Sunday, July 31, 2011
Christian Parenti. Tropic of Chaos: Climate Change and the New Geography of Violence. Nation Books, 2011
Residents of the Global North may be justly wringing their hands about
flooding, droughts, and freak weather, but the most worrying effects of
climate change are expected to hit the countries of the Global South,
especially those in the broad regions on either side of the equator.
Christian Parenti has reported from that vast area and discusses the shape
that climate-related social dislocation is already taking, as well as the
militarized plans of the rich countries to keep poor climate refugees out.
Edição do dia 30/07/2011
30/07/2011 14h06 - Atualizado em 30/07/2011 14h06
Técnicos da Agência Nacional do Petróleo investigam se a empresa funcionava de forma regular. Cinco pessoas ficaram feridas no acidente.
Carla Modena Embu das Artes, SP
O incêndio numa fábrica de solventes em Embu das Artes, na Grande São Paulo, deixo cinco pessoas feridas - três em estado grave. Os vizinhos prestaram os primeiros socorros aos feridos. As chamas se espalharam rapidamente e atingiram os tanques de combustível. Como a fábrica produzia solvente industrial, os produtos químicos alimentavam o fogo.
“Na hora foi uma explosão. Eu vi uma labareda de uns dez metros. Saí até o portão e a labareda tomou conta da rua. Teve um estrondo muito grande e muita correria. Foi terrível”, conta um vizinho. “Tremeu até a porta. Acordei rapidinho pra ver o que era e todo mundo começou a correr desesperado, gritando”, disse outro morador.
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O acidente fez o trânsito rodovia Régis Bittencourt parar. O combustível correu para um córrego próximo, que se transformou num rio de fogo. “É etanol e acetato, que são muito perigosos. Há um total de três tanques. Em torno de seis a sete já queimaram, mas estão preservando os outros que ainda não explodiram”, diz Carlos Senna,
coordenador da Defesa Civil.
Os bombeiros tinham pressa em apagar o incêndio, mas era difícil atingir a base das chamas por causa das altas temperaturas - acima de mil graus, a água evapora antes de chegar ao fogo. Era preciso esperar todo o combustível queimar.
Representantes da Agência Nacional do Petróleo (ANP) estiveram no local na manhã deste sábado. O objetivo era saber exatamente com que produtos a fábrica trabalhava e se era necessário ter autorização da ANP, mas os técnicos não conseguiram analisar nada porque a empresa está sem energia, os computadores não funcionam e, portanto, eles não puderam ter acesso às notas fiscais eletrônicas.Peritos também estiveram no local. Ainda há vazamento de produtos químicos. Bombeiros devem ficar no local durante o dia porque ainda há risco de o fogo recomeçar. Os técnicos da ANP devem voltar na segunda-feira a Embu das Artes para verificar se a fábrica funcionava de forma regular. A empresa ainda não se pronunciou sobre o incêndio.
O fogo que atingiu os tanques de combustíveis da empresa Old Flex na noite desta sexta-feira, dia 29, deixou pelo menos cinco pessoas feridas com queimaduras de 2º e 3º graus. Elas foram socorridas nos Hospital Geral do Pirajussara e no PS Taboão, informam o Corpo de Bombeiros.
Os combustíveis da empresa que fica localizada na Estrada São Judas, divisa com Taboão da Serra, vazou e atingiu o Córrego Poá.
Até o início desta madrugada o fogo, que se alastrou em direção ao Córrego Poá, ainda não havia sido controlado. Ao todo trabalham no local mais de 70 homens do Corpo de Bombeiros e 23 viaturas.Os motivos que causaram o incêndio ainda não foram
If this is what a small glacial lake flood can do, imagine a big one
ASTRID HOVDEN in HUMLA
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Humla is one of the most remote districts in Nepal, and in a remote corner of Humla lies the settlement of Halji in Limi VDC. On 30 June this village of 400 inhabitants was hit by a flash flood caused by a glacial lake bursting upstream.
PICS: ASTRID HOVDEN
At around 4:30 pm there was a loud roar from up the valley, and everyone ran out of their houses. At first, the raging brown water was retained by the gabion walls, the last stretch of which was built only a month earlier. Soon, the embankments gave way and the water and the boulders raced towards the village with great force.
The ground shook and the water was nearly black because of the landslides along the banks. People managed to evacuate in time and move most of their belongings, but had to watch as their homes and fields were carried away.
