Thursday, December 31, 2009

Even Al Jazeera Sees It Coming

It comes as no surprise even to Al Jazeera that the largest lake in South America, Lake Titicaca, is at a tipping point which could lead to an environmental catastrophe followed by a Mass Migration of millions of people.

Of course, one has to wonder, if the Al Jazeera English broadcasting and reporting network sees this coming, do those who rely on Al Jazeera's Arabic broadcasting and reporting network also see this coming?

If, for example, you were the political leadership of factions interested in promoting the weakening -- or even downfall -- of the USA, you might start praying for Titicaca to fail, in the hopes of being able to find willing recruits and activists within the millions of people who would be displaced.

Note carefully the statement at the end of the video clip: Titicaca needs to have the water level fall only by 30 centimeters -- about one foot -- for the crop and fish-spawning failures to begin.

The video was uploaded to YouTube on 2009 November 27. A month later, and the water level may have already fallen by nearly a foot.

And in the same way that they had to abandon Tiahuanico and nearby Puma Punku -- great and powerful cities in their heyday when the water levels of Titicaca were much higher than any recent peak levels -- the millions of Aymara natives may have to abandon the highlands of Bolivia.

History is replete with examples of really very advanced (for their time) cities being abandoned -- and their civilizations vanishing -- when their water supplies were disrupted.

For example, Angkor Wat was abandoned due to climate change.

Jared Diamond is quick to point out a list of both failed civilizations of the past and at-risk civilizations in the modern day, and from that he draws comparisons between modern civilizations and the Maya, who like so many other failed civilizations, rose to prominence in part because they built in relatively disease-free semi-arid lands which they made habitable through engineering an improved water supply, making the semi-arid lands arable and indeed fertile.

Yet the Mayans did exactly what we're doing in the US Midwest: they exhausted their aquifer.

Diamond notes:
Well, for a few billion of the world's people who are causing us increasing trouble, there isn't any clean water, there is less and less green grass, and there are no supermarkets full of food. To appreciate what the environmental problems of those billions of people mean for us Americans, compare the following two lists of countries. First ask some ivory-tower academic ecologist who knows a lot about the environment but never reads a newspaper and has no interest in politics to list the overseas countries facing some of the worst problems of environmental stress, overpopulation, or both. The ecologist would answer, "That's a no-brainer, it's obvious. Your list of environmentally stressed or overpopulated countries should surely include Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Burundi, Haiti, Indonesia, Iraq, Nepal, Pakistan, the Philippines, Rwanda, the Solomon Islands, and Somalia, plus others." Then ask a First World politician who knows nothing, and cares less, about the environment and population problems to list the world's worst trouble spots: countries where state government has already been overwhelmed and has collapsed, or is now at risk of collapsing, or has been wracked by recent civil wars; and countries that, as a result of their problems, are also creating problems for us rich First World countries, which may be deluged by illegal immigrants, or have to provide foreign aid to those countries, or may decide to provide them with military assistance to deal with rebellions and terrorists, or may even (God forbid) have to send in our own troops. The politician would answer, "That's a no-brainer, it's obvious. Your list of political trouble spots should surely include Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Burundi, Haiti, Indonesia, Iraq, Nepal, Pakistan, the Philippines, Rwanda, the Solomon Islands, and Somalia, plus others."

The connection between the two lists is transparent. Today, just as in the past, countries that are environmentally stressed, overpopulated, or both are at risk of becoming politically stressed, and of seeing their governments collapse. When people are desperate and undernourished, they blame their government, which they see as responsible for failing to solve their problems. They try to emigrate at any cost. They start civil wars. They kill one another. They figure that they have nothing to lose, so they become terrorists, or they support or tolerate terrorism. The results are genocides such as the ones that already have exploded in Burundi, Indonesia, and Rwanda; civil wars, as in Afghanistan, Indonesia, Nepal, the Philip pines, and the Solomon Islands; calls for the dispatch of First World troops, as to Afghanistan, Indonesia, Iraq, the Philippines, Rwanda, the Solomon Islands, and Somalia; the collapse of central government, as has already happened in Somalia; and overwhelming poverty, as in all of the countries on these lists.
[ ...] ("The Last Americans: Environmental Collapse and the End of Civilization", Diamond, Jared PhD, Harper's Magazine, June 2003)

Ah, Tiahuanico, ah, Puma Punku! Ah, the nameless Mayan cities that still lie mostly undiscovered in the overgrowth, overgrowth that returned once the humans moved on and stopped consuming more water than nature could replenish soon enough to satisfy the humans.

Alas, Babylon!

I met a traveler from an antique land
Who said: Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert ... Near them, on the sand,
Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them, and the heart that fed:
And on the pedestal these words appear:
"My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!"
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away.
—"Ozymandias," Percy Bysshe Shelley

And given the length of their history, I am sure that even Al Jazeera sees this coming...

Coming to America.

More to come?

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Tropical Rain Deserts: Lençóis Maranhenses

Recently we've been covering Global Change with a focus on reasonably expected and even inevitable effects of melting glaciers.

While most people easily understand that if the headwaters of rivers are glaciers, and the glaciers melt, then the rivers will have no headwaters.

Most people will also note that even in deserts, rivers may exist -- even if only part of the year -- because of seasonal precipitation.

The Southwestern US, for example, undergoes a recurrent "Mexican Monsoon". For those who live in the area, this isn't just a season where the desert blooms briefly after baking in the sun for months. It's a time of intense localized storms, and a lot of Flash Flooding (see photos).

Of course, if such localized storms are both recurrent enough in one location, and the flash-flooding isn't sufficiently strong as to carry away the hardy vegetation that may evolve to withstand both high temperatures and forceful inundation, you may wind up with the sort of seasonably variable waterway that is lined with trees that both help hold water in the soil, and help hold fertile soil near their roots.

If the flows are too variable, or erratically variable, you may wind up with a situation where no amount of vegetation can protect the soils from erosion. In that case, two things can happen once the soil has been rendered infertile and incapable of supporting vegetation that can help hold soil in place.

If the ground is high ground, and there is enough of a drop so as to enable rapid flows, over time you will see the erosion of massive chasms such as the Grand Canyon of the Colorado River.

If the ground is low ground, and there is not enough of a drop so as to enable rapid flows, the water may pool.

In either case, infertile soil adheres poorly, and wind will tend to pick up particles and transport them, usually transporting dust and other "fines ()PDF" farther than sand. Dusts tend to collect and adhere, and dusts which have little fertility are quickly absorbed into fertile soils.

