Mladen Dinic, Business, Penn State University
The country of Qatar has very dry land with insufficient natural freshwater. Actual groundwater resources are very limited and are being used heavily by insufficient agricultural methods as well as the population growth. Already a desert, Qatar has seen some significant increase in average temperature since the preindustrial times. On average, the country experienced a 2 degree Celsius increase. Climate change impact on Qatar is significant to the point that it is facing serious threat to economic growth as well as stability as the freshwater shortage could impact many lives as well as the political stability of the country.
On top of being one of the most water-stressed countries, an increase in population, industry, and agriculture are putting more pressure on the already short water supply. If we consider low rainfall and high evaporation rates, it is very likely that Qatar will continue to depend on innovation and technology to support its social and economic system. An overall average rainfall per year is only 50 to 80 mm each year – compare that to the US at 800 mm per year. These concerns increased the need for Qatar to move to a new technology called desalination of seawater. This innovative thinking can be considered as a great temporary solution. Unfortunately, the plants that are producing the water are fueled by fossil fuel, which causes major climate change concerns and is simply not sustainable in the long run.
If we break down the water consumption, 50% of it is from the desalination process while the other 50% comes from groundwater and recycled water. Furthermore, Qatar is working on creative and additional solutions to its water problem. One of the most important ones will be to have efficient agricultural practices by replacing flood irrigation with drip irrigation systems. Another solution will be to have cost efficient solar plants that will desalinate water in a much more cost effective way. This water will provide water for agriculture which will fuel the population growth. In addition, infrastructure development will help with treating and delivering recycled water. This will lead to a strategic water storage that will have anywhere from five to seven days’ worth of portable water based on the consumption needs.
Shomar, B. (2013, August 31). Water Resources, Water Quality and Human Health in Regions of Extreme Stress: Middle East. Journal of Earth Science and Climate Change, 4 (153). Doi: 10.4172/2157-7617.1000153. https://www.omicsonline.org/water-resources-water-quality-and-human-health-in-regions-of-extreme-stress-middle-east-2157-7617.1000153.php?aid=18816
Mooney, C. & Muyskens, J. (2019, October 16). Facing unbearable heat, Qatar has begun to air-condition the outdoors. The Washington Post. https://www.washingtonpost.com/graphics/2019/world/climate-environment/climate-change-qatar-air-conditioning-outdoors/
Mohamed, A., Sayeed, M., Mohamed, D., Ashraf, H., & Sami G., A.-G. A review of Qatar’s water resources, consumption and virtual water trade. Desalination And Water Treatment, 90. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/321496414_A_review_of_Qatar’s_water_resources_consumption_and_virtual_water_trade
Ismail, H. (2015, July 23). Food and Water Security in Qatar: Part 2 – Water Resources. Future Directions International. https://www.futuredirections.org.au/publication/food-and-water-security-in-qatar-part-2-water-resources/
George Paul Mendy, Penn State University, World Campus
The hydrological cycle, also known as the water cycle, is the source and the end of water resources essential for human survival. The cycle’s survival depends on the balance between evaporation of water in the atmosphere, clouds forming, and precipitation of water back into various water reservoirs such as rivers, lakes, and the ground. When one takes into account that less than 1% of the water on earth can be used by the entire human population, coupled with the reality of a growing human population, one begins to have a more somber appreciation for the magnitude and seriousness of the water issue brought about by climate change. One of the most impacted regions by this imbalance in the water cycle is Africa. My focus will be Mount Kilimanjaro and the many people that depend on its water generating ecosystems.
Three trends are playing out in Mount Kilimanjaro that we see happening all over the planet due to climate change. Increasingly hot and dry conditions, depletion of glaciers, and the loss of trees. All three trends have a direct impact on water resources in this region (Cisneros et al., 2014). Because of the heightened hot and dry conditions, the mountain has experienced higher amounts of wildfires, which have destroyed many of its forests and trees. Forest vegetation is an essential part of the hydrological cycle because they capture and trap the moisture from the air and transport it to the ground and to surface water sources. Kilimanjaro’s forests and trees supply water to much of East-Africa’s waters such as the Pangani, Tanzania’s largest river. However, with the loss of the forests, the water supply is drastically depleting, leaving many rivers dry and people without water for drinking, crop growth, or manufacturing. Furthermore, about 80% of the mountain’s iconic glaciers have been lost since the 1990s. This creates a significant positive feedback loop in which less albedo is present, leading to increased warming of the atmosphere and the subsequent effects. Effects such as increased drought and reduced precipitation, which are already being felt by the regions surrounding the mountain. Therefore, one of the ways proposed by the international community to mitigate these threats to the water supply in this region is to reforest the mountain (Reforesting Kilimanjaro..., 2016).
Cisneros, B.E & Oki, T et al. (2014). Freshwater Resources. Contribution of Working Group II to the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. K. F Drinkwater & A. Polonsky. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, United Kingdom and New York, NY, USA, 411-484.
Reforesting Kilimanjaro could ease East Africa’s Severe Water Shortages. (2016, October). UN News. https://news.un.org/en/story/2016/10/543152-reforesting-kilimanjaro-could-ease-east-africas-severe-water-shortages-un
Stephanie Reyes, Chemistry, Eberly College of Science
Kochkhali is a small village in Bangladesh. Its major threat is saltwater intrusion. In the village, climate change, sedimentation, and low water flow cause salt intrusion. The people in the village are at risk of a cyclone or earthquake anytime that causes ocean water to mix with freshwater ponds. Saltwater intrusion causes agricultural and overall food security problems (Rabbani et al., 2018). Bangladesh has many coastal areas that are vulnerable to sea level rise but another problem with climate change is stronger cyclones and storms that would cause more damage (Rabbani et al., 2018; Chakraborty et al., 2019). Saltwater has been linked to many problems like cardiovascular diseases, diarrhea, and abdominal pain. There are also reports that high salt intake causes problems with infant mortality, cholera outbreaks, skin, and diarrheal diseases (Chakraborty et al., 2019). The main people affected are women. They are the family members traditionally in charge of collecting water, which can take almost a third of their day (Bagri, 2016). In summer if water is scarce it is up to them to find water by walking even farther or spending their savings buying water. Women also face harassment and can’t work or even go to the doctor (Chakraborty et al., 2019). They are left to deal with their sickness alone. The government is trying to help people stay in their homes instead of relocating. They want to implement new farming techniques like growing crops that can grow in salty water, or develop salt-resistant rice. The government is providing deeper tube wells, building higher walls, helping with collecting rainwater, and building drainage systems to remove salt water from ponds (Bagri, 2016). But according to a study by the World Bank, climate change is likely to further increase river and groundwater salinity dramatically by 2050 and exacerbate shortages of drinking water and irrigation in the southwest coastal areas of Bangladesh (Choudhury et al., 2014; Bagri, 2017). So while government plans are sufficient for now, there is no concrete plan for the future.
Bagri, N. T. (2016, December 29). Left behind in a water crisis: Surviving Salty Waters. The Groundtruth Project. https://thegroundtruthproject.org/left-behind-in-a-water-crisis/
Bagri, N. T. (2017, April 25). Bangladesh’s water crisis: A story of gender. Al Jazeera. https://www.aljazeera.com/features/2017/4/25/bangladeshs-water-crisis-a-story-of-gender
Chakraborty, R., Khan, K. M., Dibaba, D. T., Khan, M. A., Ahmed, A., & Islam, M. Z. (2019). Health Implications of Drinking Water Salinity in Coastal Areas of Bangladesh. International journal of environmental research and public health, 16(19), 3746. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph16193746
Choudhury, S., Dasgupta, S., Kamal, F. A., Khan, Z. H., & Nishat, A. (2014). River salinity and climate change: evidence from coastal Bangladesh (English). Washington, D.C. : World Bank Group. http://documents.worldbank.org/curated/en/522091468209055387/River-salinity-and-climate-change-evidence-from-coastal-Bangladesh
Rabbani, G., Munira, S., & Saif, S. (2018, November 5). Coastal Community Adaptation to Climate Change-Induced Salinity Intrusion in Bangladesh. Agricultural Economics – Current Issues. IntechOpen. DOI:10.5772/intechopen.80418
Abigail Stolinas, Planetary Science & Astronomy, Eberly College of Science
Groundwater is the biggest source of freshwater for both consumption and irrigating crops, and it is being affected by climate change through reduced recharge and sea level rise. Reduced recharge causes a drop in the water table, affecting plants and crops and leading to drought. Sea levels are rising, allowing more sea water to enter the water table in low lying areas, leading to less fresh water. A lot of attention is being paid to the Mitano Basin in Uganda, which has a growing population, but insufficient water management. Temperatures have been rising in Africa over the years, which causes groundwater to lessen. This region is vulnerable because of climate change and the potential for droughts, fires, and high temperatures. In terms of environmental change, water evaporates more in the higher temperatures and causes disruption with how the water behaves in the water cycle. It is likely going to get worse because temperatures are going to keep rising and droughts will become more frequent. Communities will be impacted because the population is growing along with industry, particularly in urban areas, and more water is required to sustain it all. There are several solutions to this situation to help mitigate the effects of climate change on groundwater. Over-pumping causes more water to be pumped from the aquifers, which makes the water table lose water. There is not enough time to replenish in between pumping. Another solution is to find alternative sources of water so the groundwater of aquifers can keep up with the replenishing process. Water management needs to do a better job keeping up with the demand for water by digging new wells and boreholes to meet rural needs.
Jiménez Cisneros, B.E., T. Oki, N.W. Arnell, G. Benito, J.G. Cogley, P. Döll, T. Jiang, & S.S. Mwakalila, (2014). Freshwater resources. Climate Change 2014: Impacts, Adaptation, and Vulnerability. Part A: Global and Sectoral Aspects. Contribution of Working Group II to the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change [Field, C.B., V.R. Barros, D.J. Dokken, K.J. Mach, M.D. Mastrandrea, T.E. Bilir, M. Chatterjee, K.L. Ebi, Y.O. Estrada, R.C. Genova, B. Girma, E.S. Kissel, A.N. Levy, S. MacCracken, P.R. Mastrandrea, and L.L.White (eds.)]. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, United Kingdom and New York, NY, USA, pp. 229-269.
Nsubuga, F., Namutebi, E. & Nsubuga-Ssenfuma, M. (2014). Water Resources of Uganda: An Assessment and Review. Journal of Water Resource and Protection, 6, 1297-1315. doi:10.4236/jwarp.2014.614120.
Brooklyn Thomas, Business Management, Penn State University
Mexico City, Mexico is facing extreme water scarcity. The city is located in a valley with little to no surface water resources, so it uses an underground aquifer. The city has over 20 million occupants, and is unable to pump out enough water from the aquifers to supply all of the community with safe freshwater. As a major city, much of the ground is paved with concrete, leading to flooding and pollution in the aquifer and less water is able to establish itself underground and into the aquifer safely.
The most vulnerable communities without safe water are those in the outskirts of the city, located in the surrounding mountainous regions. With the main water supply located in the city, it is much more difficult for the poverty-stricken citizens to receive any access to safe and consumable water.
Climate change has also led to an increase in flooding in the area. With temperatures rising, Mexico City has devoted time and money to drainage systems that do not applicably restore and make water reusable, making more water waste than water resources. The city also accounts for 9% of Mexico’s CO2 emissions. With the climate warming, and a failing aquifer, and city’s communities are sinking lower, roughly 15 inches a year in hard-hit areas. If climate change continues on the path it’s on, we can see the city continue to sink, and without action, we will see the city’s safe water access continue to diminish.
Mexico City’s mayor Claudia Sheinbaum has taken measures to help combat this crisis. She has devoted more money to the city’s water department in order to attempt to fix the aquifers. The government has announced a rainwater catchment program that will harvest the rainwater and recycle it into drinking water for the communities suffering the most. The largest solution would be to fix the deteriorating aquifer, however, that may take up to 50 years to fully finish.
Kahn, C. (2018, September 14). Mexico City Keeps Sinking As Its Water Supply Wastes Away. NPR. www.npr.org/2018/09/14/647601623/mexico-city-keeps-sinking-as-its-water-supply-wastes-away.
Mehta, S. & Menon, P. (2019, December 10). Mexico City: A City That Is Flooding, But Is Still Running Out Of Water. Water Center: University of Pennsylvania. https://watercenter.sas.upenn.edu/mexico-city-a-city-that-is-flooding-but-is-still-running-out-of-water/.
Famine refers to the extreme scarcity or general shortage of food in a geographical area. It is a situation in which there is not enough food for large numbers of people, causing illnesses and loss of lives. Borno is a city in Borno state in the north-eastern part of Nigeria; its capital is called Maiduguri. Borno state, unlike its slogan “Home of Peace,” has experienced extreme scarcity and widespread food shortage with over 5.8 million people faced with lack of food and nutrition deficit. In 2017, the United Nation warned that Nigeria, like its counterparts such as Somalia, South Sudan, and Yemen, would be facing famine.
For many years, Borno has remained underdeveloped, poverty stricken, and heavily dominated by agricultural industries and subsistence farmers. From 2013, the activities of the terrorist group called Boko-Haram worsened the problem of underdevelopment and poverty, especially when it comes to getting food. Since the beginning of the activities of the Islamist group Boko Haram in 2009, Borno has been their base; and this has left many families unable to farm or get produce.
More than 1.8 million people were forced to leave their communities in Borno city, moving to host communities causing rapid increase in such host communities. In the north-eastern part of Nigeria, being a very hot region, in areas with low water purity and scarcity, mothers were forced to feed untreated water to infants and kids, which causes malnutrition and illnesses; since humanitarian workers could not enter the city due to the insecurity, children keep suffering from lack of good health conditions and care. People are being kidnapped and education is becoming a thing of the past for the kids in most of the communities. More than 271 healthcare and hospitals have also been destroyed by the terrorist group.
The only solution was the government equipping the military with the necessary resources in order to stop the operation of the Boko Haram group. Most of the farmlands then became battlefields. There was some liberation from the dominating Boko Haram group and humanitarian groups were able to access some communities in Borno. The government also worked towards making farmlands safe for farming so that farmers can gradually go back to their farming businesses.
Akinwotu, E. (2017, February 22). Famine Threatens Lives Of Nearly Half A Million Nigerian Children, Says UNICEF. The Guardian. https://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2017/feb/22/famine-threatens-lives-of-nearly-half-a-million-nigerian-children-says-unicef
Lindsey Anderson, Landscape Architecture, Penn State College of Arts and Architecture
A looming rise in population has been a global issue for decades. The increased possibilities and inventions in the medical field have made some deadly diseases manageable, curable, and even obsolete after years of research and development of treatments and vaccines. While fascinating and amazing for those whose lives were saved by this process, a bigger threat than these ailments has risen. With less people dying of polio and malaria, more people are living longer, and more child births are successful, all of which increases the population. With a population as large as the one we have today (and one that is only getting larger from here) there comes a lack of resources. Food, water, building materials, and space are all becoming less and less accessible in areas with a high population. If the trends we are following increase in the direction they are headed now, we will begin to run out of the previously stated resources, and before long, we will be left scrambling for survival. India is a country that is already beginning to feel the stress on those resources, especially in the city in India with the 8th highest population in the country, predicted to soon have the highest population in the world: Surat. Surat has a population of over 7 million. This population has risen by 3 million in the past ten years and 6 million since the 90’s. Their exponentially increasing population is most likely caused by the recent urbanization that is striking around the globe as it is a hub for the diamond, textile, and shopping industry, and is considered an economic center for South Gujarat. While Surat itself is not struggling for resources, the small areas left in the dust by the young people moving to wealthy areas are. The only way to fix areas like Surat with such an unbalanced and large population would be increased access to birth control and increased opportunities in rural areas. While the use of birth control in India has risen from 13% to 48% between the 70’s and 2009, the population increase has obviously not slowed down. If birth control was more available and destigmatized, more women would feel comfortable using birth control to only have as many children as they personally want. In addition, the availability of quality jobs in rural areas would spread the population out from cities like Surat back to the countryside. Which would both even out demand and bring jobs back to those small struggling cities.
Family planning in India. (2021). In Wikipedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Family_planning_in_India
Surat. (2021). In Wikipedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Surat
Surat Population 2021. (n.d.). World Population Review. https://worldpopulationreview.com/world-cities/surat-population
Lucas A. Barnak
The current threats towards fisheries, just like numerous other industries, are directly related to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The number of rules and regulations such as the amount of people allowed on board the boat have significantly hindered the volume of fish that the businesses have been able to bring in. Now, this may give our environment a break from overfishing, but it could also be financially crippling the cities that depend on these fisheries.
The community of Trinity in Newfoundland, Canada is especially vulnerable to the threat of COVID-19 in its extremely small population of 169, as of 2016. The Canadian government, like many others, often overlooks small communities in times of need. As relief packages relating to the pandemic are being put in place, small fisheries in towns like the one stated are not receiving an adequate amount of financial support to be able to continue to fish in a safe and environmentally conscious manner while also supplying fresh, nutritious meals to numerous families.
The projected impacts of this lack of funding, and in turn lack of fresh produce, can be detrimental to the communities that these fisheries serve. Not only will the men and women going out to sea to harvest these fish be possibly out of work, but this small town will also no longer have fresh seafood at their markets. This will turn shoppers away from shopping locally, forcing them to take their business to other towns and cities. This chain reaction potentially takes more money out of the city than it would have cost the government to keep these fisheries up and running, inadvertently destroying the city’s fresh produce market and creating economic issues for the families that it affects.
The simple solution to this threat would be for the government to step in and provide the financial relief that these fisheries are requesting. They, of course, need a wide array of safety equipment to protect themselves from each other in the case that a fellow fisherman contracts the virus. They will also need some sort of stimulus to keep them on their feet during this economic depression, effectively avoiding any negative effects that could occur if the businesses were to shut down.
Covid-19 and small-scale fisheries. (2020, April 13). Too Big to Ignore. http://toobigtoignore.net/covid-19-and-small-scale-fisheries-2/
Eyng, V., Brito, B., Monefa, M., & Leis, M. (2019). Right here, right now: Are Canadian small-scale fisheries getting the support they need? OFI Governance. https://www.ofigovernance.net/support-canadian-fisheries
Trinity, Newfoundland and Labrador. (2021). In Wikipedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trinity,_Newfoundland_and_Labrador
Lucas A. Barnak
For many years now, Flint Michigan has been notorious for its very poor water quality, but it does seem like the city has made strides to rectify the issue, deeming most areas as acceptable to drink. However, this event has terrified many citizens and they still refuse to drink the water. This threat was brought to light in 2014 when it was determined that Flint’s water supply was contaminated with both mass amounts of lead and Legionella bacteria.
Flint is vulnerable to this ongoing threat, as it directly impacts their everyday lives. A city’s drinking water is used for much more than just drinking. Citizens use it to water their crops, which in turn can severely harm or kill them, creating a chain effect. This could ruin all local gardens and farm harvests, in turn depleting the sources of fresh, local produce for the community. Furthermore, patrons also feed this water to their pets, which again can harm or kill them. This can be detrimental to the health of all living things that depend on tap water to survive.
The forecasted impacts of this poor water quality have been proven. With the level of lead in tap water increasing to above 15 ppt, it was forecasted that adults are at a higher risk of numerous health ailments such as kidney disease, heart disease, cancer, higher blood pressure, infertility, and kidney failure. These ailments do not only affect those consuming the water, but also generations to come. Any diseases developed will possibly be passed on to citizens’ kids, developing a lineage of poor health and ailments. This will in turn reduce the projected average life span of citizens in Flint affected by the poor quality of their water. In essence, we will just have to wait and see what the long term effects of this disaster will be.
There are a multitude of solutions that can be put in place to help solve the Flint, Michigan water crisis. First of all, replacing the lead and plastic pipes that facilitate the water throughout the city would, in time, mitigate the situation and eventually get rid of all lead once it filters through enough. This is currently being carried out by the city. Furthermore, citizens can take the problem into their own hands by installing filtering systems onto all tap faucets in their homes. This is the quickest and most cost effective way to solve the problem in a short term manner. Finally, the worst possible scenario would be for flint to move entirely to bottled water from companies for the time being, as this would cause other environmental issues due to the amount of plastic bottle waste.
FLINT WATER CRISIS. (n.d.). Flint water Crisis. http://www.sfu.ca/~delicial/Final/Main/intro.html
Ruckart, P. Z., Ettinger, A. S., Hanna-Attisha, M., Jones, N., Davis, S. I., & Breysse, P. N. (2019). The Flint Water Crisis: A Coordinated Public Health Emergency Response and Recovery Initiative. Journal of Public Health Management and Practice, 25(Suppl 1 LEAD POISONING PREVENTION), S84-S90. 10.1097/PHH.0000000000000871.
Winchester, H. (2020, April 24). 6 years later: Where things stand in the Flint water crisis. Click On Detroit. https://www.clickondetroit.com/consumer/help-me-hank/2020/04/24/6-years-later-where-things-stand-in-the-flint-water-crisis/
Alyssa Butters, Class Standing, Biobehavioral Health, College of Health and Human Development
The topic and community that I have chosen is famine in Turkana, Kenya. Turkana is in northwest Kenya, and the people that live there are known as the Turkana people. In Africa, they are currently facing the highest famine crisis that they have experienced since 1945 (World Relief, 2020). Turkana faces unique challenges that make it particularly susceptible to famine, and those will be explored below.
There are multiple reasons why Turkana is vulnerable to famine. For one, it has been in a drought for many years. This lack of rain makes it nearly impossible to grow food to sustain this area in Turkana, as well as its extremely arid climate and harsh soil conditions for growing plants (The New Humanitarian, 2019). Because of these factors, a lot of people have to rely on growing livestock as nutrition in this region. Unfortunately, in 2017, over half a million livestock died due to the living conditions in this area, leaving a lot of families without the sustenance that they needed (The New Humanitarian, 2019). So now this region is not only affected by not being able to grow crops, but also is not able to sustain their livestock.
The World Relief organization reported that the Kenyan government believes that within the next month, there will be 4 million people that will need food in Kenya. In Turkana alone, child malnutrition is at 30%, and it is expected to continue to rise. The World Relief organization has set up a distribution of food supplies through churches, pastors, and community leaders in order to help combat this crisis (World Relief, 2020). In addition to this, Kenya’s Red Cross Society has helped 4,000 households in Turkana with providing them with food and water (Gulleid, 2019). Basically, the main solution here is to help transport food and water to people in this area since they are unable to grow their own sustenance.
Gulleid, M. (2019, March 19). Nearly one million drought-hit Kenyans at risk of starvation. TRT World.
The New Humanitarian. (2019, September 19). Inside Kenya’s TURKANA REGION: CATTLE, climate change, and oil.kenyas-turkana-region cattle-climate-change-and-oil.
World Relief. (2020). Turkana.
Luke Cantrel, Mechanical Engineering, College of Engineering
Castine is a small coastal town in Maine that has recently been experiencing problems with its access to fresh drinking water. Due to decreasing levels of precipitation, increased strain has been placed on surface water supply and aquifers near the coast. This strain is forcing the town to balance the need for increased water pumping with the risk of dangerous saltwater incursion into its aquifers. This battle has led to local governments issuing both non-mandatory water conservation guidelines at the best of times, and mandatory restrictions on the use of water for non-essential purposes at the worst of times (Schreiber, 2016).
Castine must be particularly careful with its freshwater management because of its coastal location. Its proximity to the coast creates two major challenges for the town’s water supply. The first of which is the size of the aquifers. At coastal locations, aquifers tend to be smaller with less soil over the bedrock, leading to a smaller storage capacity (Schreiber, 2016). These smaller aquifers subsequently empty faster during periods of little rainfall. The second, and arguably larger issue, is the threat of saltwater incursion. Because the town is surrounded by a body of saltwater, any over pumping to try and meet water needs can cause saltwater to seep into the aquifer and contaminate the water.
If a solution is not found for Castine’s freshwater supply, the town will face two major consequences. The first of which is contaminated drinking water from saltwater incursion. Saltwater can take years to flush from the system, and in this time, will undoubtedly create major health problems for the residents of the town, primarily kidney failure. (Schreiber, 2016). The other major outcome is the increased financial burden of having to import water from external sources. Castine has trucked in water in the past, during the 2015 water shortage, and it was a major expense to the town.
Currently, the municipalities of Castine are working on various ways to combat their water shortage. Possible solutions include drilling for groundwater and purification of normally non potable water. With regards to the former, Castine has been working on diversifying their water sources and drilling for groundwater so that they are less vulnerable to dwindling surface water during drought. Castine and other local towns have received aid from the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund in order to assist with this task. (Schreiber, 2016). With regards to purification, the two major methods include the desalination of saltwater, as well as the unique implementation of a horizontal well that captures runoff and subsequently filters and treats it (Schreiber, 2016). With these actions taken, Castine will hopefully be able to have a reliable source of fresh drinking water, without fear of drought or saltwater contamination.
Schreiber, L. (2016, August 23). Saltwater Towns Worry about Freshwater Supplies. Island Institute. www.islandinstitute.org/working-waterfront/saltwater-towns-worry-about-freshwater-supplies/.
Nicolette Cusate, Agricultural and Extension Education, Penn State Behrend
Yumingzui, China is a small fishing village with a population of approximately 562 people. Most of its families have been there for generations, fishing the Yellow Sea for a profitable harvest. The most sought-after fish include herring, flounder, and yellow croaker. The generational roots in Yumingzui run deep, with many of the residents’ descendants dating back many, many years. But the livelihood of Yumingzui residents is continuously being threatened by global warming, overfishing, and pollution. With the resident population and fishing harvest on the decline, Yumingzui may not exist much longer.
