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Mitigating Climate Change in Bangladesh
According to the 2015 Climate Change Vulnerability Index, Bangladesh’s economy suffers the most from climate change compared to any other country in the world. Such impact greatly depresses Bangladesh’s annual GDP, as the nation diverts most of its financial resources toward the management of climate change impacts.

Risky Location

Geographically, Bangladesh is a low-lying country that is predominantly comprised of flatlands. The economy is very dependent on the success of agricultural advances and yields, yet this facet is challenged by climate change. In 2012, the National Committee for International Cooperation and Sustainable Development (NCDO) lists the different natural disasters and impacts from global warming and climate change in Bangladesh, which includes: floods, tropical cyclones, salinity intrusion and fluctuations between extreme temperatures and drought.

All of these have resulted in decreased crop production and arable land for agricultural practice.

The nation’s government is working hard to address climate change in Bangladesh and further efforts of mitigation. Bangladesh has invested more than $10 billion dollars into its mission, and these funds go toward coastal resilience projects, increasing the number of government agencies that respond to emergencies and building coastal shelters.

Rising Sea Levels

Rising sea levels is one of the biggest concerns faced by the community. An article in the Scientific American discusses that the melting of glaciers in the Himalayas due to rising temperature has been a significant contributor to the rising water levels the country faces. For example, Sandwip Island has “lost 90 percent of its original 23-square-miles,” author Robert Glennon reports.

The projects that the government has developed are beneficial as current fixes to the issue of climate change. Any family that is affected by rising water levels or a cyclone are able to take refuge in one of the shelters the government has built.  The coastal embankment projects have worked create more durable islands. They accomplish this by laying sandbags on the coastline as well as building trees to help barricade the islands and absorb some of the water increases.

Long-Term Mitigation Efforts

For more long-term mitigation techniques, the Bangladesh government is addressing the need for more energy-efficient initiatives in rural areas that are most affected. For example, the World Bank supports initiatives such as building 320 solar irrigation pumps for farmers, offering training on electrical-alternative livelihoods for the poorer households in the community and the installation of energy-grids to help power rural businesses.

While the impacts of climate change in Bangladesh are felt the most out of almost any other country in the world, Bangladesh emits one of the lowest percentages of gas into the atmosphere. This means that as a nation, it is contributing very little to the climate change that so affects it as opposed to developed countries that emit levels in the double digits. Luckily, the community in Bangladesh is well-equipped with a resourceful and intelligent government that delivers climate resilience while also accomplishing societal development.

– Caysi Simpson
Photo: Flickr

current global issues

Among all the good in the world, and all the progress being made in global issues, there is still much more to be done. Given the overwhelming disasters that nations, including the U.S., have been or still are going through, it is important to be aware of the most pressing global issues.

