Tuesday, August 2, 2016
As had been widely expected Nick Hurd, MP for Ruislip, Northwood and Pinner, has been confirmed as Minister of State for Climate Change and Industry, taking responsibility for climate change, including carbon budgets, climate science, international climate change efforts, and the green economy, including the Green Investment Bank. His industrial responsibilities also extend to advanced manufacturing, materials, and the automotive sector.
Cape Town — Almost half a decade of drought across most of South Africa has led to small towns in crisis and food imports for the first time in over 20 years, as well as severely hampering the government's planned land redistribution programme.
"Drought continues in the provinces and is being exacerbated by the normal dry winter conditions, especially in summer rainfall areas," the Pretoria-based department said in an e-mailed statement Monday. "Livestock is reportedly in reasonable to poor condition, but grazing is in poor condition in most areas."
National Weather Service records show as of Thursday morning rainfall at Bradley International Airport in Windsor Locks for July measured 2.3 inches less than normal. Since June 1...
The localized severe storm was part of a wider outbreak of heavy downpours as a stifling heat wave came to an end across the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast. The flash flood was also the latest in an increasing trend of damaging heavy rainfall events in parts of the U.S., particularly the Northeast.
Hong Kong (CNN)Fierce winds lashed Hong Kong in the early hours of Tuesday morning, but no major damage was reported as Typhoon Nida hit the city and moved onto mainland China.
The record-breaking worldwide heat of the first six months of 2016 has turned to abnormally severe seasonal flooding across Asia with hundreds of people dying in China, India, Nepal and Pakistan and millions forced from their homes.
William Church, Managing Director, CIWARS
Chicago Mayor Rham Emanuel famously once said, "You never let a serious crisis go to waste. And what I mean by that it's an opportunity to do things you think you could not do before." Obviously, Venezuela's Nicolas Maduro is a Rahm Emanuel discipline.
Climate Change driven drought was the secondary crisis that Maduro did not waste. The primary 2016 crisis was the January 2016 election and Maduro's party losing control of the National Assembly to the Democratic Unity Table (MUD) Party. But all was not lost for Maduro.
Maduro's United Socialist Party, as they left office, hung an anchor around the neck of incoming MUD legislators. First, they replaced all 12 Supreme Court justices with United Socialist Party loyalists. Second, they removed the National Assembly from any oversight of the Central Bank and passed a multi-year spending package, and finally, the Socialist-packed Supreme Court then disqualified three newly elected representatives in the election that would have given MUD a 60 percent majority to over ride many of these decisions.
Venezuela's overarching crisis was falling oil prices in 2013 and Hugo Chavez's death bringing Maduro to power. It was the lesson that Saudi Arabia, until recently, refused to learn: an oil nation must have more to its economy than oil. In 1975, Venezuela nationalized its oil industry and created PDVSA and in 2013 oil accounted for 95 percent of export revenue, but in one year between 2014 and 2015 oil prices dropped 50 percent
This left Venezuela without hard currency--oil is sold in US dollars--and the ability to repay its primary debtor: China. It also starved the Central Bank, now out of the control of the National Assembly thanks to the Chavistas, for hard currency used by Venezuela-based companies to pay for imported goods.
This same scenario has played out in Nigeria because of oil and other African countries, like Zimbabwe, because of loss of agricultural exports. The year 2016 should be remembered as the year of the dollar shortage as people dumped the Great Britain Sterling and Euro for the perceived safety of the dollar.
By 2015, Venezuela's problems mounted. This brought the opposition party, MUD, to power, and set the stage for the 2016 military coup, which finished off the last vestige of Venezuela's democracy. The 2015 El Nino drought was the crisis worth exploiting by Maduro and his military backers to save it from the reality of an 8 percent economic contraction. Alejandro Werner, IMF's chief Western Hemisphere economist accurately called the situation "unsustainable over the medium term."
The Guri Hydroelectric dam took center stage in April 2016. Maduro claimed the drought had caused loss of electricity at Guri and declared the civil service weren't needed on the job three days a week. In essence, Maduro had disbanded the entire civilian government. This is where Euan Mearns of Energy Matters, the Wiki Leaks of the Energy Industry, comes into the picture.
Mearns questions the Maduro scenario and the loss of 60 percent of the nation's electricity from the Guri Dam. Mearns published the following graphs:
The first graph shows that electricity demand has been falling for three years regardless of the 2015 drought and the situation at Guri; therefore, he casts doubts on the need to suspend government workers three days a week.
This chart shows the water levels of Caroni River which feeds the Guri Dam from the north. Primarily it shows the inflow to the river has steadily increased and only dipped during the drought of 2015 but even with the dip it was still above its historical levels.
The third set of charts suggest that even though there was a reduction in rainfall in the areas of Tumeremo and Santa Elena Venezuela, which are adjacent areas to Lake Guri, they were within the range of annual rain falls. In essence, Mearns suggests the problem was not as much the 2015 drought but an overall mismanagement of the water supply.
The combined affect of the reduced electricity, drought, and shortage of hard currency to import supplies produced the necessary panic. Wide spread reports of looting and hoarding swept the country, until Maduro had an excuse to declare a national emergency to put the military in charge of food distribution at the ports. In addition, last week there were reports of the military taking over individual shops and forcing the shop owners to sell the food at an extreme loss. In some cases, as reported by the Financial Times, the shop owners were told, "the food belongs to the people" which is a very Chavistas echo of Hugo Chavez.
Not everyone has bought the Maduro idea that Venezuela was in a state of collapse. Gabriel Hetland wrote in The Nation:
"My investigation leaves little doubt that Venezuela is in the midst of a severe crisis, characterized by triple digit inflation, scarcities of basic goods, widespread changes in food consumption patterns and mounting social and political discontent. Yet mainstream media have consistently misrepresented and significantly exaggerated the severity of the crisis. But Venezuela is not a nation in cataclysmic collapse."
During all this chaos, large international food processing companies in Venezuela shuttered their plants because of inability to get dollars to buy supplies, and Maduro has now threatened to nationalize their assets. Then Maduro delivered the final blow to the civil servants in a Maoist-like call for a Cultural Revolution when he suggested that all civil servants should leave their jobs and go work in the fields for an initial period of 60 days which could be extended indefinitely.
With a decimated civil service, a neutered National Assembly, a Socialist-packed Supreme Court, the military in control of food production, distribution, all ports, and Maduro owing his office only to military support, Venezuela has had a silent coup under the cover of climate change drought.