Katharine Q. Seelye, New York Times: Boise City, Oklahama: "...the remote western edge of the Oklahoma Panhandle is quietly enduring a weather calamity of its own: its longest drought on record, even worse than the Dust Bowl, when incessant winds scooped up the soil into billowing black clouds and rolled it through this town like bowling balls.
"Boise (rhymes with voice) City has gone 222 consecutive days through Tuesday with less than a quarter-inch of rainfall in any single day, said Gary McManus, a state climatologist. That is the longest such dry spell here since note-keeping began in 1908..."
also see: 1M Acres Burn: Southern Plains Drought Expands Rapidly, No Relief Soon
A United Nations report says much of the future population growth will come in the nations that have the least access to modern amenities like electric lights, as seen above. Image from NASA Earth Observatory (link below)
United Nations, May 3, 2011: "Key result: The world population is expected to keep on rising during the 21st century, although its growth is projected to experience a marked deceleration during the second half of the century. (see UN chart below)
"According to the medium variant of the 2010 Revision of World Population Prospects, the world population is expected to increase from 6.9 billion in mid-2011 to 9.3 billion in 2050 and to reach 10.1 billion by 2100. Realization of this projection is contingent on the continued decline of fertility in countries that still have fertility above replacement level (that is, countries where women have, on average, more than one daughter) and an increase of fertility in the countries that have below-replacement fertility. In addition, mortality would have to decline in all countries.
"If fertility were to remain constant in each country at the level it had in 2005-2010, the world population could reach nearly 27 billion by 2100. A future fertility that remains just half a child above that projected in the medium variant would result in a population of 15.8 billion in 2100 (high variant), but if fertility remains just half a child below that of the medium variant, the world population in 2100 could be 6.2 billion, the same size it had at the start of the 21st century.
"Today, 42 per cent of the world population lives in low-fertility countries, that is, countries where women are not having enough children to ensure that, on average, each woman is replaced by a daughter who survives to the age of procreation (i.e., their fertility is below replacement level). Another 40 per cent lives in intermediate-fertility countries where each woman is having, on average, between 1 and 1.5 daughters, and the remaining 18 per cent lives in high-fertility countries where the average woman has more than 1.5 daughter
"Even if the fertility of each country would reach replacement level in 2010-2015, the world population would continue to increase over the rest of the century, reaching 9.1 billion in 2050 and 9.9 billion in 2100 (see the "instant replacement variant" in the figure below).
UN PR: World Population to reach 10 billion by 2100 if Fertility in all Countries Converges to Replacement Level
"...The new report comes just ahead of a demographic milestone, with the world population expected to pass 7 billion in late October, only a dozen years after it surpassed 6 billion. Demographers called the new projections a reminder that a problem that helped define global politics in the 20th century, the population explosion, is far from solved in the 21st...."
CNN: U.N.: Earth's population to hit 9 billion by 2050, 10 billion by 2100
May 2, Carolyn Lochhead: "...A food desert is an area of high poverty with little access to supermarkets or other sources of fresh food. The locator was developed by USDA's respected Economic Research Service.
"USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack said the locator is designed to "help policy makers, community planners, researchers, and other professionals identify communities where public-private intervention can help make fresh, healthy, and affordable food more readily available to residents..."
New York Times Week in Review: April 30, Mathew Ericson: "...Unnerved by those violent storms? Or the prospect of an earthquake rumbling through California with the force of the one that devastated Japan? Or a hurricane as deadly as Katrina in 2005 battering an American coastline again?
"Then you might want to think about moving to safer ground. But where to go? Here are maps that might offer some ideas...."
"...National Geographic's multiple winners include photographer Lynsey Addario for best photo reporting from abroad. She fought hard for access to deliver a comprehensive and intimate portrayal of Afghan women. Writers Alma Guillermoprieto and Shaul Schwartz earned the best magazine reporting honor for their fresh and vital work on life inside Mexican prisons and shrines...."
Anahad O'Connor and Timothy Williams: "A deadly tornado stretching a mile wide tore through downtown Tuscaloosa, Ala., on Wednesday evening, killing 15 people, flattening homes and buildings, and bringing further damage and fatalities to a region already battered by storms...."
CNN April 27, 2011: "A rare mix of factors combined to cause widespread severe weather and dozens of reported tornadoes across the southern United States Wednesday, experts said.
"The worst tornado outbreak in U.S. history occurred in April 1974, when 148 twisters touched down in 13 states over a 16-hour period, according to the National Weather Service. The agency said 330 people died and 5,484 were injured in a path of damage that covered more than 2,500 miles...."
11 p.m. EDT: Accuweather reports 135 tornado sightings on April 27, 2011
"...As of 11 p.m. EDT, there have been 135 reports of tornadoes, according to the Storm Prediction Center. Most of these tornadoes have touched down in Alabama, Mississippi and Tennessee, and many have been large, powerful twisters....'
