Saturday, October 20, 2018

Warming Raises Threat of Global Famine Repeat

Global warming is increasing the chances of worldwide harvest failure on the scale of the tragic 19th-century drought and famine that claimed 50 million lives.

Climate change driven by human-induced global warming could recreate the conditions for a re-run of one of the most tragic episodes in human history, the Great Drought and Global Famine of 1875 to 1878.

Those years were marked by widespread and prolonged droughts in Asia, Brazil, and Africa, triggered by a coincidence of unusual conditions in the Pacific, Indian, and North Atlantic Oceans.

The famine – made more lethal by the political constraints linked to 19th-century colonial domination of three continents – is now thought to have claimed up to 50 million lives.

And the message contained in new research published in the Journal of Climate is stark:  what happened before could happen again.

One of the triggers was a cyclic blister of Pacific warming called El Niño, known to reverse global weather patterns, scorch rainforests and destabilize societies.

Another factor was a set of record warm temperatures in the North Atlantic that have been linked to drought in North Africa.

Linked to famine
A third was an unusually strong Indian Ocean dipole, a natural cyclic temperature change that has recently been linked to famine in the Horn of Africa.

The 1875-78 drought and famine began with the failure of the monsoon in India and China, leading to the most intense drought in the last 800 years.  So many died in Shanxi province, China, that the population was restored to 1875 levels only in 1953.

The combination of record ocean temperatures and a very strong El Niño also intensified and prolonged droughts in Brazil and Australia.  One million people are thought to have perished in the Nordeste province of Brazil.

Read more at Warming Raises Threat of Global Famine Repeat

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