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There’s a new gold rush on, but it’s not about gold. It’s about land. More specifically, it’s about buying and selling land, food, water, and ultimately, resilience. A number of countries, short on arable land and water, are investing in a sort of global insurance policy. Countries like China, Saudi Arabia and South Korea, with significant portions of their countries operating beyond their own water budgets, are busy making up the difference by buying up lands in water and soil-rich areas of Africa, South America and South Asia, growing crops on the acquired land and then shipping the crops (and the embedded or “virtual” water that went into growing them) back to their respective countries. The sellers, on the other hand, are giving up land, water and future resilience for, in some instances, pocket change (see Lester Brown). One might call this the “global resiliency market,” and as with any market, there are serious risks for all who participate.
Those involved in international climate policy often hear about the plight of Pacific Island states in the face of climate change (though, some argue, this has not been met with adequate attention by academic researchers). But in order to avoid becoming desensitized to the concerns of this part of the world, it is important to revisit and reprocess some of the serious dangers these nations face. A new synthesis report from the Brookings-LSE Project on Internal Displacement, which follows a series of workshops last May, continues to shine a light on the problem, identifying the simple fact that these countries face the worst of both kinds of climate-exacerbated natural disasters: sudden-onset and slow-onset. As the report states: (more…)
A new study by M. Hsiang et al., covering the years 1950 – 2004, shows that conflicts are associated with the El Niño cycle. According to Hsiang and his colleagues, “the probability of new civil conflicts arising throughout the tropics doubles during El Niño years relative to La Niña years.” The authors do not claim that El Niño is the sole factor in determining civil conflict (poverty and governance are other key factors), but this is a significant finding. (more…)
CNN, Climate Progress and others have reported this season’s local news hit: the growing trend in water pipelines bursting in cities and towns across America. As one Oklahoma utilities manager reports, the culprit is not difficult to spot:
As days of 100 degree-plus temperatures bake the region, the utility reports 685 water main breaks since July alone. That’s an estimated rate of four times normal…”It’s the heat and the high water usage,” Ragan said. High temperatures can dry soil so that it shrinks away from buried pipes. Increased water usage raises pressure inside the water lines. Both factors add strain to pipeline walls, making older pipes more susceptible to bursting. (more…)