Residents of northern India can now see the Himalayan snows, almost 100 miles away, thanks to decreased air pollution on the Indian sub-continent.
“We can see the snow-covered mountains clearly from our roofs. And not just that, stars are visible at night. I have never seen anything like this in recent times,” Mr Sant Balbir Singh Seechewa, an Indian environmental activist from Punjab, told the Associated Press.
The sudden appearance on the horizon of the famous mountains also was noted in Pakistan. The Himalayan range extends through Nepal, India, Pakistan, and China.
Why Is There Decreased Air Pollution?
Decreased air pollution in many countries is attributed to Covid-19 lockdowns. One measure of air pollution is how much particulate matter is present. Air pollution is also analyzed by the amounts found of carbon monoxide, nitrous oxide, and other substances.
India’s Central Pollution Control Board found that carbon monoxide readings decreased as much as 67% in some areas once a nationwide Covid-19 lockdown began. Nitrous oxide readings plummeted up to 74% in heavily trafficked parts of New Delhi.
The amount of PM2.5 particles in the air fell by approximately 20% at the beginning of April in Kathmandu. Nepal’s capital is the jumping off point for most of that nation’s mountain-driven tourist trade.
Eager trekkers, Mt. Everest expeditions, and much-needed tourist dollars normally flood into the country during spring climbing season. This April and May, however, will be different.
Even with decreased air pollution and improved mountain visibility, both Nepal and China cancelled all spring climbing permits for Mt. Everest because of Covid-19. Despite the importance of tourism to the country, Nepal also has cancelled on-arrival tourist visas until April 30th.
Decreased air pollution, thanks to lockdowns, does not suggest that climate change will end anytime soon. Instead, it shows how much human behavior influences the natural world, including weather. Both the record warm summer in Australia that killed a billion animals and one of the warmest winters ever for much of North America have eased for the moment. However, in the longer term pollution could continue to ignite global weather extremes.
Locusts have plagued farmers for millennia. According to the Book of Exodus, around 1400 B.C. the Egyptians experienced an exceptionally unfortunate encounter with these ravenous pests when they struck as the eighth Biblical plague. As Exodus describes, “They covered the face of the whole land, so that the land was darkened, and they ate all the plants in the land and all the fruit of the trees that the hail had left. Not a green thing remained, neither tree nor plant of the field, through all the land of Egypt.”
But the locust attacks of late can at least be partially explained by the weather. From Pakistan to the Sudan of Africa, locusts amount to one of the worst plagues in generations. It is putting 20 million people at risk of starvation. This could end up being a humanitarian crisis. Billions of these critters have gathered into a thick sort of “blizzard”.
In northern Kenya, locusts have stripped grazing pastures and destroyed the lives of thousands of cattle ranchers. From Tanzania to Uganda, nations that already have huge food security risk, are seeing the worst swarm since 1944.
A video of the current locust situation can be seen here.
In my opinion, the cause of the current locust plague is partly due to the weather. Flooding rains have hit Oman, Yemen and Somalia the last two years. Compounding the floods with the warming climate has created perfect breeding conditions.
The swarms are so large that traditional methods of pest control have been inefficient in resolving the problem.
Rainfall the last three months in Eastern Africa has been 200-500% above normal. This is aggravating the locust situation.
by Scott Mathews, Editor
Let’s not forget the mission of these Best Weather blogs. We always seek the connection between weather and commodities. In the case of the locust plague, essential commodity crops have been destroyed.
However, the other side of the coin is that locusts are food, as well. According to Livestrong.com, “Locusts are actually the swarming phase of short-horned grasshoppers. They breed rapidly and become very social and migratory. Locusts are one of many species of insect considered edible, and they are prepared in numerous ways, ranging from dried to smoked to fried.”
According to the book “Insects” by Steve Parker, species of locusts vary in protein content from about 50 percent of dry weight to almost 60 percent, making them denser in protein than cows.
Green Prophet published the following:
Recipe For Moshe Basson’s Crisp Locusts
About 25 locusts
Have ready about 2 liters of
vegetable stock (or 10 cups) with a little turmeric added to it.
Throw the locusts in the boiling stock, whole. Cook for about 3
Drain the locusts and let them cool somewhat.
Twist off their heads: this will also pull out the black,
Remove the wings and small legs.