As mentioned, Yumingzui is facing many issues such as global warming, overfishing, and pollution. These issues make the village vulnerable to depletion of fisheries because they rely on fishing to maintain their way of life. Everything in the village revolves around the harvest from the Yellow Sea. However, years of overfishing has depleted the supply of profitable fish. It takes longer now to make a profit than years before. In addition, the polluted waters make it difficult to navigate boats through the waters and the toxins harm the remaining fish supply, making some catches a waste. Global warming is not doing Yumingzui any favors either, with the temperatures of the surrounding water increasing, which causes the fish to migrate. The outlook for fishing in Yumingzui looks bleak. The local government is little help to Yumingzui, but perhaps interference is best at this point. The local government has plans to terminate the fishing village to make it into a tourist attraction, but that does not mean Yuningzui is helpless in the meantime. The government could strictly enforce the regulations on the number of fish caught yearly, enforce laws to clean up the pollution, and provide the residents with alternative housing. Sadly, these are all just proposed solutions, and the government is pushing them away.
However, the residents of Yumingzui are fighting back. Many of them are desperate to keep fishing, as they are older in age and cannot start over with a new career path. Many fear the future and how they will survive if the Yumingzui fishing industry depletes to nothing. Others are disappointed how little the government thinks of them and do not want to lose what their ancestors worked so hard to create. The future of Yumingzui may fall on the backs of the residents fighting for the industry and village that they cannot afford to lose. But for now, the forecasted impacts on the community are harsh but simple: Yumingzui will not exist much longer if the government does not step in soon, and sadly, the odds do not seem to be in their favor.
Hernandez, J. C. (2016, September 23). On the Verge of Extinction, a Chinese Fishing Village Resists. The New York Times. https://www.nytimes.com/2016/09/24/world/asia/on-the-verge-of-extinction-a-chinese fishing-village-resists.html
My 4th capstone submission explored the city of Dos Palos, California and the problem this community faces in terms of water supply.
Over the past years, the city of Dos Palos, California has been subject to water being cut off for its residents, stemming from problems with water quality. Back in 2013, people and businesses had to use bottled water for all of their water for a significant period of time due to issues with the city’s water filtration system. The most recent problem with the water supply came from high levels of algae in the water supply. This caused the water in the city to be shut off for at least 3 days. However, even when the water supply is active, there are harmful chemicals in much of the city’s water supply that leads to residents who can afford to not drink the town’s water opting to consume purified water. The water contains trihalomethanes which have been linked to both liver and kidney cancer. Dos Palos has failed water tests 22 times since 2013.
The problem with water supply in Dos Palos is driven by high levels of algae in the water. This has led to brownish water with a chemical smell and bad taste. A city manager, Darrell Fonesca, stated the reasoning for this was because “as the water supplies that feed the aqueduct get down to the lower levels in the reservoirs. The water that’s been stored longer tends to have more algae in it and requires greater treatment (“Dos Palos Residents…,” 2015).” As California faces a large level of droughts, this exacerbates the problem.
To help solve this issue, the town of Dos Palos will receive $11 million in state funding that will help develop infrastructure to combat the problem. This money will help to create a brand-new water treatment plant as well as make necessary changes to the existing infrastructure. Climate change is also a big driver of the droughts that contribute to the problem, so working as a world community to mitigate the effects of climate change will also help. The problem facing Dos Palos is a great example of the wide effects that climate change has, but most would not think it would be of immediate concern when thinking about the effects of climate change.
Dos Palos Residents Concerned about Tap Water. (2015, November 3). ABC30 Fresno, KFSN TV. abc30.com/do-palos-brown-water-tint/1065237/
Sandrik, S. (n.d.). Dos Palos Receives $11 Million in State Funding to Help with Water Issues. ABC30 Fresno, KFSN TV. https://abc30.com/dos-palos-water-issues-boil-notice-clean-in/6896622/#:~:text=A%20high%20level%20of%20algae,several%20days%20in%20Dos%20Palos.&text=This%20year%2C%20the%20water%20supply,the%20California%20Aqueduct%20clogging%20equipment
Amelia Emahizer, University Park
Parker’s Cove in Newfoundland is being heavily affected by climate change. Parker’s Cove is a small village of 200 people. Although Parker’s Cove itself was only established in 1967, people had established the area as a fishing community since before the 1900’s. As a fishing community, the number of fish coming to the waters is vital to the village’s survival. Without fish, the village cannot gain any money and therefore cannot thrive. Climate change has a massive impact on this. With the ocean waters warming, the fish that originally would live there are migrating to places that better fit their living preferences. Because of the climate of Newfoundland, some fish would come there in the winter for the colder waters and in the summer for the more temperate waters. With climate change, winter is not nearly as cold, meaning the water is no longer preferable to the fish. In the summer, the water isn’t the right temperature for the fish that preferred it previously either. Because of this, many types of fish that previously lived and thrived there have moved to places that accommodate them better. If the water temperatures continue to increase, the water will stop being able to accommodate any of the fish that once thrived there. Already, the village has had to cut down on fishing licenses, preventing many of its residents from fishing for a living. On top of this, warmer waters are allowing more extreme weather, such as hurricanes, to reach Parker’s Cove more often and more dangerously (“Turn Back the Tide,n.d.). This is causing damage that Parker’s Cove is not prepared to deal with, and it is affecting the livelihood of their citizens. Like most climate change, reducing emissions is the main way of preventing this from getting worse. In this case, the province of Newfoundland and Labrador is working to tax carbon emissions (Goudie, 2019). This should help to prevent big companies from emitting more carbon than necessary. If the waters do not warm up much more, some of the fish will remain, and the fishing community will still be able to live there. If that happens, measures can be taken to properly protect the village against the tropical storms, such as installing sea walls.
Goudie, Z. (2019, May 2). What’s the plan? Explaining the N.L. climate change strategy. CBC Canada. https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/newfoundland-labrador/climate-change-explainer-1.5094377
Turn Back the Tide | Impacts of Climate Change. (n.d.). Turn Back The Tide. https://www.turnbackthetide.ca/about-climate-change-and-energy-efficiency/impacts-of-climate change.shtml
C. M. Erikson, Earth Sciences, College of Earth and Mineral Sciences
While Lake Tanganyika becomes a more vital resource to a proliferating number of people, fish yields are declining as large challenges have yet to reach full realization. The city of Bujumbura, situated at the lake shore in Burundi, is one such community troubled by both increased dependency and decreased productivity. A fisherman living there reports that not only have yields been dwindling, but even the size of the fish being caught is experiencing a reduction, such that the formerly sustainable practice is now no longer sufficient to support his family (Kanyange, 2020). Many fishermen in the community face a similar plight, driving up competition to gather a significant catch. However, this may only be adding additional stress to a resource suffering from larger climatic changes.
While the fishing struggles are a result of a large number of factors, including general overfishing, they are partially tied to El Niño cycles as well. This is because El Niño weakens the monsoonal winds that blow over the lake. These winds drive upwelling from the lake bottom, which replenishes nutrients for fish above, but as the winds weaken, they cause less turnover and warmer surface waters, leading to stratified water columns with anoxic zones unsuitable for fish (McGlue et al., 2020). A warming climate, therefore, presents a twofold threat to fish supplies in the lake and to the livelihood of those who depend on it. Stronger El Niño events from climate change will further limit the monsoonal winds ability to disperse nutrients throughout the lake, but even during La Niña, warmer waters resulting from warmer atmospheric temperatures will increase water stratification, still harming fish production.
Because a warming of the climate has already been set in motion, even an immediate reduction of all greenhouse gas emitting activities would leave a period where the problems facing the fisheries in Bujumbura will persist. This requires those dependent on the resources of the lake to adapt and to mitigate the declining fish population. Efforts have been made to do this in restricting certain fishing techniques and utilizing the more productive portions of the cycle, but as temperatures rise, it may be that new ways of supporting the community are necessary (Kanyange, 2020). Adjusting to these challenges will also likely require cooperation beyond just Bujumbura, as Lake Tanganyika is a vital resource for an estimated 2.7 million people (McGlue et al., 2020).
Kanyange, M. (2020, February 11). Dying Out. Development and Cooperation. https://www.dandc.eu/en/article/fish-catches-burundi-dwindle-fishers-face-hard-times
McGlue, M. M., Ivory, S. J., Stone, J. R., Cohen, A. S., Kamulali, T. M., Latimer, J. C., . . . Soreghan, M. J. (2020). Solar irradiance and ENSO affect food security in Lake Tanganyika, a major African inland fishery. Science Advances, 6(41). doi:10.1126/sciadv.abb2191
Maggie Fechtman, Community, Environment, and Development, College of Agricultural Sciences
The El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) is an irregular shift in atmospheric pressure and temperature that occurs every two to seven years, causing the weather patterns to shift around the world (Bralower, n.d.). ENSO has both an El Niño and a La Niña stage, where the temperature increases in the eastern part of the Pacific Ocean (El Niño) or the west (La Niña). For most Peruvian communities, the negative impacts of El Niño are felt deeply when it occurs.
The community of Paita, Peru is located in the Piura Region, on the coast of the Pacific Ocean. The city is known most for their seaport, which used to be used primarily for whaling, but now functions as a port for international trade (Paita, 2021). When the ENSO occurs, Paita, being on the northern coast of Peru, is most vulnerable as they experience almost 10 times more rain. This leads to an increase in flooding and landslides that damages the infrastructure, injures and/or kills people, and hurts the economic productivity of the community (Di Liberto, n.d.).
The increased rain can also be associated with the increase in ocean temperature, which hurts the native species that are accustomed to colder temperatures. The fishing community in Paita specializes in catching cold-water anchovies to be exported as fishmeal, but with the increased temperatures, there has been a large decrease in the species population. This is another point of vulnerability for the community as it caused a large decrease in economic growth in Paita and Peru as a whole (Gaulter, 2015).
With the ENSO having been identified since the late 20th century, there has been a large push from the scientific community to better understand El Niño and its impacts, giving the community of Paita an idea and time to plan mitigation and preparation techniques. It is forecasted that the increasing temperatures and rain that Paita experiences during an El Niño will only worsen as the climate changes globally. The community of Paita is expected to suffer from decreased ideal fishing conditions as the ocean continues to warm, increased natural disasters, and increased food and water insecurity. In order to combat the expected impacts of ENSO, Peru has designed Forecast-Based Financing (FbF) which lends the community of Paita financing when poor weather is forecasted. One resource the FbF offers is improving housing infrastructure by physically improving the homes and developing new ways to further strengthen existing homes (Aguirre et al., 2019). As the community now knows more and more what to expect during an El Niño, they can use the financial cushion Peru has allotted to act before disaster strikes.
Bralower, T. (n.d.). El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO). Canvas. https://psu.instructure.com/courses/2114099/modules/items/31203215
Paita. (2021, January 11). In Wikipedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paita.
Di Liberto, T. (2017, March 10). Heavy summer rains flood Peru. Climate.gov. https://www.climate.gov/news-features/event-tracker/heavy-summer-rains-flood-peru.
Gaulter, S. (2015, July 26). El Nino’s effect on Peru. Gulf Times. https://www.gulf-times.com/story/448730/El-Nino-s-effect-on-Peru.
Aguirre, J., De La Torre Ugarte, D., Bazo, J., Quequezana, P., & Collado, M. (2019, December 23). Evaluation of Early Action Mechanisms in Peru Regarding Preparedness for El Niño. International Journal of Disaster Risk Science. 10. 493–510. https://doi.org/10.1007/s13753-019-00245-x.
Maggie Fechtman, Community, Environment, and Development, College of Agricultural Sciences
The United Nations voted for the town of Dikwa, in the Borno State, to become part of Nigeria in 1961, after belonging to several European countries prior (Dikwa, 2021). Dikwa suffers from a long history of conflict (some of which is caused by the strains climate change creates) which, along with climate change, impacts their food security.
Focusing on the direct impacts of climate change in Dikwa, with the increasing temperatures and decreasing precipitation, there has been increasing droughts. Not only does this put a strain on the little fresh water available, but it hurts the agriculture industry that serves as both a food and economic resource for the local community (Haider, 2019). In Dikwa, 89% of households suffer from food insecurity (Nigeria – Dikwa…, 2017). The loss of crops and livestock has such a huge effect on food security because 40% of Nigeria’s GDP and 60% of the labor force comes from the agriculture industry (Drought Conditions…, n.d.). This causes a larger strain on vulnerable groups like women and children as the men leave to go to the cities in search of jobs and support.
The solutions to the threat would require a focused, productive government to implement mitigation and financial assistance to Dikwa in order to combat climate change. However, with the presence of Boko Haram in Dikwa and continuous conflict, it is difficult for the local government agencies to focus on climate change. Little has been achieved in regard to solutions to climate change. Some solutions to mitigate the impacts of droughts in Dikwa would be rainwater harvesting, better drought forecasting, and acquiring emergency relief materials (Drought Conditions…, n.d.). Though, with the presence of Boko Haram and focus on resolving the conflict, it is forecasted that the droughts will only become more severe and catastrophic and weather events will increase as climate change is not a priority.
Dikwa. (2021). In Wikipedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dikwa.
Haider, H. (2019). Climate change in Nigeria: Impacts and responses. Prevention Web. https://www.preventionweb.net/publications/view/68975#:~:text=Nigeria’s%20climate%20has%20been%20changing,resources%20and%20loss%20of%20biodiversity.
Nigeria – Dikwa: Rapid Food Security Assessment, January 2017. (2017, January 31). United Nations World Food Program. https://www.wfp.org/publications/nigeria-dikwa-rapid-food-security-assessment-january-20
Drought Conditions and Management Strategies in Nigeria. (n.d.). Ais.unwater.org. https://www.ais.unwater.org/ais/pluginfile.php/629/mod_page/content/6/Nigeria_EN.p
Much of the world relies on coffee. For many, caffeination keeps them going throughout their workday. In 2017, over $19 billion worth of coffee was exported. As an agricultural good, coffee is king. What many do not know is the stingy requirements for coffee production. The growth of coffee requires near precise temperatures in order to grow properly. This explains why Colombia, especially the hub community of Armenia, is a center for coffee production.
Armenia is part of a network of coffee production centers that also include Manizales and Pereira. The Quindío Department remains the peak producer of coffee in the country. Climate change is hurting potential coffee production in the country due to increased temperatures. Since 1980, temperatures globally have increased by over 1℃. The impact hurts cities like Armenia, as much of its revenue relies on coffee agriculture. The most used solution for this issue has been to move farms to higher elevations, as leaving plants with higher sun exposure and temperatures will lead to a lower crop output and produce lower quality coffee beans. Overall, the amount of suitable land has steadily decreased over the last 10 years, much in part due to increasing temperatures.
Coffee farmers in Colombia are struggling to understand and adapt to new weather patterns. The region in Colombia known for coffee production is known as the “Zona Cafetera.” The zone is expected to experience even more drastic increases in temperature in the next 1 years. Colombia as a whole could see a 1 to 2 ℃ increase. This has the potential to severely impact the coffee market worldwide, as well as shrink the amount of suitable land worldwide for coffee cultivation.
Despite the grim situation, there are alternative moves that can be taken to combat the fierce process of climate change. Farmers have resorted in many cases to moving their main crop fields to higher elevations. Some have planted trees to accompany the plants and provide them with shade to protect from sun intensity. There also exists varieties and species of coffee that adapt better to climate variations and biological threats like fungi. Unsurprisingly though, many of these solutions are not financially viable options for the Colombian farmers. The solutions do exist, but the fluctuating price of coffee due to climate change and little subsidization has put a dampening effect on coffee production in Colombia
Ellis, S. (2020, August 10). The global coffee crisis is coming. Vox. https://www.vox.com/videos/2020/8/10/21361950/coffee-crisis-climate-colombia
Mikhail Galperin, Business Administration, Penn State World Campus
The “beating heart of Cambodia,” a name given to the Tonle Sap Lake for its tendency to massively swell in size during monsoon seasons, is in trouble. Along the lake, home to many floating villages like Akol, fishermen have been dealing with a declining fish population, with no end in sight. In a country where 40 percent of the children suffer severe malnutrition, villages like Akol serve a critical function: They provide three-fifths of Cambodia’s fish catch, a food that is easily the largest source of animal protein for the country’s malnourished population. In recent years, however, a brewing storm of problems has threatened this critical crop.
In the ten years leading up to 2008, the population of full-time and part-time Tonle Sap Lake fishermen has increased by close to 40 percent. Many of these families escaped difficult lives from further inland but found life on the Tonle Sap to be no easier, with many families earning under $1,000 a year and in debt, on average, by nearly a year’s salary. This led to increased overfishing at a time when deforestation has taken away important shelter for fish, hydroelectric dams are being built along the lake, and dry seasons of ever-increasing temperature and duration pose an ever-increasing threat to the health of the Tonle Sap’s fish ecosystem. Recent data collected by ecologists reflects the impacts of these threats, showing a decrease in the population of the lake’s larger fish such as catfish, stingrays, and Siamese carp. Models based on this data show a bleak picture of severe disruptions to the migration behavior of the fish in the Tonle Sap because of increasing seasons with severe monsoons and rising temperatures, a major departure from the lake’s historically stable climate.
According to some, the solution to this growing dilemma is not stopping the changes, but learning to adapt to them instead. A massive undertaking to build an ecological model that can forecast the lake’s future based on things like climate and the behavior of fishermen and fish aims to provide vital data necessary to prepare for a situation that will only get tougher. For instance, while the populations of larger fish are threatened, research suggests that smaller fish may thrive as a result of less predators, even in the face of increased fishing. Alternative crops, such as rice, may also provide relief for residents of these villages as they are unable to make a living by catching fish alone. The hope is that with proper planning, the “heart of Cambodia” — as well as the many people living on it — can continue to go on.
Berdik, C. (2014, June 9). A Push to Save Cambodia’s Tonle Sap Lake. The New York Times. https://www.nytimes.com/2014/06/10/science/of-fish-monsoons-and-the-future.html.
Althor, G., Mahood, S., Witt, B., Colvin, R. M., & Watson, J. E. (2018). Large-scale environmental degradation results in inequitable impacts to already impoverished communities: A case study from the floating villages of Cambodia. Ambio, 747-759.
Oliviah Gearhart, Global and International Studies, College of Liberal Arts
In order for life on Earth to be sustainable, access to clean water is necessary. Life on Earth relies on it for agriculture, industry, hydration, bathing, and many other reasons. All of these things that require water become much more difficult when the source is unclean. Good water quality plays a huge role in all life on Earth, yet millions of people suffer from poor water quality. Bangladesh is a country that experiences some of the worst water quality conditions in the world. The city of Samta in Bangladesh experiences some of the highest levels of arsenic in their water. This city is particularly vulnerable to water quality because of their agricultural work. The arsenic in the groundwater contaminates the vegetables that are grown in this region. After testing levels of heavy metals in the vegetables from Samta, it was found that the vegetables with the highest levels are snake gourd, ghotkol, taro, green papaya, elephant foot, and bottle ground leaf, all of which are all important to the nutrition of local people. The levels of heavy metals in the vegetables are high enough to become a health hazard in the people of Samta (Alam et al., 2003).
The future implications of this contamination include arsenic poisoning, which results in red, swollen skin, warts or lesions on the skin, abdominal pain, gastrointestinal issues like diarrhea or nausea, and tingling in the fingers and toes. If the Samta community is exposed to arsenic in the long-term, their poisoning may look like darkening skin, a persistent sore throat, and continuous gastrointestinal issues (Arsenic toxicity, 2021). The medical community predicts that the issues corresponding to arsenic poisoning will continue to impact the Samtan community unless changes are made to limit the exposure to arsenic in both drinking water and groundwater. There has been some legislation made to limit arsenic in drinking water and groundwater in Samta, along with the rest of Bangladesh. The National Center for Biotechnology lists 5 different challenges that must be addressed in order to provide solutions to the water quality issue in Samta. These include providing safe water through sustainable safe water methods, monitoring local water quality by local governments, providing care for individuals who suffer from arsenic poisoning and monitoring for complications, monitoring communities like Samta for long-term arsenic exposure symptoms, and promoting and funding research on groundwater contamination from arsenic and management or remediation (Ahmed et al., 2018).
Ahmad, S. A., Khan, M. H., & Haque, M. (2018). Arsenic contamination in groundwater in Bangladesh: implications and challenges for healthcare policy. Risk management and healthcare policy, 11, 251–261.
Alam M.G.M., Snow E.T., Tanaka A. (2003). Arsenic and heavy metal contamination of vegetables grown in Samta village, Bangladesh. Science of The Total Environment, 308;1–3, 83-96.
Arsenic Toxicity. (2021). Winchester Hospital. https://www.winchesterhospital.org/health-library/article?id=120795.
New Bedford, Massachusetts is typically not the first city that comes to mind from Massachusetts. However, this city is home to one of the busiest fisheries on the East Coast. Since New Bedford is located relatively high up on the east coast of the United States, the ocean is colder than in other areas closer to the equator. This makes the oceans near New Bedford the perfect home for the cod, a fish that lives in cold water. Climate change has unfortunately unsettled the booming fishing industry in New Bedford. The warming of the ocean has affected the cod, causing them to move into colder, deeper waters, where fisheries cannot hope to catch the fish. Since the city relies on the income from the fisheries, this is a serious problem. Fisheries are already beginning to see the impacts of the warming waters on cod (the peak of cod fishing was many decades ago), but what the future holds is much worse than the current situation. Cod needs certain ocean temperatures at different points in their life cycle, and the oceans near New Bedford are already at the edge of the upper threshold tolerable for spawning and young cod. While adult cod are still able to survive near New Bedford, it is projected that their current habitats will reach the upper threshold later this century. It is also important to keep in mind that the fisheries are dealing with issues relating to overfishing and pollution that has an effect on marine life.
One of the best ways to quickly lower the ocean temperature is to cut carbon emissions quickly. It is extremely unlikely this will happen, and, even if it did, New Bedford will still see a decline in the amount of cod they are able to catch. Recently, the city has released a plan to reach zero waste by 2050. The comprehensive plan has six broad areas they plan to target in order to reach their goals to stop contributing to climate change. While these goals are certainly great, the city will still see an impact from the lack of cod in the area. However, this plan offers a lot of backup plans and opportunities to make up a decent percentage of the income lost from the cod industry.
NB Resilient. Office of Environmental Stewardship. (n.d.). https://nbresilient.com/home.
New Bedford, MA, USA. Climate Hot Map. (n.d.). Union of Concerned Scientists. www.climatehotmap.org/global-warming-locations/new-bedford-ma-usa.html.
Indonesia, similar to many other countries, has already begun to see the effects of climate change. The country has seen a drastic reduction in the amount of rainfall, and the temperatures are projected to steadily increase throughout the rest of the century. In addition to these changes, more floods and droughts (extreme weather) will occur throughout the country. All of the above mentioned climate changes will affect the agricultural community in Indonesia. The country has a population of over 250 million, with nearly 20 million people unable to meet their dietary requirements, according to the World Food Programme. These statistics highlight the vulnerable communities in the country. Jakarta, the capital of Indonesia, has recently been pouring more money into initiatives to help battle this crisis, but with the future effects of climate change in the city, this may not be enough. Jakarta is located on the island of Java, which, as a whole, has been dealing with water scarcity. While the city itself does not grow the crops, the surrounding rural land does. Jakarta has a population of 11 million, and over 10% of that population is living in poverty. Rice is one of the biggest crops grown in Indonesia, and is a staple in the diet of nearly everyone in poverty there. Climate change may cause the rice growing season (usually marked by bouts of rain) to shorten. The shorter rainy period will cause many more people to go hungry, as those in poverty will have the least access to the limited supply of rice. On top of this, the population is only going to grow, pushing more and more people into food scarcity.
One of the policies Jakarta has focused on has been self-sufficiency, since Indonesia technically does have enough food to feed the population. However, this has only worsened the effects for those in poverty. Since the city wants the people to eat the food grown locally, a tax has been implemented that further affects those in poverty. The tax has also prohibited many poor families from being able to eat a wide array of food, only furthering the food security issues they face. Recently, the government has begun focusing on water management, as they are aware that future lack of water will only further exacerbate the issues those in poverty are facing. Dams are being built to allow greater access to food. While the city is investing money into the food security issue, much more work will need to be done.
Stanford Report (2007, May 9). Climate change a threat to Indonesian agriculture, study says. Stanford News. https://news.stanford.edu/news/2007/may9/indonesiasr-050907.html.
Dreierstad, I. (2018, February 20). How climate change affects food and water security in Indonesia. Future Directions. https://www.futuredirections.org.au/publication/climate-change-affects-food-water-security-indonesia/.
Indonesia. (n.d.). World Food Programme. https://www.wfp.org/countries/indonesia.
Jakarta Food Security Summit 2020: Indonesia’s Effort to Elevate Economic Growth, Food Security, and Farmers’ Welfare. (2020, November 27). Tay Juhana Foundation. https://tayjuhanafoundation.org/news/jakarta-food-security-summit-2020-indonesias-effort-to-elevate-economic-growth-food-security-and-farmers-welfare/ .
Sleet, P. (2018, September 04). Indonesian food and Water Security: Ongoing Inaction could lead to a future crisis. Future Directions International.https://www.futuredirections.org.au/publication/indonesian-food-and-water-security-ongoing-inaction-could-lead-to-a-future-crisis/ .
Walton, K. (2019, September 05). In Java, the water is running out. The Interpreter. https://www.lowyinstitute.org/the-interpreter/in-java-water-is-running-out.
