April 09, 2010

life in general: it continues fast & dangerously: global climate-changing extreme weather

Whether impact of human beings' activities are predominantly responsible or not, the fact that extreme weather worldwide has become the norm in the last few years is undeniable. My city, Bombay (in India), got a bitter taste of it in July 2005 when it rained extremely intensely and caused major devastation including loss of many lives.

About 3 days back, Brazil's Rio de Janeiro has similarly received an unprecedented amount of rainfall causing major damage to properties and lives. Around the same time, Kenya saw extreme flooding.

A month back, Venezuela faced severe drought due to unusually missing rains. Around that time, China witnessed severe sandstorms in Beijing and other parts of the country.

The list, unfortunately, goes on and on.

I pray that the human children of Mother Earth are able to collectively moderate their consumption of planet-damaging goods & services. Economists and policy makers, worldwide, should awaken themselves to the excesses caused due to their obsession with growth of GDP numbers etc.

Anyway, here are some newsreports on the recent severe climatic conditions I talked about above:

Floods displace 10,000 in Kenya By Sarah Wambui
NAIROBI, Kenya, April 3
The Kenya Red Cross Society now says over 10,000 people have been displaced and marooned by floods after heavy rains pounded parts of Tana River district in the Coast province.
The society’s spokesman Titus Mung’ou said majority of the people were yet to be moved to safer grounds as the roads and bridges in the area had been swept away making movement difficult.
Mr Mung’ou who said the situation had become worse after the River Tana burst its banks but added that the humanitarian organisation would provide temporary shelter, tarpaulins, medical assistance, food aid and other forms of aid to the displaced.  “There is indication that there are more than 13,000 people who require urgent relief because they cannot access any areas where there is food. So far, this is the situation that the team has reported but they are still conducting assessments on the ground and we are yet to get the exact numbers,” he said.
....Mr Mung’ou further added that the floods which started at the beginning of the year in various parts of the country have claimed more than 70 lives. “In January to February about 42 lives were claimed; March had the highest number with about 31 and there are still those that were not accounted for. But there are about 15,000 displaced or needing some kind of relief assistance,” he said. He also added that things could get worse if the rains continued with similar vigour....

Venezuela faces hydroelectric woes    Published: March. 22, 2010 at 11:24 AM
ARACAS, Venezuela, March 22 (UPI) -- The level of water behind the Guri hydroelectric dam in Venezuela is declining as the government struggles with energy issues, officials said. Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez decclared an energy emergency in February as pervasive drought caused problems for his country, which relies heavily on hydroelectric power.
Argenis Carvajal, an operations manager at the Guri dam, said the water level fell nearly 6 inches despite government efforts to control consumption, Venezuela's El Universal newspaper reports. "Should we have not taken any measures, we would be undoubtedly (5 feet) below the present dam level and would be declining 7-8 inches on average," Carvajal said. A plan to cut energy consumption by 20 percent in Caracas was enacted Feb. 11, though the National Electric Corp. said only 37 percent of heavy energy consumers in Caracas were meeting that goal. Without restrictions, Carvajal said, the energy crisis would be more serve. "This means that we would have to withdraw from the domestic electricity grid approximately 5,000 megawatts, that is, 2 1/2 cities like Caracas without power supply," said the manager.
Demand for conventional energy resources has surged as regional drought decreases productivity from the country's hydroelectric plants.
© 2010 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved.


Sand storm hits central Beijing
A sand storm hits central Beijing on March 22, 2010.Tons of sands carried by winds of up to 90 km.h, has affected more than 270 million people in 16 provinces since Friday, state media reported. UPI/Stephen Shaver

Rio's worst rains in history kill at least 95   By BRADLEY BROOKS, Associated Press Writers Bradley Brooks, Associated Press Writers – Tue Apr 6, 6:39 pm ET
The heaviest rains in Rio de Janeiro's history triggered landslides Tuesday that killed at least 95 people as rising water turned roads into rivers and paralyzed Brazil's second-largest city. The ground gave way in steep hillside slums, cutting red-brown paths of destruction through shantytowns. Concrete and wooden homes were crushed and hurtled downhill, only to bury other structures.
The future host city of the Olympics and football World Cup ground to a near halt as Mayor Eduardo Paes urged workers to stay home and closed all schools. Most businesses were shuttered. Eleven inches (29 centimeters) of frain fell in less than 24 hours, and more rain was expected. Officials said potential mudslides threatened at least 10,000 homes in the city of 6 million people.
Paes urged people in endangered areas to take refuge with family or friends and he said no one should venture out. "It is not advisable for people to leave their homes," said Paes. "We want to preserve lives." He told the Web site of the newspaper O Globo that the rainfall was the most that Rio had ever recorded in such a short period. The previous high was nine inches (24 centimeters) that fell on Jan. 2, 1966.
President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva urged Brazilians to pray for the rain to stop.
"This is the greatest flooding in the history of Rio de Janeiro, the biggest amount of rain in a single day," Silva told reporters in Rio. "And when the man upstairs is nervous and makes it rain, we can only ask him to stop the rain in Rio de Janeiro so we can go on with life in the city."
A representative for the Rio de Janeiro fire department, which was coordinating rescue efforts, said 95 people were known dead and 44 more had been hospitalized. Most of the victims were from Rio's hillside shantytowns whose homes were buried under tons of mud and rubble. "We expect the death toll to rise," said the official, who declined to be identified because he was not authorized to speak to the media.
Thousands of motorists were stranded overnight on highways blocked by rising water..........
Associated Press Writer Marco Sibaja in Brasilia, Brazil, contributed to this report.

The pics below are taken from here.




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