Sunday, October 17, 2010

Amazon drought emergency widens Brazil has adopted emergency measures to deal with one of the Amazon region's worst droughts in decades. A state of emergency has been declared in 25 towns as key waterways and rivers are left completely parched, the Amazonas state government said on Saturday.

So far, the severe months-long drought has affected 40,000 people in communities who depend on the South American rainforest for sustenance. In response, the government has airlifted six tonnes of food and 200 tonnes of donations to the stricken villages. However, according to officials, aid delivery has been slow due to the low water levels in rivers, which prevent large vessels from navigating them.

…Ane Alencar, a researcher with the Amazon Institute for Environmental Research (IPAM), said the drought affecting the Amazon is an extreme weather event resulting from El Nino, which occurred in late 2009 with its fallout being felt this year. She said the drought in the state of Amazonas has been more frequent and more intense than before.

Environmentalists say the severity of the drought was unexpected, but that dry weather like this will become more common due to climate change. "There is already a climate change going on at some level. Greenpeace is tracking the impacts this can have on the Amazon, the impacts that the global warming - some two degrees - may bring to the Amazon, using as examples the years when those episodes are more severe. This year was out of the line," Rafael Cruz, a Greenpeace worker, said….

Aerial view of the Amazon River, shot by Joel Takv, Wikimedia Commons, under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.5 Generic license

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