Cassidy Hofbauer, Special Education, College of Education
Although Mogadishu is Somalia’s capital, the citizens there are facing a life-threatening crisis of food insecurity. In the past, Mogadishu, along with most of Somalia, have faced deadly famines losing thousands of citizens, and although the famine has gone away, they are still facing food insecurity from severe drought and war (Giovetti, 2020; “Ten Things You…,” 2016). Many villagers from all around Somalia are fleeing to Mogadishu for assistance during these troubling times, but Mogadishu is facing struggles of their own (Nor, 2019). Mogadishu is especially susceptible to food insecurity because of its population’s high amount of poverty and their inability to grow crops and keep their livestock alive (Nor, 2019). Many Mogadishu people relied on their crops and livestock both as a source of food and as an income, so the drought has made it even harder for these residents to find work and food.
When thinking about the future, many Mogadishu residents are in fear because it is likely for the current drought to become more severe, leading to another famine and therefore causing more deaths including children (Ki-moon, n.d.). The Mogadishu people are becoming powerless to the drought due to their financial difficulties so there have been a number of programs started to assist them in helping their food insecurity problem. A few programs including CARE, Doctors Without Borders, Relief International, and Mercy Corps’ main focus is on helping support poverty stricken communities world-wide, like Mogadishu, by providing funding, food, water, and other essential resources, as well as medical assistance (Somalia Food Insecurity…, n.d.; Lake, n.d.). Many countries, like Kenya, are also providing financial relief and implementing plans that help build stronger water supply sources for the people of Mogadishu and throughout Somalia and other in-need countries (Ngumbi, 2017). Other ways, besides donations, that people around the world can help places like Mogadishu, are by reducing carbon emissions, planting new trees, and spreading the message all around the world to help reduce the likelihood of future droughts and fight climate change overall (Climate Solutions, n.d.). The citizens of Mogadishu and many others around the world are facing food insecurity, and we all can help them through donations and by altering our daily actions and choices.
Climate Solutions. (n.d.). Union of Concerned Scientists. https://www.ucsusa.org/climate/solutions
Giovetti, O. (2020, January 22). Breaking Down the Decade of Drought in Somalia. Concern Worldwide US. https://www.concernusa.org/story/decade-drought-in-somalia/
Ki-moon, B. (n.d.). Famine in Somalia. United Nations: Africa Renewal. https://www.un.org/africarenewal/web-features/famine-somalia
Lake, A. (n.d.). Famine in Somalia: How to Help. The Washington Post. https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/famine-in-somalia-how-to-help/2011/07/20/gIQAP5SQQI_story.html
Ngumbi, E. (2017, February 14). How to tackle repetitive droughts in the Horn of Africa. Aljazeera. https://www.aljazeera.com/opinions/2017/2/14/how-to-tackle-repetitive droughts-in-the-horn-of-africa
Nor, M. (2019, May 28). Severe Drought Puts 2 Million Somalis at Starvation Risk. VOA. https://www.voanews.com/africa/severe-drought-puts-2-million-somalis-starvation-risk
Somalia Food Insecurity Crisis. (n.d.). CARE. https://www.care.org/our-work/disaster response/emergencies/somalia-food-insecurity-crisis/#:~:text=In%20Somalia%2C%204.8%20million%20people,cities%20like%2 0Mogadishu%20and%20Galkayo.
Ten Things You Need to Know About Poverty in Somalia. (2016, August 1). Borgen Magazine. https://www.borgenmagazine.com/10-facts-poverty-in-somalia/
Jasmine J. Johnson
The Bijago people inhabit 21 of the 88 islands of the Bijago Archipelago in Guinea Bissau, with the remaining uninhabited islands serving as sacred and spiritual grounds. The Bijago rely on their biodiversity to sustain themselves. Due to their rich waters, the archipelago and Guinea-Bissau waters are famous amongst countries that have depleted their fisheries due to overfishing and pollution.
One of the activities that provide food security and generate income for the Bijago community is artisanal or small-scale fisheries. Unfortunately, due to climate change, the archipelago is subjected to rising sea levels and temperatures that affect these fisheries’ sustainability. The Bijago people are vulnerable due to their remoteness from mainland Guinea-Bissau which allows fishing companies from China and Spain to make illegal dealings with the mainland Guinea-Bissau government. These deals allow foreign vessels to conduct industrial fishing in the archipelago waters. Similarly, small-scale mainland fishers illegally operate in Bijago waters and offload their catch onto the larger foreign ships. This practice circumvents the need for fishing permits.
The Bijago’s geographic separation to the mainland also allows for half-hearted monitoring and surveillance of the government’s fishing sector. The older Bijago generations do not believe or understand climate change but otherwise, believe it to be nature’s displeasure with the Bijago people. As younger generations move to the mainland, older Bijago people think this exasperates natures’ feelings.
Current and future impacts to the Bijago artisanal sector will likely not be felt as it is too small to contribute to Bissau’s overall economy significantly. Hence, it receives little to no attention from policymakers. Due to these unique cultural and political opposites, the Bijago people believe the fix to “climate change” is for the younger generation to return to the islands to appease nature. Practically, there isn’t much that can be done in matters of policy. In 2004, the European Union developed the Fisheries Partnership Agreements, which establishes and enforces marine protected areas in Guinea-Bissau and Western Africa countries and it continues to be violated to this day.
Intchama, J. F., Belhabib, D., & Jumpe, R. J. T. (2018). Assessing Guinea Bissau’s Legal and Illegal Unreported and Unregulated Fisheries and the Surveillance Efforts to Tackle Them. Frontiers in Marine Science, 5, 79. 10.3389/fmars.2018.00079
Mohammed, E. Y., & Uraguchi, Z. B. (2013). Global Food Security. In Impacts of Climate Change on Fisheries: Implications for Food Security in Sub-Saharan Africa (pp. 113-135). Nova Science Publishers. https://pubs.iied.org/sites/default/files/pdfs/migrate/G03625.pdf
Nuny, Y. (2021, January 11). How to solve climate change, according to the Bijagós of Guinea-Bissau. euronews.green. https://www.euronews.com/green/2021/01/11/how-to-solve-climate-change-according-to-the-bijagos-of-guinea-bissau
Standing, A. (2017, June 6). Criminality in Africa’s Fishing Industry: A Threat to Human Security. Africa Center for Strategic Studies. https://africacenter.org/publication/criminality-africa-fishing-industry-threat-human-security/
Jenna Kaczmarkiewicz, Mechanical Engineering, Penn State University Park
Crops are now being affected by the ever changing climate, the rising temperatures, and changes in precipitation. Diseases, such as the Southern Rust, affect mainly corn and occur throughout the Southeastern US and the Cornbelt. Over the past years, the Southern Rust is becoming much more widespread and severe.
The Southern Rust favors 80-90 degree weather and high humidity, typically found in early to mid-July. The disease depends on wind dispersal of the spores. Once landing on the corn, it looks like small, orange-tan, circular pustules on the leaf’s surface. These spores will rub off on your fingers. Young leaves are more susceptible to the disease.
In 2020, detections of Southern Rust began in one county of Illinois and multiplied incredibly within the last 2 weeks of July. Within those same 2 weeks, Southern Rust was confirmed in 3 counties of Nebraska where they warned disease development should be monitored, as it was found in states around Nebraska in prior weeks. It also made its first appearances in the second week of July 2020 in Tennessee, Arkansas, and other southern states.
Fillmore, Nebraska, was one of the first 3 counties confirmed to have found Southern Rust on their crops. Over the past few years, Southern Rust has been confirmed in early to mid-July in Fillmore. Fillmore is home to only about 5,000 residents, and the county is almost entirely farmland. Nebraska families are dependent on their farms and that they continue to keep up with crop yields.
The median annual household income for Fillmore is about $60,000, however, it is decreasing every year. As conditions in areas fluctuate due to climate change, rising temperatures and changing precipitation may increase Southern Rust and decrease crop yield. Increasing Southern Rust will be devastating to families who are dependent on their farms for income and the others who depend on their crops.
Not only does Southern Rust reduce yields of corn and crops affected, but it also ruptures the leaf’s epidermal tissue, which interferes with the stomata and its regulation of water loss. Severe outbreaks of Southern Rust may make it more difficult for plants to use water efficiently. Infected plants may show symptoms of drought stress. Those infected by Southern Rust may also be predisposed to other infections. The new infection can occur in 7 to 14 days and can lead to an epidemic rapidly. Yield losses up to 45% reported with severe disease.
There is no real solution yet to Southern Rust and information is limited, however it is best to regularly scout corn to detect the disease early. It is important to watch the progression of the disease, weather, crop growth stage, and other factors that affect the growing stage of the disease. If not recognized early, the disease will spread rapidly and cause drastic yield losses. There are disease resistant hybrids that can help slow the spread. Dry, hot conditions can allow the development of rust to be slowed or stopped completely.
Jackson-Ziems, T. & Rees, J. (2020, July 20). Nebraska Corn: Southern Rust Confirmed in Southeastern Counties. AgFax. agfax.com/2020/07/20/nebraska-corn-southern-rust-of-corn-confirmed-in-southeastern-counties/.
Kleczewski, N. (2020, July 30). Illinois Corn: Keep an Eye Out for Southern Rust. AgFax. agfax.com/2020/07/30/illinois-corn-keep-an-eye-out-for-southern-rust/.
Southern Rust. (2017, July). Crop Protection Network. crop-protection-network.s3.amazonaws.com/publications/cpn-2009-southern-rust.pdf.
Thiessen, L. et al. (2018). Corn Rusts: Common and Southern Rust. NC State Extension Publications. content.ces.ncsu.edu/corn-rusts-common-and-southern-rust.
Jenna Kaczmarkiewicz, Mechanical Engineering, Penn State University Park
Uganda, a country in southeast Africa, sits at the top of the list for having the worst supply and management of their water sources. Most sources are open water and swamps, but this water cannot be drunk. Springs and wells are used up, leading to shortages of safe groundwater.
The water supply is unevenly distributed throughout the country; the management in the city area is much greater than that of the rural areas, although most of the population lives outside cities in the rural areas.
Over 21 million of the 44 million that live in Uganda do not have easy access to safe drinking water, if any access at all. In order to find safe drinking water, 32% of these people travel about 30 minutes. 19% rely on unsafe surface water.
Not only is drinking water an issue, but sanitation is as well. 64% of people do not have access to a toilet, and 47% do not have access to handwashing facilities. Improper sanitation then leads to contamination of drinking water through runoff into streams, rivers, etc., reinforcing itself in the already stressed water crisis.
One town particularly was found to be more contaminated than the rest was Ishaka, located in western Uganda as a municipality in the Bushenyi district. Research was done in this area and a few others, taking water samples and comparing the contamination in each.
All of the water samples from each area were contaminated, but Ishaka water sources were more contaminated than the rest. Ishaka residents do not have proper sanitation, and 75% of the samples from Ishaka’s water sources were found to have fecal contamination. The other regions researched had 58.3% bacterial contamination, while Ishaka’s water sources had 66.7% bacterial contamination.
Using and drinking unsafe water is one of Uganda’s leading causes of disease and death. About 4,500 children under 5 die every year from the consumption of unsafe drinking water.
In order to fight this crisis, the government has made a goal for all Ugandan citizens to have access to clean water by 2040. The government has partnered with organizations to implement sustainable water services across Uganda. The organizations are holding water management accountable, especially because of the uneven distribution of clean water throughout Uganda. They have also begun developing investment plans for the costs and plans required to reach safe and sustainable water all throughout Uganda.
Clean Water in Uganda: Where We Work. (2020, February 10). Water For People. www.waterforpeople.org/uganda/.
Ishaka. (2020, December 30). In Wikipedia. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ishaka.
Mbina, S. A., Wilson, G., Eze, E. D., Pius, T., Robinson, S., Afodun, A. M., & Ezekiel, I. (2020). Contaminants of Domestic Rural Spring Water Sources in Bushenyi-Ishaka Municipality, Western Uganda. Journal of Health and Environmental Research, 6(3), 51-60. DOI:10.11648/j.jher.20200603.12.
The Uganda Water Crisis: Facts, Progress, and How to Help. (2020, November 19). Lifewater International. lifewater.org/blog/uganda-water-crisis/.
Uganda’s Water Crisis. (2017, December 5). Drop4Drop. drop4drop.org/ugandas-water-crisis/.
Sarah Kern, Environmental Resource Management, College of Agricultural Sciences
California’s Central Valley, and specifically the community of Fresno, has been facing increased food security issues due to climate change. Many people living in this area are not able to access food to provide them with proper nutrition. Climate change is capable of decreasing food security in Fresno because of its impact on agriculture industry and increasing food prices (Food security…, 2020).
Fresno is a large producer of agriculture. However, many of the workers on the farms in this community are from minority groups. Most of the local farm workers in Fresno are also living with poverty rates above the national average (Food security…, 2020). Many of these farmworkers are unable to afford healthy foods and are usually located in areas known as “food deserts.” There are places where healthy food is inaccessible for people living in the community. In this area, unhealthy food is much more accessible than healthy food. Because of this, access to proper nutrition is more difficult. Some of these farm workers are also undocumented, and therefore cannot receive help from the government that aids people facing food insecurity (Food security…, 2020).
Fresno is currently facing a food insecurity rate of about 15% (Maizlish et al., 2018). This is much higher than other communities in California and other areas all over the U.S. Climate change also has the ability to worsen the food security issues in Fresno due to increased prices of food. These issues will disproportionately affect the families in Fresno already living in poverty.
Fresno is already developing climate change adaptation plans. The issue of food insecurity is already being considered in these plans, with the hope of improving food security by increasing the quality of food available to people in the local area. Efforts are also being put toward educating people living in Fresno on the food security and climate change issues currently affecting their community. Their goal is to incorporate businesses and citizens into fighting against the negative impacts climate change is already having (CDPH, 2017).
CDPH. (2017, February). Climate Change and Health Profile Report Fresno County. https://www.cdph.ca.gov/Programs/OHE/CDPH%20Document%20Library/CHPRs/CHPR019Fresno_County11-18-17.pdf
Maizlish, N., English, D., Chan, J., Dervin, K., & English, P. (2018). Food Insecurity Rate. CDPH. http://www.healthyfresnocountydata.org/indicators/index/view?indicatorId=21 07&localeId=247
Food security in the Central Valley, California. (2020). In Wikipedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Food_security_in_the_Central_Valley%2C_California#:~:text=Food%20security%20in%20the%20Central%20Valley%2C%20California%2C%20United,lack%20of%20healthy%20food%20choices%2C%20or%20income%20barriers.
Fisheries are a place where fish are raised and harvested and their goal is to produce and manage biological, social, and economic relief from renewable aquatic resources. 90% of commercial fish, which includes wild fisheries and fish farms, come from the ocean and the other 10% come from freshwater. Overfishing is an increasing problem because about 500 million people rely on fisheries economically. Because of how many people rely on fisheries and their social and economic importance, they are controlled by fishery management practices.
Ona is a traditional fishing village located in Norway. Fishing villages are usually located near the fishing ground. The island is extremely small with a population of only 25 residents. The main reason that residents live there is because of its proximity to the fishing grounds, which is traditionally the only source of income for the island. The fishery catches anything from herring, angler fish, cod, saithe, salmon, catfish, etc. Quayside, breakwater, or bridges are known places where the fish will bite. The island also includes a fish farm, a lobster park, and a receiving station where the catches are brought by the fishing boat.
The threat of overfishing to the fishery in Ona can be devastating as fishing is such an important aspect of the economy on the island. Overfishing happens when you remove species of fish at an alarming rate and they are unable to replenish. With about 25 residents on the island this could be a huge concern because of their heavy dependence on the fish they stock. The residents could lose significant amounts of money and go hungry as they will not be able to live in that kind of environment. The ecosystem’s condition plays a huge role in whether or not a fishery is able to recover from this issue.
Climate change is another environmental issue that comes along with fisheries. Global evidence suggests rising ocean temperatures are changing marine aquatic ecosystems. This issue has an effect on the distribution of fish and the productivity of freshwater and marine species. Coastal fisheries such as the island of Ona are impacted by climate change with the effect of seal level rise.
There are various types of fish farms that are used with the intense aquaculture method. Cage system is one of the methods. It is when fish cages are placed in rivers, lakes, ponds, etc. to protect the fish until they are harvested. When they reach market size, they are artificially fed and harvested. This method allows for large amounts of fish to be harvested due to its wide range of water types that is allowed. Fish farms are also used as a solution to the issue of overfishing. However, there are also disadvantages to fish farms as they can do significant damage to ecosystems from diseases, invasive species, and pollutants.
Fisheries Management. (2021). In Wikipedia. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fisheries_management
Fishery. (2021). In Wikipedia. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fishery
Fish Farming. (n.d.). Animal Welfare Institute. https://awionline.org/content/fish-farming
Fish Farming. (2021). In Wikipedia. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fish_farming
Ona, Sandøy. (2021). In Wikipedia. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ona,_Sandøy
Sandøy. (n.d.). Go Norway. http://www.gonorway.no/norway/counties/more-and-romsdal/sandoey/763b7532c569859/index.html
In 2014, Flint Michigan was dealt a public health crisis that was caused by contamination of water with lead and Legionella bacteria. Around 100,000 residents were affected. This crisis ultimately was started by a budget crisis that led Flint to change its source of water from Detroit Water and Sewerage Department to the Flint River. The taste, smell, and color of the water was notably different, and the residents were quick to reach out with concern about the water quality. Scientific studies confirmed that Flint’s water had been contaminated. The failure of application of corrosion inhibitors to the water resulted in lead leaking into the water from aging pipes. In the beginning of 2016, Genesee County was under a state of emergency, which is among the city’s most populated areas. Barack Obama, former president of the United States, declared a federal state of emergency shortly after. The Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Emergency Management Agency then got involved with the crisis.
There are long term effects for those who consumed the drinking water, particularly in children. Between 6,000 and 12,000 young children were exposed to lead contamination. These long-term effects include an increased chance of Alzheimer’s disease, a decrease in intellectual function and IQ, aggression, and hyperactivity. The cost of the lead exposure is expected to be high, but it cannot be shown right now due to the effects appearing over a series of years.
As of December 25, 2020, 25,750 water service lines have been inspected and replaced. EPA reform would help stop something like this from happening again. In November 2016, six new goals were created for improving the drinking water and decreasing the amount of pollution. A study has shown that using point-of-use could prevent lead exposure and provide economic benefits. These benefits include reverse osmosis, activated carbon, and distillation. The government has many resources that allow them to fix the lead lines problem. In Flint, Michigan, the data driven approach has allowed them to use their resources and money more effectively, thus providing better protection from crises to the public.
Flint water crisis. (2021). In Wikipedia. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flint_water_crisis
An archipelago that is gaining more attention around the globe is the Spratly Islands. Vietnam, Taiwan, the Philippines, China, Brunei, and Malaysia lay claim to different parts of this archipelago (Spratly Islands, 2021). Recent news has highlighted China’s interference with other countries’ islands, and the building of artificial islands in the Spratly archipelago. Chinese ships have been seen invading other countries’ waters and have been seen purposely destroying reefs (Pursell, n.d.). Not only are these ships destroying habitats but are heavily overfishing the South China Sea waters. One island affected by this overfishing is Pas-Aga, claimed by the Philippines (Poling, 2020). This small island of around 300 people has been violated by Chinese fishing vessels on multiple occasions. Pas-Aga is the second-largest island of the Spratly archipelago, making it more of a target than the other smaller islands. This small community is not, as of now, self-sufficient, as the Philippines makes a monthly route of bringing supplies to the island. There is, however, agriculture, raising of animals, a small school, and a couple other buildings. The Philippino government has allotted around $80,000 to improve the conditions in Pas-Aga. This money would construct a desalination plant, a fish port, and a renewable energy power source. All leading to the possibility of self-sufficiency for Pas-Aga (Thitu Island, 2021). Unfortunately, Pas-Aga will continue to be overfished by Chinese vessels until there is military opposition. The United States, on the other hand, has been attempting to be the peacemakers in these waters. The United States 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit has been leading peace efforts in the South China Sea. The Marine unit is a strong military presence to combat the building of artificial islands by China and dampen overfishing in Pas-Aga’s waters (Coronel, 2020). Pas-Aga is one of many small communities threatened by overfishing. Overfishing is a growing crisis globally and needs to be taken more seriously. Countries need to work together to save fish populations. Farm raising fish is seen as a solution to overfishing, but not enough effort is being focused on farming fish. For Pas-Aga, focusing on improving the island’s economy to become self-sufficient and finding other ways to make income besides fishing, like tourism, will help this island survive.
Coronel, J. (2020, May 6). 31ST MEU MAINTAINS PRESENCE IN SOUTH CHINA SEA. Marines. https://www.marines.mil/News/News-Display/Article/2177917/31st-meu-maintains-presence-in-south-china-sea/
Poling, G. B. (2020, January 9). Illuminating the South China Sea’s Dark Fishing Fleets. CSIS. https://ocean.csis.org/spotlights/illuminating-the-south-china-seas-dark-fishing-fleets/
Pursell, R. (n.d.). Chinese fishermen caught deliberately destroying coral reef. Men’s Journal. https://www.mensjournal.com/adventure/chinese-fishermen-caught-deliberately-destroying-reef/
Spratly Islands. (2021). In Wikipedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spratly_Islands
Thitu Island. (2021). In Wikipedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thitu_Island
Kayla McCauley, Meteorology and Atmospheric Science, Pennsylvania State University
Los Palis, Haiti is a small rural community outside of the town of Hinche. Home to just over 1,000 Haitians, Los Palis suffers from lack of basic needs such as electricity, paved roads, health facilities, and, most prominently, safe drinking water. The lack of access to safe water in Haiti is a major concern, as waterborne illnesses such as typhoid and cholera are common. Surrounded by dry mountains, Los Palis residents often have to travel considerable distances in order to secure safe drinking water (Icihaiti…, 2017). Those who cannot travel are subject to possible illness from drinking unsafe water from rivers and streams.
As the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, lacking the basic resource of water is one of many disparities that amplifies the vulnerabilities of Haitians. Extreme levels of deforestation have had a major impact on Haiti and the impacts are directly felt in Los Palis. As the carribean’s most deforested country, Haiti has suffered from mudslides and water pollution in natural water sources as a result of the deforestation (Perry, 2019). In Los Palis, the rainy season is essential for gaining access to water without travel, however, because of the impacts from deforestation, the water sources are polluted and disease-ridden (Icihaiti…, 2017). Along with pollution from deforestation, sewage and waste pollute the natural bodies of water in the region. The levels of waste are exacerbated in the water supplies after mudslides and heavy rain events.
The impact of water pollution in Los Palis reduces the resilience that is required to face the changes accompanying global temperature rises. It is expected that Haiti’s rising population and unplanned urban development will continue to worsen water insecurity. Continued population growth leaves the country at higher risks of climate change impacts, with populations settling in areas with risks of mudslides and flooding. Los Palis is specifically impacted by this, as it is situated in a mountainous region. As global temperatures rise, severe rainfall events will become more common and extreme, which will increase pollution levels of local water sources (Rubenstein, 2012).
The Haitian government must take immediate action to aid the citizens in Los Palis in gaining access to clean water and building resiliency to combat climate change. In 2017, the UN Stabilization of Haiti mission funded a project to support 18,000 of the residents in and surrounding the Los Palis region (Haiti…, 2017). The mission was to provide clean and safe drinking water in the region in order to fight Cholera. This project has had a substantial impact on the Los Palis region, however, governmental regulations are needed to continue ensuring safe access to water and resilience against climate change. In order to reduce pollution of local water sources, reforestation as well as waste management need to be carried out by the government.
Haiti: UN inaugurates water supply system in Los Palis as part of anti-cholera fight. (2017, January 9). UN News. https://news.un.org/en/story/2017/01/549092-haiti-un-inaugurates-water-supply-system-los-palis-part-anti-cholera-fight
Icihaiti – social: The community of los palis discovers drinking water. (2017, January 16). IciHaiti.Com. https://www.icihaiti.com/en/news-19814-icihaiti-social-the-community-of-los-palis-discovers-drinking-water.html
Perry, K. K. (2019, January 25). In Haiti, climate aid comes with strings attached. The Conversation. http://theconversation.com/in-haiti-climate-aid-comes-with-strings-attached-108652
Rubenstein, M. (2012, February 1). Climate Change in Haiti. State of the Planet: Columbia University. https://blogs.ei.columbia.edu/2012/02/01/climate-change-in-haiti/
Kayla McCauley, Meteorology and Atmospheric Science, Pennsylvania State University
Kieni, Kenya is a small district located in Nyeri County that is home to just under 200,000 residents. Within Nyeri County, Kieni is the highest risk region to face rising food insecurities. Rainfall in Kenya occurs during long rains, between March and May, and short rains, between October and December. Agriculture in Kieni is largely dependent on the rainy seasons for the region’s major crops which include maize, irish potatoes, beans, onions, and cabbage. Poor short rain seasons or delayed onset of rains significantly reduced the production of crops in Kieni (Nyeri County…, 2019). As a semi-arid region, drought is common in Kieni and leads to failures of crop production and decrease in quality and quantity of livestock pastures. In a 2013 survey, approximately 70% of the homes interviewed in Kieni did not have enough food (MoALF, 2016). In a 2019 case study between March and June, the percentage of underweight children rose by 55% from the previous period in 2018 (Nyeri County…, 2019).
