DROUGHT WARNINGS FROM THE PAST

DROUGHT WARNINGS FROM THE PAST

Droughts were of little concern in our age – at least, until now. Findings of an African – Asian Megadrought that happened 16,000 years ago, but also the resurface of old drought stones in Europe, warns us that dire times are coming. Fast.

 

THE MEGADROUGHT

On February 25, 2011, researchers led by Curt Sager (Paul Smith’s College in New York and the University of Maine, Orono), published in the Science journal, some astounding facts about past changes in the ocean, at the of the last ice age. By looking at climate records and samples of ancient sediments taken from Lake Victoria and Lake Tanganyika in Tanzania, researchers estimated the timing of a megadrought to the peak of a 3,000-year period. At that time, melting icebergs surged into the North Atlantic.

The megadrought that hit the Earth about 16,000 years ago was one of the most intense and far-reaching dry periods in the history of modern humans. The drought affected almost all of southern Asia and most of the African continent. So, the world’s largest tropical lake and the source of the Nile – Lake Victoria in Africa – dried out. The same happened to Lake Tana (Ethiopia) and Lake Van (Turkey).

But, could it happen again?

WHEN YOU SEE ME, CRY

On August 27, 2017, stones bearing ominous messages have resurfaced in the Elbe River, in Central Europe – running from the Czech Republic into Germany. Over the past centuries, Europeans marked low water levels during droughts by carving lines and dates into boulders along the river.

The point being, was that if water levels dipped low enough to reveal such an old carving, it would be a sign to locals that dry, harsh times were coming. More than twelve of the drought stones have appeared in the Elbe in 2017. And indeed, it was a drought record-setting year in Europe. And the stones are not wrong!

The oldest stone carving to emerge was carved in 1616 and is considered the oldest hydrologic landmark in Central Europe, according to the AP. It “bears a chiseled inscription in German,” the AP reported, “that says, ‘when you see me, cry.'”

DROUGHTS IMPACT FARMS AND FOOD PRODUCTION

Northern Europe’s current drought brought with it peak temperatures and more wildfires than ever. Also, local food production is highly threated. In the Netherlands, Sweden and Germany AFP reported, grain harvest went down between 30 and 60 percent, Agence France-Presse wrote in an article.

“Our cows have been living off hay cut in June, there isn’t any grass,” said Jean-Guillaume Hannequin, a farmer in eastern France.

In Germany, one of 25 farms was at risk of going out of business, while Sweden was burned by wildfires and the Netherlands had a deficit of fodder of 40 to 60 percent. In Britain, the numbers of slaughtered cattle jumped by 18 percent in July 2017, according to the AHDB.

“We are afraid they’ll turn the drought into a bonanza by buying our animals at even lower prices when we already have difficulty surviving,” a livestock farmer said.

“There are going to be a massive number of farms abandoned,” Hannequin warned.

Climate change will make droughts even harsher in Europe and research tells us that they will be more frequent around the world. So, no water. No livestock. No cattle. No production. And consequences are still hard to fathom…

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