Friday, July 8, 2011

Dry areas have increased, ctd




Yesterday I pointed to this study, which found:

widespread drying over Africa, East and South Asia, and other areas from 1950 to 2008, and most of this drying is due to recent warming.


It was remiss of me not to translate the scientists' calm invocation of "widespread drying" into human terms. The Economist, always prompt, supplied my lack the day before, reporting on some of that "widespread drying over Africa":

Yet, after the worst drought in 60 years, more than 10m people in the Horn of Africa need emergency food aid. Livestock have been annihilated. Hundreds of thousands of people are streaming into refugee camps in search of help. Malnutrition rates in some areas are five times more severe than the threshold aid agencies use to define a crisis. Many children are already dying of starvation.

The areas most affected by the drought are northern Kenya, south-eastern Ethiopia, southern Somalia and Djibouti. The region’s last two rainy seasons were meagre. Rivers and boreholes are running dry, crops failing, traditional grazing land turning to dust. Up to 60% of cattle and goat herds, the main assets for many of the worst-affected people, have perished, their corpses and skeletons littering the plains.


Keep watching the food:

Soaring world food prices have made matters worse. In Somalia the cost of sorghum, the local staple, has risen 240% since last October. In Kenya the price of maize has tripled. Food hoarding is reportedly aggravating shortages—even where rain has been plentiful.


Bear in mind that humans don't usually respond optimally to crisis:

Soaring world food prices have made matters worse. In Somalia the cost of sorghum, the local staple, has risen 240% since last October. In Kenya the price of maize has tripled. Food hoarding is reportedly aggravating shortages—even where rain has been plentiful.

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