Sand, on the other hand, tends to just stay where it lands, and where enough sand lands without there also being a deposition of fertile fines and dusts, what you get is a desert.

Brazil's Lençóis Maranhenses National Park should be a beautiful tropical paradise, full of lush vegetation and teeming with wildlife. Instead, there is this:

The Wikipedia article claims that this is not a desert, but the author has a mistaken definition of desert. The author seems to think that the primary characteristic of a desert is that it has no rainfall. Thus, in the opinion of the author, the Lençóis_Maranhenses is not a desert because it is frequently inundated.

Yet when you see the photo, despite the lagoons of significant quantities of fresh water, you know you are looking at a desert, because there is no soil that can support vegetation, no matter how much rainfall it gets.

View Larger Map
The location is south of the equator, not by much, but enough so that this isn't easily explained as fallout from the massive sandstorms that often sweep westward from the Western Sahara.

If one would wish to explain the deposition of sand as a side effect of upstream river erosion, the nearest significant estuary is the Bay of Saint Marcus (Baía de São Marcos). Interestingly, none of the rivers feeding into this bay have origins in the Andean glaciers.

Situated in the Brazilian State of Maranhão, the Lençóis Maranhenses are merely the extreme manifestation of a series of ecologies which are never far removed from desertification. Much of the State is tropical rain forest, but much is very close to the state of being a desert in terms of lack of vegetation or vegetation that is very well adapted to living on nearly pure sand, such as palm trees.

The wetter parts of Maranhão are those parts closest to the mouth of the Amazon... and so one has to wonder what might happen, and if the deserts would spread from the place where they already exist despite abundant rains, should the flows of the Amazon decrease as the end stages of Glacial Melt-Off are passed.

According to local lore, the region of that abundantly-watered desert was inhabited by Caeté Indians, who woke up one day to find their town covered by sand.

I guess they had to move away.

And if the Amazon can no longer provide the soil humidity to retain fertile fines and they blow away in the winds, and the desert expands despite the abundant rain, I guess everyone else in the region might wake up one day to find their town covered by sand. And I guess that they too, will have to move away.

More to come?

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

The Bolivian Horde Cometh... and It Is Blond?

(Update, closing paragraph should read "2.8 Billions of people who are, for most of the year, utterly dependent on meltwater from the vanishing Glaciers of the Himalayas". Corrected now.)

In recent days, I've been detailing how Glacial Melt-Off due to global warming is sure to force mass migrations from the affected areas.

In yesterday's posting, Expecting Plans and Planning: Simple Logic, Complex Outcomes, I decided to put myself in the position of someone whose duty it is to relocate almost the entire country of Bolivia to anywhere else, by no later than the year 2015.

Bolivia's Chacaltaya Glacier has melted to nothing 6 years earlier than expected and that accounts for a significant amount of the water supply for the fields and towns of Bolivia.

And downstream from Peru's "Madre de Dios" area -- itself the headwaters of tributaries to the mighty Amazon -- mostly-illegal strip-and-sluice mining for gold is massively contaminating the rivers with Mercury and sediments (Rising prices spark a new gold rush in Peruvian Amazon, Keane, Laura, Washington Post, December 20, 2009, downloaded 2009 December 20).

Ecological devastation -- most of it man-made, much of it the result of destructive activities of locals -- is beginning to permeate throughout South America, particularly now emerging in the Andes region.

Long before the Spanish Conquistadores came, spreading pestilence and death to destroy anyone who sensibly fled their advance, Bolivia had a rich history of Empire Building.

For nearly 500 years -- and that is a long time in the history of Empires, significantly surpassed only by the Imperial Chinese and Romans -- the Aymara people ruled the empire of Tiwaniku, or as more commonly spelled, Tijuanico (or Tihuanico).
An archaeologically based theory asserts that around AD 400, Tiwanaku went from being a locally dominant force to a predatory state. Tiwanaku expanded its reaches into the Yungas and brought its culture and way of life to many other cultures in Peru, Bolivia, and Chile. However, Tiwanaku was not exclusively a violent culture. In order to expand its reach, Tiwanaku used politics to create colonies, negotiate trade agreements (which made the other cultures rather dependent), and establish state cults.[10] Many others were drawn into the Tiwanaku empire due to religious beliefs as Tiwanaku never ceased being a religious center. Force was rarely necessary for the empire to expand, but on the northern end of the Basin resistance was present. There is evidence that bases of some statues were taken from other cultures and carried all the way back to the capital city of Tiwanaku where the stones were placed in a subordinate position to the Gods of the Tiwanaku in order to display the power Tiwanaku held over many.[11]

Among the times that Tiwanaku expressed violence were dedications made on top of building known as the Akipana. Here people were disemboweled and torn apart shortly after death and laid out for all to see. It is speculated that this ritual was a form of dedication to the gods. Research showed that one man who was dedicated was not a native to the Titicaca Basin, leaving room to think that dedications were most likely not of people originally within the society.[1]

The community grew to urban proportions between AD 600 and AD 800, becoming an important regional power in the southern Andes. According to early estimates, at its maximum extent, the city covered approximately 6.5 square kilometers, and had between 15,000 - 30,000 inhabitants.[1] However, satellite imaging was used recently to map the extent of fossilized suka kollus across the three primary valleys of Tiwanaku, arriving at population-carrying capacity estimates of anywhere between 285,000 and 1,482,000 people.[8]

The empire continued to grow, absorbing cultures rather than eradicating them. William H. Isbell states that "Tiahuanaco underwent a dramatic transformation between AD 600 and 700 that established new monumental standards for civic architecture and greatly increased the resident population." [12] Archaeologists note a dramatic adoption of Tiwanaku ceramics in the cultures who became part of the Tiwanaku empire. Tiwanaku gained its power through the trade it implemented between all of the cities within its empire.[13] The elites gained their status by control of the surplus of food obtained from all regions and redistributed among all the people. Control of llama herds became very significant to Tiwanaku, as they were essential for carrying goods back and forth between the center and the periphery. The animals may also have symbolized the distance between the commoners and the elites.

