Dense Environmental Energy
Chapter 3: Effects of drought & desertification:
by Gare Henderson, Ph.D.
Economics & Politics of drought:
The impacts of drought and desertification have economic effects on individuals, regions and markets, and political effects on entire regions and markets.
Drought has many stakeholders, citizens, farmers, governments, and ecosystems. From the perspective of the citizenry the primary economic effects are rising prices and uncertainty. Where the effects are expected to be temporary many price related effects are, for the bulk of the population, mitigated by time and market alternatives. Market confidence can be eroded if the drought conditions, locally or internationally through markets, persists for multiple seasons. The erosion of market confidence may significantly influence industrial and agricultural planning, which may result in significant shifts or retrenchment in production, marketing, and supply. The economic impacts will often fall heaviest on marginalized populations, where market alternatives are impractical or un-available.
In cities seasonal droughts may impact all populations with increased comfort costs including hydration and thermal comforts (HVAC). The general costs of agricultural products are often impacted as local suppliers are less able to meet local needs, and good must carry additional transport and storage costs. These costs can have secondary psychological and political impacts on the general population due to the increased economic stresses.
Droughts often impact seasonal work both in reductions and increases of transaction costs which make the work less profitable. This dimming of the local economy is typical result of droughts. While alternatively some maintenance work, especially for municipalities and industrial concerns, becomes more expensive due to dust, and materials stresses, including roadways.
Historical records are filled with drought triggered insurrections dating back to the eve of recorded history. It has often been the case that the occasion of a drought was the tipping point for societies teetering on the edge of failure, economically, socially, or politically. Often times in societies wherein a special relationship between the gods and the ruler was presumed, a drought may be viewed as evidence of that rulers growing dis-favor with the Gods, and often precipitates the collapse of the regime. Drought has also been the context of inter-group and tribal conflicts, both as resource competition and in attempts to win favor with the requisite natural or supernatural forces. It is widely believed that a drought in China, which raised international wheat prices, was a major influence on the recent regimen collapses in the middle-east known as the Arab spring.
In rural communities the economic effects of drought can often be profound. The essential nature of water forces wide ranging social and political changes on the citizens. Many of these impacts, especially on females, in developing regions are well documented by NGO and UN reports. Where access to water is limited by drought, water usage will quickly fall with the concomitant impacts of hygiene and health. However a fixed minimum level of water is essential and therefore the collection of water becomes the priority which often falls upon the females of the society.
Drought effectively increases the value of water for all uses. Yet water is often a commons resource which has not historically been subject to market controls. These shifts in value often shine a light on industrial users, such as drink bottlers, power generation plants and other industries which rely heavily on the use of water.Once the community begins to focus on the large consumers of local water supplies, local governments often quickly begin to enact legislative controls which may significantly reduce the productivity of long term investments in industrial or extractive infrastructure. There is a rising tide of industrial/citizen conflicts which have been developing in India and through-out Asia. The southwest area of the US has also seen rising government regulations which in time will effectively ban many traditional industries.
When drought conditions extend for long periods
the hydrology of the region shifts toward aridity. Increasing aridity
once accepted as the inevitable arc of the region will force dramatic
shifts in the productivity and livability of the region. Traditional
agricultural products will no longer thrive in the region. Products with
high water content, in essence or manufacturer, which are traditionally
exported will quickly become non-competitive. Co-dependent regions or
markets are adversely impacted and international markets will see sharp
price increases on both the traditional products from the damaged
markets, as well as alternative products.
Environmental impacts of drought & desertification:
Depending on these
factors the species diversity of a region can be stressed in many cases to
The biodiversity of a region under historical hydrological cycles, whether arid or temperate, is a measure of both chance and possibility. For example an area that is historically arid will engender a biodiversity comprised of the flora, fauna, and microbial populations that are able to survive and adapt to that environment. This will include those creatures and organisms which can exist with minimal water supplies, and high atmospheric heat, and this variety will be thin in compared to the same region before desertification or after mitigation measures are successfully implemented. Both the volume and types of organisms will differ according to the hydrology.
|References and Recognitions: (note: most illustration link back to their original sources)|
I will examine biodiversity under drought from a postmodernist, or non dogmatic
perhaps anti-historic, perspective.
There are many energy streams that comprise local or regional weather systems.
Sunlight, gravity, and quantum bonds are combined to generate the flow of water,
the flow of winds and the thermal properties of mass. Drought impacts weather by
exaggerating regional differences, maintaining thermal imbalances with masses of
variant thermal characteristics (such as bodies of water or mountains), stifling
weather balancing forces such as plant life, and by introducing mass (primarily
dust) into the atmosphere.
Wild fires are an important phenomena to many ecological systems. Wild fires release many soil nutrients that have been trapped in biomass, and often foster the development of new species or the
renewal of existing species of plants within an ecosystems, some animal and insect species are also well adapted to fire. Wild fires occur naturally through lighting strikes in combination with
existing fuel source availability. Regional weather contributes to the occurrence of wildfires, when wind conditions spread naturally occurring strikes over wider ranges of combustible materials.
However, prior to perishing, the structural enervation of plants due to water shortages will make them less resistant to insect and other predator attacks and therefore subject to combustion.
Additional considerations are the generation of tornados in regions of high albedo. The intensity of tornados is energy related, (mass and velocity). The factors for tornado generation and intensity are; convergence zones (contradictory wind flows), sufficient relative humidity, and the availability of transportable mass, (usually sand, dust, etc.). Contradictory or crossed wind streams are due to the location of prevailing winds generated by pressure normalization. When high pressure zones are created by the combination of heat and evaporation, air and humidity will move towards lower pressure zones. Convection currents, from ABL thermal diversity can also be trapped under thermal inversions and add velocity to nascent tornados.
These winds can occur at many levels in the atmosphere. When prevailing winds conflict at acute angles, vortices are often generated. These vortices create significant concentrated pressure differences between the ground and low cloud levels. The vortices gain mass from friable soil, such as fallow agricultural land, sand, or small particle debris from surface mining operations. As the mass of the vortices reach a critical point rotational inertia will enable the suspension of materials sufficient to become traumatic. The high albedo of the area tends toward reduced ground adhesion by particles of all sizes. Higher temperature surfaces, below melting points, tend to enforce particle separations thereby reducing adhesion. This is seen in gas expansion, and is evident at all particulate levels.
Tornados are energy phenomena based upon both mass and velocity. These storms rely on the confluence of winds, and the availability of corruptible mass. Winds result from differences in atmospheric pressure. The atmosphere is a relatively thin fluid, composed of unbound particles which seek the lowest possible energy levels. Heat rises because cold falls. High pressure zones attract low pressure zones. The normalization or equalization of atmospheric pressures is seen as wind.
Control of latent atmospheric heat is achievable through the management of regional albedo. Promotion of optimal conversion of sunlight into plant growth, and minimize heat reflection back into the atmosphere. Corruptible mass can be controlled by agricultural fallowing practices, industrial policy, and the management of natural and manmade sources of large concentrations of friable materials. Regional humidity can be managed via evaporation policies, and source management. Humidity can also be managed via mechanical purges, and induced rain through airborne and ground based cloud seeding of key regional areas in sympathy with naturally occurring imbalances.
|References and Recognitions: (note: most illustration link back to their original sources)|
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