CLIMATE ADAPTATION

I want to punch climate change in the face. A blog about the interactions between the built environment, people, and nature.


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In 2005, I swam in the Southern Ocean, just off Antarctica. It was cold — very cold — when I swam over a graveyard of whale bones near an old whaling factory. As far as I could see, there were bleached white bones piled up on the seafloor. Man hunted whales almost to the point of extinction, not seeming to care that we could lose one of the wonders of the sea forever. It is the coldness of the water that preserves the bones and makes it look as if they were left there yesterday, but I like to think they are there as a reminder of man’s potential for folly.

Fortunately, in 1986 most countries ceased commercial whaling, and some whale populations have made a spectacular recovery. Whales like the Southern right were brought back from the brink of extinction. Their numbers are now increasing 7 percent year after year. If we can do it with one species, surely we can do it for entire ecosystems. We just need to give them the space to recover.

Marine protected areas, which are like national parks for the seas, are the best way to make that happen. In the Red Sea, I saw no coral and no fish. It looked like an underwater desert. But then, a little more than a mile later, I swam into a protected area, where fishing had been restricted. It was a sea as it was meant to be: rich and colorful and teeming with abundant life.

We need far more of these protected areas. They allow the habitat to recover from overfishing and pollution, which helps fish stocks recover. When we create them, we protect the coral, which protects the shoreline and provides shelter for fish. They become places people want to visit for ecotourism. They are good for the world economy, for the health of the oceans, for every person living on this planet.

This year in the Aegean I swam over tires and trash. In a few years, I hope to return, and swim over thriving coral reefs.

Swimming Through Garbage" - Lewis Pugh

nprglobalhealth:

How Do You Catch Ebola: By Air, Sweat Or Water?

There’s no question Ebola is one of the most terrifying diseases out there. It causes a painful death, typically kills more than 50 percent of those infected and essentially has no cure.

But if you compare how contagious the Ebola virus is to, say SARS or the measles, Ebola just doesn’t stack up. In fact, the virus is harder to catch than the common cold.

That’s because there has been no evidence that Ebola spreads between people through the air. Health experts repeatedly emphasize that human-to-human transmission requires direct contact with infected bodily fluids, including blood, vomit and feces.

And to infect, those fluids have to reach a break in the skin or the mucous membranes found around your eyes, mouth and nose.

But that hasn’t stopped two-thirds of Americans from thinking that the virus spreads “easily,” a poll from Harvard School of Public Health found in August. Almost 40 percent of the 1,025 people surveyed said they worry about an Ebola epidemic in the U.S. More than a quarter were concerned about catching the virus themselves.

Many questions still linger. Is Ebola really not airborne? Can it spread through contaminated water? What about through a drop of blood left behind on a table?

So we took those questions to two virologists: Alan Schmaljohn at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, and Jean-Paul Gonzalez at Metabiota, a company that tracks global infectious diseases.

Continue reading.

Photo: A burial team in Barkedu, Liberia, buries their protective clothing alongside the body of an Ebola victim. It’s possible to catch the virus from clothing soiled by infected blood or other bodily fluids. (Tommy Trenchard for NPR)

Good reporting by NPR, clearing up how Ebola is transmitted (answer: with great difficulty).

The entire city of Florence, Italy is the same size as this highway interchange in Atlanta, Georgia. Via

Weird story. Millions of starfish disintegrating and vanishing due to unknown disease.

Parts of Australia hit 50˚C/122˚F. Seems to be the new normal.

Basically, climate researchers are more and more incorporating disease and virus projections into climate change models. This helps to predict - and therefor preempt - future health crises.

The overall objective of QWECI was to combine state-of-the-art climate models, weather-dependent infection-control data for key African diseases, and local knowledge about population behaviour, disease, vectors and transmission patterns. The outputs could thus generate maps of infection risk appropriate to the decision-making of health professionals on the ground and the policy-making of governments in susceptible countries.

Via Phys.org

The overall objective of QWECI was to combine state-of-the-art climate models, weather-dependent infection-control data for key African diseases, and local knowledge about population behaviour, disease, vectors and transmission patterns. The outputs could thus generate maps of infection risk appropriate to the decision-making of health professionals on the ground and the policy-making of governments in susceptible countries.

Read more at: http://phys.org/news/2013-11-climate-change-related-disease-africa.html#jCp

longform:

The fight to vaccinate children in the border regions between Pakistan and Afghanistan as part of an attempt to eradicate polio worldwide.

Excellent read. Full of vibrant photographs and interviews. This photo in particular: Children and mom in full burka. They are in a metal cart.

I was wondering, what regions and what environmental issues are you the most concerned about?
climateadaptation climateadaptation Said:

Hey liberalwithguts!

Thanks a lot for following me all this time. Well, at a cerebral level, I worry that China is getting a free pass. The argument in favor of China’s growth while getting away with horrible environmental harms is basically that the country first has to grow and stabilize. This is hard to argue against. Once incomes and education and health indicators are at a certain level, so says the Chinese government, only then will they remediate their environmental destructions. (Go here for a list of China’s Environmental Issues). Only consumer-based economies have proven track records following this rapid growth/aggressive resource extraction and then stabilization/clean up model.

Most western countries followed this approach, too - rapid economic growth paired with extreme resource extraction, then efficiencies through technology, and then clean up. I’d argue that major countries, the UN, and the World Bank encourage this model.

Severe though China’s problems with water, soil and air are, they are not different in kind from those of other nations in the past. As Pan Jiahua of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS) puts it, “We’re following the US, Japan and UK and because of inertia we don’t have the capacity to stop quickly.” Via

But I think China is different than the West. It’s compressing what Europe and the U.S. did in 400 years down to 25. China’s ravaging ecosystems at such great speeds and big scales that there’s no built-in recovery time.

During that 400 year growth period, New England, for example, was deforested four times. How four times? Because the forests had time to bounce back and recover. I’m not saying America is righteous. I’m saying that China seems to be ignoring the capabilities of ecosystems to recover at such rapid paces and large scales - it cannot deforest four times in 25 years.

In August, the Economist explored how China’s rapid growth comes at the expense of tremendous environmental pollution. Check it out if you can.

In real life I worry about sea level rise along coasts in western countries. Yes, poor countries will be hit hard. Distasteful as it sounds, coastal communities in poor countries can be moved (sometimes by force) much more easily than, say, Manhattan or Miami. And the world needs the economies of western countries in order to recover. If the west suffers, so will the rest of the world with respect to environmental recovery and disaster response efforts.

You can read about displaced people, called Climate Refugees, here.

Cheers!

Michael

This huge algal bloom in Lake Erie (that’s Detroit up there) broke out during government shutdown was not being tracked. The federal shutdown closed NOAA monitoring of unexpected health hazard. Read more at Sandusky Register

Every single day, 452 women in sub-Saharan Africa die from pregnancy-related causes; that’s 18 women every hour.