Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Brazil's Cities Cancel Carnival Because of Drought


Brazil's samba filled streets during Carnival usually attract millions of visitors. (photo: Reuters)

Brazil's Cities Cancel Carnival Because of Drought

By teleSUR
09 February 15

Brazil's worsening drought has been linked to both climate change and deforestation which have limited rainfall, say experts.

Several cities in the southeast of Brazil have called off Carnival this year due to a serious drought that has plagued the region for months and shows no signs of abating.
Brazil is famous for its Carnival, a week-long street festival where people party day and night, bringing Samba music and elaborate colorful costumes to the street, to mark the beginning to Lent. This year's Good Friday, which marks the beginning of Carnival, lands on Friday, Feb. 13.

However, at least 15 cities and towns in the southeastern states of Minas Gerais and San Paolo have already called off all or parts of their Carnival festivities because of the region's water crisis. Both states have been suffering from drought for more than a year, with the water situation worsening. This has been the regions' worst drought in at least eight years.

In December, authorities warned that the city of San Paolo in San Paolo State – Brazil's largest and most populous city – had already tapped into its emergency water reserves and had merely two to three months left of guaranteed water supply.

Though Carnival is still set to go ahead in San Paolo, many city counselors have called for its cancellation. However, other cities in the state have chosen to air on the side of caution.

“We have canceled the street Carnival to stop tourists coming to the city, so the city is quieter during Carnival. We don’t have good conditions to have a big celebration and one of the reasons is the water crisis,” said Marcelo Daniel, the Secretary of Culture in the town of Araras, San Paolo.

Larger areas such as Oliveira, Minas Gerais also canceled their Carnival celebrations, which usually attracts about 20,000 tourists.

“Never in the history of our city has something like this happened,” said Antônio Penido, chief of staff and president of Oliveira’s Carnival Commission. “With broken hearts, we made the decision.”

Brazil's worsening drought has been linked to both climate change and deforestation in the Amazon. According to Antonio Nobre, a leading climate scientist at Brazil's National Space Research Institute (INPE), these two issues combined are drastically reducing the release of billion of liters of water into the atmosphere by rainforest trees, reducing rainfall in the south.

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