Fortunately no lives were lost, but some livestock was taken by the flood as were two houses and 200 ropanis of farmlands. Some poorer families lost all their fields. Food aid will therefore be needed for the winter. Water mills, bridges and sections of the main trail through the valley and up to high pastures were washed away.
The disaster was caused by a glacial lake outburst flood (GLOF) in the mountains above Halji. Due to global warming the water level of many glacial lakes across the Himalaya have risen dangerously, and could overflow with devastating consequences. The flood at Halji which is the fifth since 2006 has occurrs every year on almost the same date at the end of June.
The glacier lies on a plateau at 5,200-5,400m on the flanks of Mt Gurla Mandata in Tibet and there are five glacial lakes which feed into the river. But the flood was caused by another lake hidden under the glacier which is partly visible through a deep crevasse. Villagers who climbed the glacier just after the flood in 2009 say the lake was partly covered by a big ice sheet about 20-25 meters thick. Parts of this may have broken off and fallen into the lake last month, displacing huge amounts of water and causing the flood.
Halji village is constructed around the 11th century Rinchenling Monastery, one of the oldest in Nepal and a potential World Heritage Site. Because of the valley's scenic beauty and location on the pilgrimage path to Mount Kailash at the very end of the Great Himalayan Trail, it is also becoming an increasingly popular destination for trekkers. The village and its 1,000-year-old monastery are now threatened by future floods.
There is an urgent need to provide food and rebuild the homes of affected families, as well as to rehabilitate and strengthen the embankments before the next flood. Experts should also assess the risk of future outbursts of the glacial lake and develop a long term strategy to minimise the risks of a future, even bigger, disaster. Long term mitigation strategies may involve controlled drainage of the lake, building of further gabion walls to protect farmlands downstream by diverting water away from the village.
Astrid Hovden is a PhD fellow at the University of Oslo.
Monday, July 4, 2011
People tend to underestimate the power of floods: six inches of fast-moving water can knock you down; two feet of water can float most cars away. Floods kill an average of 127 Americans a year — more than tornadoes or hurricanes — and cause more than $2 billion of property damage annually, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association.
This spring, the nation was riveted by images of blown levees and submerged towns in the Midwest along the Mississippi River. But an even more threatening situation looms in California, especially around the San Francisco Bay Delta. The delta is the link between two-thirds of the state’s fresh-water supply — which originates in the Sierra Nevada and the rivers of the north — and two-thirds of the state’s population, which resides in the south. Starting in the 1870s, farmers began building 1,100 miles of levees around the delta to control floodwaters and create farmland out of tule marshes. Today many of those levees are old, decrepit and leaking. Jeffrey Mount, a geologist at the University of California, Davis, predicts that there is a 64 percent chance of a catastrophic levee failure in the delta in the next 50 years.
Scientists consider Sacramento — which sits at the confluence of the Sacramento and American Rivers and near the delta — the most flood-prone city in the nation. Experts warn that there are two events that could destroy the levees and set off a megaflood. One is an earthquake; the second is a violent Pacific superstorm, like the one called the Pineapple Express, which sweeps water off the ocean around Hawaii and dumps it on the mainland with firehose intensity while battering the coast with high wind and waves. A megaflood would not arrive as gradual seepage; it would be a rapid submerging of hundreds of square miles. Salt water would be sucked from the bay (in what is known as the big gulp) and impelled into the delta, contaminating drinking supplies for 25 million people, destroying some of the nation’s most productive farmland, washing away buildings, highways, gas lines and railroads and causing landslides. A flood in the delta could sink downtown Sacramento under as much as 20 feet of water, as well as cripple California (the eighth-largest economy in the world), hobble the nation and disrupt global trade.
Robert Bea, professor of engineering at the University of California, Berkeley, warns: “In terms of damage, deaths and long-term cost, a rupture in the delta levees would be far more destructive than what happened in Hurricane Katrina. This is a ticking bomb.”
Sacramento has flooded many times, most infamously in 1862, when a 45-day rain turned the Sacramento and San Joaquin Valleys into vast inland seas. Gov. Leland Stanford attended his inauguration by rowboat, and the state capital was temporarily moved to San Francisco. It was the largest deluge in state history, though geologic records indicate that six other powerful storms swamped the region before then. The chance of a megaflood inundating Sacramento again is not only plausible, predicts the U.S. Geological Survey, but “perhaps inevitable.”
Alex Prud’homme (firstname.lastname@example.org) is the author, most recently, of ‘‘The Ripple Effect: The Fate of Fresh Water in the 21st Century.’’ Editor: Ilena Silverman (i.silverman-MagGroup@nytimes.