Things That Haven’t Gotten Better

On January 23, 2010, I wrote about the Himalaya glaciers. The IPCC got caught in a scandal because its prediction that these glaciers would disappear by 2035 was based on “speculation,” not evidence. I pointed out that this mistake was an outlier, and the proper evidence-based prediction was still very, very bad news.

Sadly, I was right.  

The U.S. Geological Survey has just completed a report on glaciers throughout Asia:

Rapid changes in the Himalaya is shown in India by the 12 percent retreat of Chhota Shigri Glacier during the last 13 years, as well as retreat of the Gangotri Glacier since 1780, with 12 percent shrinkage of the main stem in the last 16 years.

This retreat impacts water supplies to millions of people, increases the likelihood of outburst floods that threaten life and property in nearby areas, and contributes to sea-level rise.

“Of particular interest are the Himalaya, where glacier behavior impacts the quality of life of tens of millions of people,” said USGS scientist Jane Ferrigno. “Glaciers in the Himalaya are a major source of fresh water and supply meltwater to all of the rivers in northern India.”

Speaking of “the quality of life of tens of millions of people,” on October 17, 2009, I implored the U.S. government to increase food aid to developing nations to prevent the “humanitarian disaster” predicted by the UN’s World Food Programme.

Sadly, it fell on deaf ears.

A couple days ago, the UN “called an urgent meeting” to address “wheat shortages” and the resulting price hikes:

…a large number of member countries had expressed concern about a possible repeat of the food crisis two years ago.

The tense atmosphere in developing countries, where food costs up to 70% of family income, erupted in Mozambique this week in three days of riots that left seven people dead, hundreds injured and millions of dollars of damage.

Egyptians have also protested over food prices in recent months, and analysts have warned that riots could follow the jump in prices in Africa and the Middle East. The trend comes after the global recession already put a squeeze on household budgets and intensified the risk of malnutrition.

Save the Children reported last week that the number of severely malnourished children visiting its clinics in Niger has gone up fourfold since the start of the year.

I don’t like writing posts like this. Can we please do something about it?