Make a seasoned flour with 4 tablespoons any flour, 3/4
teaspoon salt, a little pepper and chili powder, a shake of ground coriander,
and dried garlic granules.
Roll the pre-cooked locusts in a beaten whole egg, then roll
them in the seasoned flour. Shake excess flour off.
Fry in olive oil for 1 1/2-2 minutes, until the color turns golden brown.
Over the last two years the combination of an occasional weak El Nino signal in the western Pacific, combined with CLIMATE CHANGE and the warming oceans have been a partial factor in the historical droughts and forest fires that have threatened millions of animals in Australia and lowered crops, such as wheat and cotton, for the 2nd straight years. Drought are not unusual in Australia, but the intensity of the persistent heat and dangers to wildlife, are.
Ocean temperatures are warming over Indonesia where drought has also persisted and threatened crops there, as well. It is a terrible, depressing scene in Australia. One that brings constant tears to my eyes. However, the slowly decaying positive Indian Dipole, combined with the MJO could finally offer some relief in the next week or so.
One of the most important teleconnections that I look at to forecast weather for tropical commodities, is the Indian Dipole.
The index has been in the positive phase, again, also responsible for droughts and record heat in Australia. However, my long range weather forecast program CLIMATEPREDICT, shows how, historically, whenever there is extreme heat with a positive IOD and El Nino signal in the western Pacific, there tends to be a return to normal to above normal rainfall later in January and February in southern and eastern Australia.
January of 1973 was one year with a positive Indian Dipole and an even stronger El Nino signal than we have today.
While only one case, in 1973 follow a hot month for Australia, the Indian Dipole weakened and it turned quite wet as CLIMATEPREDICT shows below for many similar cases. Again, the situation this year is much more dire than 1973 or any other year for that matter. I believe this severity is at least partly related to CLIMATE CHANGE and the warming oceans.
Depending on the Indian Dipole and if the western Pacific and weak El Nino signal weakens (as some models suggest), this will have major global impacts on many commodities in the months ahead from wheat to cocoa, coffee and sugar with potential positive impacts to production in 2020.
The WMO argues that sea levels are rising ever faster, ice is melting and “once in a century” heatwaves and floods are now becoming more regular occurrences.
Millions of people were forced from their homes as a result of extreme events such as cyclones, hurricanes and flooding.
WMO Secretary-General Petteri Taalas: “If we do not take urgent climate action now, then we are heading for a temperature increase of more than 3C by the end of the century, with ever more harmful impacts on human well-being.
The WMO says the warming experienced over the past decade is taking its toll on the natural world. The ice is melting at both poles and sea level rise has accelerated since the start of satellite measurements in 1993.
Much of the heat generated by greenhouse gas emissions is going into the oceans, says the WMO. The waters are more acidic as a result and marine heat waves are becoming more common.
As well as hurting nature, the increased heat is also affecting humans, with heat waves posing a particular risk to the elderly.
One key reason why thousands of farmers and citizens are trying to migrate to America, is at least in part due to Climate Change as people look for a better life.
With respect to commodities, one of the reasons for the rally in coffee futures recently, are expectations for lower global supplies and higher demand. After a major bear market in coffee, in part due to the low Brazil Real, crop prospects are coming down in parts of Central America and Indonesia, in part from Climate Change. With respect to Brazil, an easing in a mini drought is a blessing for grain and coffee farmers in Sao Paulo and Minas Gerias, at least for now.
Rainfall the last 6 months has been below normal in Indonesia threatening crops and causing fires. In Australia, there has been 2 years of back to back droughts. This will cause more irrigation problems for crops like cotton and has reduced wheat crops for the 2nd straight year.
I cannot stand how the global warming debate has become so politicized over the years and that the Trump administration and millions of people around the world, “still do not see the hand writing on the wall.” This is getting beyond ridiculous. While one cannot blame every hurricane, drought or flood on Climate Change, there is no question in my mind that the intensities of hurricanes are getting stronger and that droughts and extreme weather more frequent.
I also disagree with many so called “solar cycle”theorists that point to extreme weather and consistent, colder, consistent winters due to record low solar cycles coming up.
Record low sea ice, global warming and weak El Nino Modoki conditions may offset some of the other factors that would normally result in a cold early US winter.