Top 10 Current Global Issues

  1. Climate Change
    The global temperatures are rising, and are estimated to increase from 2.6 degrees Celsius to 4.8 degrees Celsius by 2100. This would cause more severe weather, crises with food and resources and the spread of diseases. The reduction of greenhouse emissions and the spreading of education on the importance of going green can help make a big difference. Lobbying governments and discussing policies to reduce carbon emissions and encouraging reforestation is an effective way of making progress with climate change.
  2. Pollution
    Pollution is one of the most difficult global issues to combat, as the umbrella term refers to ocean litter, pesticides and fertilizers, air, light and noise pollution. Clean water is essential for humans and animals, but more than one billion people don’t have access to clean water due to pollution from toxic substances, sewage or industrial waste. It is of the utmost importance that people all over the world begin working to minimize the various types of pollution, in order to better the health of the planet and all those living on it.
  3. Violence
    Violence can be found in the social, cultural and economic aspects of the world. Whether it is conflict that has broken out in a city, hatred targeted at a certain group of people or sexual harassment occurring on the street, violence is a preventable problem that has been an issue for longer than necessary. With continued work on behalf of the governments of all nations, as well as the individual citizens, the issue can be addressed and reduced.
  4. Security and Well Being
    The U.N. is a perfect example of preventing the lack of security and well being that is a serious global issue. Through its efforts with regional organizations and representatives that are skilled in security, the U.N. is working toward increasing the well being of people throughout the world.
  5. Lack of Education
    More than 72 million children throughout the globe that are of the age to be in primary education are not enrolled in school. This can be attributed to inequality and marginalization as well as poverty. Fortunately, there are many organizations that work directly with the issue of education in providing the proper tools and resources to aid schools.
  6. Unemployment
    Without the necessary education and skills for employment, many people, particularly 15- to 24-year olds, struggle to find jobs and create a proper living for themselves and their families. This leads to a lack of necessary resources, such as enough food, clothing, transportation and proper living conditions. Fortunately, there are organizations throughout the world teaching people in need the skills for jobs and interviewing, helping to lift people from the vicious cycle of poverty.
  7. Government Corruption
    Corruption is a major cause of poverty considering how it affects the poor the most, eroding political and economic development, democracy and more. Corruption can be detrimental to the safety and well being of citizens living within the corrupted vicinity, and can cause an increase in violence and physical threats without as much regulation in the government.
  8. Malnourishment & Hunger
    Currently there are 795 million people who do not have enough to eat. Long-term success to ending world hunger starts with ending poverty. With fighting poverty through proper training for employment, education and the teaching of cooking and gardening skills, people who are suffering will be more likely to get jobs, earn enough money to buy food and even learn how to make their own food to save money.
  9. Substance Abuse
    The United Nations reports that, by the beginning of the 21st century, an estimated 185 million people over the age of 15 were consuming drugs globally. The drugs most commonly used are marijuana, cocaine, alcohol, amphetamine stimulants, opiates and volatile solvents. Different classes of people, both poor and rich, partake in substance abuse, and it is a persistent issue throughout the world. Petitions and projects are in progress to end the global issue of substance abuse.
  10. Terrorism
    Terrorism is an issue throughout the world that causes fear and insecurity, violence and death. Across the globe, terrorists attack innocent people, often without warning. This makes civilians feel defenseless in their everyday lives. Making national security a higher priority is key in combating terrorism, as well as promoting justice in wrongdoings to illustrate the enforcement of the law and the serious punishments for terror crimes.

With so many current global issues that require immediate attention, it is easy to get discouraged. However, the amount of progress that organizations have made in combating these problems is admirable, and the world will continue to improve in the years to come. By staying active in current events, and standing up for the health and safety of all humans, everyone is able to make a difference in changing the fate of our world.

– Chloe Turner

Photo: Flickr

 

 

5 Ways Climate Unequally Affects Vulnerable PopulationsMore than three billion people live in poverty today and depend on natural resources for survival. Gradual changes in average climate conditions severely impact impoverished nations; however, unforeseeable variabilities in climate are of particular concern. Climate unequally affects vulnerable populations and lessens their capacity for adaptation to particular climate factors. Their lack of technological and financial resources, as well as their dependence on agricultural resources, hinder their ability to withstand some climate factors that impact developed countries at a lesser scale. While all societies have to adapt to the multifaceted challenges posed by climate, poor countries are at a particular disadvantage, notably with respect to the following five climate factors:

1. Natural Disasters
Natural disasters stimulate poverty and prevent the alleviation of existing poverty. Poor nations are more exposed to natural disasters and are at a higher risk of losing a majority of their assets and income. It is much more difficult for impoverished nations to recover from a disaster and they typically receive much less support. Depending on the fragile infrastructure, agricultural resources, and ecosystem incomes increase a nation’s vulnerability to natural disasters.

2. Warming
Even a slight rise in temperature at a global level negatively affects water quality and hygiene, which increases a nation’s risk for various diseases including malaria, encephalitis, Lyme disease and diarrhea. Rising temperatures creates a climate that is more susceptible to vector-borne diseases, which increase the diseases’ effects, further the diseases’ reach and stimulate the diseases’ prevalence.

