Foreign Policy Blogs

Drought, Storms and the Food Chain

Water in the West , This is a subject of intense and enduring interest.  There is a magisterial treatment of this in the book, Cadillac Desert, from 1986.  A new analysis of data from researchers at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography "shows that climate change from human activity is already disrupting water supplies in the western United States."  Reuters has their coverage here. 

"National Geographic" has a great story, Drying of the West, in their most recent issue.  There are some arresting issues being discussed here such as the prolonged drought the West has been suffering, the extraordinary diminution of water levels from key sources like the Colorado River and the shrinking snowpack, the devastation from fire and insects preying on drought-weakened forests, as well as the continuing explosion of development and the waste of water. (See my recent post on Arizona.)  Being "National Geographic," there are also stunning pictures.   

Warming Oceans , Researchers in London have quantified the relationship of sea-surface warming and hurricane activity.  This press release reports on the research, telling us "that a 0.5°C increase in sea surface temperature can be associated with a ~40 per cent increase in hurricane activity."

Meanwhile, however, there was a lot of play recently on a paper that said that warming oceans might mean fewer hurricanes hitting the U.S.  This blog item from "Nature" sums up the research and gives some insights from others.

I wrote in Hurricane Season last August about a number of angles and some good resources for a further look at this critical subject.

There's another story out about the relationship of ocean warming to the food chain.  See this from the website of  the National Geographic Society.  A recent study "shows that as temperatures warm, the growth of single-celled ocean plants called phytoplankton slows at Earth's mid and low latitudes. The plants' growth increases when the climate cools."  You can find an abstract of the study itself at "Nature."



Bill Hewitt

Bill Hewitt has been an environmental activist and professional for nearly 25 years. He was deeply involved in the battle to curtail acid rain, and was also a Sierra Club leader in New York City. He spent 11 years in public affairs for the NY State Department of Environmental Conservation, and worked on environmental issues for two NYC mayoral campaigns and a presidential campaign. He is a writer and editor and is the principal of Hewitt Communications. He has an M.S. in international affairs, has taught political science at Pace University, and has graduate and continuing education classes on climate change, sustainability, and energy and the environment at The Center for Global Affairs at NYU. His book, "A Newer World - Politics, Money, Technology, and What’s Really Being Done to Solve the Climate Crisis," will be out from the University Press of New England in December.

Areas of Focus:
the policy, politics, science and economics of environmental protection, sustainability, energy and climate change