With the community already facing food insecurity, the increased risks posed by climate change will only exacerbate the population’s lack of food resources. It is anticipated that rising global temperatures will lead to below average performance of the long rains, which in turn will decrease food security across the region (Nyeri County…, 2019). Anticipated shifts in the arrival and departure of the rainy seasons also lead to an increased risk of crop damage. Climate models predict increased temperatures and shorter, more intense, rain periods, as global temperatures rise. This would lead to a higher risk of prolonged drought and extreme temperatures in Keini (MoALF, 2016). These climatic changes will lead to increased vulnerability to food insecurity due to the dependency on the rainy seasons for both the agriculture and livestock sector in the region.
In order to combat the risk of rising food insecurity, mitigation and adaptation methods in order to protect agriculture and livestock need to be implemented by the local governments. There are already several governmental and nongovernmental campaigns occurring within the county aiming to increase technologies that are available to farmers (MoALF, 2016). The National Drought Management Authority (NDMA) is vital within Kieni, as the institution focuses on advisories for droughts in the region (MoALF, 2016). Increased access to technologies to combat the changing rainfall, as well as advisories for dangerous conditions, are two major adaptation policies that are beneficial to Kieni.
MoALF. (2016). Climate Risk Profile for Nyeri. Kenya County Climate Risk Profile Series. The Kenya Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries (MoALF), Nairobi, Kenya.
Nyeri County (Kieni): 2019 Long Rains Food and Nutrition Security Assessment Report. (2019, August). ReliefWeb. Government of Kenya.
Haylie McSwaney, Biology, Eberly College of Science
Availability of quality water has been a struggle for many cities across our country. A simple Google Search lists the worst cities for water, and Fresno appears on several of those lists. While a lot of the country does have clean, drinkable water, there is a very present issue of municipalities not having the support to eliminate dangerous contaminants from their water. Many cities struggle with water quality due to natural disasters, waste runoff from infrastructure, and agricultural waste.
Fresno is amongst California’s worst cities for drinking water quality, largely due to waste runoff from mines. A 2017 report stated that there are 19 contaminants threatening Fresno residents, some of which are arsenic, ethylene dibromide, manganese, nitrate, and aluminum. Chromium 6, a known human carcinogen, is found at dangerously high levels in Fresno drinking water. This occurs as a result of metal processing, stainless steel welding, and several other practices that occur in the area. Other pollutants DBCP, PCE, and TCE were detected in Fresno water as a result of industrial discharge, metal degreasing, or cleaning product waste. As previously mentioned, arsenic was also detected in Fresno drinking water at high enough quantities that the city was required to release a report warning citizens. Unlike the other contaminants, arsenic occurs naturally in bedrock in the area.
These are just a few among the several dangerous contaminants that threaten the community. Chromium 6 is a carcinogen when inhaled, and effects of drinking it are currently being researched. There are several types of cancers, along with many other diseases, that are associated with Chromium 6 exposure, so needless to say, the community has severe health hazards at risk. DBCP has the potential to harm the reproductive system, while the possible dangers of PCE and TCE exposure are unknown and currently being researched. Arsenic also has various health implications for the residents of Fresno. It has been linked to several types of cancer, and health effects for various bodily systems such as the cardiovascular or immune systems.
There are several solutions we as a nation must implement to ensure safe drinking water for all. Safely utilizing pesticides and fertilizers is one small factor that we can all be cautious of in our homes. Following all instructions and containing any spills when using chemicals are vital. Minimizing stormwater runoff and filter runoff is also an important step to take. We must prevent sediment or trash pollution from getting swept into our water sources. Standing water sources can utilize filters to help minimize this. Filtering runoff in storm drains is also important in cities to prevent water contamination. The main takeaway will be capturing and filtering sediment or trash runoff from getting into bodies of water that provide drinking water. This will require a large-scale, collaborative effort to keep residents of Fresno, California safe.
Schwartz, D. B. (2018, August 24). These Are the Places with the Worst Tap Water in America. Bobvila.com. https://www.bobvila.com/slideshow/these-are-the-places-with-the-worst-tap-water-in-america-52263.
Dyjak, A. (2019, July 18). Problems We Found In Fresno’s Drinking Water. Hydroviv. www.hydroviv.com/blogs/water-smarts/problems-we-found-is-fresnos-drinking-water.
Water Pollution Solutions. (n.d.). Erosion Pollution. https://erosionpollution.com/water-pollution-solutions.html.
Climate change has initiated a variety of environmental crises, the effects of which are felt primarily by low-income and impoverished communities. Rural communities without federal government assistance are also at risk of facing serious challenges. One of those challenges is food insecurity. While there are many different reasons for food insecurity, El Rosario, Honduras has struggled with lower crop yields due to unending droughts that have plagued nations all over the world. Food insecurity is a normal way of life there, and starvation is a possible outcome for many (Biggs, 2019).
El Rosario is a tiny village in Honduras that is home to a few hundred people. Farming is a large part of the infrastructure, and the farmers rely on rainfall to water their crops. The village is situated in the “dry corridor” of Honduras, experiencing little rain (Gustin, 2020). Honduras is plagued by poverty, the same is true of El Rosario, more than half of all residents are critically financially desperate. Long-term droughts have left the land dry and scorched, shriveling their crops and leaving over half unusable and inedible for most people. Deforestation has ravaged the countryside around El Rosario, and evaporating water sources have left much of the area dry and barren. Widespread violence and unstable government assistance leave very little room for other opportunities (Olson, 2020). El Rosario is a rural community that is dependent on natural systems to nurture their fields, government help will not come, and so the residents are at the mercy of the climate. Given that farming supplies their food needs directly and indirectly by providing money from sales, food insecurity caused by an accumulation of these factors is a heavy burden weighing down on El Rosario (Biggs, 2019).
Starvation and malnutrition are likely, and sadly common in El Rosario and other Honduran towns. As the dry season continues for years now, crop yields decline dramatically, and some farmers have turned to cheaper, less nutritious crops that can withstand the drought. With fewer nutrients and undesirable flavor, farmers have trouble selling their crops and have a limited food supply (Biggs, 2019). The cost of irrigation systems is much too high for El Rosario residents, many of whom do not even have electricity. With impending drought and food insecurity, and crop losses of 50-70 percent, it is likely that in the future, El Rosario residents will have to seek more hospitable land (Olson, 2020).
There are International efforts to supply food and water to Honduras. However, this is just a temporary fix. Introducing modern agricultural techniques such as plants that are drought resistant may be the key. Individual farmers creating drain wells to capture rainwater may also help to curb forced migration due to food shortages and failed crops. National efforts to enforce policies that stop deforestation and halt the depletion of water supplies by instating quotas could also help to increase the availability of agricultural resources for farmers, however, a way to get the water must be established as well (Gustin, 2020). As climate change shifts agricultural regions, migration will become increasingly common, and there must be a refuge for people seeking livable land.
Biggs, M., & Galiano-Rios, J. (2019, April 02). Climate change is killing crops in HONDURAS — and driving Farmers north. PBS. https://www.pbs.org/newshour/show/climate-change-is-killing-crops-in-honduras-and-driving farmers-north
Gustin, G. (2020, December 07). Ravaged by Drought, a Honduran Village faces a Choice: Pray for rain or migrate. Inside Climate News. https://insideclimatenews.org/news/08072019/climate-change-migration-honduras-drought-crop-failure-farming-deforestation-guatemala-trump/
Olson, J. (2020, November 18). Two storms, and two decades of drought. The New Humanitarian. https://www.thenewhumanitarian.org/news-feature/2020/11/18/honduras-dry-corridor-hurricane-eta-iota-climate-change-food-security
Eric Myskowski, Meteorology, College of Earth and Mineral Science
Another community that will be hit hard by climate change is Vinalhaven Maine. This is a community where the economy centers around lobster fishing. The money generated from the lobster touches every aspect of the town and without it, there would be major economic problems. Lobster is a species that only lives in relatively cold water. With global warming causing temperatures in the Gulf of Maine to rise faster than most of the rest of the globe, by the end of the century, the waters could be too warm to support lobster. The Long Island Sound in Southern New England used to have significant lobster populations, but global warming has already pushed them out of there, and the same could be true for Maine. Lobsters generally cannot tolerate sustained water temperatures above 70 degrees, and while they do not approach it yet in the Gulf of Maine, with the temperature rise that is currently happening, it will happen in the next couple of decades. Ironically though, for the time being, global warming is actually helping Maine’s lobster. Before, the waters used to be a bit too cold for lobster productivity to be at its highest. So while the past warming of the water has caused the lobster to do better, this will not last for long unless actions are taken.
One of the main things that can be done is establishing quotas on the amount of lobster that can be taken and actively regulating the population. If these actions are taken while the population is still healthy, this would allow it to have a better chance to adapt to the warming waters. This would also help later on when the water warms to help keep stable populations, even if they are not as robust as they are today. One other solution is protecting their habitat. This could be done by restricting the fishing methods that scrape along the seafloor and destroy the habitat that lobster rely upon. After these practices are restricted, active habitat restoration could be implemented too.
Albeck-ripka, L. (2018, June 21). Climate Change Brought a Lobster Boom. Now It Could Cause a Bust. New York Times. https://www.nytimes.com/2018/06/21/climate/maine-lobsters.html
Greenhalgh, E. (2016, October 6). Climate & Lobsters. NOAA Climate. https://www.climate.gov/news-features/climate-and/climate-lobsters
Oracle, Arizona, a small town of almost four thousand, is facing major food security issues.
Food insecurity is when a community or person doesn’t have access to enough nutritious food (Estrada, 2021). Food deserts, places where residents have extremely limited access to fresh food, are more likely to occur in small towns with low income and less educated residents, like Oracle. The town’s grocery store most likely has a limited selection and higher prices (Rural Hunger…, 2021). The town simply does not have enough resources.
Food insecurity is made worse by the changing climate. In August of 2020, Oracle reached temperatures past 100 degrees Fahrenheit, with a high of 110 degrees (Oracle, AZ…, n.d.). The temperature in Oracle normally does not reach above one hundred one degrees Fahrenheit (Average Weather…, n.d.). In addition, from June 2020 to March 2021, the entirety of Arizona experienced major drought. In March 2021, Oracle experienced extreme drought (Cross, 2021). Heatwaves and drought combined would make it very hard for Oracle to participate in subsistence agriculture if the town wanted to. Firstly, farmers are more susceptible to heat wave related deaths because they work outside in the direct sun. Many crops cannot withstand heat stress, and neither can cattle (Walljasper, 2019). During droughts, water availability is lower. Which also means irrigation will be more necessary and more costly (Agriculture, n.d.).
These issues, combined with the effects of poverty and the Covid-19 virus over the last year, have worsened food insecurity issues. From 2018 to 2020, it was estimated that there was a 27 percent increase in food insecure individuals. For this town, this means around fifteen thousand residents (Estrada, 2021).
One solution Oracle is taking is to set up “Little Free Pantries” that mimic “Little Free Libraries.” The food is donated and is free to anyone who needs it. This project is community-run and everyone is helping. The local fire department donated the lockers used to store the food, and every month a “Fill the Truck” drive is held to restock the pantries (Estrada, 2021).
Agriculture. (n.d.). Drought.gov. www.drought.gov/sectors/agriculture#:~:text=The%20depletion%20of%20water%20availability,forage%20irrigation%20and%20watering%20livestock.
Average Weather in Oracle, Arizona, United States, Year Round. (n.d.). WeatherSpark. https://weatherspark.com/y/2851/Average-Weather-in-Oracle-Arizona-United-States-Year-Round.
Cross, J. (2021 April 9). Arizona Sitting in Rare Territory for Extreme Drought Conditions. KTAR News. https://ktar.com/story/4275231/arizona-sitting-in-rare-territory-for-extreme-drought-conditions/.
Estrada, M. (2021, March 25). Community ‘Little Pantries’ Combat Hunger amid the Pandemic. Cronkite News. cronkitenews.azpbs.org/2021/03/19/little-free-pantries-arizona-covid-19/.
Oracle, AZ Monthly Weather. (n.d.). AccuWeather. www.accuweather.com/en/us/oracle/85623/august-weather/336840?year=2020.
Rural Hunger and Access to Healthy Food Introduction. (2021). Rural Health Information Hub. www.ruralhealthinfo.org/topics/food-and-hunger#food-deserts.
Walljasper, C. (2019, August 8). Report: Extreme Heat May Hurt Farms and Agriculture Industry. The Chicago Tribune. www.chicagotribune.com/weather/weather-news/sns-extreme-heat-may-hurt-farms-agriculture-industry-20190808-qiedwg2dcratxjbajavwxcqibe-story.html
Xiaoyu Qiu, Division of Undergraduate Studies, Penn State University
In August 2020, a wildfire went through Boulder Creek in Santa Cruz county. When residents in Boulder Creek returned back to their damaged homes after the wildfire, they were told that the water in their area was not safe to use due to the impact of the wildfire. Angela Aurelia, a resident in Boulder Creek, was lucky enough that her home was not completely burned down. However, the water contamination in Boulder Creek put her at risk of losing her home after the wildfire during the pandemic.
Several substances including benzene, naphthalene, methylene chloride, chrysene, and benzo(b)fluoranthene in the form of volatile organic and semi-volatiles dissolved into the local water distribution system and kept local residents in Boulder Creek away from their homes. Research shows that some of the substances are not harmful to humans, whereas some of them can cause cancer under long term exposure. How did those substances get into the water distribution system during or after the wildfire? Dr. Shah and other authors indicated that during the wildfire, damaged water pipes may form a vacuum area that can intake smoke and other toxic chemicals to the water distribution system and distribute those substances to other households.
Solutions for preventing water contamination after wildfires are fairly simple. Installing a one way valve in places where air reflux may happen and cutting out water supply when wildfire threatens would be effective for lowering the possibility of water contamination caused by wildfires. However, preventing water contamination from wildfires is not the core solution for the local water quality. The main cause behind it is wildfires. Without solving the problem of wildfires, the community will still be suffering from other events that are caused by wildfires.
The example of Boulder Creek is a typical case in California. In fact, there are many other communities like Boulder Creek in the state of California and Oregon having the same issue of water contamination caused by wildfires. To focus more on the real cause behind the impacts would provide a better solution to the issue of water quality.
Horberry, M., (2020). After Wildfires Stop Burning, a Danger in the Drinking Water. The New York Times. https://www.nytimes.com/2020/10/02/science/wildfires-water-toxic.html?referrer=masthead.
Elizabeth Raifsnider, Civil Engineering, Penn State Harrisburg
Doha is the capital of Qatar, located on the east coast of the country along the Persian Gulf. Qatar is one of the most water stressed countries in the world. This is due to the high temperatures and the scarcity of natural, renewable water sources. As the climate continues to change, the temperatures continue to rise. This area has recorded some of the hottest days in history, with temperatures exceeding 113 degrees Fahrenheit. Doha also has high domestic water consumption and unpredictable rainfall. Population has also increased immensely over the past 10 years. All of these things contribute to water scarcity. With water decreasing and population increasing, food and water resources are only getting tighter for the people in this city.
In a harsh arid country with little rainfall or natural renewable water sources there aren’t many solutions to this continuing issue. Many have dug aquifers in the ground to access groundwater, however, the consumption exceeds the recharge rates of the aquifers. The aquifers are also prone to filling with seawater due to the porous land. With the inconsistency of these aquifers, Doha plans to transfer to desalination. Desalination already feeds a majority of the water in this area, but the plan is to increase the desalination plants in the area to help recharge the depleted aquifers. These desalination plants can be cost-effective when fueled by renewable sources such as wind and solar. Now, with access to water, there needs to be conservation methods put into place so the water is used properly and not wasted. In the agricultural industry, drip irrigation systems should be put in place of flood irrigation. Heat tolerant crops should be rotated out for those that don’t do as well in the harsh climate. The hope is that with these desalination plants, the water supply will increase. This will not only provide access to fresh water for the people in the area, but also allow the agriculture industry to produce enough food for the increasing population.
Ismail, H. (2015, July 23). Food and Water Security in Qatar: Part 2 – Water Resources. Future Directions International. www.futuredirections.org.au/publication/food-and-water-security-in-qatar-part-2-water-resources/.
Korein, K. (202, May 8). Qatar Water Scarcity – Tackling the Global Water Crisis. https://storymaps.arcgis.com/stories/78c8446b122c4e15b77266f9f8f1c239.
Neill, P. (2020, October 13). Interview: Qatar and the Climate Crisis. Environment Journal. https://environmentjournal.online/articles/interview-qatar-and-the-climate-crisis/.
Fishing and fisheries have been one of the oldest and most important factors in food sustainability for India’s coastal villages. Fisheries in India make up a total of 1.5% of the country’s total GDP and are responsible for creating more than 6 million jobs for the inhabitants of the rural coastal fishing villages. It is clear to see how important fishing has been for the sustainability of not just India as a whole but how dependent many coastal villages are to the fishing industry for sustenance and jobs. Due to the unpredictable effects of climate change, many parts of India’s fishing villages are in danger of destabilizing. The biggest example of this is the Coromandel fishing village in Tamilnadu, India.
Over the past several years, Coromandel has faced some horrific environmental disasters such as cyclones and tsunamis. These natural disasters have completely dismantled the fishing industry, which threatens the sustainability of many coastal communities. Coromandel is especially vulnerable due to how low on the sea level it sits, making it susceptible to coastal flooding which destabilizes fisheries in the area that rely on the spawning beds that get flooded out, destroying many fish eggs in the process. Another aspect that makes Coromandel vulnerable is its widespread poverty. Fishing villages like Coromandel cannot afford the technology required to prevent flooding and the washing away of fisheries. In addition, they lack the technology to protect the villages themselves from washing away, meaning that whole communities are flooded and destroyed, without the resources necessary to rebuild any infrastructure. Without any solution to this problem, fisheries will slowly disappear and the roughly 2% of the country that is reliant on sustainable fishing will be lost.
The solution for Coromandel’s fisheries and villages is not an easy one, because the variability of climate change has become so unpredictable, one cannot pinpoint one problem or one solution. Coromandels future lies in the hands of the Indian government, without state intervention, all hope could be lost for this small fishing village. Implementation of government funded final education programs for citizens, with discussions centered around how to make best use of wages, would benefit socioeconomic conditions in villages to allow for increased sustainability. Levy systems must be implemented that will not only protect fisheries and spawning beds but also coastal fishing villages from further destruction. In order to utilize remaining fish local to the area, preventing offseason fishing activity may help to revive the fish population. This would require fishermen to seek out offseason work in order to keep the socioeconomic infrastructure afloat and allow fish species to resume reproductive efforts. Lastly, the Indian government could significantly bolster the livelihood and economic growth of Coromandel’s population by compensating fishermen for equipment and wages lost to the effects of climate change.
Srikanthan, S. (2013, June 27). Impact of Climate Change on the Fishermen’s Livelihood Development: a case study of village in Coromandel Coast. IOSR Journal Of Humanities And Social Science, 12(6). www.iosrjournals.org/iosr-jhss/papers/Vol12-issue6/H01264954.pdf
Since 2017, Leer in South Sudan has been facing one of the worst famines in modern history, and as a result, South Sudan is in the midst of the worst humanitarian crisis since world war II. Leer, like many states in South Sudan, is reliant on their agriculture not just economically but to supply their population with food. Due to Climate change and a horrific civil war, an estimated 6 million people lack sufficient food resources to meet basic human needs. By 2018, over 100,000 South Sudan citizens were on the verge of starving, this number is expected to keep growing without the intervention of humanitarian outreach. In South Sudan, specifically Leer, food security is largely reliant on seasonal rainfall, without it the semi-desert like region of Leer cannot grow ample crops to feed the local population. Due to severe drought and civil unrest in the area, many projection models expect Sorghum and Millet production will decline by 15%- 71%. The annual temperature of the region is 26-32 degrees celsius but in some areas temperatures are soaring to 47 degrees celsius, causing major strain on agricultural yields (Nimir & Elgizouli, n.d.).
Leer is exceptionally vulnerable to famine not just because of climate change, but largely due to its inability to address agricultural issues surrounding climate change due to a horrific civil war they are currently in. Roughly 80% of the country lives in rural farming villages and relies on subsistence farming, and without the adequate support of the UN and neighboring countries to help quell the civil war, many within this population face starvation and even death due to the increasingly low crop yields. Another major aspect that is adding to Leer’s vulnerability to famine is its unpredictable rainfall. A trend of decreasing rainfall in the region due to climate change is accelerating drought-like conditions across the country. It is projected without intervention that almost 7.5 million or 60% of people in South Sudan alone will face starvation or even death (Humanitarian Aid, 2020).
Much of South Sudan’s fate is in the hands of the global community. Since Leer and the rest of Sudan cannot tackle the issues climate change brings until the civil unrest is dealt with, we must first address that. UN intervention with a peacekeeping force could be useful to limit the violence in the area so the government can focus on tackling declining rainfall rates that are leading to massive drought. Once the civil unrest is dealt with, Leer and other agriculture communities in the area should invest in better irrigation of their fields to utilize as much of the limited rain as possible. Digging more sophisticated well systems with the aid of other countries would also help farmers utilize the most of what the land has to offer. Many of these solutions require other countries to work together to assist Sudan. While this may be incredibly difficult, there is enough global attention on this matter that there is some light at the end of the dark tunnel (Hunger Crisis…, n.d.).
Humanitarian Aid. (2020, December 18). Conflict, floods and COVID-19 push South Sudanese into extreme hunger. UN News. https://news.un.org/en/story/2020/12/1080432
Hunger crisis in South Sudan. (n.d.). OXFAM International. https://www.oxfam.org/en/what-we-do/emergencies/hunger-crisis-south-sudan
Nimir, M. B., & Elgizouli, I. A. (n.d.). Climate Change Adaptation and Decision Making in the Sudan. World Resources Institute. https://www.wri.org/our-work/project/world-resources-report/climate-change-adaptation-and-decision-making-sudan
Sarah Raver, Chemical Engineering, College of Engineering
Akwidaa is a small fishing village on the southernmost tip of Ghana (Akwidaa, 2021). Fishing is a major part of the economy of the village and the livelihoods of the people living there, with 60% of men and 60% of women working in the fishing sector every day. Many people in the community have recently reported a decline in the number of fish being caught in the area near their village. Due to a number of factors, including overfishing or unsustainable fishing methods, mangrove destruction, and of course climate change affecting fish populations, the community is at a major risk of losing the fish that keep their economy going and that feed their people (Cripps et al., 2013). As global sea temperatures rise, some species of fish may not survive, especially as lower-food chain species like phytoplankton and zooplankton struggle to overcome ocean acidification (Climate change…, n.d.). Additionally, sea level rise could cover and drown patches of mangroves that are vital to the health of fisheries (Cripps et al., 2013). In terms of the future of this community with respect to climate change, they rely on considerable upwelling to supply nutrients to the surface water and increase productivity, so changes in ocean circulation could also harm the fish population. With projected ocean warming and acidification and sea level rise, many of the previously discussed species may also be at major risk. Akwidaa needs to change their fishing habits to be more sustainable or else they will deplete their fish supply. They have tried implementing some changes, like restricting fishing on certain days of the week. There are still issues with unsustainable or illegal fishing methods (Cripps et al., 2013). There could be better enforcement of these rules, a push for better ways of fishing like reel fishing and cast nets, reducing catch of unintended species, as well as setting aside certain areas that need to be protected and cannot be fished in (National Geographic Society, 2019). With some of these smarter fishing practices, Akwidaa may be able to maintain their fish supply and sustain their fish-dependent economy.
Akwidaa. (2021). In Wikipedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Akwidaa
Climate change and impacts on fisheries. (n.d.). ClimeFish. https://climefish.eu/climate-change-and-impacts-on-fisheries/
Cripps, C., Effah, E., Inkoom, J., Ntiri, E., Rubinoff, P., & Stevens, H. (2013). A Climate Change and Natural Hazards Vulnerability Assessment and Adaptation Plan for Akwidaa and Ezile Bay, Ahanta West District. Coastal Resources Center, Graduate School of Oceanography, University of Rhode Island. https://www.crc.uri.edu/download/GH2009DC3P008_508.pdf
National Geographic Society. (2019, July 31). Sustainable fishing. National Geographic. https://www.nationalgeographic.org/encyclopedia/sustainable-fishing/
Sarah Raver, Chemical Engineering, College of Engineering
While Bengaluru is a major hub in India for technology development and growth, the city has faced major problems with contaminated drinking water. The city draws water from the Byramangala reservoir and the Vrishabhavathi valley, but this water is often unfit for drinking (Sheeba, et al., 2018). Bengaluru’s population is growing rapidly, so its demand for safe drinking water is growing rapidly as well (Bangalore, 2021). One source of the contamination is lack of proper waste water management, which has led to findings of E. coli in water samples, a major issue for public health. The groundwater has also been found to contain high levels of metals and other chemicals, such as arsenic, known for its poisonous effects (Kumar, 2019 & The Logical Indian, 2016).Additionally, as groundwater is over pumped, these toxins can become more concentrated in the water and lead to even worse health effects. Many lower-income people living near the city can be severely affected by the poor water quality as they may not have good access to healthcare or water purification devices. As climate change worsens, availability of groundwater in areas like Bengaluru is likely to become scarcer. The city is also already prone to warm summer months and occasional heat waves, which also put stress on the water supply (Bangalore, 2021). Without changes to their waste water management and water distribution, public health in Bengaluru will likely face major problems in the future. This is a serious issue throughout the whole country as well, causing approximately 20% of the disease burden in India (Banerji, 2018). The main ways to solve the problem of contamination are improving waste management and implementing water purification and monitoring systems. Water quality can be monitored at its source using automated sensor systems so that unsafe water is not distributed to homes (Hirani & Dimble, 2019). Water filtration and disinfection can be done on a household scale with things like chlorine tablets, water filters, or solar disinfection systems. There could also be better education about good hygiene practices, as well as more governmental regulations on pollution (Sheeba, et al., 2018). A professor in my department (Chemical Engineering) is doing some really interesting research on the use of seeds from Moringa trees to remove harmful microbes in water. The trees are non-invasive and they grow in hot environments like India. It could have a lot of potential to cheaply produce safe drinking water.