The elites' power continued to grow along with the surplus of resources until about AD 950. At this time a dramatic shift in climate occurred.[1] A significant drop in precipitation occurred in the Titicaca Basin, with some archaeologists venturing to suggest a great drought. As the rain became less and less many of the cities furthest away from Lake Titicaca began to produce fewer crops to give to the elites. As the surplus of food dropped, the elites power began to fall. Due to the resiliency of the raised fields, the capital city became the last place of production, but in the end even the intelligent design of the fields was no match for the weather. Tiwanaku disappeared around AD 1000 because food production, the empire's source of power and authority, dried up. The land was not inhabited again for many years.[1] In isolated places, some remnants of the Tiwanaku people, like the Uros, may have survived until today.

1. Kolata, Alan L. (December 15, 1993). The Tiwanaku: Portrait of an Andean Civilization. Wiley-Blackwell. ISBN 978-1557861832.
10. McAndrews, Timothy L. et al. 'Regional Settlement Patterns in the Tiwanaku Valley of Bolivia'. Journal of Field Archaeology 24 (1997): 67-83.
11. Blom, Deborah E. and John W. Janusek. 'Making Place: Humans as Dedications in Tiwanaku'. World Archaeology (2004): 123-141.
13. McAndrews, Timothy L. et al. 'Regional Settlement Patterns in the Tiwanaku Valley of Bolivia'. Journal of Field Archaeology 24 (1997): 67-83.

In the mid-1400s, the Inca empire expanded into the region, but by the mid-1500s had effectively lost it as their population collapsed under the impacts of smallpox and other diseases brought by the Spanish, as well as due to the military actions of the Conquistadores and the brutal colonizations that followed.

Yet the Bolivian natives -- comprising some 55-percent of the approximately 10-million Bolivians -- mostly never lost their Aymara language or culture. Their homeland remains in the region around the Andean alpine lake, Titicaca.

Lake Titicaca is, of course, the largest lake in South America, situated at an altitude of some 12,500 feet above sea-level, on the border of Peru and Bolivia.

Yet despite being the largest lake in South America, only about 10 percent of its water balance is released as downhill stream flows into the Rio Desaguadero, which feeds the Saline Lake Poopó.

Lake Titicaca loses some 90 percent of its water inflow due to evaporation in the fierce sunlight and strong winds at this tropical alpine site. Most of its water comes from rainfall and glacial melt, and with reduction of glacier water reaching it, the water level becomes so low that no outflow can occur, and salinization of the lake begins. Ordinarily, this might nto be such a problem as the lake is so large... or so you might think.

However, in very recent times, Titicaca's waters have dropped 81 centimetres since April 2009 and 95-percent of the water inflow is evaporating.
Titicaca's waters have dropped 81 centimetres since April and flora and fauna are apt to suffer damage if they drop another 30 centimetres, the statement said.

Navy Capt -Jorge Ernesto Espinoza told ATB television that South America's largest lake is receding by 2 to 3 centimetres a week.

The lake, straddling Bolivia and Peru at 3,800 metres elevation, is an 8,400 square kilometre oasis on an arid high plain an hour's drive from the Bolivian capital, La Paz.

The lake is fed by rainfall and melt water from glaciers, which scientists say are shrinking rapidly due to global warming and could disappear altogether by mid-century.

About 2.6 million people depend on the lake for their sustenance.

The Titicaca Authority says 95 per cent of the lake's inflow is now evaporating.

One reason is that the area's rainy season has been reduced from six to three months, said Felix Trujillo, chief of Bolivia's National Meterological and Hydrological Service. ("Lake Titicaca at dangerously low level", Valdez, Carlos, Sydney Morning Herald (Australia), November 13, 2009, downloaded 2009 December 22)

This needs to be monitored closely.

A combination of salination, fish kills, spawning failures, and vegetation degradation -- not to mention loss of pasturage and irrigation water and water to drink -- may very shortly put nearly 3-millions of Aymara and other Bolivians on the move, looking for some other place to live. Water rationing is already in effect in some Bolivian cities. Again from the Herald, "Environment Minister Rene Orellana said Bolivia needs $US1 billion ($A1.08 billion) over the next seven years to build reservoirs that will guarantee an adequate water supply".

Perhaps the USA can borrow even more money from China to finance this.

Because, if we don't, all of those Bolivians will need to move someplace.

And what better place than the eastern USA, and in all of that region, what better destination than the most-welcoming of all regions, Montgomery County Maryland, a very well-watered suburb of America's National Capital, Washington DC.

The Astute Reader won't at all mind if I once again direct their attention to the CNA military think-tank paper, National Security and the Threat of Climate Change.

Look, if Lake Titicaca either dries up or goes so saline as to turn into another Great Salt Lake or Dead Sea of Israel, even if you threw all of the money in the world at building truly massive desalination projects, all of those people living there will have to move eventually, and probably before desalination projects could be completed and brought online. In any case, all desalination plants would do would be the hasten the depletion of all fluids in the lake, all the faster with the decrease in inflow originating in vanishing glaciers.

So, the situation is not IF they will be leaving, but WHEN, with the only question remaining being "where, exactly will they go".

I am, of course, tempted to write a short humorous piece about how Bolivia's 60,000 German-speaking Mennonites, being the first to be pushed out under the land-reforms initiatives of Bolivian President Evo Morales:
[ ... ]
One year into an administration that intends to reverse centuries of subjugation of Bolivia’s indigenous majority, Mr. Morales has plans to redistribute as many as 48 million acres of land, considered idle or ill gotten through opaque purchase agreements, to hundreds of thousands of peasants.

The project won approval last month in Congress, and thousands of Mr. Morales’s supporters marched in La Paz, the capital, in celebration. But it has shaken Manitoba and Bolivia’s 41 other Mennonite farming communities.
[ ... ] ("Bolivian Reforms Raise Anxiety on Mennonite Frontier", Romero, Simon, New York Times, December 21, 2006, downloaded 2009 December 22)

Can you imagine, the former Burtonsville Dutch Market (now relocated to Laurel) suddenly awash with German-speaking Bolivian Mennonites, displaced from their well-tended farms by an "Indigenous Supremacy" movement stealing their land to relocate the thirsty Aymara and Quechua.

We "the English" would never notice, since the Mennonites and Amish all speak closely related variants of German, Plattdüütsche, and the German/Spanish-speaking ex-Bolivians would increase the bilingual appeal of the market.

The thing is, that isn't a humorous story. It's just all too plausible for my tastes.

And whence comes 60,000 Bolivian Mennonites flooding the already-overcrowded Atechnological Farming Workforce, cometh also 2.8-million Aymaras and about 3-million Quechua.

And let's not get started on the 2.8 Billions of people who are, for most of the year, utterly dependent on meltwater from the vanishing Glaciers of the Himalayas.

