São Paulo brazil, the world’s 12 largest megacity, is in the middle of a major water shortage crisis. How serious? They’ve just tapped into their 2nd ‘technical’ reserve, and it’s estimated that this reserve will only last another 60 days.
This marks the first time reserves have been used, which started 10 days ago, after reserve water hit ‘critically low levels,’ Reuters reports.
“If we take into account the same pattern of water extraction and rainfall that we’ve seen so far this month – and it’s been raining less than half of the average – we can say the (reserve) will last up to 60 days,” said Marussia Whately, a water resources specialist at environmental NGO Instituto Socioambiental.
Although São Paulo has a third and final reserve, accessing the water may be difficult, said Vicente Andreu, the president of the water regulatory agency ANA. This is because the water is contained in silt and mud, making extracting the water a technically “unviable” method.
According to Andreu, up until now the Brazilian government has treated the crisis as a temporary problem that will likely ‘go away’ after the first heavy rainfall of the summer rather than treating it as a long-term issue.
However, São Paulo Governor Geraldo Alckmin is now responding to the water shortage crisis, announcing mandatory water rationing and pledging to invest 3.5 billion reais ($1.4 billion) to build new reservoirs and improve distribution, however most of the work won’t be completed for at least a year.
Is Man To Blame For Droughts Across The World?
The Union of Concerned Scientists stated that droughts cost the U.S. $9 billion annually. Beyond direct economic impacts, drought can also threaten drinking water supplies and ecosystems, and can even contribute to increased food prices.
Within the last decade, drought conditions have hit the Southeastern U.S., the Midwest, and the Western U.S. In 2011, Texas had the driest year since 1895. In 2013, California had the driest year on record.
Although some individual drought periods can be understood as discrete weather events -i.e. atmospheric conditions changing over a short period of time -we must ask ourselves if the drought crises in recent years point to more significant issues of climate change, more particularly man-induced climate change.
Antonio Nobre, a leading climate scientist at INPE, likens the Sao Paulo drought to deforestation, which is drastically reducing the release of billions of liters of water by rainforest trees.
Pinning down exact numbers is nearly impossible, but most experts agree that we are losing upwards of 80,000 acres of tropical rainforest daily, and significantly degrading another 80,000 acres every day on top of that. That’s over 75 million acres every year. Currently, 20% of the amazon is already destroyed.
The Amazon is home to almost one-third of the planet’s remaining tropical rainforests, and 1 in 10 of all the species we know about – and very likely many we don’t.
People around the world, as well as locally, depend on its resources and services –not just for food, water, timber and medicines, but to stabilize the climate. It’s estimated that the Amazon forest stores up to 140 billion tonnes of carbon.
But what reason do we have to be cutting down all of this sacred and ancient rainforest? The answer is both shocking and grim.
The rainforest is being cut down primarily to supply the steak on your dinner plate. That’s right, we’re destroying our planet to keep up with the demand for beef.
Cattle ranching in the Amazon supplies cheap beef to North America, China and Russia. It is estimated that for each pound of beef produced, 200 square feet of rainforest is destroyed, a horrifying statistic.
But even more sad is the fact that most of the land cannot be used afterwards, as the soil is destroyed and the grass dries up after only a few years, leaving a barren desert land behind. So then farmers knock down new forest to create new grasslands for the cattle. An unsustainable cycle.
That being said, it isn’t just the cattle ranching industry that is ruining our planet. Other industries that are to blame for the deforestation crisis include logging, oil, mining and agriculture. All of which there are alternative sustainable options.
Why are we so blind to our mistakes as a society? Why do we not make the connection between our daily decisions and the consequences of our actions?
I can’t help but wonder how much time we have before it’s too late. I think about our children’s future, and the mess that they will unwillingly be left to clean up.
The widespread drought, as well as the extreme climate conditions currently affecting the entire globe, are a pre-warning from the Earth. I emphasize the word ‘pre-warning’, because we would be silly to think we’ve seen the worst of what’s to come if we continue to abuse the resources from our planet.
Remember that you have the power to change all of this simply by making different decisions in your daily life.
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