen in. All these interviews are part of John’s Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) on climate communication and climate denial – more on that here.
For more on the book and movie, see below:
April 1, 2015
Lots of media fun this week with the viral clip of Patrick Moore, who has made a living for decades as the self described “Founder of Greenpeace”, (not) going around shilling for every hideous pollution spewing mine, mountain removal, or tarsands mega project.
I met the guy once at a conference in Northern Michigan, and have to say I was surprised, (well, maybe not) that, other than a practiced ability to recite talking points, he didn’t seem to have much on the ball. About as much charisma as you see in the clip above – where he gets called out after claiming one could safely drink a glass of glyphosate, the pesticide also known as “Roundup”.
In an interview with the French television station Canal Plus, an advocate for genetically modified foods said Roundup, a weedkiller that is manufactured by chemical giant Monsanto, is safe for human consumption but refused to drink the herbicide when offered a glass by an interviewer.
Patrick Moore says he leads a campaign in support of “golden rice,” a genetically modified grain that contains high amounts of vitamin A. In the interview, which Moore says he believed would focus on “golden rice,” he says the active ingredient in the herbicide, glyphosate, is not causing cancer rates in Argentina to increase.
Serendipitously, Mr Moore has also penned a recent piece for the The Province, a Vancouver paper, extolling the virtues of carbon dioxide where he writes:
The story goes that as CO2 increases in the atmosphere the oceans will absorb more of it and this will cause them to become acidic; well not exactly, but at least to become less basic. This in turn is predicted to dissolve the coral reefs and kill the oysters, clams, mussels and microscopic algae that have calcareous shells. It was named “global warming’s evil twin.”
It is also a fact that greenhouse growers around the world purposefully inject CO² into their greenhouses to increase the growth of flowers and food up to 80 per cent. That is because CO2 in the atmosphere today is so low that plants are starved for it. Plant growth continues to increase in an atmosphere up to four to five times the current level of 400 parts per million. Yet we are told that CO2 is too high and we will suffer for it. Nothing could be further from the truth. We should celebrate CO2 as the giver of life it is.
Not clear who put Mr Moore up to the Op-Ed above, but what we know is that a few weeks before, the paper had carried the awkward-for-the-co2-is-life-crowd headline below.
March 31, 2015
A warmer atmosphere holds more moisture. Simple physics.
In the American midwest, where I live, everyone knows we are seeing more intense rain events. Here’s how it plays out in much dryer and more sensitive areas.
As I’ve mentioned before, one positive effect of global warming will be the large increase in really cool viral videos.