Deforestation, not global warming, reason for Brazil drought

In light of the climate talks in Lima, Peru many eyes are monitoring the UN event to see what it reveals. One blogger, Paul Homewood, posted a commentary accusing BBC of dishonest reporting claiming the British network of attempted to link the Brazilian drought with global warming. His evidence is BBC including photo taken in Sao Paulo, Brazil of what looks like a beach head. In my view, that is a bit of a stretch but he does cite a source by drought expert Ruben Brooks who authored a research piece on Brazilian droughts in 2005.

According to Homewood, the highlights of the study point out:

1) An estimated 2 million died as a result of drought between 1877 and 1919.

2) Droughts occur every 10 to 15 years.

3) The existence of such droughts was being recorded as far back as the 18thC.

4) One of the major droughts came in 1790 and lasted four years.

5) The worst drought of all occurred in 1877, and lasted till 1880.

What is also of interest, is an Associated Press report Paul Homewood cites pointing out that the consensus of climate scientists is that deforestation, not global warming, is the reason for Brazil’s drought.

It’s not just Brazil but South America as a whole for which these rivers in the sky play a pivotal meteorological role, according to a recent study by a top Brazilian climate scientist, Antonio Nobre of the government’s Center for Earth System Science.

The study draws together data from multiple researchers to show that the Amazon may be closer to a tipping point than the government has acknowledged and that the changes could be a threat to climates around the globe. His work is causing a stir in drought-stricken Brazil as environmental negotiators meet in neighboring Peru at the Dec. 1-12 U.N. climate talks.

Destruction of the Amazon went unchecked until 2008, when the government put teeth in its environmental laws and sent armed agents into the jungle to slow the pace of deforestation by ranchers, soy farmers and timber speculators. The impact was quick: Destruction in 2012 was one-sixth of what was recorded eight years earlier, though it has ticked up in the last two years.

I would be curious to find out if Brazil made any effort to improve water infrastructure to take droughts into account in order to prepare for them. This is the problem California is experiencing. If Brazil did, unfortunately, it wasn’t enough. However, the country is not a desert so Brazil can recover faster than the The Golden State. None the less, changes in weather tend to be more localized and while there is human influence it can affect weather in some cases. This being one of them.