Well, not until tomorrow.

More to come?

Monday, December 21, 2009

Expecting Plans and Planning: Simple Logic, Complex Outcomes

I'm sitting here trying to do some debug and testing of an ongoing project of mine.

About a year ago, I got a patent, and a year later, I still have no customers nor any leads on any customers.

In recent days, we learned how insurgents in Afghanistan hacked surveillance drone video feeds and the next day we learned that the Air Force says encrypting the feeds can't happen before 2014. Okay, that's close to five years from now, going through the list of "usual suspects" in the Federal bid and procurement regime.

My patent was specifically for rapid generation of sequences read-only operating systems with pre-configured multiple layers of encryption. Each generated instance has its own network identity and IP addresses, and specific encryption information as well. Yet if it is going to take another 5 years for the Air Force to get around to figuring out that their procurements process has been excluding a solution-provider for the last half-decade, because that solution provider isn't an immense DoD contracting monolith, all I can say is that 5 years from now I will almost certainly have moved on. Waiting 5 years for the patent and waiting another 5 years for the client to notice that it'll take another 5 years for me to get up to speed to work with their procurement system, well, that doesn't seem sensible to me and I'd have to make some ungodly amount of money for it to be worth 15 years of effort, with only another 2 years after that with the patent being enforceable.

So, basically, when I'm sitting around doing development, testing, debug, and cranking out limited production run batches, basically I am just twiddling my thumbs, yanking my crank, engaging in pointless exercise, however you might want to phrase it.

And when I appear to have wound up with a defective stack of 100 DVD blanks that can never possibly produce a valid copy that will pass testing and quality-control, it makes me more than a little bit cranky.

We just reported a solid basis to expect increasing global political and population instability that will almost certainly result in Massive Population Migration Coming.

We provided a link to a think-tank report that shows that some of the top US military leadership is well aware of, and deeply concerned by, National Security and the Threat of Climate Change.

We then reported even more information about the likely state of affairs in those parts of the Western Hemisphere which rely on rivers fed by glaciers and snowpack, once those glaciers retreat to the point where they no longer serve as the headwaters of the world's greatest rivers.

We then pointed out that if water scarcity is likely to displace at least 60 percent of the populations of the South American Andean nations from Uruguay to Colombia, and potentially reduce the Amazon basin to grassland savannahs or even to emergent desert, and that this will certainly occur is known to the scientists and militaries of these nations, then any reasonable person must ask themselves the reasonable question:

What Would You Do If You Were In Their Place?

We then pointed out that Foresight Leads to Planning; Last Minute Rushes Not Likely To Succeed. We put ourselves in the position of foreign leadership faced with a problem opposite to that of the Biblical character Noah: how do you save your people when the problem is not too much water, but not enough. Rather than build an Ark to float on the waters of a global Flood, you build new housing -- and lots of it -- where you believe there will always be sufficient water, at least for your own people.

Using the example of Bolivia, as it will be one of the nations most devastated in the very near future, now that the Chacaltaya Glacier is entirely vanished, we may ask ourselves: how can the leadership of impoverished and land-locked Bolivia save the 70-percent of the population that will inevitably be displaced by Andean Glacier Melt-Off?

Let us consider the words of an ancient Wise Man, Sun Tzu:
While heading the profit of my counsel, avail yourself also of any helpful circumstances over and beyond the ordinary rules.

According as circumstances are favorable, one should modify one's plans.

All warfare is based on deception.

Hence, when able to attack, we must seem unable; when using our forces, we must seem inactive; when we are near, we must make the enemy believe we are far away; when far away, we must make him believe we are near.

Hold out baits to entice the enemy. Feign disorder, and crush him.

If he is secure at all points, be prepared for him. If he is in superior strength, evade him.

If your opponent is of choleric temper, seek to irritate him. Pretend to be weak, that he may grow arrogant.

If he is taking his ease, give him no rest. If his forces are united, separate them.

Attack him where he is unprepared, appear where you are not expected.

These military devices, leading to victory, must not be divulged beforehand.

I guess that Sun Tzu didn't expect his Top Secret Teachings of Military Strategy and Tactics to become household reading for most of the world. Yet, the world is full of perennials, people who have no cultural root from which to spring, and thus rather than maturing under the wisdom of Sun Tzu, must either be told of it, or discover it all on their own.

Thus, I shall put myself in the place of the leadership of Bolivia, making plans to get my people to safety in the one place where they can possibly be welcomed, and where there is likely to be enough water to make the relocation both permanent and worthwhile.
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First, it's necessary to scout out the terrain.

Sun Tzu said:
In the practical art of war, the best thing of all is to take the enemy's country whole and intact; to shatter and destroy it is not so good. So, too, it is better to recapture an army entire than to destroy it, to capture a regiment, a detachment or a company entire than to destroy them.

Hence to fight and conquer in all your battles is not supreme excellence; supreme excellence consists in breaking the enemy's resistance without fighting.

Operating from the standpoint of a very poor landlocked nation with no significant military capabilities, seeking victory over and invasion and occupation of a very populous and militarily-advanced nation with significant wealth -- not to mention an exceptional Navy -- the strategy becomes one that is less of direct confrontation and more of leaving the target entirely unaware of any potential for conflict.

The glaciers are melting, and some are melting faster than others, for example, the Chacaltaya Glacier has melted far faster than predicted. It was expected to continue to provide at least some meltwater until 2015, but it is entirely gone now.

But if anyone had any idea that millions of Bolivians needed to migrate -- and to what better place than the US east of the Appalacians? -- they might take steps to prevent it. As Sun Tzu says, deception is the key to all success. So, let's steer the topic of conversations, especially those which inevitably surface on the matter of mass illegal immigration to the US.

Let's make it "all about the Mexicans", and nobody will do anything to stop Bolivians.

Let's make it clear to the reader, here, that I have nothing against Bolivia, nor against the Bolivians. So far as I know, all 10-million Bolivians are all really nice people, mostly a bunch of pure or nearly-pure indigenous people who mostly lead rustic lives characterized by herding the alpaca and the vicuña and making high quality Bolivian Ponchos for consumption at home and abroad. But upon what shall the alpaca and vicuña graze? Bolivia is mostly High Desert, not unlike the northwestern New Mexico high desert where I was born. Almost all water comes from snow and from snowpack; for most of the year, only merciless sunshine and cloudless skies prevail over arid lands where nothing green can grow. When the glaciers fail, all of the people living a pastoral life must go elsewhere and/or do something different.

