Climate Letter #1081

The story of Cambodia’s astonishing Tonle Sap Lake, which feeds millions of people across Southeast Asia.  Not long ago the fishing was incredibly productive.  Now it is being decimated by climate change, drought and development.
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An update on food shortages in South Sudan.  Now 4.8 million people are classified as “currently severely food insecure,” up over 30% in a year, and the outlook for 2018 is poor.  “Climatically, nearly everything went wrong this past year. Floods inundated Aweil’s lowlands while drought afflicted its highlands, spreading desertification further north towards Sudan. Experts are increasingly blaming this deadly combination on the effects of climate change.”  Civil conflicts intensify the problem.
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In the US, the nutritional value of grasses used for feeding cattle has dropped nearly 20% in 25 years.  As a result grass-fed cattle in a wide range of states are not putting on weight like they should be. One professor says, “The more carbon dioxide, the bigger the plant, but the amount of nitrogen, which makes plants nutritious for cattle, doesn’t change.”  Effects of the same type have previously been reported for several kinds of basic human food supplies like rice, wheat and potatoes.
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Sweltering heat in Australia.  A suburb of Sydney reached 117F on Sunday, very close to a record.  Conditions for severe bush fires are ripe.
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Alaskan temperatures have been running ten to twenty degrees above average.  “The river ice in some areas was feet thick in past years. It’s now only inches. In other places, there’s open water.”
–Today’s Weather Maps provide a startling graphic image of how warm air from the Pacific has pushed its way deeply into the frozen Arctic Ocean, cutting across part of Alaska while doing so.  The Atlantic, with its broader northern waterways, does the same kind of intruding more easily, with more regularity.  Also try the Anomaly link for an added  perspective on the current arrangement.
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The stage is set for a critical election later this year.  This is from a British website that deals with political betting.  The writer believes that climate change denial is now defunct.  The problem in the US is that “Most voters, though, are in the middle on climate change. Around half the public have little doubt it’s real and a threat, and want it dealt with, but don’t think about it much.”  Democrats have not yet figured out how to properly frame the issue in order to attract voters without scaring them.  (I would lump it together with other environmental issues that are more understandable where the Republican right wing now in control of the party and government is equally wrongheaded.)
Carl
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