There are too many weather forecast firms out there that should be spreading the word about global warming and not trying to paint a picture that this is only cyclical.
The new report by the WMO (below) are some excerpts, as well as some of my own comments–Jim Roemer
Recent new World Meteorological Organization (WMO) report
Atmospheric levels of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide (CO2) reached the highest ever recorded in human history in 2018, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) announced in a new report earlier this week.
Why it matters: If the trend continues, as predicted, the impact of climate change will become even more severe, the intergovernmental organization warns. “The last time the Earth experienced a comparable concentration of CO2 was 3-5 million years ago,” WMO Secretary-General Petteri Taalas said in a statement accompanying the report.
“Carbon dioxide is the most important long-lived greenhouse gas, with a single molecule lasting in the air for hundreds to around 1,000 years,” science journalist Andrew Freedman has noted for Axios. “The continued buildup of carbon dioxide due to human activities, such as burning fossil fuels for energy, is driving global temperatures up and instigating harmful impacts worldwide.”
By the numbers: TheWMO’s Greenhouse Gas Bulletin reports that globally averaged concentrations of CO2 reached 407.8 parts per million last year. That means for every 1 million molecules of gas in the atmosphere, almost 408 were carbon dioxide.
It’s an increase from 405.5 parts per million (ppm) in 2017. “The increase in CO2 from 2017 to 2018 was very close to that observed from 2016 to 2017 and just above the average over the last decade,” the WMO notes.
Global levels of CO2 crossed the symbolic and significant 400 parts per million benchmark in 2015
Syria and Indonesia Droughts–Just two examples of Climate Change
Prior to 2008, 25% of Syria’s GDP was attributed to agriculture. Over the last 11 years, multiple year droughts have lowered that percentage to less than 8%. This is probably one key reason (water shortages), which have caused political strife and the rise of Isis.
While droughts in Indonesia, Asia and Brazil are nothing new and often enhanced by certain El Nino’s and a warm, positive Indian Dipole, I am convinced that the frequency of such droughts are enhanced by both deforestation of the Amazon and climate change.
The political and social reality that Syria is currently facing is the result of various interconnected factors including religion, political reform, and economics. Recently, climate researchers have begun to analyze the influence that climate may have on world conflict, particularly in Syria. This idea has generated significant media attention. A recent study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences has analyzing how the 2007-2010 drought in Syria acted as a catalyst for today’s intense conflict and extreme refugee situation.
Researcher Colin P. Kelley and his colleagues took a broad approach to this topic by dividing their study into two parts: (1) a comprehensive literature review to describe Syria’s vulnerability to droughts and related historical consequences; and (2) an analysis of last century’s climate trends, and how anthropogenic influences made a scenario such as the 2007-2010 drought more likely to happen in the future.
Source: P. Aguirre, Chicago Policy Review–University of Pittsburg
Background of what is going on in the Amazon and the Brazil Economy
Often referred to as “the planet’s lungs” because it provides 20% of the world’s oxygen, the Amazon rainforest has been ablaze for weeks. You can see a disturbing video about it, here
While deforestation in the Brazil rain forest is nothing new, satellite photos and first hand reports reveal the situation is rapidly worsening. The main reason is the Brazil government and farmers want to expand cattle, soybeans and coffee acreage. But this is at the expense of destroying millions more acres of trees that typically absorb carbon dioxide and emit oxygen--“The Lungs of our Earth!” . See an interesting article about Brazil’s goal to expand it exports of cattle
According to 2017 statistics, Over the past 25 years, the agribusiness sector in Brazil has grown consistently, reaching a $80 billion trade surplus in 2017, while all other sectors combined accumulated a $55 billion deficit. In the same year, agricultural products accounted for approximately 45-48 percent of total exports and 20-22 percent of GDP according to the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, and Food Supply. Brazilian agribusiness is vital to Brazil’s economic outlook.
Brazil is today among the three most significant producers and exporters of food commodities in the world, and is the only tropical country among the leading agricultural producers. Brazilian meat is exported to more than 190 countries worldwide. The country produces four times as much beef as it did in the 1970s, and three times as much pork. Brazil is also the world’s leading exporter of coffee, sugar, orange juice, soybean, poultry, and sugarcane-based ethanol.