And why, in any case, should Americans in the US be concerned even if all 10-million Bolivians leave their country before it turns to desert, and settle in the US? There are 300-million Americans, and to add another ten-millions will not be such a hardship. Indeed, the Bolivians themselves are used to hardship. And unlike the Mexicans from such places as Sonora, the Bolivians actually thrive in the snow and cold.

Besides, there are lots of Bolivians that can play, or at least appreciate the music of the native flute:

But keep in mind: it's not just the Bolivians who will be coming as the Andean Glaciers fail.

It will be the Bolivians who first must leave their homeland as it turns into uninhabitable desert.

Certainly they won't be the last.

Most Americans, if you asked them what they thought about Andean glacial melt-off and the circumstances of Venezuela, might likely respond that they had no clue. Then again, Americans' ignorance of geography even within their own continent is widely known.

About one third of Venezuela is in the "páramos", a northeasternmost outcropping of the Andes. The average temperature is about 8 degrees Centigrade, with some overlapping areas receiving only about 17 inches of rain per year.

An article from the 2002 New York Times mentions:
Glaciers in Venezuela are nearly extinct [...]
[ ... ]
'The problem is we are using reserves that are being reduced,'' Mr. [Robert] Gallaire [a hydrologist with the Institute of Research for Development, a French scientific organization] said. ''So we have to ask, what will happen in 50 years? Fifty years, you know, is tomorrow.''

Of course, at the time this writing, Chacaltaya still existed and was expected to have a lifespan lasting until 2015 or so. Yet in less than half the time predicted, the glacier has vanished, along with all of the water needed to keep the vicuna and alpaca in pasture.

In nearby Peru, the initial cause of Global Change is still ongoing, and at an accelerating pace. The tropical rainforest is being denuded at an astonishing rate, and almost all of it illegal and in the most ecologically-destructive ways possible. It's not enough for these people to rip up and burn their own forests, they must also devastate the rivers:
The price of gold has increased 50 percent in the past two years and tripled over the past five, as global investors look to hedge against a falling dollar. Gold hit historic highs this month. That surge has spurred a new Amazon gold rush, with illegal miners pouring into the region and setting up camp along riverbanks, highways and footpaths reaching deep into the rain forest of the Peruvian Amazon.

The influx threatens to overwhelm the region, which is home to some of the Amazon's most valuable nature reserves, several indigenous groups thought to have had no outside contact, and more bird and butterfly species than anywhere else on the planet. Giant swaths of forest are gone, rivers have been diverted, and mercury used to separate gold from sediment has begun to poison downstream communities. Mining has turned an area the size of Washington into muddy wasteland and threatens an area at least 10 times that large.

Perhaps nowhere else in the Amazon is the clash between mining's economic promise and its environmental and health threats more stark than here in the state of Madre de Dios, where more than 30,000 people depend on the industry to make a living and at least 95 percent of miners operate illegally. Peru is the world's fifth-largest gold producer, and the government estimates that 40 percent of that gold is illegally mined.

(Rising prices spark a new gold rush in Peruvian Amazon, Keane, Laura, Washington Post, December 20, 2009, downloaded 2009 December 20)

This is definitely not a case of ecological devastation caused by horrible industrial nations pumping carbon-dioxide into the air. This is definitely a case of local-government failures in the local government, and of very poor people with little education or understanding of how they impact so much of the world downstream.

When these people succeed in destroying their own ecology, shall we welcome them here? Because, having succeeded at creating massive devastation and then moving on, what is to stop them from thinking that they can do the same here in the US?

More to come?

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Foresight Leads to Planning: Last Minute Rush Not Likely To Succeed

We just reported a solid basis to expect increasing global political and population instability that will almost certainly result in Massive Population Migration Coming.

We provided a link to a think-tank report that shows that some of the top US military leadership is well aware of, and deeply concerned by, National Security and the Threat of Climate Change.

We then reported even more information about the likely state of affairs in those parts of the Western Hemisphere which rely on rivers fed by glaciers and snowpack, once those glaciers retreat to the point where they no longer serve as the headwaters of the world's greatest rivers.

We then pointed out that if water scarcity is likely to displace at least 60 percent of the populations of the South American Andean nations from Uruguay to Colombia, and potentially reduce the Amazon basin to grassland savannahs or even to emergent desert, and that this will certainly occur is known to the scientists and militaries of these nations, then any reasonable person must ask themselves the reasonable question:

What Would You Do If You Were In Their Place?

That the melting of the world's glaciers has started a countdown to climate chaos should hardly come as news to anyone. Indeed, observations of the increase in glacial melting rates was one of the first indicators of Global Warming and such observations are the basis of the science behind the increasing global awareness that our world is changing, and that most likely it is we who are changing it.

Yet now we have new reporting that the melt-rate is increasing, and that it will be worse than expected. By the year 2100, global melting of ice -- and the glaciers are going fastest -- may produce a much larger-than-expected rise in sea-levels, as much as a 20 to 30 foot rise (Kopp, R. E., Simons, F. J., Mitrovica, J. X., Maloof, A. C. & Oppenheimer, M. Nature 462, 863-867 (2009)).

Of course, this will almost totally submerge Bangladesh and her millions will need to move inland. Of course, by the time this happens, there may be no water inland.
[...] 360 million on the Ganges in India and 388 million on the Yangtze in China alone - will not be able to feed themselves, with devastating effect on already rising global food prices. ("Melting glaciers start countdown to climate chaos", Jowit, Juliet, the Observer UK, Sunday 16 March 2008).

Add to that the roughly 160-millions of Bangladeshi caught between rising seas, and a Ganges River that will first flood extensively with the rapid melting of the Ganges source glaciers and then which will effectively dry up, and you are talking about nearly a billion people.
The problem is perhaps most acute in Asia, where glaciers are an important source for nine major rivers which run through land occupied by 2.4 billion people. In Pakistan, for example, 80 per cent of agricultural land is irrigated by the Indus, which the WWF last year highlighted as one of the world's 10 big at-risk rivers because retreating glaciers provide 70-80 per cent of its flow.

Further, the US isn't the only place with problems of depleted subsurface aquifers:
Longer term, though, the problem is less water, as even fast-melting glaciers are too small to keep rivers flowing during dry seasons. To make matters worse, freshwater supplies are also threatened by evaporation in warmer temperatures, pollution and growing demand from a rising and more affluent population. And - like glaciers - snow and thus snowmelt is also declining in the same areas.

