“Soft despotism is a term coined by Alexis de Tocqueville describing the state into which a country overrun by "a network of small complicated rules" might degrade. Soft despotism is different from despotism (also called 'hard despotism') in the sense that it is not obvious to the people."

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Ukraine and the IMF - Mission Impossible

Ukraine Is In Crisis. Here’s Why the West Can’t Save It. 


  1. Here’s something Alaska has in common with California these days: a dry winter and resulting wildfires. The heat is fueling Alaska’s fires, which have been amplified by an unusually low amount of snow during the winter, which led to drier forests and grasses. While this year’s fires aren’t large by Alaska standards, they have unusually destructive because of the number of homes that have burned.

    Despite this heat wave, cooler-than-normal temperatures in the first 10 days of the month means it probably won’t go down as one of the hottest Junes on record for much of the state, Thoman said.

    Alaska may be getting used to warmer temperatures. Last month was the warmest May for the state since records began in 1925, with a temperature 7.1 degrees above normal. Since 2000, April and May in many years have been among the warmest on record.

    Contributing to the warmer weather in recent years have been sea surface temperatures far above normal as well as earlier melting of winter ice, he said.

    1. Alaska, California are but a few of the World’s areas affected by climate change and resultant water scarcity.

      Central Asia is not alone. Marcel Vaessen, head of the Caucasus and Central Asia branch of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, said in his presentation in Dushanbe that by 2030, 47 percent of the world’s population is projected to be living in areas of “high water stress.”

    2. “Water is life. Water is health. Water is dignity. Water is a human right,” UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said last week at a conference in Tajikistan aimed at assessing the results of the UN’s decade-long “Water for Life” initiative, launched in 2005.

      Reportedly 2,000 participants attended the event, hearing more than 70 reports in the Tajik capital, Dushanbe. But, Eurasianet notes, “despite numerous statements of concern, the meeting produced no substantive measures.” Meaningless conferences apparently don’t just happen in Washington, DC. After an entire decade of concerted focus on the issue, Central Asia remains one of the most irresponsible regions when it comes to water.

      A center on international water diplomacy, proposed by Tajik officials in 2013, never came into existence. Neither did a reservoir and consortium scheme. It isn’t for lack of recognizing the problem–just about every regional leader has made a speech or several on the importance of water.

      In 2012, Uzbekistan’s President Islam Karimov, ticked at Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan’s dam building, said that “today many experts declare that water resources could tomorrow become a problem around which relations deteriorate, and not only in our region. Everything can be so aggravated that this can spark not simply serious confrontation but even wars.”

      Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan sit upriver on the Amu Darya and Syr Darya, the region’s two main rivers upon which Uzbekistan relies for water irrigated to sate its cotton crops’ thirst. Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan for their part, dam rivers for energy. Both are mountainous and lack the deep resource wealth of Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan. They hope to increase their hydropower output to such a degree that they can export it south into Afghanistan and Pakistan.

    3. In April, to offset a prolonged drought in California, Governor Jerry Brown introduced water restrictions for the state’s 39 million residents. Now imagine a water crisis like this affecting some 200 million people in an area smaller than California. That’s the reality in Uttar Pradesh, the northern Indian state in the Ganges River basin.

      I’ve spent the last 10 years in the Ganges, studying water conflict. If I wake early I can hear the purring of tube wells, the groundwater-extraction tool whose use underpins an increasingly privatized regional water economy. While these wells helped sustain India’s most populous state, inadequate regulation has contributed heavily to its current shortages. If the Ganges groundwater crisis is to be reversed, the tube-well economy must be reformed.

      People in New Delhi bathe and wash their clothes in the Yamuna River, a noxious black stream polluted with raw sewage and methane gas.Thirsty Giant: In Teeming India, Water Crisis Means Dry Pipes and Foul SludgeSEPT. 29, 2006
      A tube well is a metal or plastic pipe that, when combined with a diesel- or electric-powered pump, enables groundwater extraction. From the 1930s, India promoted tube-well use to increase irrigation in areas not served by canals. This helped make the Ganges an agricultural hub: Nearly 20 percent of India’s food grains now come from Uttar Pradesh.

      But the technology that helped the basin thrive is bleeding it dry.

      In the 1960s and ’70s, Uttar Pradesh worked with donors like the World Bank to improve electricity access and implemented a vast public tube-well program. But frequent outages meant that public wells rarely ran at capacity and water delivery to poor or small-scale farmers was unreliable.

      Eventually, farmers started sinking their own wells, spurred by the linkage of groundwater ownership to land rights and minimal government regulation. A flat electricity tariff for well owners in rural areas, introduced in 1975, was amply offset by the effectively unlimited water supply. Farmers adopted inefficient irrigation methods, like flooding, and pumped additional water to sell to poorer neighbors eager to bypass state fees and receive faster delivery. Defying predictions, competition kept costs low in these unregulated markets.

      Private well use exploded in the 1980s, when Uttar Pradesh subsidized boring costs and banks provided loans to farmers to purchase pumps. By 2002 there were over two million private tube wells in Uttar Pradesh, according to some estimates.

