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Opinion

October 27, 2018
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Doubts and droughts

Opinion

October 27, 2018

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The most hazardous global warming risk for society at large is widespread loss of grain production because of a synchronized worldwide drought. It would be a colossal killer. It’s happened before, known as The Great Drought 142 years ago.

Unmistakably, droughts feed off global warming and world temps are heading up, not down. Thus, droughts are intensified by temperature increases. If the same conditions as the drought of 1876 recurs, it would likely be a nightmarish scenario.

Fortuitously, ever since The Great Drought of 142 years ago, droughts have been regional, e.g., when Russia experienced wheat shortages in 2011 as a result of extreme drought, which led to the Arab Spring, other countries like Brazil and the U.S. picked up the slack. The world continued spinning! But, what if a severe drought hits the planet once again on a global basis like The Great Drought of the late 19th century? Then, what happens?

World population was only 1.4 billion when The Great Drought of 1876-78 killed 5.5 million in India alone, 50 million worldwide, but today’s world population is 4.5 times larger. Does this mean that global famine redux would bring in its wake 225 million deaths, or more?

Answer: First, hit the big red button that bonks the clarion bell in the public square to awaken people to the fact that the human footprint, in part and increasingly, negatively influences climate change for the first time since Adam & Eve. Given enough time, anthropogenic global warming itself will hit the drought hot-stuff button. That’s one reason for nations of the world to commit to omitting fossil fuels, which emit CO2, which blankets the upper atmosphere, retaining way too much heat. It’s called “global warming.”

The Great Drought and Global Famine of 1876 originated from natural variability or nature taking its own course. Hands down, it remains to this day one of the worst human disasters of all time with 50,000,000 dead. Killed by the forces of nature alone!

Singh’s study is the first-ever global-scale analysis of climatic conditions of 1876 utilizing multiple sources of data, including rain gauges and tree-ring drought atlases that go back in time 800 years, as well as multiple datasets of past climatic conditions.

Based upon the facts as presented by their comprehensive study, a recurrence of The Great Drought initiated by natural variability as prompted via an El Niño event in 1876-78 in today’s world would likely turn into an ultra nasty turbo-charged affaire, as anthropogenic global warming jumpstarts drought into a hyper-speed mode.

Recall, anthropogenic global warming was minimal in 1876. Whereas today’s rampant anthropogenic effect superimposed on a repeat of 1876 drought conditions is a disaster waiting to happen, as bad as it gets.

The Great Drought of the 19th century extended from Egypt to Australia, southwestern and eastern North America, Brazil, India, and China with Asia’s drought the worst in 800 years. In a word, it was worldwide. And, it was enormously deadly.

“Understanding the drought’s driving forces is important, says Singh, since they could strike again at any time – perhaps worse than ever, since hotter temperatures make droughts more intense,” (Causes of the Great Famine, One of the Deadliest Environmental Disasters, American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting, 12-15-17, Earth Institute, Columbia University)

Already, drought conditions around the world are starting to resemble something much more perilous than the regional drought events over the past century, which have always been offset by other crop-growing regions.

This article has been excerpted from: ‘The Great Drought’.

Courtesy: Counterpunch.org

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