3. Drought
Lack of access to water deeply affects developing countries. It becomes more difficult to sustain the agricultural sector and a cycle of devastation often hits. Less water reduces crop yields, increases food prices and decreases wages. Drought also affects agriculture indirectly, through climate-dependent stressors such as pests and epidemics.

4. Rain
Although rain and access to water are necessary for successful agriculture, too much rain and flooding can completely wipe out a season’s crop yield. Poorer nations often lack the ability to predict an expected rainfall, which can turn into overwatering or drowning of crops. Any loss in crop yield affects more than just economic instability as it almost always leads to an even greater risk of undernutrition.

5. Air pollution
Food production in developing nations is directly affected by the high emissions of pollutants. While the impact varies from crop to crop and region to region, the overarching negative impacts are irrefutable. High emissions decline crop yields in and of itself, but increased pollutants also interact with fertilization and greenhouse gases. Air pollution also negatively affects health; 800,000 out of the annual two million child deaths are from respiratory infections, which are caused by indoor air pollution.

All of the above climate factors are deeply embedded with the successes and failures of impoverished people. Climate unequally affects vulnerable populations in many ways; however, the encouraging news is that economic development, poverty reduction, better infrastructure and increased access to healthcare have the potential to compensate for the effects of climate.

Jamie Enright

Photo: Flickr


Typically, when people deny climate change, they tend to assert the idea that climate change could not possibly affect them, or anyone, by the foreseeable future. Recent studies show how global warming affects the poor, and the studies predict an impact on the world’s poor as early as 13 years from now.

It has been known for some time that climate change will disproportionately affect the poor. First of all, most of the world’s poor live in tropical regions while wealthier people live in temperate regions, such as the Indonesian Islands compared to the United Kingdom.

The world’s poorest countries also have the most to lose from global warming and the least leeway for resolutions for these predicted losses. Most of the world’s poorest countries have citizens who depend heavily on agriculture – be it self-sustaining agriculture or agriculture for profit.

As recurring floods, heatwaves, higher-intensity storms, and droughts occur because of the increase in overall temperature, countries that depend on agriculture will suffer the most.

Consequently, deniers tend to think these problems will occur in a future era – if they occur at all. Unbeknownst to them, these problems may occur as soon as the year 2030, according to the World Bank.

A warming world will send an additional 100 million people into extreme poverty ($1.90 per day budget or less), of which nearly half will reside in India. Food prices in Sub-Saharan Africa will spike by 12 percent. One in every 25 people, in the poorest (tropical) regions of the world, will be in extreme poverty by 2030. That is an alarming amount of tragedy in 13 years.

Now that we know how global warming affects the poor, we must act.

James Hardison

Photo: Flickr

What are Climate Refugees and How Can They be Protected?
At the end of 2015, there were 65.3 million refugees worldwide. The global community is struggling to provide resources for the world’s displaced peoples, and the situation has caused both economic and security issues. Many people are ignorant to the fact that there is another group of people who are extremely vulnerable to losing their homes.

Climate refugees, or environmental migrants, are forced to leave their homes because of climatically induced environmental changes or disasters. Specifically, people may be displaced because of drought, a rise in sea level, ecological changes, desertification or extreme weather patterns. Protecting climate change refugees grows increasingly relevant as the number of displaced peoples across the globe continues to skyrocket.

Since 2008, an average of 27 million people have been classified annually as climate refugees and in 2009, the Environmental Justice Foundation declared that nearly 10 percent of the world’s population were at risk in terms of losing their homes to climate change related issues.

As climate change continues to spread and develop, more and more people fall victim to environmental migration. The existence of environmental migrants proves that climate change is not solely about the environment and that its effects reach into many aspects of society, including politics, health and economics. Protecting climate refugees is important, as sources have suggested there could be as many as 50 to 200 million by the year 2050, most of these people being subsistence farmers and fishermen.

Just this year, the U.S. resettled its first climate refugees. The population is from the Isle de Jean Charles in southeastern Louisiana and they had to leave their homes due to severe flooding. In order to resettle its residents, the U.S. government has put forth a $48 million grant and has realized the harsh reality of this problem.

