Floods decimated Malawi this week. With substandard infrastructure, even a relatively tame event could be deadly, and this was certainly not tame. This is the worst flooding Malawi residents can seem to remember. There are conflicting reports around just how deadly this inundation was, but Peter Mutharika, the country’s President, put the figure at 48. Many more deaths may follow, however, due to the deadly infection cholera. Around 200,000 people were also left homeless. What’s worse, numerous animals died in the flood, and the flood was deleterious for crops. In a nation where so many of its residents are subsistence farmers, this is a significant blow. The flooding is a result of heavy rain that has been falling for weeks, and more may be on the way with tropical cyclone Chedza closing in. Several cities in northern Sumatra is dealing with a deluge this week also. No lives were lost in that event, but over 10,000 homes were damaged. A landslide also caused traffic chaos in an otherwise unaffected region.
Meanwhile, the opposite extreme in climate is going on in California, Sao Paolo, Brazil, and many other regions. The snowfall in California has been woefully sparse so far this winter, and the crippling drought California faces is nowhere near over. They need trillions of gallons of water to precipitate to have adequate reservoirs. It seems that it is falling elsewhere. Sao Paolo has not had a drought as bad as their current one in 80 years. The Cantareira water system which supplies most of the country’s water needs is at only 6% capacity, and several others are running low. The Sao Paolo government has yet to implement water usage restrictions, but such a refusal could prove disastrous, and they may have no choice but to impose water rations at this point.
In other news, a new study reports that wheat yields will decline 6% per degree of temperature increase. This will, naturally, cause rising prices which will be felt chiefly in the developing world. This could increase poverty in countries already struggling with it, or even cause famine in the worst case.
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