Banerji, A. (2018, July 4). India’s ‘worst water crisis in history’ leaves millions thirsty. Reuters. https://www.reuters.com/article/us-india-water-crisis/indias-worst-water-crisis-in-history-leaves-millions-thirsty-idUSKBN1JV01G
Bangalore. (2021). In Wikipedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bangalore#Pollution_control
Hirani, P., & Dimble, V. (2019, October 4). Water pollution is killing millions of Indians. Here’s how technology and reliable data can change that. World Economic Forum. https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2019/10/water-pollution-in-india-data-tech-solution/
Kumar, R. S. (2019, December 3). Bengaluru Buzz: Drinking water contamination | Bus lane violators fined | Protest by Hulimavu flood-affected..and more. Citizen Matters. https://bengaluru.citizenmatters.in/bengaluru-buzz-bwssb-water-contamination-traffic-violation-bus-lane-fine-hulimavu-flood-compensation-stray-cattle-fine-38959
The Logical Indian. (2016, October 28). Scientists Found Arsenic In Samples Of Surface Water Around Bengaluru, An Element Which Causes Cancer. https://thelogicalindian.com/story-feed/awareness/bengalurus-drinking-water/
Sheeba, G., Jalagam, A., & Venkatasubramanian, P. (2018, December 11). From city of lakes to poisoned lakes, Bengaluru now leads in toxic drinking water. Your Story. https://yourstory.com/2018/12/poisoned-lakes-bengaluru-toxic-drinking-water/amp
Emma Richardson, General Arts and Sciences, Penn State Behrend
I wanted to look further into issues of water quality within the US for this entry. The most challenging part about this was settling on just one community out of many, which speaks volumes about our current situation. Water quality in Pittsboro, NC is notably contaminated by PFAs. I landed on Pittsboro because I wanted to learn more about PFAs; most everyday consumers don’t even know what these chemicals are. As far as I’m aware, these are man made chemicals that are found in many different products and can cause serious health problems when people are exposed long-term. As one can guess, the problem started with a local manufacturing plant from the 70s dumping waste into the Haw River.
Mostly, the rich are the only people able to afford the expensive water filtration systems needed to have some peace of mind concerning the safety of their water at home. Pittsboro is particularly vulnerable because of its location near the river, as are many other communities close to any bodies of water where previous or current pollution affects the local water quality.
A Pittsboro community member suggested creating a centralized water filtration center that is open to locals. This is a great way to provide clean water access to neighborhoods that would otherwise be forced to use unsafe tap water. However, this still takes valuable time out of these community members’ days, having to go to a central location to fill water and take it back home and unload. This would prove difficult for working class families that have little time to spare as it is, and this is also only a band-aid fix. A highly workable and realistic fix, but it can’t be the only solution. The best and biggest solution must be to cease polluting the rivers and subsequently the people, plants, and animals that rely on these waters to live. This includes making products without these harmful chemical ingredients in the first place, so that there is nothing to pollute the waters with.
Kendall, L. (2021, April 2). A Town’s Water Is Contaminated with ‘Forever Chemicals’ – How Did It Get This Bad? The Guardian. www.theguardian.com/us-news/2021/apr/02/pfas-testing-forever-chemicals-pittsboro north-carolina
Kendall, L., Felton, R., & Gill, L. (2021, March 31). We Sampled Tap Water across the US – and Found Arsenic, Lead and Toxic Chemicals. The Guardian. www.theguardian.com/us-news/2021/mar/31/americas-tap-water-samples-forever-chemicals
Hannah Richardson, General Arts and Sciences, Penn State Behrend
The indigenous populations of North America have had a long and complicated history with colonization, racism, and diminishing reservation territories. I’d like to focus specifically on the Navajo Nation and the on-going issue of food scarcity, which has only been further exacerbated by Covid-19. Food scarcity is not merely an inconvenience, but a dire threat, and should be seen as the crisis it is. The health of the Navajo Nation, and many other indigenous peoples, are at higher risk than most, with some of the highest rates of diseases like diabetes, morbid obesity, and heart disease (putting them at higher risk of dying from Coronavirus).
The Navajo are at particular risk because many of the reservations do not have access to electricity and running water, and are isolated from any grocery stores, placing them, by definition, in food deserts. Compound these problems with the issue of ever-shrinking reservation territories and increased periods of regional drought, which makes it nearly impossible for indigenous peoples to plant their own gardens, and you have the perfect recipe for disaster. With the recent global pandemic, Covid-19, food has become even harder to find for the Navajo peoples. When they do finally arrive at a grocery store, after miles and miles of driving dirt roads, any staples and necessities have been picked over; the grocery stores have been all but completely wiped out.
In attempting to tackle the generations-long crisis head on, the Navajo Nation is turning to their most traditional and ancestral practices of gardening, and then cultivating those gardens with heirloom seeds from indigenous seed banks (the crop most frequently used is white corn). There are also federal food benefits, where families can receive vouchers, but these ‘benefits’ ensure that families purchase cheap, sugary, processed foods that have a long shelf-life, thus putting the nation’s health at risk. This is why many of the indigenous people have turned from relying on any kind of federal assistance, and instead have focused on cultivating an even stronger sense of community by gardening and harvesting and preparing food in traditional ways.
Food scarcity is an on-going problem for the Navajo Nation, and as the climate crisis intensifies, so will the fallout from it.
Krishna, P. (2020, April13). How Native Americans are Fighting a Food Crisis. New York Times. https://www.nytimes.com/2020/04/13/dining/native-americans-coronavirus.html.
Nierenberg, A. (2020, August 3). For the Navajo Nation, a Fight for Better Food Gains New Urgency. The New York Times.https://www.nytimes.com/2020/08/03/dining/navajo nation-food-coronavirus.html.
One in 4 Native Americans is Food Insecure. (2018, April 30). Move for Hunger. https://moveforhunger.org/one-in-4-native-americans-is-food-insecure.
Yanglingang is a small fishing village in rural China, situated on the bank of the Yangtze River. Since the installation of a paper mill and power plant on either side of the village in the early 2000s, the population’s rates of cancer have gone up by a concerning percentage. Cancer and illness-related deaths have become increasingly common in the area, to the point where villagers who have been interviewed can recount numerous friends and family members who have recently lost the battle to various illnesses. The Yangtze River’s tainted water is believed to be the culprit for the sudden uptick in illness, as the Nine Dragons paper mill discharges waste into the river.
This community is especially vulnerable because they do not have access to public water. Thus, all water that the village consumes comes from the polluted Yangtze. Despite many villagers using alum powder in an attempt to purify the water prior to drinking it, the impact that the river’s pollution is having on Yanglingang’s people is evident. The village’s lack of alternative water source, coupled with its declining population and poverty rates, makes its people very vulnerable to the environmental neglect that has plagued many places in rural China. A major factor in this neglect is the Chinese government’s policy on pollution, or lack thereof, which has perpetuated business practices that have no regard for the environment or public health. One villager in Yanglingang even cited a culture of suppression and discouragement at the local level, with local officials intimidating pollution victims who have tried to speak out about their experiences with the Yangtze’s pollution and the recent increase in cancer.
The gravest impact on this community is a continued increase in deaths related to pollution-based illness. Other impacts include higher rates of poverty due to a lack of fishing work and fewer people able to participate in a small economy that could create work. Forced relocation may also be an impact, as the remaining people in the village are beginning to see the trend of illness in the area.
Solutions to this problem do exist, but many are long-term or expensive. One solution could be setting up infrastructure to supply Yanglingang with public water that is cleaner than that of the Yangtze. Another could be relocation of the village to a less polluted area, but both of these options are expensive and difficult to execute. Some NGOs (non-governmental organizations) that focus on climate change have begun to take action on behalf of villages like Yanglingang, seeking to exhibit a relationship between pollution and illness that could ultimately force the Chinese government to impose protectorate policies. Without governmental action, a solution to this problem would be financially and physically inconceivable for most villages in Yanglingang’s position.
Kaiman, J. (2013, June 4). Inside China’s ‘cancer villages’. The Guardian. https://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/jun/04/china-villages-cancer-deaths
Kira Soricelli, Penn State University
The threat in Detroit, Michigan is that there is insufficient access for residents to clean water. The consequences of impure water affect a significant amount of people all over the world, but the United States is not the first country that usually comes to mind when discussing this idea. The city of Detroit obtains its water from the Detroit River. Mold can grow where water is not clean, which can cause disease and heighten the effects of natural disasters, like fires and floods. Residents in Detroit are frequently advised to flush their water pipes before drinking the water in order to reduce their risk of lead poisoning. In 2017, 9% of children in Detroit tested positive for lead poisoning, with certain areas reaching as high as 22% (Captain, 2015). Because clean water is a necessity for all living things, Detroit has experienced a death toll higher than most other cities. Brightmoor, located in Michigan, has the highest number of infant mortality deaths due to water insecurity. Chromium 6, an extremely toxic metal, has averaged 110 parts per trillion in Detroit (Goodman, 2020). Studies show that this amount increases the risk of consequences for people with existing conditions. It also has ties to an increase in cancer risk. Even with a corrosion inhibitor, which is added in Detroit to reduce lead and other pipe materials in drinking water, these toxic materials have caused serious health and developmental problems in children and adults across Detroit.
Detroit is an especially vulnerable community because of its high levels of poverty (about four in ten residents live in poverty). It has the highest rate among the twenty largest U.S. cities. Water is simply not affordable for many low-income people. The economic recession in 2008 dramatically impacted Detroit’s finances and vastly contributed to their declines. Some argue that Detroit has not recovered since, after they went bankrupt because of their immense debt. Due to old, leaky water infrastructure, water rates in Detroit have increased as much as 400% in the last two decades (Smith, 2021). Repairing and replacing this infrastructure is just not an option for many residents because of its high expense.
There are a plethora of forecasted impacts on the community. To begin with, the total fund for the combined Water and Sewer Systems in Detroit has diminished by more than $1.5 billion (Kurth, 2019). As mentioned previously, there are surges of illnesses that occur from untreated water, such as bacterial pneumonia, dehydration, skin rashes, gastrointestinal issues, and soft tissue infections. Currently, at least 141,000 households in Detroit have had their water shut off and many of them (estimates of about ⅗) are still struggling (Kurth, 2019). With the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the fact that washing one’s hands is one of the main ways to prevent the spread, Detroit is in a health crisis. Children often have to take their waste outside and throw it in the garbage, which is unsanitary. In addition, Detroit determined that laundromats were nonessential providers, so laundromats were shut down, placing people at an even greater inconvenience. Even worse, it seems that African Americans and other minority groups are affected the most. From getting ready for school/work, to bathing, to doing the dishes, water is an absolute necessity at this time, but many Detroit residents are surviving off of bottled water (which also contributes to plastic waste). In fact, almost half of the population that has been studied seems to be getting their water from undesirable sources. Where water is shut off, residents become almost twice as likely to contract a water-associated illness, even when socioeconomic situations are taken into consideration. The most common of these illnesses in Detroit are shigellosis, acute dysentry, giardiasis, and Campylobacter infections. Further, studies show that people who had their water shut off are more likely to experience anxiety, severe headaches, and depression.
Therefore, shutting off the water enhances already existing social and economic vulnerabilities by disproportionately affecting poor families, people of color, and those who lack means to medical care, who make up more than 80% of the population. Ultimately, water has become more expensive. The Environmental Protection Agency recommends that families spend no more than 2.5 percent of their pretax income on water and sewer service, yet some Detroit residents are paying more than 20 percent (Noor, 2020). This highlights the fact that water is generally unsafe and unattainable.
Fortunately, there are a multitude of possible solutions to this threat. Because water infrastructure across the country is in need of repair, there is a unique opportunity to support new designs, experiments, and systems that will combat heavy rainfall and extreme weather events caused by climate change. Indeed, a Water Affordability Plan has been put in place to help low-income households pay for their water at lower rates. While this plan has not reached all residents, it provides a stepping stone for the future. Also, because of the virus, running water has been temporarily restored to thousands of Detroit residents. We the People of Detroit is a grassroots organization that advocates for affordable water and makes rounds to give free water to those in need. Through this movement, the United Nations condemned the way that Detroit is dealing with their water crisis (Lakhani, 2020). Similarly, charities tend to pay water bills for people in need. That being said, protests and proposals to restructure bills to consider income must continue to have the desired effect. The way to do this is to help Detroit’s crisis gain attention and allow the public to become aware of what services are available. To add, a plan called the 10/30/50 plan has reached some success, as it requires customers to pay 10% of their debt to get reconnected to water the first time, 30% of their bill for the second time, and 50% for subsequent ones (Zamudio & Craft, 2019). However, this is still a difficult task for many residents living in poverty. Another solution would be to reform golf courses, which use a significant amount of water. Furthermore, other solutions, according to the Annual Water Report of Detroit, include replacement of water mains and fire hydrants, replacement/lining of sewer pipes in the city, replacement of lead service lines with copper pipes, and installation of Green Stormwater Infrastructure projects to reduce street flooding. If property owners comply, then these solutions will reduce the risk of unregulated contaminants and the disturbing impacts they have on residents, especially those with existing conditions.
Captain, A. (2015, May 6). How the Financial Crisis Affected the Detroit Water Department. Detroit Water Brigade. www.detroitwaterbrigade.org/how-financial-crisis-affected-detroit-water-department/
Goodman, A. (2020, April 13). Wash Your Hands? Despite Pandemic, Thousands Still Have No Water in Detroit, a Coronavirus Hot Spot. Democracy Now! www.democracynow.org/2020/4/13/detroit_michigan_water_shut_offs.
Kurth, J. (2020, February 26). Detroit Says No Proof Water Shutoffs Harm Health. Get Real, Experts Say. Bridge Michigan. www.bridgemi.com/michigan-health-watch/detroit-says-no-proof-water-shutoffs-harm-health-get-real-experts-say.
Kurth, J. (2019, August 19). Detroit Shut off Water to 11,800 Homes This Year. Most Are Still off. Bridge Michigan. www.bridgemi.com/urban-affairs/detroit-shut-water-11800-homes-year-most-are-still.
Lakhani, N. (2020, March 12). Detroit Suspends Water Shutoffs over Covid-19 Fears. The Guardian. www.theguardian.com/us-news/2020/mar/12/detroit-water-shutoffs-unpaid-bills-coronavirus.
Noor, P. (2020, May 20). Detroit Families Still without Clean Water despite Shutoffs Being Lifted. The Guardian. www.theguardian.com/usnews/2020/may/20/detroit-water-shutoffs-covid-coronavirus.
Smith, H. (2021, March 17). Four Things You Should Know about Detroit’s Water Crisis. Grist. www.grist.org/cities/the-4-things-you-should-know-about-detroits-water-crisis/.
Zamudio, M., & Craft, W. (2019, February 8). A Water Crisis Is Growing In A Place You’d Least Expect It. NPR. www.npr.org/2019/02/08/691409795/a-water-crisis-is-growing-in-a-place-youd-least-expect-it.
Angel C. Sowatskey
About 25 years ago, a movie came out that was known more for its failure than its storyline, but I was in awe of “Waterworld” with Kevin Costner because of the original plot, which was based on what climate change could do to the planet if we did not change our behavior. The main character had a machine meant to purify liquid before it could be drunk and to break up the monotony of watching the characters merely surviving, there were battles over dry land and drinkable water. Watching this movie was more beneficial than any science class I had taken up to that point as it gave me a better understanding of the threat of climate change and why, despite having vast oceans, we will one day have a formidable water shortage.
The coastal regions are the most susceptible to rising water levels and contamination via saltwater intrusion. One town dealing with these issues on the east coast of the United States is Dover, Delaware. Dover is located on the northern part of what is known as the Delmarva Peninsula. The entire peninsula is highly susceptible, but Dover is known for its aquifers and agriculture. The salt content of ocean water is approximately 18,000 ppm, but as little as 100 ppm can be poisonous to the surrounding plant life. Saltwater will not only destroy crops thereby affecting the financial status of the farmers who live there and ostensibly the surrounding area as the value of the land plummets, but it can also force nutrients from the soil which are inevitably carried to the Atlantic coast and Chesapeake Bay by rainwater, exacerbating algal blooms. There are several ways in which intrusion can happen, making a solution difficult. Droughts, in combination with over-pumping, can lead to the contamination of well water. One advantage the farmers have when drilling for water is that they do not have to drill as deeply for pure water and can use the freshwater closer to the surface for their crops as it is high in nutrients, but deeper wells used for drinking water have been practically abandoned after reports of salty tasting water and subsequent testing revealed high ppm. Climate change has also caused storm surges, which carry saltwater towards the land, and that water unfortunately can rest in irrigation ditches, over time making the earth saltier than the ocean once the water has evaporated. Finally, the tide levels have continued to rise several meters and even after the tides and storms retreat. The earth has been salted indefinitely.
Though it is likely that over time, plants and other species can become more tolerant to saltwater. The problem is salt is encroaching too fast for evolution to catch up, and eventually farmers will be driven from their lands as their crop yields become too scarce to provide them with a necessary livelihood. Some farmers have switched to planting and harvesting grains that are tolerant of the intrusion or investing in hardware such as drainage pipes and gates to prevent the saltwater from destroying crops, while others have taken to giving their land up to preservation projects to supplement their income. Research is ongoing when it comes to the conservation of uncontaminated groundwater, some solutions proposed are studying optimal times and locations for watering crops, though at the present time there are no solutions without detriment. Drilling for water often causes sinkholes, which is a new problem in that area and continuing to use freshwater at the same rate is becoming more expensive and less realistic.
Mammarella, K. (n.d.). Delaware’s Waterworld. The News Journal. https://www.wrc.udel.edu/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/DelawareWaterWorld.pdf
Murray, M. (2015, December 18). Delaware water supply faces future conflict. Delaware Online. https://www.delawareonline.com/story/news/2015/12/18/delaware-water-supply-faces-future-conflict/77056150/
Cox, J. (2019, March 26). Saltwater intrusion laying waste to Delmarva farms as sea level rises. Bay Journal. https://www.bayjournal.com/news/climate_change/saltwater-intrusion-laying-waste-to delmarva-farms-as-sea-level-rises/article_0fa5a3f0-21cc-11ea-8cc0-cbf489ef26cc.html
Angel C. Sowatskey
This is my sixth and final “doomsday paper” as I jokingly call them, as I walk away with a certain feeling of responsibility that I know better now, and therefore must do better and encourage others to do so as well. I had already chosen to write about overfishing in Africa, because I have a certain level of sympathy for people who turn to crime out of hunger, and I was telling a friend about the topic when she referred me to the documentary “Seaspiracy” on Netflix. It was enlightening, but the overall solution to end the overfishing of the oceans was to stop consuming seafood altogether. I have gone back and forth in my life with meat consumption, and spent maybe a decade altogether not eating animal products, so I understand the perspective, but the people of Cayar, Senegal have no choice but to supplement their nutrition with local fish, and this is the case for many of the less developed nations.
Cayar suffers from food insecurity because of the severe overfishing happening off the shore of West Africa. One of the most horrifying realizations of the drivers behind overfishing is that governments are subsidizing the demise of our oceans. Our tax money is directly funding ventures that are gluttonous in nature. The available funding backing the fishing boats means they are traveling farther and taking more than they would without subsidization. That is just the side of overfishing that is condoned, there is also unregulated and illegal fishing that threatens to take all remaining livelihood and sustenance from the people of Cayar. The women living in this area have been encouraged to take the lead in the fish processing industry by drafting a Code of Conduct and educating people against the dangers of the local fishmeal factory. An unexpected and unfortunate side-effect is slowing the progression of the empowerment of these once disenfranchised women. In this part of the world, red meat can be hard to come by and expensive. Typically, an animal is only purchased and slaughtered for a special occasion because the entire thing will be consumed at once because most people in Africa do not have access to refrigeration. When it comes to fishmeal, it must be a great affront to the people of Cayar who are unable to afford pork, but the pork is being fed the fish they risk their lives to try to catch and cannot. With the decrease in supply resulting in extra time and effort spent fishing, and increase in demand based on population alone, the price of fish has also gone up. FMFO (fishmeal fish oil) factories create a massive amount of pollution in the process of maintaining this first world fad. The trend in popularity of supplements endorsed by TV personality doctors has inflated demand for fish oil, which has proven to be a huge waste in resources, as the health benefits have been greatly exaggerated. Because FMFO factories are a huge waste of food, Greenpeace has called for a complete shutdown if sustainability is ever going to be reached.
At the present, the best solution to slow depletion is hyper vigilance against the illegal fishing boats and regulating the legal fishing boats so that they are easily identifiable or at least not obscured. There should also be limits enforced when it comes to foreign vessels in the waters of developing countries or at least an obligation to provide these places with a portion of what is caught. Now that it is becoming more common knowledge with social media and documentaries, there is hope that this information will galvanize a movement that will end subsidies and encourage people to adjust their diets where possible.
Wanko, D. P. (2021, March 8). To the women fighting to protect our ocean and food security: Thank you! Greenpeace.org. https://www.greenpeace.org/international/story/46666/to-the women-fighting-to-protect-our-ocean-and-food-security-thank-you/
Ottho, L. (2019, June). A Waste of Fish: Food security under threat from the fishmeal and fish oil industry in West Africa. Greenpeace. https://www.ohchr.org/Documents/Issues/Environment/SREnvironment/Call/NGOs/GreenpeaceInputs 2.pdf
Stella Wang, Accounting, Penn State University
Liuzhou is a city in Guangxi Province of China known for its urban design that incorporates many elements of nature. The city faces the threat of food security for its over 2 million inhabitants. The coronavirus pandemic was particularly damaging to the city as workers were laid off and prices of goods spiked. Higher prices of food makes availability to every citizen harder. Many people, often of lower social classes, struggle with poverty and hunger because they do not have the means to purchase food. China has long faced issues with securing sufficient food for its people due to the country’s high population. The country has found difficulty in distributing food to remote areas that desperately need supplies. Increasing numbers of people are moving to urban locations to find better opportunities, while the amount of farmers is on the decline. This is concerning because the proportion of people providing food for the country is unbalanced, making food security an even greater problem. In relation to climate change, fickle weather conditions are problematic as longer dry seasons make crop yields decrease. Although Liuzhou mainly relies on neighboring agricultural communities for food, the availability of that food plays a role in supply & demand in the city. Liuzhou is located in the Southeastern part of China, where summers are hotter and drier than ever recorded before. This has adverse effects on growing crops, some of which are more particular to temperature than others. Over usage of soil has also caused crop yields to be less plentiful. To counter this, some farmers excessively use fertilizers and herbicides to get more effective results. It is forecasted that Liuzhou will continue to face problems with food shortages in the future as climate change makes crop yields less regular. The movement of rural townspeople to the city will also be a problem as cost of living may impoverish more inhabitants. To help solve the problem of food security, the government has worked to distribute food to those who need it. Local people have also come together to help provide food to shelters and food banks.
Jinxia, W., Robert, M., Ariel, D., Jikun, H., Scott, R., & Lijuan, Z. (2008). Can China Continue Feeding Itself? The Impact of Climate Change on Agriculture. World Bank. https://openknowledge.worldbank.org/handle/10986/6592?locale-attribute=es
MacDonald, S. (2020). China, Food Security and Geopolitics. The Diplomat. https://thediplomat.com/2020/09/china-food-security-and-geopolitics
Ian Brehm, Business, Penn State World Campus
Castroville, population 6,521, is a census-designated place in northwestern Monterey County, California. Known as the “Artichoke Capital of the World,” Castroville lies at the northern edge of the Salinas Valley, the “Salad Bowl of the World.” The $11.7 billion agricultural sector in Monterey County produces nine percent of California’s total agricultural sales (Economic contributions, 2020; Monterey County…, 2017). In Monterey County, agriculture employs about one in five workers; in Castroville, it is one in three (Economic contributions, 2020; Industries in…, 2018).
The threat facing Castroville is saltwater intrusion. Castroville overlies the 180/400-Foot Aquifer, itself a collection of four confined coastal aquifers – the 180-Foot Aquifer, the 400-Foot Aquifer, and two Deep Aquifers at 900 and 1500 feet – separated by clay aquitards. Due to their proximity to Monterey Bay, their lack of a natural hydraulic barrier, and their low groundwater levels, the aquifers are susceptible to regional intrusion; their saturation levels are the only barrier to the inflow of saltwater. Further, due to the presence of cracked and abandoned well casings that enable the downward flow of contaminated water, the aquifers are susceptible to inter-aquifer intrusion (MCWRA, 2020, p. 31). This pathway is particularly concerning, given that flow from higher aquifers is the only known recharge source for the Deep Aquifers, meaning intrusion in them is impossible to reverse.
The California Department of Water Resources has classified the 180/400-Foot Aquifer as a critically over drafted basin, meaning present trends are adversely affecting the quantity and quality of water in the aquifer (CDWR, 2020). Why are these aquifers being drained? Groundwater supplies 95 percent of the water used in Monterey County (MCWRA, n.d. a). In 2019, the most recent data available, 117,400 acre-feet (ac-ft) of water were extracted from the aquifers, an overdraft of 5,200 ac-ft above sustainable levels (SVBGSA, 2020a, p. 22). For comparison, one acre-foot of water is approximately 326,000 gallons. This resulted in a 1.5-foot fall in groundwater level, a 6,100 ac-ft reduction in total storage, and the permanent loss of an additional 2,000 ac-ft to saltwater intrusion (pp. 30-35). At its farthest point, saltwater now extends over 6 miles inland. This problem is caused by drought, which both increases demand for water and reduces the amount of rainwater that ordinarily recharges some of the aquifer reserves through percolation. Currently, the U.S. Drought Monitor reports Monterey County is experiencing extreme drought (Rippey, 2021).