According to the International Organization for Migration, “Climate refugees often fall through the cracks of asylum law.” Currently, it is very difficult for an environmental migrant to achieve refugee status. The term “climate refugee” is not officially recognized by international law and according to the International Bar Association, “there are no frameworks, no conventions, no protocols and no specific guidelines that can provide protection and assistance for people crossing international borders because of climate change.”

The World Bank estimates that with a 1-meter rise in sea level, Bangladesh would lose close to 20 percent of its land mass. Currently, almost 200,000 Bangladeshi’s lose their homes annually due to river erosion and rising sea levels. The islands of Kiribati, Nauru and Tuvalu are already facing significant migration patterns due to the rising sea.

The lack of international protocol regarding climate refugees, such as the ones from Bangladesh and the small islands in the Central Pacific, means that there is also a lack of resources and pathways that can lead these people to a successful resettlement. Because of this, migration experts have been stressing for several years that at risk countries should first look into improving living conditions for vulnerable populations.

This includes helping them secure a consistent access to food and water, rebuilding infrastructure and establishing efficient emergency warning systems. As countries become more aware of their ecological situations, there is more pressure to provide resources for potential climate refugees.

In order to protect climate refugees, there needs to be a change in the international law that defines a “refugee.” The number of people affected in a negative way climatically grows by the day.

Besides advocating for universal policies regarding climate refugees, there are things that can be done to slow climate change and its negative effects. Supporting clean energy and anti-carbon emission related legislation can make a difference in improving the lives of communities who are vulnerable to environmental migration.

Peyton Jacobsen

Photo: Flickr

global_warming
In developed nations, vast annual quantities of greenhouse gas emissions are causing global authorities on climate change to be seriously concerned. The World Resources Institute reported in 2014 that the biggest offenders are China, the U.S. and the E.U.

However, the people who will be most adversely affected by the impacts of climate change will not be developed nations. The real damage will lie between global warming and the world’s poor.

In March 2014, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change was held to discuss the growing number of concerns surrounding global warming.

Riding on the coattails of the December United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change’s 20th annual Conference of the Parties, the report was the result of one of the most thorough data collecting and analyzing efforts in climate research history.

The report drew a tragic connection between global warming and the world’s poor, asserting that the most vulnerable, least prepared, most exposed and impoverished communities will be hit the hardest.

A particularly dangerous side effect of global warming will be the destabilization of growing cycles, disrupting and reducing crop yields. This decrease in crop yields drives up the price of food, putting more people in danger of malnourishment.

Another concerning connection between global warming and the world’s poor is that underdeveloped regions are less resilient to weather-related disasters, whether it be drought or hurricane. This lack of weather resistance in a community makes it more vulnerable to an increase in poverty.

The report also found that as resources become tighter the risk of conflict rises. Historically, as food shortages occur, food riots and clashes between farmers and herders over land use, as well as unrest about where and how water should be used, skyrocket.

However, Chris Field, a co-chair of the 2014 U.N. report, said adapting to more sustainable and climate-friendly practices can lessen the blow of climate change.

“Climate-change adaptation is not an exotic agenda that has never been tried. Governments, firms, and communities around the world are building experience with adaptation,” Field said. “This experience forms a starting point for bolder, more ambitious adaptations that will be important as climate and society continue to change.”

Dr. Vicente Barros, who chaired the report, added, “Investments in better preparation can pay dividends both for the present and for the future.”

Jordan Connell

Sources: UN, World Bank, WRI, The Guardian
Photo: Flickr

 

What Global Warming Means for Food Scarcity
The number of devastating effects that global warming has on the Earth is already staggering. According to a new report, “increased food scarcity” is going to make that list a little longer.

The report, commissioned by the British government and carried out by the U.K.-U.S. Taskforce on Extreme Weather and Global Food System Resilience, warns of the effects that global climate change will have on the world’s food supply.

“The chance of having a weather-related food shock is increasing, and the size of that shock is also increasing,” said Tim Benton, a population ecology professor at Leeds University. “As these events become more frequent, the imperative for doing something about it becomes even greater.”