This would have an immediate effect on people who depend on rivers for washing and drinking, irrigating crops, powering hydroelectric stations, transport and - often - religious and cultural traditions. Further afield, drying rivers would no longer be able to recharge groundwater tables used by cities.

In Pakistan, if the Indus river is reduced to only 20 percent of its flow, then the 80 percent of Pakistan's irrigation dependent on that will likely also be reduced by as much; we might thus see 80 percent of Pakistan's population reduced to starvation and flight to refuge... if there's any to be found.

[ ... ]
In India, 2001 C.E., they already had problems of their own, with Sikh revolutionaries, Tamil separatists, and the eternal class antipathies of the various Hindu sects and castes. As if there were not enough calamities in the world at this time, the monsoons came quite late in 2004, and then came with a vengeance, with three successive typhoons close upon their heels, and the yields of the algal blooms which fed the newly-established foodfactories were reduced by an order of magnitude. Bangladesh was nearly submerged by the rain and tidal surge, and half of the Bangladeshi were drowned. Those who survived marched north in a totally ragtag civilian mass- exodus, where they were met and mostly destroyed by the Indian army. The remnants fled east into Burma, itself seething with excess population and a repressive government. The fighting was largely hand-to-hand, and unconditionally vicious. Bangladesh's military unwisely tried to launch a SCUD-type nuclear-tipped missile from Dacca at Calcutta (which might have been a good idea) but unfortunately, the missile was defective, arcing at over 100 degrees from its intended course. The bomb was not defective. It was very dirty, and detonated near Rangpur, at the foot of the Himalayas. Had it been possible to open a path through India into the Himalayas, there might have been less loss of life, but the Bangladeshi were largely bottled up within the seaboards and riverenes, and there they carried with them not only the classic plagues of the refugee, but also the mutated pneumonic Plague that had resulted when fallout from the defective missile swept across the slums and flooded-out swamps where the pestiferous plague was endemic. The plague killed nineteen of twenty in the fleeing mob, and close to half of the populations in the invaded areas. India was forced to use neutron-device sterilization to contain the plague, and every disaffected splinter group took this opportunity to revolt. Teeming Calcutta fled west en masse, taking with them a thousand ills on twenty million feet, to meet the encroaching human wave of refugees from Mesopotamia.

Out of the chaos, out of the starvation, out of the howling masses of the small brown descendants of a hundred such conflagrations, in 2006, from Sukkur in Pakistan came a man like any other, but a man whose voice, whose message, whose power, was such that people listened when he spoke. He started with organizing the people who who had banded together in small groups for common defense, plague survivors all, and forged them into larger groups.
[...](In the Fall, Hardman, Thomas J Jr, 1996, Xlibris Press)

Well, obviously the timeline's a bit off, but that's not entirely unreasonable a thing to predict. Add 15 years, or 25, to the dates. Now throw in mass starvation due to water scarcity and failed irrigation.

Now throw in the Taliban. That's one serious fucking Jihad you got headed your way.

Now throw the people of the nation of India into the mix as well. Aside from the fact that right now they are getting some of the highest levels of glacial-melt fresh-water flows in their river systems, a lot of their rivers are open sewers clogged with filth. As water flows decrease, that filth will be less diluted. As population increases, so will the number of people overloading entirely inadequate sewage treatment systems. As sewage treatment systems come online, per-capita water consumption in areas with sewage treatment systems increases by an order of magnitude. Treatment of sewage takes a lot of water.

It isn't just me who's seeing the problems here. For instance, even the World Wildlife Federation is deeply concerned (PDF). Not surprisingly, the UN Environment Programme has lots of facts, figures, and analysis available.

Governments from around the world are moving far too slowly to alter humanity's contribution to Global Warming, which acts as a force-multiplier on natural cycles. Although the natural cycles of glaciation and interglacial "thermal maximum" periods were here long before the emergence of the human species as a significant player in the hydrological (and thus in the climatological) cycles, still, in our immense numbers and industrial deployments of technology, we have a profound impact on the environment, the ecologies, and the very life of the planet.

If we all mysteriously vanished from the earth, leaving behind no operating machinery and nothing but our structures, we would still see increasing glacial melt rates until at least the year 2100.

Of course, long before that time, the majority of river-feeding glaciers will be gone... and with them, all life that depended on them.

Needless to say, that of course includes human beings.

People, as a rule, aren't stupid. And we all come from traditions of mass migrations; our early history is known in all cases to have consisted of a hunter-gatherer lifestyle that picked a place, settled for a while, exhausted the landscape, and then moved on. With the invention of agriculture and animal husbandry, we could stay longer in our settlements, permanently in many cases. Yet it's built into us to be able to pick up and move on, and this will be the first course of action for possibly the majority of humanity.

Of course, when there are already people in the land to which you hope to migrate, depending on conditions there -- and the friendliness of the people there -- there may be welcome and there may alternatively be conflict. There may be something of a mix of these extremes.

As a rule, migrations sent scouts afield, to spy out the land, and to assess the strengths and sentiments of the people in the new lands. That was tradition, and it's reasonable to assume that in the modern day, the tradition still holds.

In the modern day, our scientists may be thought of as the prophets were once regarded. The scientists don't read the future in the entrails of sacrificed livestock, as a rule, yet still we look to them for augury.

It's one thing for the scientists to predict that the glaciers will melt away. From that any reasonable person would predict that the river flows will decline. A reasonable person predicts from that, that there will be less irrigation, and that less irrigation leads to less crop production, and that will lead to rises in both food-prices and hunger among the poor.

It's quite another thing for scientists to apply their analytical tools and informational resources to determine where the glacial melt-off won't have much effect at all on the river flows.

In the USA, there are not that many rivers that absolutely depend on glacial melt, or snowpack sources, for the majority of their flow.

One of the exceptions, of course, is the Colorado River and tributaries. In four out of 5 recent years, snowpack accumulations feeding the Colorado and tributaries has been less than the amount of water drawn from the river. Most of the man-made very large lakes on the Colorado have been being rapidly drawn down to the point of being nearly drained, over the last decade. This is the water supply for at least 10 million people in the western States, and the irrigation water source for about half of the country's produce crops such as lettuce. Other comparable river systems, such as the Snake and Columbia Rivers, also rely on snowpack and glacial melt for much of their flow, although their more northern courses mean that more snow accumulates and the glaciers are in a slower retreat than in the southern Rockies.

