Waterless World

A Global Water Crisis Forum

Sao Paulo Drought – Deforestation and Climate Change Wreak Havoc

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Sao Paulo, one of the world’s most populated cities, is in danger of running out of water by mid-November if significant rain does not fall soon.  This via the Thomson Reuters Foundation:

South America’s biggest and wealthiest city may run out of water by mid-November if it doesn’t rain soon.

São Paulo, a Brazilian megacity of 20 million people, is suffering its worst drought in at least 80 years, with key reservoirs that supply the city dried up after an unusually dry year.

One of the causes of the crisis may be more than 2,000 kilometers away, in the growing deforested areas in the Amazon region.

“Humidity that comes from the Amazon in the form of vapor clouds – what we call ‘flying rivers’ – has dropped dramatically, contributing to this devastating situation we are living today,” said Antonio Nobre, a leading climate scientist at INPE, Brazil’s National Space Research Institute.

The changes, he said, are “all because of deforestation”.

Nobre and a group of fellow scientists and meteorologists believe the lack of rain that has dried up key reservoirs in São Paulo and neighboring states in southeastern Brazil is not just the result of an aberration in weather patterns.

Instead, global warming and the deforestation of the Amazon are altering the climate in the region by drastically reducing the release of billions of liters of water by rainforest trees, they say.

The severity of the situation in recent weeks has led government leaders to finally admit Brazil’s financial powerhouse is on the brink of a catastrophe.

São Paulo residents should brace for a “collapse like we’ve never seen before” if the drought continues, warned Vicente Andreu, president of Brazil’s Water Regulatory Agency.

Dilma Pena, chief executive officer of Sabesp, the state-owned water utility that serves the city, warned last week that São Paulo only has about two weeks of drinking water supplies left.

The Cantareira system, the main water reservoir feeding the region, dropped to just 3.4 percent of its capacity on Oct. 21, according to Sabesp.

Elsewhere in Brazil’s southeastern region, key crops such as coffee, sugarcane and oranges, some of the country’s top exports, are expected to be severely hurt this year.

Sugarcane production will be at least 15 percent lower, according to Unica, Brazil’s sugarcane industry association.

Dry conditions have delayed planting of the 2014-2015 soybean crop, threatening Brazil’s goal to reach an output record for a third straight year.

Ironically, soybean production, as well as cattle ranching and logging, are responsible to a great deal of Amazon deforestation, scientists say.

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