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Updated May 30, 2024, 9:04am EDT
South America
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Semafor Signals

Floods batter Brazil as world confronts extreme weather

Insights from Al Jazeera, the Financial Times, Reuters, and The Guardian

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Farmer Joao Engelmann, 54, carries food and medication he took from his house during floods in southern Brazil
Amanda Perobelli/Reuters
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The News

More than half a million people have been forced to flee their homes due to flooding in southern Brazil, in what officials have described as “the worst disaster” in the area’s history.

The floods, which have killed at least 160 people, are the latest example of an extreme weather event that scientists say will increase with climate change.

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Semafor Signals: Global insights on today's biggest stories.

Disinformation is warping perception of the catastrophe

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Source:  
Al Jazeera

The floods have been a breeding ground for a “coordinated, industrial-strength disinformation campaign designed to delegitimize the government,” Brian Mier, an editor at Brasilwire, told Al Jazeera. ​​”In many cases, it’s actually sabotaging some of the relief efforts.” Some articles have falsely claimed that Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva has been blocking aid from reaching the region, while social media posts have attempted to discredit the government’s $10 billion pledge to help affected areas. Other sources have spread doubt about the volume of the rainfall: This may have stopped people from donating or volunteering to help, media professor Rogerio Christofoletti told the outlet.

Extreme weather events are a feature of the climate crisis

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Sources:  
The Guardian, World Resources Institute, FloodList

The nature of the intense rainfall in southern Brazil is “typical of the climate crisis,” Anderson Ruhoff, a professor specializing in hydrology, told The Guardian. The rains were “very intense with a large volume of water concentrated in a short period.” Brazil has to adjust to the “new reality” of these extreme events, wrote Cristiane Fontes of the World Resources Institute, as regions across the world have been similarly impacted. Some of the most recent deadly flash floods — when the rain falls so fast the ground can’t absorb the water properly — have hit Afghanistan, Oman, and Indonesia, according to flood tracker FloodList.

Worsening weather impact will affect Brazil for years

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Sources:  
Financial Times, Reuters

Worsening weather conditions in Brazil have been affecting people in different ways. In the flood-hit southern state of Rio Grande do Sul, livestock has been decimated, soy crops disrupted, and local populations are facing food and water shortages. Elsewhere in the country, heat, lack of rain, and disease have hurt the vital orange industry: The decline in orange production will likely increase costs for consumers, industry experts told the Financial Times.

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