Peter Gleick, Pacific Institute, in The San Francisco Chronicle, April 25, 2011: "Where have all our drinking water fountains gone? They have been disappearing, one by one, from our public spaces, parks, offices. And yet, it has become easier and easier to find expensive and environmentally damaging commercial bottled water. Safe, free drinking water used to be common: we all used public water fountains. Now they are hard to find, dirty, or broken. The average American now drinks nearly 30 gallons of commercial bottled water per year, up from 1 gallon in 1980, creating plastic waste and wasting energy. One of the reasons for this explosive growth in the sales of bottled water is the disappearance of public drinking water fountains.
"It is time for a water fountain renaissance and new technology is available to help. The Pacific Institute, working with Google application developers, is about to launch a new, free smartphone application called WeTap. This tool makes use of "crowd-sourced" mapping: the ability to tap into the knowledge of crowds to provide free information about issues of public concern. WeTap does two things. It lets smartphone users:
"1. Add public drinking water fountains to a national database of fountains, with information on their location, condition, and quality, including uploading a photo and comments; and
"2. Find a working fountain when they want one....."
(They need a probono iPhone developer...Android phone users in the SF bay area interested in testing WeTap send email to firstname.lastname@example.org.)
Gleick is author of Bottled and Sold: The Story Behind Our Obsession with Bottled Water
"...the West is getting warmer, and while the effects vary depending on geography, the places that are feeling water stress now are going to feel more in the future because snow will melt faster, bringing a decline in summertime stream flows...."
"Interior Releases Report Highlighting Impacts of Climate Change to Western Water Resources - This report assesses climate change risks and how these risks could impact water operations, hydropower, flood control, and fish and wildlife in the western United States. The report to Congress represents the first consistent and coordinated assessment of risks to future water supplies across eight major Reclamation river basins, including the Colorado, Rio Grande and Missouri river basins..."
Dept. of Interior PR: Interior Releases Report Highlighting Impacts of Climate Change to Western Water Resources
NASA Earth Observatory April 22: "So far in 2011, more than 1.4 million acres have burned in Texas. Some 800 fires have occurred throughout the state, burning 401 structures and costing two firefighters their lives. Why is fire activity so extreme in Texas this year? This image, made with data collected by the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA's Terra satellite, reveals high temperatures that contributed to hazardous fire conditions...."
also see: 1M Acres Burn: Southern Plains Drought Expands Rapidly, No Relief Soon (via @usnoaagov @USDA etal )
Keith Kloor writing at Climate Central (link above) on an essay by Jonathan Foley "Becoming a Climate Pragmatist," which appears in the spring issue of Momentum (issue link below) from the University of Minnesota Institute on the Environment:
Kloor: "Last week I read a short essay that washed over me like a fresh breeze. It was a plea by Jonathan Foley, an ecologist (he's a climatologist by training) and director of the Institute on the Environment at the University of Minnesota, to move the climate debate beyond partisan politics and a "rhetorical stalemate"..."
Momentum: Jonathan Foley: Becoming a Climate Pragmatist
Foley: "...Let's face it: we're stuck in the infinite loop from hell. Scientists and environmentalists are on one side, repeating our well-rehearsed lines, while conservatives, talk show hosts and business lobbies are on the other, repeating theirs. Nothing has changed in decades. In fact, the divisions seem to be getting deeper. And Rome burns while we fiddle.
"Why are we repeating the same old lines? Does each side expect the other to finally give in and say, "We were wrong! Can you forgive us?" and everything will suddenly be okay?
"Don't hold your breath. As with many issues in America today, participants in the climate debate have dug in and stopped listening to each other.
"Hoping to move beyond this rhetorical stalemate, I've decided to try a different approach. Here's how it goes...." (read the essay at link above)
Andrew Revkin at Dot Earth has also cited Foley's essay (at very end) in an April 25 posting "Beyond the Climate Blame Game":
Lester R. Brown: "Civilization can survive the loss of its oil reserves, but it cannot survive the loss of its soil reserves." Soil erosion on cassava plantation in Thailand. Photo from Creative Commons by Neil Palmer/CIAT/flickr
"From the Middle East to Madagascar, high prices are spawning land grabs and ousting dictators. Welcome to the 21st-century food wars."
Foreign Policy Magazine, May-June 2011: Lester R. Brown: "... the new food economics of 2011: Prices are climbing, but the impact is not at all being felt equally. For Americans, who spend less than one-tenth of their income in the supermarket, the soaring food prices we've seen so far this year are an annoyance, not a calamity. But for the planet's poorest 2 billion people, who spend 50 to 70 percent of their income on food, these soaring prices may mean going from two meals a day to one. Those who are barely hanging on to the lower rungs of the global economic ladder risk losing their grip entirely. This can contribute -- and it has -- to revolutions and upheaval...."
Part of a Food Issue:
More Than One Billion People are Hungry in the World: But What If the Experts are Wrong?