Impacts & Adaptation

Global Warming (Still) Accelerating Water Crises

Prolonged dry episodes in the US
Prolonged dry episodes in the US WRI It's not breaking news, but then again, most global problems aren't. A new report by the World Resources Institute continues to confirm not only that human activity is the primary cause of rising temperatures, but also that global warming impacts are accelerating. Climate Science 2008: Major New Discoveries is a compilation of peer-reviewed research from 2008 and includes evidence that melting rates for mountain glaciers around the world doubled between 2004 and 2006. Other examples of water supply and hydrological impacts include the rapi

The Wrong Climate for an African Dam Boom

Desertification of African soil
Desertification of African soil Africa is the least electrified place in the world, with just a fraction of its citizens benefiting from the miracle of electricity. Solving this huge problem is made more difficult by widespread poverty, poor governance, and because a large majority of Africa's people live far from the grid, which greatly adds to the cost of bringing electricity to them. Under these vexing conditions, there are no second chances for electrifying Africa: we must get it right. Yet the World Bank and many of the continent's energy planners are pinning their hopes for African el

The Crisis of the 21st Century is...Water Supply

That and sanitation (water supply's poor cousin for infrastructure and aid). Clearly climate change will continue to dominate the news. But my prediction for the new year (and those to follow) is that we'll be seeing a lot more water issues on the (web)page. International Rivers has covered water supply in the Himalayas, followed the water politics between nations like India and Pakistan, and tracked emergent water storage solutions (such as rainwater harvesting). News agencies worldwide are also picking up the stories as well, especially on how water relates to climate change, hea

Hail Mary! Aussie Activists Celebrate Dam Suspension

Mary River Information Center, Kadanga, Queensland
Mary River Information Center, Kadanga, Queensland Patrick McCully/International Rivers Communities in the Mary Valley in Queensland, Australia, are celebrating the announcement by state Premier, Anna Bligh, that construction on a bitterly opposed dam would be delayed by up to four years. The Traveston Crossing Dam would displace hundreds of families, flood thousands of acres of rich farmland, and endanger iconic species including the Queensland lungfish and the endangered Mary River turtle and cod. Proponents claim the dam is needed to increase water storage because of the worsening dro

Are We There Yet? Climate Change's Tipping Point

Is the financial crisis the disaster that the climate change movement has been waiting for? After the release of each IPCC report and the occurrence of every natural disaster that suspiciously smelled of global warming, I would wonder: Will the world finally wake up to its common peril? Will those in government (and those at home) finally realize the sooner or later, climate change will hit us in our comfy western seats (and hit hard)? Each time, the answer was no. Suddenly, however, there's a flurry of activity in the Climatosphere. Not only are policies like the WCI gaining steam,

Odds improve (for now) on Las Vegas' water supply

Hoover Dam intake, July 2008
Hoover Dam intake, July 2008 Back in March I wrote about a study showing a 50% chance that climate change would leave "Lake" Mead dry by 2021. Lake Mead is the huge (or at least formerly huge) reservoir behind Hoover Dam on the Colorado River. The reservoir supplies almost all the water for Las Vegas and much of that used by milllions of people in southern California and Arizona. Turns out that maybe things aren't quite that bad, yet. According to the Las Vegas Review-Journal, a study to be released next year will show odds of less than 5% that the la

Bujagali Dam Seriously Flawed, Say African Bank Inspectors

Wednesday, July 9, 2008
First investigation by African Development Bank panel finds dam studies minimized climate change risks, impacts to Lake Victoria, resettlement costs, affordability concernsThe Bujagali Dam, now under construction on the Nile River in Uganda, racked up at least 22 violations of key African Development Bank (AfDB) policies, according to a new report by the Bank's internal investigative panel. The report is the first by the Bank's new Compliance Review and Mediation Unit (CRMU), and was undertaken in response to a claim by project-affected people and the National Association of Professional En

Africa's Perfect Storm?

Tuesday, August 1, 2006
Extreme Vulnerability to Climate Change Increases Pressure on Riversfrom World Rivers Review, Aug. 2006 by Lori Pottinger Africa has yet another huge burden to bear: it has been deemed “the continent most vulnerable to the impacts of projected climate change” by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). The problem is complicated by a mix of political, social, environmental and economic realities. But one thing is clear: a concerted international effort is urgently needed to ensure that Africa does not slip into climate-induced chaos because of the rich world's addiction to

Dams and Levees Heighten Flood Danger in a Warming World

Sunday, July 29, 2007
This op-ed first appeared in the San Francisco Chronicle, Sunday, July 29, 2007 Floods are the most destructive, most frequent and most costly natural disasters on Earth. And they're getting worse. Large parts of central and western England are underwater in the worst flooding in 60 years. Insurers estimate the damage could reach $6 billion -- on top of the $3 billion in flood losses suffered in northern England in June. Over the past two months, the monsoon season in Bangladesh, China, India and Pakistan has, conservatively, claimed hundreds of lives. Texas has suffered major flood damage, a


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