East of the Rockies, there's the Missouri River which provides about 50-percent of the flow below the confluence with the Mississippi River. Though the Missouri has many headwaters in the snowpack of the Rocky mountains, the course and origins are so northerly that any global warming effects reducing flow are far in the future.

So, let's all go settle in the eastern half of the United States! We must... there is no reliable water anywhere else that allows massive immigration.

But, you know, to house about a billion refugees from the Indian subcontinent and neighboring states, and about half that many from South America, and perhaps very large and unpredictable numbers from various European states -- it's going to suck to live in the Netherlands once the Rhine's headwater glaciers all melt -- we're going to have to build a lot of housing.

More to come?

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

What Would You Do If You Were In Their Place?

Yesterday, we asked if there might not be Massive Population Migration Coming.

We mentioned that the ultimate source of the Amazon River -- a river which has a water flow greater than that of the 8 next-largest rivers' waterflows combined -- is in the Andean glaciers of Peru... and that those glaciers are expected to be gone, leaving the headwaters of the Amazon bone-dry, by somewhere in the time-frame of 2025 to 2050.

We stopped to point out that some of the US Military's finest minds have co-authored a report called National Security and the Threat of Climate Change.

While the report doesn't exactly come right out and say it as much, all of the support for the following statement is there:

By mid-century, probably no less than 100,000,000 people will be in flight from South America, which will have inevitably become the greatest ecological catastrophe since the origin of modern mankind.

We here in the USA have already been through a slight foretaste of this catastrophe, though few people now living remember this. Yet where memory may not serve, we can provide films...

Of the Dust Bowl.

By 2050, probably most of South America from Uraguay to Venezuela will be under conditions approximating, but probably worse than, conditions in the US during the Dust Bowl.

It won't be much better here.

Even in places like Colombia, there will be massive problems by that time, probably even by 2025. You might want to read the CNA "think thank" report, Impacts of Climate Change on Colombia's National and Regional Security.

Oddly enough, we note in passing, one of the first side-effects of Massive Andean Glacial Melt-Off will be the destruction of all habitats suitable for growing the Coca plant.

What billions of dollars of failed US "drug war" policies could not do, unstoppable climate change will surely cause: the extinction of all sources of, and trading in, Cocaine.

Now how will the insurgencies and drug-lords finance their operations?

Perhaps they'll turn to supplying the growing population of young American suburban Heroin addicts.

We noted that as bad as conditions might be in South America -- and probably Central America and Mexico as well -- conditions here won't be much better.

Even without the massive flood of refugees you would expect to result from the Desertification of the Amazon Basin, US population is on track to number one-half-billions of persons by 2050.

Adding in another hundred-million people won't be something easy to adapt to... especially as the Colorado Rockies Snowpack which provides water for most of the people along the Colorado River basin will also be exhausted by 2050.

Furthermore, the underground ocean of fresh water that provides almost all water for irrigation across the entire Midwest between the Mississippi River and the Rocky Mountains, the Ogallala Aquifer is being both polluted and depleted at a truly alarming rate.
The Ogallala Aquifer, whose total water storage is about equal to that of Lake Huron in the Midwest, is the single most important source of water in the High Plains region, providing nearly all the water for residential, industrial, and agricultural use. Because of widespread irrigation, farming accounts for 94 percent of the groundwater use. Irrigated agriculture forms the base of the regional economy. It supports nearly one-fifth of the wheat, corn, cotton, and cattle produced in the United States. Crops provide grains and hay for confined feeding of cattle and hogs and for dairies. The cattle feedlots support a large meatpacking industry. Without irrigation from the Ogallala Aquifer, there would be a much smaller regional population and far less economic activity.

Because of the Ogallala, the High Plains is the leading irrigation area in the Western Hemisphere. Overall, 5.5 million hectares (nearly 13.6 million acres) are irrigated in the Ogallala region. The leading state irrigating from the Ogallala is Nebraska (46%), followed by Texas (30%) and Kansas (14%).

The Ogallala Aquifer is being both depleted and polluted. Irrigation withdraws much groundwater, yet little of it is replaced by recharge. Since large-scale irrigation began in the 1940s, water levels have declined more than 30 meters (100 feet) in parts of Kansas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Texas. In the 1980s and 1990s, the rate of groundwater mining , or overdraft, lessened, but still averaged approximately 82 centimeters (2.7 feet) per year.

By 2050 at the latest, widespread ecological devastation in South America, on the Indian Subcontinent, throughout Africa, will have resulted in massive population migrations, significant and sustained instability and conflicts up to and including systematic destruction of population centers, or the mere abandonment of such population centers due to uninhabitability resulting from unavailability of water for either sanitation or consumption.

There is nothing at all that can prevent this.

If every last car was destroyed, if every last factory was shut down, if every last tractor stopped working the fields, none of this would have any measurable effect at all within the timeframe from the modern day to about Year 2100.

It goes without saying that a lot of people will perish.

Even if the USA were able to seal the borders and eliminate all immigration (legal or otherwise), we will still see the loss of the Colorado Rockies Snowpack and the abandonment of most of the southwestern US from the Sangre de Christo Mountains to California's Central Valley, and along the Coast from Baja California to nearly San Francisco California.

Southern and Central California together comprise approximately one-tenth of all persons living in the US, and constitute the 11th-largest economy on the planet. California's southern ports are both major military assets and some of the largest trans-shipment facilities on the planet.

It may take many years of the wealth of that 11th-largest economy of the planet merely to relocate all of the people who will be forced to move due to the inavailability of water in the region by 2050. The economic disruptions merely from relocating central offices and headquarters of businesses may cause the present Great Recession to look like a summer vacation in paradise in comparison.

Imagine yourself to be a very well-educated career military officer in the intelligence services of some Andean nation.

If you are a dedicated patriot as well as a career officer, your primary concern is always for the defense and welfare of your compatriots.

Using the example of Bolivia, with a present population nearing 10-millions of people -- less than the number presently living in just New York City USA -- when the last of the Andean glaciers melt by no later than 2020, this dedicated patriot and career military officer in the intelligence system will have had to find or make a way to relocate no less than about 7-millions of compatriots to some other country.

In Peru, on a comparable time-frame, such an officer will have to relocate some 20-millions of people out of Peru by 2040... and they won't be able to go to Bolivia, because they have no water in Bolivia; their glaciers melted first. Indeed, Peru may have to move more than 20-millions. The 7 millions of Bolivian refugees may have migrated to and settled in Peru.