      Despite rising operation costs and tariffs, well owners still get a relatively good deal: They pay for equipment and energy, but not water extracted. Consequently, overuse is a massive problem. The World Bank in 2010 reported that extraction provides some 85 percent of India’s drinking water and over 60 percent of its irrigation water. In 2012, over-exploitation led Uttar Pradesh to suspend well-boring subsidies in designated areas in over one third of its districts.

      In the Ganges basin, which sustains some 40 percent of India’s billion-plus population, sinking water tables have exacerbated disputes. Farmers are boring deeper wells, which not only costs more but risks drying out the public hand pumps used by poorer people. Water from deeper wells also contains greater levels of arsenic and fluoride.

  2. The water scarcity issue is thus in part, political and economic. Uzbekistan hasn’t shied from hitting back at Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan in various ways. Last year Uzbekistan cut gas supplies to Kyrgyzstan over a contract technicality, gas began to flow again in the middle of winter after eight months. A recent report in Tajikistan’s Asia-Plus commented that Uzbekistan was not keen to lift visa requirements for Tajiks any time soon.

    Relations between Tajikistan and Uzbekistan are currently strained because of the former’s plans to build the Roghun hydroelectric power plant (HPP). Tajik authorities believe that the Roghun dam is solution to many problems Tajikistan faces today, including frequent electricity shortages during winters.

    The Roghun HPP could generate both enough electricity to provide for Tajikistan’s population and enough excess to export to Pakistan, Afghanistan, or China.

    Uzbekistan is downstream country and its authorities consider that Tajikistan will use the dam as a means of leverage to pressure Uzbekistan in the many political disputes between the two countries.

    The crisis is not just rooted in the political realm, though politics certainly explains the lack of coordinated progress. Environmental conditions nonetheless conspire against the region. Milder winters and less snow means less water flowing into reservoirs and further downstream–climate change is largely responsible for this shift. One only has to look at damning pictures of the Aral Sea’s change over the past 30 years from the world’s fourth largest lake to little more than a poisoned puddle to get the scale of the problem.

    Central Asia is not alone. Marcel Vaessen, head of the Caucasus and Central Asia branch of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, said in his presentation in Dushanbe that by 2030, 47 percent of the world’s population is projected to be living in areas of “high water stress.”

  3. California - Although the current precipitation deficit cannot be attributed to global climate change, the record-breaking high temperatures of 2014 can be. These elevated temperatures produce increased evaporation from reservoirs and exacerbate irrigation demands. The commonly used Palmer Drought Severity Index combines both temperature and precipitation and in doing so shows that 2014 is indeed off the charts. This combination of low precipitation and high evaporative losses fuels the crisis now being faced.

    Climate models do not provide a consensus on the changes in precipitation that might occur in California over the 21st century. Moving forward, there may well be no significant increase or decrease in the average annual precipitation. However, the models do agree that temperatures will continue to rise. Water demands to meet evaporative losses will therefore increase significantly. There is also some evidence that the length and depth of droughts will increase in the later 21st century. As for high temperatures and persistence of extreme conditions, the current drought might well be considered the harbinger of droughts to come.

    Second, increased reliance on groundwater has been an important mechanism by which California coped with past droughts. However, the groundwater resources of the state are displaying clear signs of unsustainability. Over the past 150 years, agricultural and domestic extraction has caused water table depths to fall by 100 or so feet in some instances, and the deep aquifer water level to decline by even greater depths in parts of the San Joaquin Valley, one of the most productive agricultural areas in the world. In some places the land surface itself has subsided by more than 20 feet. The current drought has led to increased demands on groundwater in regions such as the San Joaquin Valley, where more than 2,400 well permits were issued in 2013 as the drought hit home.

    Analysis of such trends and new groundwater storage data collected by NASA’s GRACE satellite has led NASA hydrologist Jay Famiglietti to suggest that the collapse of the San Joaquin groundwater reserves may be only decades away. In 2014, more than 1,400 domestic water supply problems largely related to groundwater were reported in California, with more than half in the San Joaquin Valley. Going forward this century, the San Joaquin Valley is projected to experience high degrees of warming, and this will greatly increase agricultural water demands in the region. The strategy of drought relief through increased exploitation of groundwater here and elsewhere in the state has reached its limits.

  4. Political upheaval and instability can be the result of many man made and natural sources. We are in a period of time where we have to focus on stability and areas that are controllable with a reasonable expectation of success. With 40% of the planet under stress from lack of a sufficient supply of water, we have big problems ahead.

  5. e360 digest


    U.S. homeowners installed more solar power systems in the first three months of this year than in any other previous quarter, according to data from the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), a trade group for the U.S. solar sector. The first quarter of any given year typically sees the fewest solar installations because of winter weather, the group notes, but the period from January through March of this year saw a solid increase over last quarter — 11 percent — and a 76 percent increase over the same period last year. The average cost for a residential solar system is now $3.48 per watt, or 10 percent lower than this time last year, the SEIA report says. It also notes that, cumulatively through the first quarter of 2015, nearly one-fourth of all residential solar installations in the U.S. have now come on-line without any state incentives.

  6. The water supply is about the same world wide.

    We got somesmores peoples everywheres.


    Only Putin can save the Ukraine.