It's been raining a bit in the US Southeast, adding a few feet of depth to Atlanta Georgia's severely depleted drinking water reservoir, Lake Lanier, and pulling the region out of the very worst drought category. Every little bit helps. But this is no time for Georgians to let their guard down: drought can trigger cultural apocalypse.
On Cyprus, an island in the Mediterranean Sea, the water picture is very bleak.
Cyprus on Monday ordered emergency water rationing and imports from Greece to cope with a growing shortage exacerbated by a fourth year of drought.Without emergency water deliveries, and enough oil-fired electricity production to run desal plants, citizens would face a real crisis, should the rainy season, which normally begins in November, fail to refill the reservoirs in 2008-9. Note: IAEA data shows most of Cyprus' electricity is generated with oil. That desal water must be almost as expensive as gasoline.
The east Mediterranean island faces an unprecedented water crisis which has seen reservoir reserves plunge dangerously low and desalination plants unable to cope with growing demand. On Monday, the island's reservoirs were 10.3 percent full. Rainfall has been minimal since 2003.
In Africa, the drought in Somalia is causing famine and contributing to thuggery and general unrest. Yet another interim government looks to be on the verge of collapse.
Points to consider::
Regardless of whether you believe that we humans, collectively, have adversely altered the climate, regional drought is currently a widespread and serious problem. If weather extremes continue or worsen, more dislocations and tragedies will result.
Overgrazing by goats, an issue common to both Somalia and Cyprus, can be environmentally devastating, and even worsen climate change. Find that hard to believe?
Another factor [in climate change] has been overgrazing, and the goat—valued and bred in great numbers by desert people for its milk and meat—has probably been the greatest villain. Watching this hardy animal tear up almost every shrub or blade of grass in sight, some observers have suggested, only jokingly, that desertification could be quickly stopped in much of Africa or the Middle East if the goat were to suddenly disappear.
The new wastelands created by man may be self-perpetuating. Climatologist Reid Bryson of the University of Wisconsin notes, for example, that the winds that sweep over India's Rajputana desert are rich in moisture; yet little, if any, rain ever falls. Why? According to Bryson and his Indian colleagues, the dust—much of it created by man-caused erosion—is so thick that it acts like a lid, preventing the formation of warming updrafts that would turn the overhanging moisture into rainfall.
Georgia: not so bad by comparison; but not out of the woods yet.
Via::Reuters, "Drought-hit Cyprus starts emergency water rations" AND Time Magazine, Earth's Creeping Deserts, p.2. Image credit:: Rueters, Goat on sun-baked bed of Cyprus's largest reservoir at Kouris. AND UNICEF, East Africa Children's Crisis - Drought in Somalia photo gallery - dead goat on dry plain with children in background AND Georgia Magazine,Goat A Rama
Footnote: we have written a great deal about the Atlanta-area drought. Here's the starter list. Spending a little time with these Atlanta posts again, the experience is almost Old Testament-like. Goats...good imagery.
Two Remaining Pieces To The Atlanta Drought Puzzle
US Department Of Interior Secretary Calls Atlanta Drought "No ...
Why One Suburban Atlanta County Has No Drought Problem
Biggest Single Water User In Atlanta Is Gatorade Plant :
Water Running Out in Atlanta :
Atlanta Collar Counties Getting Serious On Water Use :
Suburban Atlanta Man Dissolves Into Press Release :
Red Cross To Georgia: 'Be Ready For Drought Emergency With 5 Cases ...
Chattanooga To Atlanta: "Come On In. The Water's Fine!" :
Tennessee Mayor Offers A Drink To Atlanta : TreeHugger
Atlanta: Watching the Trailer For The Bigger Movie
"Radical" Water Saving Measures May Become The Norm In Atlanta ...
Southeast & Mid-Atlantic US Drought Update :
Industries And Power Plants Downstream From Atlanta Also Need ...
Georgia Considers Redrawing State Boundary To Get Access To ...
Annals of Great Ideas: Water Park in Drought-Stricken Region ...
Living With Water Extremes: A Juxtaposition Of Design Responses ...
Now Would Be A Good Time To Get A National Exemption From The ...