Monday January 27th… Dear Diary. The main purpose of this ongoing post will be to track United States extreme or record temperatures related to climate change. Any reports I see of ETs will be listed below the main topic of the day. I’ll refer to extreme or record temperatures as ETs (not extraterrestrials)😉
Main Topic: Linking Plagues To Climate Change…Case In Point The 2020 East African Locust Invasion
Dear Diary. During the 1980s I could not fathom that global warming would lead to such things as invasive species and more disease. Logically though, for example, during the 1990s I learned that mosquitos will spread farther north as the climate warms. So, it makes sense that changes in rainfall patterns have led to worse locust outbreaks affecting millions of people in Africa, which has taken place from 2019 into 2020.
Here is a meteorological and climatological link. The same awful weather pattern exacerbated by global warming that made Australia dry and hot over the last year made East Africa very wet. Take a look at the following graphic to get my drift:
Quoting the Associated Press:
How is climate change involved?
Heavy rains in East Africa made 2019 one of the region’s wettest years on record, said Nairobi-based climate scientist Abubakr Salih Babiker. He blamed rapidly warming waters in the Indian Ocean off Africa’s eastern coast, which spawned an unusual number of strong tropical cyclones off Africa last year.
Heavy rainfall and warmer temperatures are favorable conditions for locust breeding and in this case the conditions have become “exceptional,” he said.
Even now rainfall continues in some parts of the vast region. The greenery that springs up keeps the locusts fueled.
“Countries are trying to prepare but this took them by surprise,” Babiker said.
The increase in locust swarms could last until June as favorable breeding conditions continue, IGAD has said. But Babiker said it is hard to say for sure when this outbreak will be over.
“This has become psychologically pressurizing,” he said.
For more on this current climate crisis item read the following Time article:
‘This Is Huge’: Worst Locust Swarm in Decades Destroy Crops in East Africa
Worst Locust Swarm in Decades Destroy Crops in East Africa. The worst outbreak of desert locusts in Kenya in 70 years has seen hundreds of millions of the bugs swarm into the East African nation from Somalia and Ethiopia.
By Ben Curtis, Josphat Kasire and Cara Anna / AP January 25, 2020
The worst outbreak of desert locusts in Kenya in 70 years has seen hundreds of millions of the bugs swarm into the East African nation from Somalia and Ethiopia. Those two countries have not had an infestation like this in a quarter-century, destroying farmland and threatening an already vulnerable region with devastating hunger.
“Even cows are wondering what is happening,” said Ndunda Makanga, who spent hours Friday trying to chase the locusts from his farm. “Corn, sorghum, cowpeas, they have eaten everything.”
When rains arrive in March and bring new vegetation across much of the region, the numbers of the fast-breeding locusts could grow 500 times before drier weather in June curbs their spread, the United Nations says.
“We must act immediately,” said David Phiri of the U.N. Food and Agricultural Organization, as donors huddled in Kenya’s capital, Nairobi, a three-hour drive away.
About $70 million is needed to step up aerial pesticide spraying, the only effective way to combat them, the U.N. says. That won’t be easy, especially in Somalia, where parts of the country are in the grip of the al-Qaida-linked al-Shabab extremist group.
The rose-colored locusts turn whole trees pink, clinging to branches like quivering ornaments before taking off in hungry, rustling clouds.
Astonished by the finger-length insects, children dash here and there, waving blankets or plucking at branches to shake the locusts free. One woman, Kanini Ndunda, batted at them with a shovel.
Even a small swarm of the insects can consume enough food for 35,000 people in a single day, said Jens Laerke of the U.N. humanitarian office in Geneva.
Farmers are afraid to let their cattle out for grazing, and their crops of millet, sorghum and maize are vulnerable, but there is little they can do.
About 70,000 hectares (172,973 acres) of land in Kenya are already infested.
“This one, ai! This is huge,” said Kipkoech Tale, a migratory pest control specialist with the agriculture ministry. “I’m talking about over 20 swarms that we have sprayed. We still have more. And more are coming.”
A single swarm can contain up to 150 million locusts per square kilometer of farmland, an area the size of almost 250 football fields, regional authorities say.
One especially large swarm in northeastern Kenya measured 60 kilometers long by 40 kilometers wide (37 miles long by 25 miles wide).
Kenya needs more spraying equipment to supplement the four planes now flying, Tale said. Ethiopia also has four.
They also need a steady supply of pesticides, said Francis Kitoo, deputy director of agriculture in southeastern Kenya’s Kitui county.
“The locals are really scared because they can consume everything,” Kitoo said. “I’ve never seen such a big number.”
The locusts eat the fodder for animals, a crucial source of livelihood for families who now worry how they will pay for expenses like school fees, he said.
His own concern about the locusts?
“They will lay eggs and start another generation,” he said.
A changing climate has contributed to “exceptional” breeding conditions, said Nairobi-based climate scientist Abubakr Salih Babiker.
Migrating with the wind, the locusts can cover up to 150 kilometers (93 miles) in a single day. They look like tiny aircraft lazily crisscrossing the sky.
They are now heading toward Uganda and fragile South Sudan, where almost half the country faces hunger as it emerges from civil war. Uganda has not had such an outbreak since the 1960s and is already on alert.
The locusts also are moving steadily toward Ethiopia’s Rift Valley, the breadbasket for Africa’s second-most populous country, the U.N. says.
“The situation is very bad but farmers are fighting it in the traditional way,” said Buni Orissa, a resident of Ethiopia’s Sidama region. “The locusts love cabbage and beans. This may threaten the shaky food security in the region.”
Even before this outbreak, nearly 20 million people faced high levels of food insecurity across the East African region long challenged by periodic droughts and floods.
As exasperated farmers look for more help in fighting one of history’s most persistent pests, the FAO’s Locust Watch offers little consolation.
“Although giant nets, flamethrowers, lasers and huge vacuums have been proposed in the past, these are not in use for locust control,” the U.N. agency says. “People and birds often eat locusts but usually not enough to significantly reduce population levels over large areas.”
Still, it offered recipes. One suggested seasoning in Uganda is chopped onion and curry powder. Then fry.
Anna reported from Johannesburg. Frank Jordans in Berlin and Elias Meseret in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, contributed.
I’ll let all of my readers know if the situation in East Africa changes. What worries me most is the prospect of horrendous famine later this year there.
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Here is some more weather and climate news from Monday:
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The Climate Guy