Climate change induced drought is forcing Brazil to scale back its iconic Carnival celebrations. The worst drought in over 80 years is killing crops and depriving millions of Brazilians of drinking water. The current drought began in 2005, and with no end in site it is being called a megadrought. This type of chronic water shortage has been shown to have played a pivotal role in the demise of at least 5 civilizations.
The densely populated southeastern portion of Brazil is the worst hit area of the country.
The drought is so bad that more than a dozen cities and towns in the state of Minas Gerais have called off or scaled back their Carnival celebrations. Ouro Preto is a city in the state of Minas Gerais, has been forced to rotate outages to ensure ample water for the 70,000 tourists who descend on Ouro Preto for Carnival.
Water levels are alarmingly low in Brazil’s largest city, São Paulo prompting one city official to call for the cancellation of Carnival.
In the state of São Paulo, there are days when there is no water coming out of their taps. The president of Brazil’s Water Regulatory Agency, Vicente Andreu, warns that São Paulo residents should prepare for a “collapse like we’ve never seen before.”
For the first time in its history, the city of Oliveira has canceled all 2015 Carnival festivities due to very low water supplies.
According to a 2013 study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of sciences this series of droughts in Brazil may be a sign that the rainforest is showing the first signs of large-scale degradation due to climate change.
“Our results suggest that if droughts continue at five- to 10-year intervals or increase in frequency due to climate change, large areas of the Amazon forest are likely to be exposed to persistent effects of droughts and corresponding slow forest recovery,” said NASA scientist Sassan Saatchi, lead researcher of the study.
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