Where else would they go? Not to the east. It makes no sense to migrate down-river when the reason for the migration is that the river has gone dry.

In Brazil, at least in the northern parts where the Amazon is the life-blood of the continent, massive climate change will not create a situation conducive to accepting mass migrations of refugees.

Brazil has a population of about 200-millions, with almost 9 out of 10 Brazilians living in cities.

The nearly 12-millions in São Paulo will be some of the last affected. South America's largest city receives water from sources other than Andean glaciers, with significant rainfall year round. Yet the southeastern region of Brazil is already the home of one of the world's largest megalopoli, stretching from Rio de Janeiro south to São Paulo. It is already one of the most densely-populated and industrialized regions of the continent. It may be difficult for this region to absorb 20-million refugee Peruvians and 6-million refugee Bolivians, let alone 60-millions of Brazilians to be displaced by the Desertification of the Amazon consequent to Total Andean Glacial Melt-Off.

So, as the well-educated and dedicated patriot career intelligence officer of "a country to be deeply affected", and knowing that you have no more than 5 to 10 years to relocate millions of compatriots, how do you proceed?

First, you need to pick a destination where they will go... someplace that isn't in South America.

Because everyone else there will be thinking the same thing: how to relocate at least half of their national populations to someplace that isn't in South America.

More to come?

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Massive Population Migration Coming?

A recent flurry of news confirms a phenomenon noted nearly two years ago... and it seems that the previous estimation of melting rate of Andean glaciers was either off by an order of magnitude, or that the rate of melting has itself increased by an order of magnitude:
The Quelccaya ice-cap, covering 17 square miles (44 sq km) in the Cordillera Oriental region of the Peruvian Andes, is the world’s largest tropical ice mass. Qori Kalis, its biggest glacier, has receded by at least 0.6 miles (1.1km) since 1963, when the first formal measurements were made from aerial photographs. The rate of retreat has increased: between 1963 and 1978, it shrank by 6.5 yards (6m) a year, a rate that has now risen tenfold to 65 yards annually.

A variety of scientists estimate that the vast majority of Andean glaciers may be entirely gone by 2012 ("Great Andean glacier 'will melt to nothing by 2012'", Staff, February 16, 2007, Times (London) downloaded 2009 December 15 ).

Imagine if you will, what would be the effect on the Western US of the disappearance of all of the snowpack that feeds into the Colorado River. All of the lakes that provide so much hydroelectric power to the Western States would dry up, and along with the electricity would go the vast majority of all water for agriculture in California's great Central Valley, which is the source of about half of all produce grown in the US.

Imagine Los Angeles and all of its suburbs deserted, along with all of Las Vegas... and imagine all of their suburbs deserted as well. Los Angeles alone has over 5-millions of persons, and the natural rainfall in the best years is enough to support perhaps 5,000 persons.

Now, imagine the country of Bolivia, in Andean South America. Imagine that 70 percent of all water for all uses comes from glacial melt. Imagine that this is all true; it is in fact true. Imagine that 70 percent of the country's population of above 9,775,000 persons will have no water for drinking, for hydropower generation, or agriculture.

6,840,000 people will have to leave or die of thirst and suffer crop failures. If more people leave, more people may be able to not merely drink water, but water their fields.

That's roughly the population of Los Angeles California and Las Vegas Nevada combined that will have to leave Bolivia, or perish.

We've only been discussing Bolivia.

Other nations that will be affected instantly come to mind, at least to the mind of anyone who knows a little Geography.

Nearby Ecuador, home to one of the most dry deserts on this planet, has nearly 15,000,000 people, and also has a glacial-meltwater dependency rate of about 70-percent.

Nearby Chile may not suffer so badly from glacial melting, as it is temperate and not tropical... but even the non-tropical glaciers in the Himalayas and even the European Alps are retreating.

Peru has some 29,500,000 people, and you might think that they're immune to such problems, after all, they are the source of the mighty river Amazon.

The mighty river, Amazon, itself originates in the Andean Glaciers, and it and related rivers -- many of them also of glacial origin -- provide the water to the majority of the entire South American continent.

Peru anticipates significant climate change impacts on irrigated agriculture:
Peru contains roughly 71% of the world's tropical glaciers. Some of Peru's perennial rivers are fed by glaciers that are rapidly disappearing due to climate change. Since 1980 Peruvian glaciers have lost 22% of their surface area (500 km2), equivalent to 7,000 million cubic meters of water (about ten years of water supply for Lima). Glacier retreat in the Andes has important repercussions on Peru's water resources, including irrigation production and hydropower generation.(Lajaunie) This trend will continue, and it is believed that the increased runoff will cause Peru to suffer from severe water stress over the next 20 years. Peru's water supply is predicted to then decrease dramatically between 2030 and 2050 ("When Ice Turns to Water", July 12, 2007, Staff, the Economist, downloaded 2009 December 15)

This, of course, speaks only of Peru's national concerns for their own water supply.

What will happen to everyone downstream by 2050, when to all intents and purposes, the Amazon will no longer flow from Peru?

2005 was a bad year in the Amazon Rainforest:
In 2005, parts of the Amazon basin experienced the worst drought in 100 years[1], and there were indications that 2006 could have been a second successive year of drought.[2] A 23 July 2006 article in the UK newspaper The Independent reported Woods Hole Research Center results showing that the forest in its present form could survive only three years of drought.[3][4] Scientists at the Brazilian National Institute of Amazonian Research argue in the article that this drought response, coupled with the effects of deforestation on regional climate, are pushing the rainforest towards a "tipping point" where it would irreversibly start to die. It concludes that the forest is on the brink of being turned into savanna or desert, with catastrophic consequences for the world's climate.


  1. Environmental News Service - Amazon Drought Worst in 100 Years
  2. Drought Threatens Amazon Basin - Extreme conditions felt for second year running, Brown, Paul, Guardian (UK), July 17, 2006
  3. Amazon rainforest 'could become a desert' , The Independent (UK), July 23, 2006. Retrieved September 28, 2006.
  4. Dying Forest: One year to save the Amazon, The Independent (UK), July 23, 2006. Retrieved September 28, 2006.)

CNA Corporation -- a significant "think tank" -- has issued an exceptionally thoughtful and detailed report, National Security and the Threat of Climate Change. You should read it.
The greatest concern will be movement of asylum seekers and refugees who due to ecological devastation will become settlers..."

More to come?