The largest effect of saltwater intrusion in Castroville is on agriculture, which accounts for 90 percent of aquifer withdrawals (SVBGSA, 2020a, p. 22). When seawater is used for crop irrigation, it deposits salts that accumulate in the soil, creating highly saline and highly toxic growing conditions, leading to low productivity and reduced yields. Furthermore, saltwater unlocks agricultural pollutants such as nitrogen and phosphorus from the soil, enabling them to easily flow into water bodies, causing eutrophication (Weissman & Tully, 2020). Finally, there are the obvious harmful effects to human and animal health from ingesting saline water. In the long term, this intrusion degrades ecosystems and, combined with rising sea levels, converts land into marshes (Saltwater intrusion, n.d.).
Local efforts to combat saltwater intrusion are already underway. The Castroville Seawater Intrusion Project (CSIP) is a water recycling program operating since 1998 (MCWRA, n.d. b). Under the program, domestic and agricultural wastewater and stormwater runoff is collected and treated to remove contaminants. The water is then redistributed through signature purple pipes to be used for irrigation, reducing dependence on groundwater extraction. Over 12,000 ac-ft of water are recycled each year through this initiative, reducing annual dependence on groundwater extraction by over 2,000 ac-ft (Castroville Seawater..., n.d.; Project benefits, 2017). The sustainability plan for the 180/400-Foot Aquifer, released by the SVBGSA, supports the expansion of this in-lieu aquifer recharge program as well as the expansion of nearby direct aquifer recharge programs in which recycled water is injected directly into vulnerable aquifers to prevent intrusion (2020b, p. ES-15). The plan also calls for construction of several wells parallel to the shoreline to act as a hydraulic barrier, either by injection of freshwater or by extraction of intruding seawater, and the removal of invasive riparian species that diminish groundwater percolation into the aquifers. A May 2020 MCWRA report recommends additional measures: terminating new well construction throughout the 180/400-Foot Aquifer, barring most current pumping, and increasing reliance on the CSIP (p. 6). Proper destruction and sealing of inactive wells is also key to preventing further inter-aquifer intrusion.
In the longer term, as saltwater intrusion progresses and drought frequency and severity increases, Castroville will be forced to take more drastic steps to reduce its dependence on groundwater. Desalination is the most likely strategy. The SVBGSA sustainability plan suggests desalination of seaside well water as a fallback if short-term strategies fail (2020b, p. ES-15). Though a bid for constructing a regional desalination plant in Monterey County was withdrawn in 2020 over environmental justice concerns, larger desalination operations remain a possibility. (Xia, 2016).
California Department of Water Resources [CDWR]. (2020). Critically Overdrafted Basins. water.ca.gov/ programs/groundwater-management/bulletin-118/critically-overdrafted-basins
Castroville Seawater Intrusion Project overview. (n.d.). Monterey One Water. www.montereyonewater.org/210/Castroville-Seawater-Intrusion-Project-O
Economic contributions. (2020, June). Monterey County Farm Bureau. montereycfb.com/ index.php?page=economic-contributions
Industries in Castroville, California. (2018). Statistical Atlas. statisticalatlas.com/place/ California/Castroville/Industries
Monterey County, California. (2017). U.S. Department of Agriculture. www.nass.usda.gov/ Publications/AgCensus/2017/Online_Resources/County_Profiles/California/cp06053.pdf
Monterey County Water Resources Agency [MCWRA]. (n.d. a). Groundwater level monitoring. www.co.monterey.ca.us/government/government-links/water-resources-agency/programs/groundwater-level-monitoring/overview
Monterey County Water Resources Agency [MCWRA]. (n.d. b). Monterey County water recycling projects (CSIP/SVRP). www.co.monterey.ca.us/government/government-links/water-resources agency/projects-facilities/castroville-seawater-intrusion-project-salinas-valley reclamation-project-csip-svip
Monterey County Water Resources Agency [MCWRA]. (2020, May). Recommendations to address the expansion of seawater intrusion in the Salinas Valley groundwater basin: 2020 update. www.co.monterey.ca.us/home/showpublisheddocument/90578/637255787124030000
Project benefits. (2017, December 23). Pure Water Monterey. purewatermonterey.org/about us/project-benefits/
Rippey, B. (20201, July 22). California. Drought Monitor. droughtmonitor.unl.edu/CurrentMap/ StateDroughtMonitor.aspx?CA
Salinas Valley Basin Groundwater Sustainability Agency [SVBGSA]. (2020a, January 9). 180/400-Foot Aquifer subbasin groundwater sustainability plan. svbgsa.org/wp-content/uploads/ 2020/04/SVBGSA-Combined-GSP-2020-0123-rev-032520-1.pdf
Salinas Valley Basin Groundwater Sustainability Agency [SVBGSA]. (2020b, March 30). Water year 2020 annual report. svbgsa.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/180400-AnnualReport2020- 20210330-Optimized.pdf
Saltwater intrusion. (n.d.). USDA Climate Hubs. www.climatehubs.usda.gov/taxonomy/term/399
Weissman, D. S., & Tully, K. L. (2020, February 21). Saltwater intrusion affects nutrient concentrations in soil porewater and surface waters of coastal habitats. Ecosphere 11(2):e03041. doi.org/10.1002/ecs2.3041
Xia, R. (2020, September 16). Water company withdraws desalination proposal as battle over environmental justice heats up. Los Angeles Times. www.latimes.com/california/story/ 2020-09-16/monterey-bay-desalination-plant-withdrawn
Kylee Ehrensberger, Business, Penn State World Campus
Mhasawad is a village of about 8,400 people that flanks the Girna River in Maharashtra, India (Mallinson, 2016). Mhasawad is in rural India, which does not have access to safe and clean drinking water. There is no tap water, stores containing safe bottled water, or electricity. 60% of India has salty ground water. Although India’s groundwater does not contain an alarming amount of salt, prolonged consumption can result in both short-term and long-term illnesses (MIT News, 2014). Many of the villagers have on-going digestive and heart issues. As you can imagine, water with any amount of salt makes the taste undesirable. The horrid taste of the ground water leads villagers to drink from water that is more unsanitary- yet better tasting (Mallinson, 2016). Consuming unsanitary water can lead to illnesses, disease, and even death. Since the village of Mhasawad is not part of the power grid, desalinization is even more difficult. Researchers have opted for solar powered desalinization. Reverse osmosis systems have proved to waste up to 70% of the ground water while the water is being worked through the system (MIT News, 2014). Solar powered electrodialysis, or electrodialysis reversal (ERD) is seen as an effective method, both waste wise and financially. Once all the kinks are worked out of solar powered electrodialysis system, it is projected to provide clean water to 250 million people residing in the off-grid villages of India (Mallinson, 2016). Until and only after a solution to the salty drinking water has been implemented, health crises and long-lasting effects the Mhasawad villagers are experiencing will lessen.
Mallinson, A. (2016, July 19). The Quest for Clean Water. MIT Energy Initiative. https://energy.mit.edu/news/quest-clean-water/
MIT News. (2014, October 3). Sun-Powered Desalination for Villages in India. GE News. https://www.ge.com/news/reports/sun-powered-desalination-for-villages-in-india
Olivia Kulla, Psychology, Penn State University
Ambovombe is a city in the Androy region located in the south of Madagascar. It has an estimated population of 114,000 (Ambovombe-Androy, 2021). While all of southern Madagascar experiences the worst famine situation in the last four decades, Ambovombe is mentioned repeatedly as the community that is hit by famine and malnutrition the most (Reliefweb, 2021). Like many other communities in developing countries, Ambovombe contributes very little to climate change but experiences the most devastating effects. The ongoing famine is not caused by political conflicts but can be strictly attributed to climate change (Besheer, 2021).
There are several reasons why Ambovombe is vulnerable to famine. The city has experienced drought upon drought since 2014, leading to poor harvest (Babbs, 2020). Famine and drought are not unique for the community, but this time it is particularly bad. Ambovombe didn’t get much rain last year during the rainy season, and now strong winds (made worse by deforestation) build dunes on farmland and dry up the land even further. Moreover, plants covered by dust have reduced photosynthesis and don’t grow as well (Mongabay Environmental News, 2021). Wells are empty, and it takes several hours to get water. Additionally, last year, the community experienced a swarm of locusts, and this year an infestation of armyworms has damaged maize crops (Besheer, 2021). As a result, food security has declined significantly, and thousands are starving.
The forecasted impacts on the community are devastating. There is already a crisis as it is. Thousands are in catastrophic conditions (IPC Phase 5), and the numbers are estimated to double this October (United Nations, 2021). People scavenge for food, and many live on raw cactus, wild leaves, locusts, and tamarind fruit mixed with clay. People are dying and not only from malnutrition and hunger. The community has seen a rise in HIV/AIDS infections, strokes, and depression caused by the harsh living conditions (Mongabay Environmental News, 2021).
Moreover, Global Acute Malnutrition (GAM) has doubled over the past four months in children under five years to 16.5% in the region. In Ambovombe, GAM is 27% – an alarmingly high rate (United Nations, 2021). Young children are sick and at an increased risk of dying. Many choose to leave Ambovombe searching for food in other places, but many don’t have the resources or the strength to do so.
Ambovombe is in acute need of help getting its people through the lean season that goes into the next harvest in March. While not a long-lasting solution, the US granted $40 million in emergency assistance earlier this summer (Besheer, 2021). The money is for the southern region of Madagascar, including Ambovombe. For a longer-term solution, the city planted 30,000 trees in January this year in an attempt to reforest its area (Mongabay Environmental News, 2021). However, it might be that the community will become uninhabitable in the future.
Babbs, S. (2020, November 24). SEVERE FAMINE IN THE SOUTH OF MADAGASCAR. Diocese of Toliara. https://dioceseoftoliara.org/en/severe-famine-in-the-south-of madagascar/.
Besheer, M. (2021, June 22). WFP: Catastrophic Hunger Descending on Southern Madagascar. Voice of America. https://www.voanews.com/africa/wfp-catastrophic-hunger descending-southern-madagascar.
ReliefWeb. (2021, April 29). Southern Madagascar on brink of famine, warns WFP – Madagascar. https://reliefweb.int/report/madagascar/southern-madagascar-brink famine-warns-wfp.
Ambovombe-Androy. (2021, July 21). In Wikipedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ambovombe-Androy.
Mongabay Environmental News. (2021, January 29) Dusty winds exacerbate looming famine in Madagascar’s deep south. https://news.mongabay.com/2021/01/dusty-winds-exacerbate-looming-famine-in madagascars-deep-south/.
United Nations. (2021, June 23). Madagascar’s hungry ‘holding on for dear life’, WFP chief warns. UN News. United Nations. https://news.un.org/en/story/2021/06/1094632.
Amelia Arthur, Pennsylvania State University
The increasing demand for energy and technology coupled with the increasingly threatening effects of climate change and carbon dioxide emissions have led to expansion of nuclear power in the global energy portfolio (World Energy…, 2021). The biggest problem that nuclear energy faces, and a prominent ethical dilemma, is the disposal of radioactive waste. Radioactive waste is difficult to maintain as it destroys a great deal of materials that it comes into contact with. A region that has been greatly impacted by the mismanagement of radioactive waste is the Columbia River from the Hanford nuclear reactor in Washington. The contamination of this river has numerous consequences, some of which will take centuries to correct (Hanford and…, 2011). It is hard to decide which effects of radioactive contamination are worse than others, but one of the most prominent issues is the contamination of groundwater (Monitoring Hanford’s…, n.d.). Radioactive contamination of groundwater poses numerous threats to human life and the ecosystems that are hydrated and fertilized by the river. During its peak, the Hanford reactor used water from the Columbia River to cool down the rods used in the reactions and then that water, contaminated with radioactive particles, was dumped back into the river. The contaminated water poisons the wildlife populations both inside the river and those outside that drink from the river. In addition to this, the surrounding soil and plants become contaminated with radioactive waste. In effect, the land is devastated and cannot be used to produce any sort of food or house people or wildlife (Hanford and…, 2011).
With goals to move away from depletable energy sources and global efforts to reduce carbon dioxide emissions, it has been proposed that increasing nuclear energy production will be an effective way to meet energy demands. But as these energy demands continue to increase and the effects of climate change continue to be perpetuated, there will be more radioactive waste to be treated and disposed of (World Energy…, 2021). This poses the important questions: how will this waste be disposed of? How will radioactive waste affect local ecosystems? Does nuclear energy do more harm than good? Based on past trends and the events of the Columbia River, it suggests that more bodies of water will contaminate an increasing area of soil. More concerningly, drinking water, which is already a scarce enough resource, can become contaminated and undrinkable. Low income areas and those populated with marginalized identities will be disproportionately affected as well. In order to do what is best for the people, it is important to engineer ways to reduce the toxicity of nuclear waste and reduce nuclear waste production in general, as nuclear energy may be one of the best way to help solve the energy crisis.
Monitoring Hanford’s Groundwater and Protecting the Columbia River. (n.d.). Department of Ecology: State of Washington. https://ecology.wa.gov/Waste-Toxics/Nuclear-waste/Hanford-cleanup/Protecting-air-water/Groundwater-monitoring.
World Energy Needs and Nuclear Power. (2021, November). World Nuclear Association. https://world-nuclear.org/information-library/current-and-future-generation/world energy-needs-and-nuclear-power.aspx.
Hanford and the River. (2011). Columbia River Keeper.
Matthew Bowers, Earth Sustainability Certificate, World Campus
In Dar es Salaam, the largest city in Tanzania, water quality is a serious issue that directly affects the health of its residents. Bacterial and chemical contamination is common in most shallow wells throughout the city, as industry and waste dumping occur close to water sources. Specifically, water samples throughout Dar es Salaam were contaminated with Total Coliform (TC) and Fecal Coliform (FC) due to runoff from pit latrines which are prominent in the region (Saria and Thomas, 2012). Approximately half of the city’s population gets its water directly from the official public water supplier, which utilizes groundwater, while the other half gets water from private wells that are rarely tested for contaminants (Sakijege, 2019). Throughout East Africa, access to safe water is an ever-growing issue due to population growth, which is increasing faster than the capacity of the government to provide water. This is the case in Dar es Salaam, which is one of the fastest growing cities in the world (Massy-Beresford, 2015). To amplify this issue, only 4% of residents have access to the city sewer network, meaning that the majority of wastewater is unprocessed and free to runoff into water bodies or the groundwater system (Ministry of Water and Irrigation, 2009). The consequences of contaminated drinking water are severe from a health perspective. Diseases such as cholera, intestinal worms, typhoid, schistosomiasis, chronic diarrhea, and malaria are preventable diseases that are above-average in Dar es Salaam and throughout most of Tanzania (Maji Safi Group, 2020). Overall, solutions to the water quality issue in Dar es Salaam include rainwater harvesting, further development of wastewater and drinking water infrastructure, and improving the poverty rate. These actions would connect more people to the city’s water system and decrease the number of open latrines that are a main source of contamination (Maji Safi Group, 2020). Additionally, education is also useful to combat this problem. By educating residents on proper ways to treat and store drinking water, disease rates would hopefully decline (Saria and Thomas, 2012). Overall, if Dar es Salaam does not fix its water quality problem, more and more lives will be lost due to preventable diseases, especially as the population continues to grow.
Causes of Water Pollution in Tanzania. (2020). Maji Safi Group. https://majisafigroup.org/causes-of-water-pollution-in-tanzania/
Massy-Beresford, H. (2015). Where is the fastest growing city in the world? The Guardian. https://www.theguardian.com/cities/2015/nov/18/where-is-the-worlds-fastest-growing-city-batam-niamey-xiamen
Ministry of Water and Irrigation. (2009). Water Sector Status Report. https://www.maji.go.tz/uploads/publications/en1568462448-Water_Sector_Status_Report_2009_1_.pdf
Sakijege, T. (2019). Private water distribution as a potential everyday risk: The case of Goba, Dar es Salaam. Jamba (Potchefstroom, South Africa), 11(1), 775. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6739562/
Saria J.A., & Thomas, I.M. (2012). Water Quality in Selected Shallow Wells in Dar es Salaam. HURIA Journal of The Open University of Tanzania, 11.
Matthew Bowers, Earth Sustainability Certificate, World Campus
In Stevens Village, Alaska, the loss of king and chum salmon species has threatened the lives and livelihoods of its residents. This small community that sits along the Yukon River normally utilizes fall salmon runs to stock up on food for the winter, but the state of Alaska has banned subsistence harvesting of these species due to their low numbers (Howard & Flaccus, 2021). As a result, many residents are scared that they will run out of food during the winter. Being off of the road system, Stevens Village is only accessible by plane or boat, and high shipping costs and long travel times make the food supply limited and expensive. Salmon fishing not only provides much-needed food for residents, but it is a large component of the town’s traditional and tribal culture. The restriction on subsistence harvest means that the annual summer fish camp has been canceled. For thousands of years, families have gathered along the Yukon River during the summer to catch and preserve salmon as well as pass on community values and lessons (Petersen, 2021). Additionally, the community economy is impacted, as there is no more excess salmon to be sold (Hughes, 2021). Climate change has impacted king and chum salmon because these species rely on cold, fast-flowing waters to reproduce, something that has become less common as temperatures rise and sea ice and glaciers melt. The warming waters have not only restricted spawning, but also introduced a parasite that negatively impacts population numbers (9 animals…, 2015). As a result, residents of Stevens Village and other remote Yukon communities anticipate the decline of king and chum salmon to continue into the future. A current solution has involved fish donations from seafood processors in Bristol Bay, Alaska. Community and tribe members are also negotiating with wildlife managers to grant locals special hunting permits so that they can harvest more moose, caribou, and other game to meet the protein demands of their diets (Hughes, 2021). Finally, fisheries management can focus on improving salmon habitats and reducing commercial fishing operations to allow for subsistence fishing in places like Stevens Village. Overall, the warming effects of climate change will continue to impact salmon species, and residents of this town might have to change some of their traditions in order to acquire enough food and survive.
Howard, N., & Flaccus, G. (2021). Dwindling Alaska salmon leave Yukon River tribes in crisis. ABC News. https://abcnews.go.com/Lifestyle/wireStory/alaskas-vanishing-salmon-push-yukon-river-tribes-brink-80366499
Hughes, Z. (2021). Unprecedented salmon declines force fish donations to Alaska’s Yukon River villages. Anchorage Daily News. https://www.adn.com/alaska-news/rural-alaska/2021/07/30/unprecedented-salmon-declines-force-fish-donations-to-alaskas-yukon-river-villages/
Petersen, V. (2021). Record Salmon in One Place. Barely Any in Another. Alarm All Around. The New York Times. https://www.nytimes.com/2021/08/12/dining/wild-alaskan-salmon.html
9 animals that are feeling the impacts of climate change. (2015). US Department of the Interior. https://www.doi.gov/blog/9-animals-are-feeling-impacts-climate-change
Emma Cox, Earth Science and Climatology, College of Earth and Mineral Sciences
Individual small-scale case studies of climate change are becoming ever more common as the changing environment continues to affect more local communities. Tehuacán, Mexico, is just another city added to the list of places that has been affected environmentally and economically because of the imposing threat of drought and abnormally high temperatures. Tehuacán has been cultivating and domesticating corn for thousands of years and has provided the country and local farmers with economic success. However, more recently, because of certain climate change influenced events, growing corn in Tehuacán has started to become a much less fruitful venture.
Tehuacán is located in the Mexican state of Puebla, in the southeastern region of the nation. Corn is one of, if not the, most important crops in this region of Mexico, but in recent years it has actually been imported more from other countries. This is because many of the local farmers are being forced to change to more heat-resistant crops like pistachios because of the decrease in precipitation in the area (Oré, 2020). This decrease in precipitation is coupled with the increasing temperatures in subtropical regions globally. Because of the increasing frequency of droughts from lack of rain in summer months, many of the crops are producing less viable harvests. The city of Tehuacán has produced significantly less crops these past several years than average, even having a bigger loss percentage than the rest of Mexico (Novick, 2021).
According to Brandon Novick of the Global Majority E-Journal, the Mexican government has not been on track to combat this climate crisis from the start of the pandemic since resources have been allocated elsewhere to save on spending. There isn’t much of a solution to this problem because of the susceptibility to droughts Mexico has been subjected to for a number of years at this point. Many families from states and countries south of Tehuacán are starting to immigrate there because drought conditions where they are from are even worse (Walton, 2021). This has caused an increase in the overall area that corn cultivation is taking up, but local farmers are still beginning to switch to crops that require less irrigation (Oré, 2020). This has been the major solution that most farmers have taken up from having no other choice but to completely change the crop that their family may have been cultivating there for decades.
Novick, Brandon. (2021, June). The Unavoidable Crisis: Climate Change in China and Mexico. Global Majority E-Journal, 12(1), pp. 41-59. https://www.american.edu/cas/economics/ejournal/upload/global_majority_e_journal_12 _1_novick.pdf
Orè, Diego. (2020, February 21). In Mexico’s cradle of corn, climate change leaves its mark. Reuters. https://www.reuters.com/article/us-climate-change mexico/in-mexicos-cradle-of-corn-climate-change-leaves-its-mark-idUSKBN20F0OC
Walton, Brett. (2021, August 24). Drought Push More People to Migrate Than Floods. Circle of Blue. https://www.circleofblue.org/2021/world/droughts push-more-people-to-migrate-than-floods/
Rachel Crozier, Political Science, World Campus
Dacope, Bangladesh is a coastal community of around 140,000 people near the Rupsha River, which leads into the Bay of Bengal. This community was hit by back-to-back cyclones in 2007 and 2009, destroying homes and agriculture (Kabir et al, 2016). It has been difficult for the people to recover economically. The main livelihoods are fishing, raising livestock, and agriculture.
A major threat to the people of Dacope is saltwater intrusion. They depend on rivers and ponds for drinking water and for agriculture. As detailed in the Journal of Environmental and Public Health, the salinity in the rivers has risen in recent years, especially during the dry months, as the sea water makes its way up into the rivers (Kabir et al, 2016). Saltwater has also been found in nearby wells. The soil salinity has risen from breaches of barriers and dams during storms. This has made it very difficult or impossible to grow crops in affected areas. Stronger storms and rising sea levels are a result of rising temperatures due to global climate change.
The people of Dacope must travel to collect water. They have been traveling farther and farther to find fresh water sources. Women and girls especially feel the toll, as they usually do this work. Sometimes they have no alternative but to drink salty water. There are increasing cases of hypertension as a result. An article on maternal health explains that pregnant women in the area are at an increased risk of pre-eclampsia, with cases rising 28% in coastal Bangladesh since 2012 (Siddique, 2018).
With an increase in the severity of storms, it is projected that flooding will continue in coastal Bangladesh (Chowdhury, 2021). The seawater will continue to contaminate drinking and agricultural water sources. To address these issues, more effective barriers to stop tidal flooding and storm surges could help keep sea water from damaging the soil and homes, although the people living closest to areas which flood and erode may still be forced to move further inland. The ability to store more rainwater would increase the supply of safe water into the dry season. Regular testing of water sources is also necessary to ensure safety. Desalinization technology, although costly, would help greatly.
The people of Dacope are at risk due to poverty and the changing climate. The government of Bangladesh, as well as other wealthier nations, should help this community by providing desalinization technology, building stronger barriers, and assisting with rebuilding or relocating to safer land if necessary. A global effort to reduce emissions is necessary to slow rising temperatures and protect vulnerable communities like Dacope.
Chowdhury, Z. H. (2021, November 10). The Women of Bangladesh’s Climate Frontlines. The New Humanitarian. https://www.thenewhumanitarian.org/photo-feature/2021/11/10/women-coastal-Bangladesh-climate-change-front-lines
Kabir, R., Khan, H. T., Ball, E., & Caldwell, K. (2016, October 27). Climate Change Impact: The Experience of the Coastal Areas of Bangladesh Affected by Cyclones Sidr and Aila. Journal of Environmental and Public Health, 2016. https://doi.org/10.1155/2016/9654753.
Siddique, A. (2018, June 20). Increase in Drinking Water Salinity in Bangladesh Heightens Risk of Pregnancy Complications. Earth Journalism Network. https://earthjournalism.net/stories/increase-in-drinking-water-salinity-in-bangladesh-heightens-risk-of-pregnancy-complications
Esteban Galindo-Carvajal, Architecture, Penn State University
Ambovombe is a city in Southern Madagascar. Currently, Southern Madagascar is approaching what is being referred to as the first climate change induced famine. Following five years of below average precipitation, four droughts, and deforestation, the country has faced additional sandstorms that have damaged what little remains of agricultural land. The combination of these events has led to food shortages throughout the country, including in the city of Ambovombe. Up to a million people face severe food insecurity and death tolls have started to rise.
One of many reasons this community is so vulnerable is that 91% of inhabitants reside beneath the poverty line. For many this means there is little hope or possibility to find alternative food sources. Another reason for this poverty and vulnerability is that many of those affected survived based on subsistence farming. Without this option, many have no recourse. As many have stated in the past, less developed countries are the ones who suffer to the greatest extent due to climate change. Madagascar produces 0.01% of global carbon emissions yet its location in lower latitudes affects its temperatures and precipitation. Its poverty also offers no assistance in responding to rising climate related problems.
