Tag Archives: desert

Study predicts deserts in Spain if global warming continues

Southern Spain will become desert and deciduous forests will vanish from much of the Mediterranean basin unless global warming is reined in sharply, according to a new study.

Researchers used historical data and computer models to forecast the likely impact of climate change on the Mediterranean region, based on the targets for limiting global warming 195 countries agreed to during a summit in France last year.

“The Paris Agreement says it’s necessary to limit global warming to 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit), if possible 1.5 degrees,” Joel Guiot, a researcher at the National Center of Scientific Research in France who co-wrote the study, said. “That doesn’t seem much to people, but we wanted to see what the difference would be on a sensitive region like the Mediterranean.”

The authors examined the environmental changes the Mediterranean has undergone during the last 10,000 years, using pollen records to gauge the effect that temperatures had on plant life.

They came up with four scenarios pegged to different concentrations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. Three of the scenarios are already widely used by scientists to model future climate change, while the fourth was designed to predict what would happen if global warming remains at or below 1.5 degrees Celsius this century.

The fourth scenario is particularly ambitious because average global temperatures have already risen by 1 degree Celsius since pre-industrial times. It is, however, the only one under which Mediterranean basin ecosystems would remain within the range of changes seen in the past 10,000 years, the researchers found.

At the other extreme — the scenario in which global warming hits 2 degrees — deserts would expand in Spain, North Africa and the Near East, while vegetation in the region would undergo a significant change from the coasts right up to the mountains, the study states.

The region is considered a hotspot for biodiversity and its landscape also has long been cultivated by humans, making it a particularly interesting case study for the researchers, whose work was published online in the journal Science.

“Climate has always been important there,” said Guiot, noting that several civilizations — from the ancient Egyptians to the Greeks and the Romans — emerged around the Mediterranean over the past millennia.

While their demise probably resulted from social and political changes, climate conditions may have played a role in the past and could do so again in the future, he said.

Current flows of migrants are being driven largely by political unrest, but prolonged periods of drought could spark mass migrations of people due to climate change, Guiot said.

The researchers acknowledged that their study did not factor in the environmental impact of human activity in the Mediterranean basin. Some areas already are experiencing severe water shortages made worse by intensive agriculture and tree clearance.

“If anything, human action will exacerbate what the study projects, and it could turn out to be too optimistic,” Guiot said.

The Paris climate agreement comes into effect next week.

 

Las Vegas’ new ad campaign pushes ‘sexy’ watering habits

Another part of the drought-ridden West is attempting to make water conservation sexy, this time with funny ads in Las Vegas.

The Southern Nevada Water Authority this week launched a campaign on television, radio, print and social media themed: “There’s Nothing Sexier Than Saving Water.” The ads were developed by R&R Partners, the firm behind Vegas’ most famous tagline: “What Happens Here, Stays Here.”

The new advertisements depict people adjusting watering clocks as people ogle with lust. It coincides with the new fall restrictions that began this week, which through Oct. 31 limits watering to three days a week and prohibits sprinklers during the day and misting systems at businesses.

In June, San Francisco officials also unveiled sexy ads, which urged residents to go “full-frontal” and take short, steamy showers.

Spokesman Scott Huntley said the new Las Vegas campaign was developed over the last year and that Nevada officials were not aware of San Francisco’s recent ads.

He said the Nevada water agency has for years done two-week long “compliance” promotions during the seasonal transitions, using humorous messages to remind users to be complaint. Violators are first given warnings before fines start at $100, exceeding $1,000 for repeat offenders.

The advertising, which cost about $1.6 million annually, is a part of the longstanding effort to plug water conservation in the desert area that has been in drought for years.

“We were the first to the game on this. We’ve had a tremendous amount of success that’s being emulated in other places,” Huntley said.

The previous “Don’t Make Us Ask You Again” theme was used for eight years in Vegas and featured male-centric slapstick humor because research showed that the typical household water controller was, according to Huntley, a “Joe Six Pack,” or a man in his late 20s to 50s.

And perhaps as proof that sex sells to everyone, Huntley said the new ads were made to also target expanding demographics, including those who are older and more diverse and female.

“There are certainly things that grab people’s attention and humor does it a lot and one of the primary aspects of humor is the sexual humor, the sexy humor — that’s one of the basics,” Huntley said.

Some fans say Burning Man ticket price burns

Tickets for the Burning Man festival in northern Nevada will soon go on sale, and some veteran participants complain the new prices are too steep.

Organizers of the eclectic art and music festival announced that an allotment of 51,000 individual tickets will be available for $380 each. 

Tickets opened at $240 last year, with prices steadily rising as the event approached, the Reno Gazette-Journal reported.

Of the 58,000 total tickets available this year, 4,000 will be available for $190 to those who qualify for the low-income ticket plan. Another 3,000 tickets have already been sold as part of a holiday promotion.

Organizers scrapped last year’s contentious ticket lottery system and now will offer tickets on a first-come, first-served basis.

Christina Allen, who has attended the festival nine times since 2001, said she paid $125 for her first ticket. She said the new $380 price is out of her range, and she’ll apply for a low-income ticket or wait to see if she can purchase a ticket from a friend for a lower price this summer.  

The festival is held the week leading up to Labor Day on the Black Rock Desert, about 110 miles north of Reno.

“I paid $360 last year, and I thought that was high, but $380 isn’t that much higher,” Allen told the Gazette-Journal. “But I am at a different point in my life. I would say $380 is a little steep.”

While “Burner” Jen Medrano still plans to attend this year’s festival, she thinks the new ticket price is a “little expensive.”

“It’s kind of a bummer they are a bit expensive since a lot of Burners with a lower budget count on those lower-tiered tickets,” Medrano said. “Most of those people are artists, performers that don’t have a huge income.”

The new $190 price for low-income tickets is up from $160 last year.

According to Burning Man’s website, the festival’s ticket plan is well under the price of similar events, “particularly given the fact that Black Rock City is a fully-functioning metropolis for nearly 60,000 people constructed in the middle of the remote desert.”

Beginning Jan. 30, a total of 10,000 tickets will go on sale at $380 for “critical theme camp, art installation and mutant vehicle crews,” organizers said.

For the same price, another 40,000 individual tickets will go on sale Feb. 13, while another 1,000 “last-chance” tickets will be available the first week of August.