Given, the dismal state of the Brazil economy, they want to be the #1 supplier in the world in many agricultural commodities. Hence, their need to expand the production of crops and livestock.
Satellite photos show the extent of Amazon devastation
Brazil’s National Institute for Space Research (INPE) has so far detected 39,601 fires this year in the Amazon, as reported by The New York Times. While it is currently the dry season in this region, INPE reports that there has been a 79 percent increase in fires from 2018 during the same period.
“Not so long ago it was thought that Amazonian forests and other tropical rainforest regions were completely immune to fires thanks to the high moisture content of the undergrowth beneath the protection of the canopy tree cover. But the severe droughts of 1997-98, 2005, 2010, and currently a large number of wildfires across northern Brazil have forever changed this perception,” Carlos Peres, a biologist at University of East Anglia, said in a statement.
According to CITYLAB, “The forces behind this carbon catastrophe alive are manifold, and human-made: a combination of anthropogenic climate change, which catalyzed three once-in-a-century droughts in the past 15 years; a land-ravenous cattle industry, fueled by the West’s endless appetite for cheap beef; and Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, who’s rolled back environmental protections and allowed loggers to set fires with impunity. (An avid deforester, Bolsonaro has jokingly nicknamed himself “Captain Chainsaw.”) The weather has been dry, but INPE scientists told CNN that in all, 99 percent of the fires were the result of human actions, “either on purpose or by accident.”
African Dust and Carbon Monoxide from Amazon could affect the Hurricane season
The weak El Nino we had has been weakening even further. When this happens, shear in the Atlantic lessens, which can enhance the fall hurricane season. We have been seeing this happening in late August and early September. The first image you see shows the Ocean heat content and why Florida and perhaps part of the east coast this fall, could be under the gun from hurricanes.
There are also some tropical waves and potential hurricanes coming off the coast of Africa as we head deeper into September. However, it is possible that these storms will be less intense than the last couple of seasons for the Gulf Coast, including Texas and areas to the south such as Mexico, etc. due to African dust and dryness moving into the Atlantic from the Amazon. The images both above and below show the effects of Carbon from the Amazon and dust from West Africa.
Forest Fires in Amazon could enhance drought conditions for some agricultural commodities, but reduce hurricanes for Texas/Mexico
My in house weather forecasting program CLIMATECH (below), uses teleconnections such as El Nino/La Nina, and ocean temperatures and weather patterns thousands of miles away to predict weather months in advance.
CLIMATECH reveals a bit more about the dry conditions over the Amazon, prior to hurricane Dorian. You can see for the month of August how dry it has been in the Atlantic (red=below normal rainfall), and that dryness may protect the southern Gulf, Cuba, Puerto Rica and potentially the Yucatan peninsula from hurricanes this fall.
The effects of deforestation on climate, in my opinion, is at least as influential as solar activity on the sun. However, rarely anyone ever talks about it. The dialogue should have started years ago and more pressure needs to be put on countries like Brazil to foster much greater concerns about the health of humanity and our planet.
The next question for commodity traders will be, whether Brazil coffee and soybean regions will see drier spring/summer weather that could take some of these markets out of the doldrums later this year. Right now, the world is awash in both soybeans, coffee and for that matter, many other commodities. Gold and silver have been the lone shining light in the commodity world, brought on by global economic fears and low interest rates in Europe and the United States.
Brazil being one of the top three biggest producers of agricultural commodities in the world, could see their mission of expanding its share of the world agricultural market “back fire”. This could happen if carbon, dust and debris from these forest fires builds a potential dry ridge this fall and winter (Brazil spring/summer), which some computer models are beginning to show.
The map above shows the potential mid September jet stream pattern over South America. The ridge (H) you see is what we call a “blocking high pressure system” that potentially could reduce rainfall heading into the Brazil spring and summer for some crops. There is much debate and concern that the demise of the Brazilian rain forest saps water vapor out of the atmosphere and can potentially threaten crop production. However, there are other climatic factors too that can influence global weather patterns. These are the demise of El Nino and climatic patterns thousands of miles a way. Stay tuned, because if commodity prices such as soybeans, coffee or sugar bottom in the next few months from production issues in Brazil, it could be due to the destruction of the Amazon, more than anything else.–Jim Roemer