The dangers caused by such famines include but are not limited to high child mortality and developmental problems that affect the future population of the country. Livestock and agriculture productivity are expected to continue to decrease as the drought is expected to
worsen. Other projections show more frequent and severe droughts in the semi-arid region of South Madagascar where Ambovombe lies. Some residents have already been forced to migrate elsewhere and forecasts predict more climate migrants to leave Southern Madagascar as famine approaches while water, sanitation, and health decrease.
Solutions to this threat require global action, especially from first world industrialized countries who are the biggest contributors to global CO2 levels. These countries need not only to provide financial support for the affected countries, but also make sure they take part in global agreements and conferences to stay below the 1.5˚ C benchmark. Additional solutions require the phasing out of fossil fuel sources. Specific solutions for Ambovombe require humanitarian aid consisting of money, food, and medical and health resources. UNICEF, the U.N. World Food Programme, and Amnesty International are among those already responding to the crisis.
Castillejo, E. (2021, November 1). S. Madagascar on the Verge of Climate Change-Induced Famine: How to Help. ABC News.
In Madagascar, Pockets of Famine as Risks Grow for Children, Warns WFP. (2021, November 2). United Nations News.
Madagascar: Global Leaders Must Act Urgently to Save Lives and Protect Rights Threatened by Climate Crisis. (2021, October 27). Amnesty International. https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/news/2021/10/madagascar-global-leaders-must-act urgently-to-save-lives/.
Laura Guay, Biobehavioral Health, University Park
I was particularly interested in the food security unit, so I chose to look at the city of Nyala, which is the capital of the Darfur region of Sudan. This particular city represents an example of how food security is impacted by climate change, largely through flooding and droughts brought on by heavy rains and heat waves, and intensified through political turmoil (ICRC, 2020).
This community of Nyala is particularly vulnerable to the threat of food insecurity because of the high rates of poverty and decades of conflict throughout the Darfur region, creating a large community of internally displaced people in the city (Torres, 2020). The war in Darfur, the region in which the capital is located, also plays a significant role in this. In addition, this conflict is largely ethnically motivated and related to ethnicities and different types of subsistence farmers (African and Arab). The region is also facing the economic hardship and climate change impacts of drought, which impacts harvest. The increasing temperatures make yields for crop production drop dramatically, showing this cycle of conflict and drought continuing (WFP, 2017). With the droughts and floods that are increasing in the city, it is exceedingly difficult for farmers to produce any food, leading to an increase in food prices for an already poor population (ICRC, 2020).
The forecasted impacts on Nyala include flooding of farmlands, destruction of homes, and destruction of shelters of internally displaced people in camps located in Nyala. During the rainy season, there is oftentimes intense flooding experienced, damaging the crops and resulting in food insecurity. This is despite efforts to cultivate the land. It is really difficult to respond in these situations, because during the rainy season, the flooding can lead to damaged roads, making it difficult for humanitarian aid to access the area. Moreover, the humanitarian aid is already decreased due to all of the other investments they must make in the Darfur region, particularly with the ethnic conflict (Torres, 2020).
Solutions to address the threat have largely been crafted by the international community, such as through World Food Program (WFP) launching programs. One such program included Leading Farmers to Markets (F2M), working to empower women, addressing climate change, and offering a new way to gain income through agricultural work. It also involved a multi-stakeholder approach outside of the UN system, incorporating the government and microfinance institutions (IFAD, 2016). WFP has also worked in camps of internally displaced people in Nyala by creating a voucher card system to reorganize how food is distributed within the camp (Dabanga, 2021). Still, with the poor governance system, the efforts to prepare for future flooding are lacking. If the Sudanese government does not make a commitment to these issues, the flooding will continue having a profound impact on Nyala and throughout the Darfur region as well as Sudan at large (Torres, 2020).
Darfur displaced suffer from severe food crisis. (2021, February 27). Dabanga. https://www.dabangasudan.org/en/all-news/article/darfur-displaced-suffer-from-severe-food-crisis
Mustafa, Y. (2020, October 30). Sudan: Food shortages widespread as communities face triple threat of clashes, climate shocks and COVID-19. ICRC. https://www.icrc.org/en/document/sudan-food-shortages-widespread-communities-face-triple-threat-clashes-climate-shocks-and
Torres, A. (2020). Adding insult to injury-flooding and climate change in Sudan. Darfur Women Action Group. https://www.darfurwomenaction.org/adding-insult-to-injury-flooding-and-climate-change-in-sudan/
IFAD. (2016, August 29). IFAD and WFP team up to promote food security in Sudan. World Food Programme. https://www.wfp.org/news/ifad-wfp-team-up-promote-food-security-sudan
Sova, C. (2017, November 30). The first climate change conflict. World Food Program. https://www.wfpusa.org/articles/the-first-climate-change-conflict/
Natasha Singh Katoch, Psychology and Life Sciences, Earth and Sustainability Minor, Penn State University
According to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, climate change has altered production systems and compromised food security and nutrition for millions in the Philippines. (Philippines, 2021). To begin with, the Philippines has a serious and persistent hunger situation, and they face high retail food prices that predominantly affect rural areas (Food security…, 2015). The brunt of this compromised food security is faced by the farmer community in the rural areas.
Although ironic, farmers in the rural Philippines are more likely to be susceptible to the food insecurity and malnutrition due to climate change because they have not been able to yield a fruitful harvest (Bermejo, 2017). Farmers have reported that either due to too much heat or too much rain, harvesting even a single successful cropping season is difficult to achieve (Bermejo, 2017). Usually, a successful cropping season yields them harvests three to four times annually, of which harvest from one hectare of their lands was enough to satisfy a farmer’s familial consumption. However, extreme weather conditions such as long-term drought and flooding have damaged several hectares of crops (Bermejo, 2017).
One such situation was faced by the rural farmers of the Western Visayas region of the Philippines, the third largest rice producer of the Philippines (Bermejo, 2017). In the province of Negros of the Western Visayas, during September of 2017, heavy rains and flooding destroyed 917 hectares of rice lands and affected nearly 800 farmers across six towns in the province. This damage was attributed to be up to 222,000 U.S. Dollars (Bermejo, 2017). But this was not the first time that the farmers of Western Visayas faced severe food insecurities due to the effects of climate change. A prolonged season of El Niño that lasted from October 2015 to May 2016 overwhelmed nearly 90,000 rural farmers in four other provinces of that region. More than 80,000 hectares of farmland were lost to this eight-month drought that gave rise to the food insecurity rates in the country (Bermejo, 2017). Hence, the forecasted impacts include a concerning rise in the malnutrition rate, especially in children and women amongst the affected population.
In order to improve the conditions of rural farmers in areas such as Western Visayas, the government and its agricultural subsidiaries should consider promoting climate-smart practices across the nation. For instance, investing in diverse crop varieties that are drought tolerant. Additionally, the government’s agrarian sector should aim to introduce reformed farming practices and technology to support rural farmers who are suffering losses in their farmlands due to climate change. Lastly, farmers should be supported by the government with an alternate livelihood option in case of natural disasters such as typhoons and flooding.
Bermejo, K. (2017, October 17). Climate change will impact Philippines’ ability to feed its people. Eco-Business. https://www.eco-business.com/news/climate-change-will-impact-philippines-ability-to-feed-its-people/.
Food security in the Philippines. (2015). FutureLearn. https://www.futurelearn.com/info/courses/food-systems-southeast-asia/0/steps/83785.
Philippines. (2021). Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. https://www.fao.org/countryprofiles/index/en/?iso3=PHL%29.
David Marcial, Meteorology and Atmospheric Science, Penn State University
With its humid climate and proximity to water, Miami might not appear to be the type of city dealing with drinking water shortages. However, the reality is that Miami is proving to be especially vulnerable to climate change, and the associated issue of clean water availability is currently one of the city’s most pressing matters.
Miami and its suburbs lie atop the Biscayne Aquifer, which is the main source of freshwater for the region. Beneath the surface, the aquifer borders salty groundwater originating from the Atlantic Ocean. Sea level rise and overuse of freshwater have created a pressure deficit in the aquifer, causing the border between the fresh and salty water to encroach inland in a process known as saltwater intrusion (Miami Can…, n.d.). Experts say that the salt has already penetrated the bottom of the aquifer and will eventually reach the depth of wells, resulting in dangerously high or even undrinkable levels of chloride in the water (Lambrecht, 2020).
Moreover, the increased frequency and intensity of heavy rain and flooding events, expected to increase even more with climate change, are putting additional stress on Miami’s water quality. The Biscayne Aquifer is made of porous limestone and lies very close to the surface, making it particularly susceptible to contamination from the seepage of chemicals. There is a concern that chemicals near EPA Superfund sites that have been well-contained for decades will become dislodged and contaminate groundwater as the flow of both surface water and groundwater becomes more chaotic and unpredictable (Flavelle, 2018).
Promoting acceptable water quality in Miami is possible through a combination of solutions. For example, better collection and use of rainwater would dampen runoff and flooding, and if used effectively, would limit the withdrawal of water from the Biscayne Aquifer, thereby lessening the degree to which saltwater would be able to intrude. Reusing greywater (drainage from showers, baths, and laundry) for non-potable uses such as toilet flushing and irrigation would also keep the strain on the aquifer in check (Miami Can…, n.d.). Another solution is to install desalination plants, although these plants are energy-intensive and costly. Generally speaking, technologies exist to combat saltwater intrusion and declining water quality in Miami, but these technologies will make access to safe drinking water more expensive and competitive, raising legitimate ethical concerns (Flavelle, 2018).
Miami Can Potentially Run Out of Water. (n.d.). Ecovie. https://www.ecoviewater.com/article/miami-can-potentially-run-out-of-water/
Flavelle, C. (2018, August 29). Miami Will be Underwater Soon. Its Drinking Water Could Go First. Bloomberg Businessweek. https://www.bloomberg.com/news/features/2018-08-29/miami-s-other-water-problem
Lambrecht, B. (2020, November 23). Salt Levels in Florida’s Groundwater Rising at Alarming Rates; Nuke Plant is One Cause. Howard Center for Investigative Journalism. https://cnsmaryland.org/2020/11/23/salt-levels-in-floridas-groundwater-rising-at alarming-rates-nuke-plant-is-one-cause/
Gabriel Wagner, Information Sciences and technology, Penn State University
When water quality in the United States is talked about, towns such as Flint, Michigan are the usual examples that are brought up. However, one city is struggling with its water quality but rarely gets talked about: Reno, Nevada. The sources from which Reno gets its water are split into two places. Most of the water flows from the Truckee River originating at Lake Tahoe. The other remaining water is gathered by wells in deep-water aquifers at Truckee Meadows Water Authority’s service area in Reno (Jones, n.d.).
The issues facing Reno, Nevada’s water quality stem from the fact that there are multiple contaminants that have been found (Jones, n.d.). One of the contaminants that was found in the tap water by an independent third party was arsenic (Jones, n.d.). Arsenic is a naturally occurring chemical that is found in soil and bedrock within some parts of the U.S, and while a little is ok to consume, Reno has very high levels. The arsenic that is in Reno’s water leaves the community and those who drink it susceptible to various types of cancers (Jones, n.d.). Another issue with Reno’s water quality is the fact that there are also high levels of chloroform in the water which have come from various industries. Chloroform in the water can cause many health issues to the community and those who drink it such as cancer of the brain, liver, and kidneys (Jones, n.d.). The contaminants that are found in the water in Reno are potentially causing serious health risks to those who drink it now and in the future.
One solution that residents of Reno can use to mitigate and combat the contaminants that are in their water is to use filters that have activated carbon. The activated carbon removes those impurities that are found in the water and makes it safer to drink (Jones, n.d.). Filtration is the most effective way for the residents of Reno to remediate the unsafe water quality that they are given. If house owners and community members utilized filters such as Brita it would have a big impact on the water safety concern in Reno.
Jones, A. (n.d.). Reno, Nevada Water Quality Report. Epic Water Filters USA. Retrieved November 9, 2021, from
Gabriel Wagner, Information Sciences and technology, Penn State University
When talking about food insecurity and areas where food may be scarce, one may be inclined to think of rural areas that have very little access to food. However, there is also food insecurity in some of the world’s biggest cities, one in particular that I want to focus on is Milan. Milan has a total population of around one million people, and that is only expected to increase in the future. In fact, by 2050, it is projected that two-thirds of people live in a city (Food insecurity…, 2020).
The issues that Milan is facing regarding food insecurity are various. As the population of Milan continues to rise, poverty, food insecurity, and malnutrition will continue to rise along with it (Food insecurity…, 2020). The rate at which food is entering Milan is staying consistent but the population and number of people needing food are continuing to grow. As this trend continues to rise where lower-income people are continuing to move to cities but find themselves unable to purchase food, city leaders are trying to find new and creative ways to combat this problem.
One example of how Milan is trying to solve the issues regarding food insecurity is with the Milan Urban Food Policy pact (Food insecurity…, 2020). This pact is working towards creating more sustainable urban food systems through improved health, environmental, and food access outcomes. Another initiative that Milan has started to solve the issues regarding food insecurity is the “I Don’t Waste” campaign which has provided students a reusable bag to bring home unused non-perishable lunch items. It has already saved 10,000 sandwiches, 9,000 pieces of fruit, and 1,000 pieces of the desert from being wasted and provides 50,000 meals a day (Food insecurity…, 2020).
Initiatives such as the Milan Urban Food Policy Pact and the “I Don’t Waste” campaign are just examples of how Milan is trying to resolve the threat of food insecurity now and in the future.
Food insecurity: Cities at the frontline. (2020, March 3). EAT. https://eatforum.org/learn-and-discover/food-insecurity-cities-at-the-frontline/.
Dalton Carey, Chemical Engineering, Penn State University
The threat that I will be writing about in this entry is water scarcity. Water scarcity is one of the major problems brought about by climate change, as it is immediately apparent and it has direct impacts human health and livelihood. Water scarcity can occur when the population of people who depend on a certain water supply, or even the global water supply, grows faster than the water can be treated for consumption or agriculture.
The community that I will be focusing on for this entry is Shenzen, China – the country’s major technology hub. This city is facing one of the most severe droughts since the mid-1900’s This directly impacts the 17.5 million residents of Shenzen who rely on having drinking water every day. To make matters worse, This past year’s La Nina cycle causes lower amounts of precipitation to this region in the winter and spring, which only worsens their water shortage problems.
This community is projected to be significantly impacted by their water shortage issues, especially if the problems are not solved quickly. As of January 2022, the city faces a water shortage of over one million cubic meters per day. When comparing this to their daily water consumption of about 5.4 million cubic meters per day, they are looking at a close to 20% shortage in their daily water supply. As was discussed earlier, this will no doubt impact the health and livelihood of the citizens of Shenzen. In addition, the economy of Shenzen will also suffer as they attempt to maintain their local environment, infrastructure, and societal improvements all while facing this water shortage. It will cost them billions of dollars annually until the supply problems are solved.
To combat the water supply, the local government began implementing a sponge city concept, which is akin to green infrastructure or low-impact development, in an effort to retain the city’s stormwater and wastewater to treating it for potable and non-potable uses. In addition to increasing the amount of available water to the city, it will also protect the ecological bodies of water that reside within the city such as lakes and ponds where there may be a diverse ecosystem of aquatic life, microorganisms, and plants that support the local environment. Where necessary, the city will fortify some of these ecological bodies of water to prevent them from wearing down over time. Overall, this sponge city is a step in the right direction, and may even be enough to solve the city of Shenzen’s water supply issues in decades to come.
Donnellon-May, G. & Guangtao Fu. (2022, January 5). Are ‘Sponge Cities’ the Answer to Shenzhen’s Water Scarcity? The Diplomat. https://thediplomat.com/2022/01/are-sponge-cities-the-answer-to-shenzhens-water-scarcity/.
Shenzhen. (n.d.). International Water Association. https://iwa-network.org/city/shenzhen/.
Sponge City. (2022, March 29). In Wikipedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sponge_city.
Sydney Dutton, Biology, Penn State University
Famine is increasingly becoming more of an issue around the world, and with climate change continuing to grow worse, famine grows along with it. In Fandiova, Madagascar, the community is being hit with the first famine caused directly by climate change, and it could hardly be worse.
Climate change has increased famine around the world by causing severe droughts, increasing aridity, and causing stronger storms that destroy crops and homes. In third world and developing countries, it becomes harder to sustain life with already limited materials. Specifically, in Fandiova, Madagascar, the people in this community have not seen rain for four years. It’s led to thousands of people living in the worst level of food insecurity in the world, and this number is forecasted to increase. No rain in four years has made it nearly impossible for the people of Fandiova to farm and harvest crops, and with the aridity continuing to rise, the soil continues to become drier and the crops that do grow are only growing because they can live in dry climates.
For the past eight months, families in Fandiova have been forced to eat locusts and cactus leaves. They spend all day finding these insects or cactus leaves to eat, and they are barely able to clean them with the little water they have available to them. They also must beg on the streets or beg their neighbors for food, and sometimes they go days without eating. They cannot harvest the crops they try to grow since there is no rain, and many people are dying of starvation every single day. Many people live off the World Food Programme’s rations, with no other belongings to their name. However, with the drought thought to become even worse in the next few months, more funding will be needed to sustain all of the rations for the people of Fandiova, or many will lose their only chance of survival. As climate change continues to become a bigger issue and droughts become more common, there is no end in sight for the communities living in these conditions, with little to no resources.
According to scientific experts, Madagascar needs to work on improving their water management before improvements in the quality of life will be seen. If people can use the forecasts given to know when there will be above average rainfall, farmers and the people of Fandiova along with the rest of Madagascar can prepare to be ready to harvest and farm crops. An increase of funding to the WFP can help provide more food and water to the people of Fandiova. The WFP is also working with the government to create a water pipeline and help families adapt to new farming styles to keep the community alive until the next rainfall.
Swansea University. (2020, February 14). Major study shows climate change can cause abrupt impacts on dryland ecosystems: Increases in aridity can damage ecosystems in areas where 2 billion people live. ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2020/02/200214161328.htm.
Harding, A. (2021, August 25). Madagascar on the brink of climate change-induced famine. BBC News. https://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-58303792
Thakral, S. (2021, July 8). Don’t look the other way: Madagascar in the grip of drought and famine. World Food Programme. https://www.wfp.org/stories/dont-look-other-way-madagascar-grip-drought-and-famine
Nicholas Guzman, Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Penn State Eberly College of Science
Mexico City, the capital and largest city of Mexico, has been dealing with the issue of limited access to clean water. Experts have predicted Mexico City will soon experience a ‘day zero’ event, meaning that access to clean water supply would be shut off for the entire city (McCord, 2021). In addition, the city is sinking at rates up to 20 inches a year (Simon, 2021). Both of these problems stem from the original design of the city, as lakes that existed surrounding the original portion of the city were drained to allow for expansion.4 This process took over 300 years to complete, and it left the city with only the ability to collect water from an aquifer directly beneath the city (Calvache, n.d.). Currently, no natural nor manmade infrastructure exists in or around Mexico City to collect and filter rainwaters. Because of this, all drinking water is pumped from the underground aquifer beneath the city which is causing subsidence to occur as the aquifer is drained and decreases in size (Simon, 2021). Current estimates forecast that the need for water will be 40% higher than the available supply for the year 2030 (McCord, 2021). The IPCC has predicted that in the future climate change will cause average yearly rainfall will decrease around Mexico City (Laursen, 2021). However, they have also predicted that due to climate change each incidence of rainfall will be much heavier. The government of Mexico has already done a few things to counter this problem, such as constructing public spaces that drain and filter rainwater back into the aquifer and reforestation of surrounding areas to help limit landslides from excess rainwater (Laursen, 2021). In addition, the nonprofit organization Isla Urbana has set up many stations in very poor sections of the city to collect rainwater to provide potable water to the poorest citizens (Laursen, 2021). In the future, it will be necessary for Mexico to more heavily invest in infrastructure to collect and filter rainwaters, as well as sanitary and functioning infrastructure to safely provide potable water to all of the citizens.
McCord, H. (2021, September 11). A sinking, Thirsty City: The water crisis in Mexico City. Latin America Reports. https://latinamericareports.com/a-sinking-thirsty-city-the-water-crisis-in-mexico-city/6075/
Simon, M. (2021, May 17). Mexico City could sink up to 65 feet. Wired. https://www.wired.com/story/mexico-city-could-sink-up-to-65-feet/
Calvache, A. (n.d.). Water funds of south america. The Nature Conservancy. https://www.nature.org/en-us/about-us/where-we-work/latin-america/stories-in-latin-america/water-funds-of-south-america/
Laursen, L. (2021, December 22). Climate change is helping Sink Mexico City. MIT Technology Review. https://www.technologyreview.com/2021/12/23/1041305/mexico-city-sinking-climate-change/?truid=8683f6b1d53628604fb71b6b18a873f3&mc_cid=450ce9bfe1&mc_eid=b6
Jason Langland, Architectural Engineering, Penn State University
The United Nations estimates that upwards of 750 million people faced hunger in 2020 and approximately 800 million suffered from malnourishment during the same year. These numbers are projected to increase in the coming years as the world’s population grows and extreme temperatures, rainfall, droughts, and generally unpredictable growing seasons increase stress on farmers. Political unrest due to migrations and strained tensions between countries may increase the threat of food insecurity even more.
Thirty years ago, more than one out of three people in the Brazilian city of Belo Horizonte were living in poverty, and nearly one in five children were malnourished. Recognizing the changes must occur to protect the health of the city’s people, a member of the left-wing Worker’s Party, Patrus de Souza, was elected mayor in 1992. He began a strong reform of food security and nutrition policies based off the idea that access to food is a basic human right. One year into his term, he launched the Belo Horizonte Food Security Program, which provides subsidies for urban agriculture, food price regulation, farmers markets, and free meals in public schools. Almost 200 vegetable gardens and 50 orchards were cultivated at nursing homes, welfare centers, and a prison in the city. Classes are offered at the local farmers markets which teach food preparation, baking, and processing. The nineteen-year period from 1991 to 2010 saw rates of extreme poverty reduced from 17.2% to 5.6% while also halving infant mortality rates. All this was possible while requiring $18 million to operate yearly, less than 2% of Belo Horizonte’s annual budget. Souza’s program has proven to be a massive success for the city, although current right-wing president Jair Bolsonaro has not seemed to acknowledge or endorse the program for wider use throughout Brazil, a country that has seen food insecurity rise to 60% during the pandemic. It is urban agriculture programs such as Belo Horizonte’s that will provide food security for those in regions susceptible to famines or malnourishment when crop returns are low.
Vilela, P. (2020, November 9). This City Makes Sure No One Goes Hungry—Even During COVID. Yes Magazine. https://www.yesmagazine.org/social-justice/2020/11/09/covid-brazil-food-security
Lowen. M. (2021, April 18). Covid in Brazil: Hunger worsens in city slums. BBC News. https://www.bbc.com/news/world-latin-america-56765150
Jacobson, M. (2015, November 1). Belo Horizonte food. World Wildlife Fund.
Makri, M. (2021, September 24). How Belo Horizonte’s bid to tackle hunger inspired other cities. Nature. https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-021-02412-x
Zaynab Roma Maanaki, Human Development and Family Studies, Penn State University
Brady, Texas is located in McCulloch County, Texas and is home to 5,528 residents and is often referred to as the heart of Texas. This small populated city was known for it’s farming and ranching community but is now known for the current water crisis. The city of Brady’s water system has the highest radium levels in Texas; it is currently at 9.8, making the radium levels over half the legal limit and leaving residents of Brady, Texas with high exposure to cancer causing elements in their water (Sadasivam, 2018). Cancer isn’t the only thing that residents are exposed to, drinking the water with such high radium levels can lead to kidney damage and birth defects (Sims, 2017). All of Brady’s water is in the Hickory Aquifer and it is their only drinking water source. While they had plans of using other sources, this was not possible after a drought hit Brady, Texas in 2011 (Sims, 2017). Community members of Brady are especially vulnerable as the city lacked funding for so long, leading residents to being exposed to unsafe drinking conditions for over five years. Residents of Brady have a history of not being taken seriously, even by their own community member, Mayor Tony Groves. Tony Groves, Mayor of Brady, Texas ignored the effects of water and took his time in creating a plan for the water system. In his words he, “trusted the drinking water” despite its very evident pollutants (Peguero, 2018). While the Mayor of Brady may have let his community down, the Texas Water Development Board did not. The Texas Water Development Board collected over 25 million dollars through grants and loans to help assist Brady, Texas in creating water filtration systems to filter out the harmful elements in their water and plan to have it finished by 2022 (Texas Water Development Board, 2022).