The report analyzed the world’s most prominent “commodity crops,” those being maize, soy, wheat and rice, and how extreme weather conditions would impact their availability. Since the majority of those crops come from a small number of countries (the U.S., China and India, primarily), extreme weather could greatly impact their production.

Perhaps the most startling statistic featured in the report is that by 2040, the severity of crop failures once estimated to only occur once a century, will start happening every three decades.

“Action is urgently needed to understand risks better, to improve the resilience of the global food system to weather-related shocks and to mitigate their impact on people,” Benton continued. “Governments and businesses need to prepare people for not being able to eat certain crops or products anymore.”

Alexander Jones

Sources: Business Insider, BBC, Science Magazine
Photo: The Telegraph

clean the worldThe following are five technologies that provide significant contributions to clean the world:

1. Algae

For some, this may not be seen as a technology per se, but algae is actually classified as a biofuel. Making algae involves growing acres upon acres of crops, but they can help clean our planet in a very important way. They can be used to fuel vehicles such as cars and planes. James Murray of the BusinessGreen website says, “those eco-warriors in the US Air Force have already successfully trialed biofuels containing algae, and wider test flights are imminent.”

2. Nuclear Energy

When Albert Einstein reviewed the technology involved with these carbon chains, they were first intended to be used as weaponry. Therefore, he refused to be involved in the Manhattan Project that led to the production of the atomic bomb. However, this same technology has the potential to clean the environment via depletion of greenhouse gas emissions. According to David Doody, writer for GreenBiz, “Nuclear reactor design company Transatomic Power’s Waste-Annihilating Molten Salt Reactor and Bill Gates-backed traveling wave reactors are designed to use byproducts of conventional nuclear power production as fuel.” So, rather than use carbon chains as a weapon or create more greenhouse gases, we would use nuclear energy as fuel.

3. Solar Glass

Normally, the first thing people think about when broaching the subject of eco-efficient technology, they might think of wind farms and solar technology. Solar is, at the moment, the most promising renewable energy source. James Murray of BusinessGreen describes solar glass as lightweight and flexible, and the solar cells can be integrated into clothes and even to car park canopies. Eventually, solar cells could be integrated into almost anything.

4. Chemicals

Awareness is continuously being spread about the downsides of using chemicals to clean water. That being said, it’s also possible to clean water with chemicals. There are is a demonstration plant being built in Pennsylvania that aims to clean the water used in the fracking process. This way, oil is still attainable and the water used to attain it can be cleaned. William Kohl, the head of business development for Advanced Water Recovery, say,s “this firm can desalinate water for 70 percent less than current technologies. Cost is generally the biggest factor, keeping more drought-prone regions from building these plants.” That being said, he’s also planning to move in on projects to make drinking water from seawater.

5. Commercialized Carbon

Nuclear technologies that are carbon-based have already been discussed, but what about pure carbon? It can be put underground, but newer companies can harness carbon with their technology and create products, like baking soda or chairs, that people use in their everyday lives. “Once captured through these companies’ technologies, carbon can be used in industrial or commercial production, to produce low-carbon fuels or for other applications.” Yet another solution that can combat climate change and global warming.

Anna Brailow

Sources: Buzzfeed, Greenbiz, CNN
Photo: LibreShot

global_warming
A new study published in The Lancet claims that climate change and global warming could erode as much as 50 years of global health advances. The study confirms what many health and climate change experts have been predicting for years but had unfortunately, for the most part, not been taken seriously.

As we have seen in recent months with intense heat waves in India and Pakistan, dramatic changes in climate have disastrous effects on public health. The heat waves bring storms, droughts and floods, which in turn brings about changes in water quality, pollution, land use and ecological differences. These changes translate to large swings in the social dynamics of a country. As the demographics rapidly change, so do health status, socioeconomic status and infrastructure. As a nations health is undermined, social capital declines, as do social and political institutions decline so drastically that years of work in development can be eroded. As the institutions that bind us are broken down, the opportunities for conflict rise, and opportunities for meaningful economic contribution decrease. The biggest calls for concern are the long-term effects that these problems cause that primarily stem from the heat waves, epidemics, storms, sea level rise and large-scale migration. Climate is often seen as an “X Factor” in globalization and development models because it is so unpredictable. Climate change makes the “X Factor” even more volatile but even more important in global leaders consideration and negotiation of major international moves.

