Scenes of ‘Dust Bowl Days’ Return As Oklahoma Storm Causes Highway Pileup

From Common Dreams: http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2012/10/19

Year of high temps and record drought portends climate future for once fertile croplands

Common Dreams staff
Published on Friday, October 19, 2012 by Common Dreams

Dramatic video footage and eye witness accounts from Oklahoma on Thursday tell the story of a scene right out of the Depression-era ‘Dust Bowl days’ as a massive wind-swept cloud of ‘reddish-brown’ dirt made visibility impossible on a stretch of Interstate-35 between Oklahoma City and Kansas City, Mo.

The mid-western states have experienced some of the highest temperatures on record this year and a severe drought has devastated corn crops and turned once thriving fields to brown. Scientists make direct connections between these trends and the growing impact of climate change fueled by human-caused global warming.

“I’ve never seen anything like this,” Jodi Palmer, a dispatcher with the Kay County Sheriff’s Office, told the Associated Press. “In this area alone, the dirt is blowing because we’ve been in a drought. I think from the drought everything’s so dry and the wind is high.”

“You have the perfect combination of extended drought in that area … and we have the extremely strong winds,” said Gary McManus, the Oklahoma associate state climatologist, also speaking with AP.

“Also, the timing is bad because a lot of those farm fields are bare. The soil is so dry, it’s like powder. Basically what you have is a whole bunch of topsoil waiting for the wind to blow it away. It’s no different from the 1930s than it is now.”

Continue reading at:  http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2012/10/19

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Over Half of All Wetlands on Earth ‘Destroyed’ in Last 100 Years

From Common Dreams:  http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2012/10/17-4

Common Dreams staff
Published on Wednesday, October 17, 2012 by Common Dreams

Over half of all wetlands in the world have been destroyed in the last 100 years due to residential and industrial development, water waste, over-consumption, and pollution says a new report released by the United Nations Environment Program.

According to the report, the “startling figure”—a 50 percent loss of wetlands on earth—signals years of neglect of our world’s ecosystems, as industrialization and development have trumped concerns of biodiversity and water scarcity. As a result, coastal wetland losses in many regions have occurred at a rate of 1.6 percent per year.

“Water security is widely regarded as one of the key natural resource challenges currently facing the world,” the authors of the report state. “Human drivers of ecosystem change, including destructive extractive industries, unsustainable agriculture and poorly managed urban expansion, are posing a threat to global freshwater biodiversity and water security for 80 per cent of the world’s population.”

The report was compiled through The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity project and presented at this year’s UN Convention on Biodiversity.

Reporting on this year’s convention, being held through the end of this week in India, Friends of the Earth International pleaded with the international community to put forth biodiversity protection policies such as vast conservation proposals and increased governmental regulation of resource extraction, as apposed to the business-based free market model known as the ‘Financialization of Nature,’ which has largely dominated the convention. Such policies promote market-based schemes like pollution trading, water markets, and privatization and commodification of common resources, frowned upon by environmental groups such as Friends of the Earth and Food and Water Watch.

Complete article at:  http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2012/10/17-4

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