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2/13/2015 6:04 am  #1

Historic Drought Grips Brazil's Economic Capital
Brazil's Atibainha river dam is shown here in December 2014. It is part of Sao Paulo's system of dams, which supplies about half the water to the metropolitan region of 20 million people and is now at historic lows.Miguel Schincariol/AFP/Getty Images

Last Sunday, hundreds of Paulistanos, as the residents of Sao Paulo are known, dressed up and danced on the streets at one of the dozens of block parties that happen in advance of the annual celebration known as Carnival.Except this year – among the pirates and Viking bumblebees — some costumes had a more serious, if still not entirely sober, theme.Antonio Passareli was dressed as a water fountain — with the spigot placed strategically on his waist. But it's no laughing matter, he said."We have to make some noise about water," Passareli said, adding he was desperately worried about the city's current water shortage.

And he's not alone.Southern coastal Brazil is suffering its worst drought in 80 years. South America's biggest city – home to more than 20 million people – may soon be under severe rationing.Water restrictions are pretty arbitrary at the moment, but the state government is considering emergency rationing in the coming weeks: The most draconian plan could see residents without any water for five days a week."Sao Paulo was known as the drizzle city, lots of drizzle. Not anymore," says Augusto Jose Pereira Filho, a professor of atmospheric science at Sao Paulo University. "Now it's kind of a desert."
A demonstrator dressed as a bather protests against the rationing of water, outside the official residence of Sao Paulo's Governor Geraldo Alckmin in Sao Paulo, on Jan. 26. The banner behind him reads, "Planet Water, Dry Lives."Andre Penner/AP

The reason for the drought is complicated: a mix of climate change, Amazonian deforestation, water mismanagement and Pereira's theory that the massive expansion of cities like Sao Paulo with very little green spaces left has created a kind of heat island which sucks up moisture. That, Pereira says, actually diverts water from the surrounding countryside where the reservoirs are. He says he fears a future where there will be riots over water."That scenario is really scary," he says. "Water is very important; it's a fundamental resource for us."The Cantaeira reservoir system provides half Sao Paulo's drinking water. It's now down to only 6 percent of capacity.But it's not only Sao Paulo that's in crisis. The drought has affected the breadbasket state of Minas Gerais as well as Rio de Janeiro. Food prices are soaring and businesses are struggling to adapt.Pablo Muniz is the owner of Tigre Cego restaurant, which is using disposable plates and cutlery — as are many restaurants in Sao Paulo.
iRenata Cabral (left), Luciana Figueredo (right) and a friend dressed in water-themed costumes at a pre-Carnival block party in Sao Paulo. "It's Carnival and we can't forget it's a reality the water is finishing and we have to do something," said Cabral.Lourdes Garcia-Navarro/NPR

"I've no water every day from 12 midday to 8 a.m. in the morning the next day," he says.Muniz and others in the city blame the local government for the problem. The drought has been going on for months, but he says in advance of the World Cup — which Brazil hosted last summer — and the elections that followed, the authorities didn't want to take tough action. And now it's a disaster, he says."They were pretending we didn't have a problem, but it was already very clear that we were having a problem," he says.

Many apartment buildings in the city are drilling for wells; others are trucking in water at great cost.Tania Franco is a freelance journalist. Its 1:50 in the afternoon. The water gets shut off in her building at 2 p.m., and she is rushing around filling up containers."(I use this bottle) to flush the toilet," she tells me. "It's the only way. We try to do everything before two p.m. We take showers, we do the laundry, but there are some things we cannot do in advance right?"She says she hopes this crisis will lead to better conservation policies – some estimates say that 40 percent of water in Brazil is lost to leaky pipes and old infrastructure.

Last edited by Goose (2/13/2015 6:07 am)

We live in a time in which decent and otherwise sensible people are surrendering too easily to the hectoring of morons or extremists. 

2/13/2015 9:11 am  #2

Re: Historic Drought Grips Brazil's Economic Capital

Not only a problem for Brazil:

SAN JOSE, California — As bad as recent droughts in California, the Southwest and the Midwest have been, scientists say far worse "megadroughts" are coming — and they're bound to last for decades."Unprecedented drought conditions" — the worst in more than 1,000 years — are likely to come to the Southwest and Central Plains after 2050 and stick around because of global warming, according to a new study in the journal Science Advances on Thursday.

"Nearly every year is going to be dry toward the end of the 21st century compared to what we think of as normal conditions now," said study lead author Benjamin Cook, a NASA atmospheric scientist. "We're going to have to think about a much drier future in western North America."There's more than an 80 percent chance that much of the central and western United States will have a 35-year-or-longer "megadrought" later this century, said study co-author Toby Ault of Cornell University, adding that "water in the Southwest is going to become more precious than it already is.

Megadroughts last for decades instead of just a few years. The 1930s Dust Bowl went on for more than 35 years, Ault said.The study is based on current increasing rate of rising emissions of carbon dioxide and complex simulations run by 17 different computer models, which generally agreed on the outcome, Cook said.The regions Cook looked at include California, Nevada, Utah, Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona, northern Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Nebraska, South Dakota, most of Iowa, southern Minnesota, western Missouri, western Arkansas, and northwestern Louisiana.

Last edited by Just Fred (2/13/2015 9:13 am)


2/13/2015 12:41 pm  #3

Re: Historic Drought Grips Brazil's Economic Capital

It will be interesting to see what effect this has on the 2016 Olympics. 

Also, besides reading the NPR article, take a gander at the replies. What a hoot ! 

"Do not confuse motion and progress, A rocking horse keeps moving but does not make any progress"

2/13/2015 1:05 pm  #4

Re: Historic Drought Grips Brazil's Economic Capital

You're right about the comments, Tennyson.

There's even one or two comments about the subject. 

If you make yourself miserable trying to make others happy that means everyone is miserable.

-Me again


2/13/2015 1:47 pm  #5

Re: Historic Drought Grips Brazil's Economic Capital

As Fred noted, drought projections for the SW US are concerning, especially given the number of people now living there.

We live in a time in which decent and otherwise sensible people are surrendering too easily to the hectoring of morons or extremists. 
     Thread Starter

2/14/2015 10:30 am  #6

Re: Historic Drought Grips Brazil's Economic Capital

    I think there's this guy who may be able to turn wine back into water...........could be helpful.


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