Global warming has both direct and indirect effects on global health. Immediately, intense heat waves cause a significant amount of preventable deaths annually. Also, the types of natural disasters that we can expect to see in coming years are predicted to be even more chaotic and destructive. As these storms wipe out communities across the globe and force others to migrate elsewhere, demographic and population shifts will effect the general health and wellbeing of generations to come. These storms also contribute to the prevalence of mental illness, malnutrition, allergies, cardiovascular diseases, infectious diseases, injuries and respiratory diseases.

The most vulnerable countries are the countries that need to focus on immediate development rather than sustaining current development levels. Developed or industrialized countries have the means to make changes now to alleviate future complications by climate change. Developing countries often do not have the flexibility to up-haul current industrial practices or to enact nationwide preparedness protocols for natural disasters on the large scale that it is expected.

With climate change, much of the damage has been done, and immediate action is essential to maintaining the health of the world, let alone improving it. But on the bright side, nearly all of the ways that we can mitigate the risks that climate change creates also contribute to better individual and public health. Investing in reversing climate change is an investment in the environment, in the economy and in health.

– Emma Dowd

Sources: The Economist, PRI, Time, US News, Washington Post
Photo: India Water Portal

Price_on_carbon
Over the past few years, the debate around climate change has shifted dramatically. The global community has accepted that not only is global warming happening, but that human beings are the ones causing it. This realization has led to a surge in advocacy for pollution-reduction programs, perhaps the most striking of which is the growing push for an international cap-and-trade program on carbon dioxide. Among these new advocates for climate responsibility are historically recalcitrant countries like South Africa and China. In total, 73 countries and 11 states and provinces – a list responsible for 54 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions – have shown support for an international price on carbon.

The general effects of global warming are, at this point, well known. Over the next decades, the world will experience a higher average temperature, melting polar ice, rising sea levels and more extreme cycles of droughts and floods. Every country in the world will be affected, and the countries around the equator are likely to be hardest-hit economically as well as environmentally. The countries surrounding the equator are, for the most part, economically fragile and rely more on agriculture than on industry. Drastic changes in local climates could decimate the crops these countries rely on and thus destroy their economies.

Most predictions by climate scientists posit that if the current levels of greenhouse gas emissions hold steady, these predicted changes will happen quickly and irreversibly. Most experts now agree that the only way to avert total environmental disaster is to dramatically curb the pollutants being emitted and to do it fast.

The most promising method of curbing emissions is called cap-and-trade. Under a cap-and-trade system, a limit is set on the pollutant in question by a governing body. This cap can be gradually tightened over time, giving emitters a predictable time frame in which to reduce their emissions. The limit-setter, whether it be a state government, a country’s congress or the U.N. itself, then issues a finite number of permits to the companies who emit the pollutants. The companies can bid on the permits, trading for them in an open market.

Under a cap-and-trade system, a limited number of permits will enforce the determined optimal level of emissions. Companies participating in the permit market have a chance of making some extra money by selling permits they do not need.

The countries in favor of the system say they are looking for a predictable and enforceable emission reduction policy. They hope to capture the success of the emissions markets already active in places like the European Union and California. The permit auctions for pollutants like Sulphur dioxide and carbon dioxide have proven especially lucrative for the California state government, which hopes to use its windfall for other environmentally-friendly initiatives like subsidized bus fare or to clean up urban rivers.

Hopefully, this new global concern for the environment is more than a passing fad. As many environmental economists have been saying for years, a well-designed cap-and-trade program could be the key to environmental protection without economic sacrifice.

– Marina Middleton

Sources: World Bank, EDF, Biz Journals, Sac Bee, Center for Global Development, IETA, Union of Concerned Scientists
Photo: Globe-Net