Glenn, V. (2021, May 19). Our water: Brady working on $27 million water system overhaul. Concho Valley. https://www.conchovalleyhomepage.com/water/our-water-brady-working-on-27-million-water-system-overhaul/
Johnson, K. (2018, January 20). Brady’s struggle with lowering radium levels. San Angelo Standard-Times. https://www.gosanangelo.com/story/news/local/2018/01/20/bradys-struggle-lowering radium-levels/1049500001/
Peguero, J. (2018, January 13). State and federal agencies find major problems in Brady’s Water. KTXS. https://ktxs.com/news/big-country/state-and-federal agencies-find-major-problems-in-bradys-water
Sadasivam, N. (2019, April 20). Almost 25,000 Texans are drinking tap water with high levels of radium. The Texas Observer. https://www.texasobserver.org/report-almost-25000-texans-drinking-tap-water-high-levels-radium/
Sims, E. (2017, July 20). ‘Heart of Texas’ struggles to overcome radium contamination in water. Troubled Water. https://troubledwater.news21.com/blog/2017/07/21/heart-texas-struggles-overcome-radium-contamination-water/
Texas Waterdevelopment Board. (n.d.). Search Result | Texas Water Development Board. https://www.twdb.texas.gov/search/#?cludoquery=brady%2C%20texas%20&cludopage=1&clu dorefurl=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.twdb.texas.gov%2F&cludorefpt=Home%20%7C%20Texas%20 Water%20Development%20Board&cludoinputtype=standard
Katelynn MacPherson, Psychology, Penn State World Campus
Food security is an issue that many communities in Mexico currently face. Having food security means food is available and individuals have access to it, and in the southern regions of Mexico the rates of citizens living in food poverty reaches up to 47% (Juarez, et al., 2010). In the state of Oaxaca, research has demonstrated that more than half of all households have trouble accessing food (Juarez, et al., 2010). Food poverty is highest in poor, rural cities like the Santa Catarina Tayata Community of Oaxaca, Mexico. The consequences of food insecurity are highest among indigenous populations like these, with 33% of children under five suffering from chronic malnutrition (Juarez, et al., 2010). These low-income communities are particularly vulnerable to rising food prices, which is directly related to the country’s high reliance on imported food sources.
Additionally, Mexico’s inability to achieve food self-sufficiency is tied to the shift from traditional diversified agricultural practices to simplified systems like monocropping (Novotny, et al., 2021). Many factors shaped these decisions, like the governments push for more “economically productive” crops (maize, beans), the effects of climate change, and reduced labor availability due to widespread migration (Novotny, et al., 2021). Currently, these decisions have led to less crop yield with less nutritional diversity, and an overall lack of vitamins and micronutrients in the populations of rural communities. However, a step towards food security in Mexico may be as simple as restoring traditional and diversified agricultural practices. The milpa system is a long-standing agricultural practice throughout the country that consists of growing corn along with beans and squash, which directly increases household access to a wider range of nutrients (Novotny, et al., 2021). Benefits of diversified crop systems also help to build resilience against the growing effects of climate change by conserving biodiversity, benefitting carbon sequestration, and increasing quality of soil (Novotny, et al., 2021). In a country where a staggering number of households fall into the category of serious food insecurity, achieving nutritional self-sufficiency will be a key goal for Mexico’s future. The benefits of diversifying cropping systems can help at the local community levels, and even has the potential to help in other food insecure areas of the world, like Latin America, Africa, and Asia.
Juarez, B., & Gonzalez, C. (2010). Food Security and Nutrition in Mexico. Global Agricultural Information Network. https://apps.fas.usda.gov/newgainapi/api/report/downloadreportbyfilename?filename=Food…
Novotny, I. P., Tittonell, P., Fuentes-Ponce, M. H., López-Ridaura, S., & Rossing, W. A. (2021). The importance of the traditional Milpa in food security and nutritional self-sufficiency in the highlands of Oaxaca, Mexico. PLOS ONE, 16(2). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0246281
Allison Welch, Earth Sciences, College of Earth and Mineral Science, Penn State University
Somalia is suffering from a famine today. This is caused by increasing droughts, with three major droughts in 2011, 2016, and 2021 (Staff, 2022). There have also been three straight, probably soon to be four, failed rainy seasons. This has led to failure of crops and the death of livestock causing the famine they are facing today (United Nations, 2022). Six out of every ten people have at least one family member lose their source of income, one-third of families have at least one person going 24-hours without eating and 700,000 livestock died in a two month period in Somalia (Staff, 2022).
Somalia is more vulnerable due to their hot, dry climate and poor governance system. Somalia is located over the equator on the east coast of Africa and has uneven rainfalls and regular drought. The country is poor, war-stricken, and vulnerable to climate change creating dry conditions, making it hard to support productive agriculture systems and ensure citizens needs are met (Somalia, n.d.).
Lower Shebelle, just like most of Somalia, was hit hard by the recent droughts and famine. Hamila Omar, a mother of six, trekked for three weeks to make it to a UN displacement camp. Four of her six children have died due to the famine, and she recounts the unimaginable pain of watching her children die in front of her due to lack of food. People are hard to care for after arriving to these camps because they are so weak from their journey there (Ki-Moon, n. d.).
The solution to this threat is unclear. One would obviously be decreasing greenhouse gas emissions to decrease the likelihood and severity of these droughts but that is hard to achieve. In Somalia, the only obtainable solutions would be increasing support and aid in the area, relying on drought resistant crops and water management, and relocating citizens.
Somalia. (n.d.). Climate Change Adaptation. UNDP. https://www.adaptation-undp.org/explore/eastern-africa/somalia
Ki-Moon, B. (n.d.). Famine in Somalia. Africa Renewal. United Nations. https://www.un.org/africarenewal/web-features/famine-somalia
Staff, A. J. (2022, February 10). ‘Drier than ever’: Somalia hit by Worst Drought Crisis in decade. Al Jazeera.
United Nations. (2022, March 28). Growing risk of Somalia famine, as drought impact worsens. UN news. https://news.un.org/en/story/2022/03/1114902
Nish Barot, Penn State University
Haiti, a nation with a history of colonialism and imperialism, has been impacted by climate change, including global food shortages. The capital of Haiti, Port-au-Prince, is no exception to this trend as it experiences the escalating dangers of increasing sea levels, failed rainy seasons, and soaring temperatures.
According to the Integrated Food Security Phase Classification, 4.7 million people in Haiti, or nearly half the population, are severely food insecure. These issues are most pressing in Port-au-Prince, where political unrest, armed gang activity, and rising prices restrict access to affordable food. History of foreign involvement has left its citizens with insufficient resources and has worsened the city’s food insecurity problem.
With 21% of the Haitian population living in Port-au-Prince, the effects of overpopulation are challenging to fix, but steps can be taken to help manage the situation. Urban planning and infrastructure, regional development to help citizens move elsewhere for employment, and agriculture support can assist in lifting the city and nation out of food insecurity. This is only possible with the aid of the International Monetary Fund and supportive nations, as Haiti’s financial conditions are unstable.
To effectively address food insecurity in Port-au-Prince and other vulnerable communities worldwide, it is essential to confront climate change and the historical roots of structural vulnerability and violence. By acknowledging the complex interplay between global warming, colonial history, and local conditions, solutions can be developed that empower communities like Port-au-Prince to build resilience and ensure food security for their inhabitants.
Kolbe, A.R. (2015). Urban Poverty and Violence in Haiti. Overseas Development Institute. https://www.odi.org/sites/odi.org.uk/files/odi-assets/publications-opinion files/9759.pdf
Koski-Karell&, V., Dortilus, E., Ayo Walker, Madeson, F., Ng, J., Seidman, D., Mahoney, A., Brown, E., Myers, K., Rozsa, M., Zhang, S., Goodman, A., Song, L., Miller, M., Collier, K., & Winters, J. (2023, March 11). Colonialism created food insecurity in Haiti, now climate change compounds it. Truthout.
Daniel Cheng, Penn State University
The city I chose for my fifth capstone is Delhi, India, and the major threat of food scarcity. Delhi is India’s capital and second-largest city, with a population of over 26.5 million people and one of the fastest-growing cities in the world. (Diehl et al.,2019) Food prices have also increased with the rapid growth of urban living and agriculture production going farther away from the city. With rapid population growth, less food being available, and the price of food going up, the population faces a major threat of food scarcity and malnutrition. All these threats coming together will put the future generation of the city in great danger.
As Delhi tries to tackle the food shortage by investing in new technology to grow and produce food quicker, the challenge will also include finding ways to reduce air pollution and produce crops sustainably and responsibly. Furthermore, the food currently produced is causing major CO2 emissions and polluting the air in Delhi. In November and December, farmers near Delhi burn rice straws from the fields to remove waste to plant the next batch of crops for local farmers to produce crops at the necessary pace. The burning of the straw is causing a large amount of smoke that travels into the city, causing respiratory issues to the population. (Hellin, et al.,2021) Delhi is coordinating with interdisciplinary approaches involving new technologies such as crop diversification, policy changes to incentivize green practices by farmers, and finding alternatives to reduce the burning of straw. (Hellin, et al.,2021) New innovative ways of producing their own agriculture and trade agreements where food is imported from other countries could provide relief to the fast-growing population of Delhi.
Diehl, J., Oviatt, K., Chandra, A., & Kaur, H. (2019). Household food consumption patterns and food security among low-income migrant urban farmers in delhi, jakarta, and quito. Sustainability (Basel, Switzerland), 11(5), 1378. https://doi.org/10.3390/su11051378
Hellin, J., & Singh, S. (2021). Cleaning Up Delhi’s Deadly Fall Smog Requires an Even Greener Revolution. Issues in Science and Technology, 37(4), 22-24.
Melanie Christine, Penn State University
I will discuss Miami, FL, and its water quality crisis for capstone four. South Florida is facing an encroaching issue of saltwater intrusion in their aquifers. This issue has been an ongoing issue caused by over-pumping wells, overuse of water, and changing natural water flow paths. The issue only worsens and accelerates with storm surges and rising sea levels. Miami is more susceptible to this because of the high population and the Everglades draining. They are also predicted to lose most of their freshwater resources with another two feet of sea-level rise because of saltwater intrusion. In a survey in 2011, approximately 1,200 square kilometers of the primary aquifers were intruded on by saltwater.
Saltwater intrusion has already led to the contamination and eventual abandonment of some well fields in Southern Florida. As sea levels rise, this intrusion will continue and will eventually affect and contaminate the coastal drinking water supply. Once the saltwater infiltrates the aquifers, that well water can no longer be used for irrigation or consumption and will likely be abandoned. Saltwater intrusion threatens our drinking and fresh water supply and can deplete it and raise costs for water. It can also cause cavities in the wells and cause sinkholes, and land collapses. Saltwater intrusion will also encourage flooding in areas.
Miami can maintain and restore wetlands, preserve habitats and coastal land, and monitor water use to control the situation. Currently, they are using salinity barriers in the canals to try to control groundwater, which has positively affected the situation so far.
Bausback, E. (2021, November 4). Tell Me about: Saltwater Intrusion in Florida. Florida Museum. https://www.floridamuseum.ufl.edu/earth-systems/blog/tell-me-about-saltwater intrusion-in
Climate Adaptation and Saltwater Intrusion. (2022, July 5). EPA, Environmental Protection Agency. https://www.epa.gov/arc-x/climate-adaptation-and-saltwater-intrusion.
Indicator: Saltwater Intrusion. (n.d.). Southeast Florida Regional Climate Compact. https://southeastfloridaclimatecompact.org/indicator-saltwater-intrusion/.
Lambrecht, B. (2020, November 23). Salt Levels in Florida’s Groundwater Rising at Alarming Rates; Nuke Plant Is One Cause. CNS Maryland.
Prinos, S. T., et al. (2014, May 13). Origins and Delineation of Saltwater Intrusion in the Biscayne Aquifer and Changes in the Distribution of Saltwater in Miami-Dade County, Florida. Scientific Investigations Report. https://pubs.er.usgs.gov/publication/sir20145025.
Saltwater Intrusion Active. (2019, March 2). Saltwater Intrusion | U.S. Geological Survey, Water Resources Mission Area. https://www.usgs.gov/mission-areas/water-resources/science/saltwater-intrusion#overview.
Hunter Davia-Zive, Penn State University
Dosso is a city located in the southwest region of the nation of Niger in North-Central Africa. Dosso is home to the agricultural tribe known as the Zarma people. Dosso is home to almost 60,000 people and is one of the most inhabited settlements in all of Niger. Unfortunately for the people of Dosso, their access to water is scarce and sometimes non-existent. Niger, in addition to being one the poorest countries in the world, is also known for having some of the most contaminated water and water scarcity.
Agricultural communities such as the Zarma people not only rely on water to survive but also need it to support their livelihoods. While water scarcity in arid desert climates such as Niger’s is more common, the degree to which Niger’s water crisis has reached is completely unacceptable. The majority of the people in the region do not have the money or resources to do anything about this issue, and the federal government of Niger has been known to be both unstable and corrupt. Because of this, it is up to the United Nations to aid the situation. The UN should allocate funds towards decontamination of the available water in the region and the construction of reservoirs and other water reserves that will increase the national supply. The UN has aided other countries in the region before so it is possible to implement this policy. The people of Dosso’s health and jobs are at risk, there is simply no other option than taking action.
Nigeria: Political stability. (n.d.). The Global Economy. https://www.theglobaleconomy.com/nigeria/wb_political_stability/
Reid, K. (2023, March 17). 10 worst countries for access to clean water. World Vision. https://www.worldvision.org/clean-water-news-stories/10-worst-countries-access-clean-water
The Editors of Encyclopedia Brittanica. (n.d.). Dosso. Britannica. https://www.britannica.com/place/Dosso
Paul Feite, Penn State University
Flint, Michigan is a city in the United States that experienced a severe water crisis from 2014 to 2019. This crisis was caused by the city’s decision to switch its water source from Lake Huron to the Flint River, a move that resulted in high levels of lead and other toxins in the drinking water. The decision to switch the water source was made by state-appointed emergency managers who were overseeing Flint’s finances.
This decision was made as a cost-cutting measure, but it had serious consequences for the city’s residents. The Flint River had a history of contamination, and the water treatment plant was not equipped to handle the new water source. As a result, the water was not properly treated with anti-corrosives, which led to high levels of lead and other toxins in the drinking water, a horrible outcome for Flint.
The effects of the water crisis were devastating for the residents of Flint. Lead exposure can have serious health consequences, particularly for young children, and the city saw a significant increase in cases of lead poisoning. Residents were advised to boil their water before using it, but this did not address the underlying problem of lead contamination. Many residents reported health problems such as rashes, hair loss, and respiratory issues. The crisis also had a significant economic impact, as businesses closed, and property values declined.
The response from government officials was slow and inadequate. The city and state initially denied that there was a problem with the water, and residents were left to fend for themselves. It was only after a group of activists and researchers brought attention to the crisis that the government began to take action. In 2016, the federal government declared a state of emergency in Flint, and funds were allocated to address the crisis. However, many residents felt that the response was too little, too late. This is like what happened in Ohio last month with the residents not getting help fast enough.
Flint Water Crisis: Everything You Need to Know. (2018, November 8). NRDC. https://www.nrdc.org/stories/flint-water-crisis-everything-you-need-know
Taking Action on Flint Water. (n.d.). Michigan.gov. https://www.michigan.gov/flintwater
Ray, M. (n.d.). Flint water crisis. Britannica.
Alexis Kennedy, Penn State University
The country of Haiti is dealing with major concerns of famine and food insecurity because of the effects of climate change, drought, and deforestation. Cité Soleil, located in the city of Port-au-Prince, is most sensitive to this concern. Around 65% of Cité Soleil’s population is experiencing elevated levels of food insecurity, with 5% needing humanitarian help, according to the World Food Programme. Cité Soleil is a very impoverished community with a lot of violence that consumes the streets. Various violent groups are trying to control certain areas of Cité Soleil, causing many of the residents to lose access to work, food, and health resources. Not only are people unable to work to afford food, but their local food markets are being destroyed. The hunger of the people of Cité Soleil is only causing an increase in the amount of violence that consumes the town. As violence and hunger continue, more roads get blocked off, causing families to not have access to necessities like food, fuel, or clean water. Famine leads to acute malnutrition, especially in children, which UNICEF believes is set to double for Haitian children. Malnutrition leads to diarrheal and respiratory diseases, which are the main causes of death for children in Haiti. Violence, famine, and death are only set to increase in the town of Cité Soleil unless immediate action is taken.
While many people would assume that providing emergency food support would be the first solution to the famine crisis, this would create more harm with the distortion of the food markets and business revenue. Some long-term solutions that would help feed and grow the economy of Cité Soleil include increasing the production of local and indigenous foods. This would allow local businesses to grow along with more food supply for individuals. Getting the youth of Cité Soleil interested in agricultural practices helps to keep the young individuals educated and decreases the chance of them participating in street violence.
Catastrophic hunger levels recorded for the first time in Haiti. UN World Food Programme. (2022, October 14). https://www.wfp.org/news/catastrophic-hunger-levels-recorded-first-time-haiti
McConville, K. (2022, November 3). Hunger in Haiti reaches unprecedented levels. Concern Worldwide. Retrieved March 28, 2023, from https://www.concernusa.org/story/hunger-in-haiti/
Grant Hoffer, Penn State University
Adair, Iowa is a small community of only around 791 people as of the 2020 census (Wikipedia). It is located in the southwestern part of the state, approximately 56 miles west of Des Moines, Iowa. Adair is surrounded by the corn and soybean agriculture that dominates the Midwest. As a result, Adair likely faces the same water quality concerns as other Iowa towns caused by increased nutrient loading into water resources during fertilization events in the surrounding farmlands. Nitrogen is the primary nutrient found to contaminate water resources from agricultural sources and can have a residence time of up to eight years in some Iowa reservoirs (Green et al., 2014). A 2003 study indicated that all Iowa lakes and reservoirs are eutrophic (enriched in nutrients and aquatic life to the point of consuming nearly all of the oxygen) at some point in the year, further adding to concerns regarding water quality (Hatch). Fortunately, Green et al. did find that central Iowa water basins showed a reduction in their annual nitrate concentrations in more recent years, likely due to high discharge from these basins during heavy rainfall events (2017). Consumption of high levels of nitrates can cause serious illnesses like cancer and thyroid enlargement in humans (Parvizishad et al., 2017). Solutions to this threat of increased nitrate loading in water sources mainly consist of policy creation by legislators and outreach by university and organization personnel to farmers in the Midwest. However, much work is still needed to foster farmer cooperation with these solutions; it was noted that public funding restrictions and timeframes are common barriers to the adoption of water quality improvement programs for farmers (Enloe, Schulte, & Tyndall, 2017).
Adair, Iowa – Wikipedia
Enloe, S. K., Schulte, L. A., & Tyndall, J. C. (2017). Public–private partnerships working beyond scale challenges toward water quality improvements from private lands. Environmental Management, 60(4), 574–587. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00267-017-0905-5
Green, C. T., Bekins, B. A., Kalkhoff, S. J., Hirsch, R. M., Liao, L., & Barnes, K. K. (2014). Decadal Surface Water Quality Trends under variable climate, land use, and hydrogeochemical setting in Iowa, USA. Water Resources Research, 50(3), 2425–2443. https://doi.org/10.1002/2013wr014829
Hatch, L. K. (2003). Factors affecting Iowa Lake and reservoir water quality. Lake and Reservoir Management, 19(2), 150–159. https://doi.org/10.1080/07438140309354081
Parvizishad, M., Dalvand, A., Mahvi, A. H., & Goodarzi, F. (2017). A review of adverse effects and benefits of nitrate and nitrite in drinking water and food on human health. Health Scope, In Press(In Press). https://doi.org/10.5812/jhealthscope.14164
Aisling McSwiney, Penn State University
All living organisms need food and water to live, simple as that. Unfortunately, food and water are not easy to come by everywhere in the world. Many places deal with food insecurity. There is currently a hunger crisis in the country of Madagascar, particularly in the southern regions such as the small village of Tsimanananda with a population of only 400 people. Tsimanananda, along with many other villages in Madagascar, used to rely on agriculture and livestock. Extreme drought since 2013 has made it close to impossible for any plants to grow, or keep livestock alive. This makes Tsimanananda an extremely vulnerable place and has caused the people living here to starve. One resident of the village reported watching four of his children die due to not eating or drinking any food or water for a whole week at the beginning of the drought. Unfortunately with climate change, the drought is only expected to get worse in the coming years. So what is there to be done? One resident of Tsimanananda, Loharano, who grew up in the village found a way to bring food to her people. Working with a local charity the Agro-ecological Centre of the South (CTAS), she has brought a different kind of agriculture to the village to grow their food. Certain grains such as millet and sorghum grow well in sandy dry conditions and can even improve the health of soil for the possible future of more kinds of plants and produce to be grown. Now the villagers have much more to eat however, this is unlikely a permanent solution. Though this is a great solution for now that can hopefully be spread to the rest of Madagascar, as mentioned before due to climate change it is expected the drought will worsen in coming years which still leaves the villagers with extreme water insecurity.
Byaruhanga, C. (2021, December 10). Madagascar Food Crisis: How a Woman Helped Save Her Village from Starvation. BBC News.
Dominic Prato, Penn State University
The threat of poor water quality in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso is primarily due to the city’s rapid urbanization and industrialization in recent years. As the city has grown, the water demand has increased, putting a strain on the city’s water supply and sanitation infrastructure. This strain has led to a decline in water quality, as the city’s treatment and sanitation systems cannot keep up with the demand.
Ouagadougou is the capital city of Burkina Faso and has experienced rapid urbanization and industrialization in recent years. This has put a strain on the city’s water supply and sanitation infrastructure, leading to poor water quality. The city’s population also relies heavily on groundwater wells, which are vulnerable to contamination from industrial and human activities.
Poor water quality can lead to a range of health impacts, including diarrheal disease, typhoid fever, and cholera. These diseases can be particularly dangerous for children and elderly people. Additionally, waterborne illnesses can cause economic and social impacts, such as missed school and work days, and can place a strain on already limited healthcare resources.
To address the threat of poor water quality, Ouagadougou has implemented several solutions, including increasing investment in water treatment and sanitation infrastructure, promoting water conservation and rainwater harvesting, and improving the regulation of industrial and agricultural activities that may pollute the water supply. The government has also worked with NGOs and international organizations to provide education and outreach to communities about water hygiene and sanitation practices. Additionally, the city has worked to diversify its water supply by exploring the potential for desalination and other alternative sources of water.
Water Supply and Sanitation in Burkina Faso. (2022, April 26). In Wikipedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Water_supply_and_sanitation_in_Burkina_Faso.
Josh Rowe, Penn State University
The community being considered in the entry is Korem, a town located in Tigray, Ethiopia. This community has a population of around 17,000 and has a semi-arid climate. The threat that this community, and surrounding rural areas face is twofold, but the threats are related. This community is faced with issues of food security and desertification due to climate change as well as poor agricultural practices. Food security is an issue facing all of Ethiopia, an estimated 14% of the Ethiopian population is suffering from severe food insecurity, other estimates suggest that over 20 million Ethiopians require food support. Desertification is another issue, due to climate change, along with poor soil management, overgrazing, and other agricultural practices, vegetation is disappearing in and around Korem, turning what was once farmable land into arid deserts. Korem is vulnerable to these threats for several reasons. One of which can be attributed to climate change. Ethiopia as a whole has faced six consecutive years of drought. We know that as climate change continues to be exacerbated, prolonged droughts and bouts of severe weather are likely, which is likely to affect poor arid regions, like Korea, more than developed regions. Another reason Korem is particularly vulnerable its geography is characterized by steep slopes. A combined effort of climate change, bringing droughts and large intense periods of rain, along with a lack of vegetation in the arid soil, means the areas are susceptible to increased landslides, as well as a lack of food. Some possible solutions for this threat include sustainable land management practices, like terracing and crop rotation which will help with soil fertility and help decrease erosion. Reforestation could also be a crucial solution, which would help in restoring land that has already been degraded, which would help improve climate change by storing carbon. Lastly, and most challenging, water resource management could be improved to ensure that the limited supply of water available is used to meet the needs of all sectors of agriculture as best as possible during times of sustained drought.
Crisis in Ethiopia: Drought and conflict put 28 million in need. (2023, March 1). IRC. https://www.rescue.org/article/crisis-ethiopia-drought-and-conflict-put-28-million-need
Korem. (2023). In Wikipedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Korem
Hunger in Ethiopia. (n.d.). Compassion.com. https://www.compassion.com/poverty/hunger-in-ethiopia.htm
Living with climate change, drought and desertification in Ethiopia. (2022, June 28). ReliefWeb.
Avi Singh, Penn State University
The village of Kivalina, Alaska is threatened by food insecurity as a result of climate change’s impact on the Arctic ecosystem. The residents of Kivalina, known as the Inupiaq people, used to support themselves by hunting and fishing. However, this way of life is being threatened by melting sea ice which is changing migration patterns of local fish and other wildlife, as well as degrading marine ecosystems. The community is vulnerable because it is a remote community located on a small island in the Chukchi Sea. This location is only accessible by sea or air and the infrastructure isn’t particularly developed, meaning access is limited and there are no ports or docks. Thus, the community relies mainly on hunting and fishing for both food and income since importing resources is limited and rather expensive. The community is vulnerable because of climate change since their access to sustenance is becoming increasingly limited and they cannot simply make up for it by importing these resources. The forecasted impacts on the food security of the community are negative. Since access to standard resources is limited, the Inupiaq people are losing part of their cultural heritage. Aside from this fact, the community now relies more on imported food that is expensive and of lower nutritional value. This has led to an increase in health problems like obesity and diabetes. In addition, the village is now at risk of being cut off from food supplies if a natural disaster occurs (which is more likely because of climate change). Some solutions to this threat include supporting new and sustainable hunting/fishing practices so that the community has consistent access to a food source or developing alternative food sources like greenhouse gardening or aquaculture. There is also a role for the government to play in addressing climate change and providing funding for food security.
Struzik, E. (2016, March 17). Food Insecurity: Arctic Heat Is Threatening Indigenous Life. E360. https://e360.yale.edu/features/arctic_heat_threatens_indigenous_life_climate_change
Carlin Blash, Penn State University
The threat in Thermal, California is high levels of arsenic in the drinking water (Facio-Krajcer & Cowan, 2022). Thermal is a community of immigrant farm workers located far from major cities in California (Facio-Krajcer & Cowan, 2022). As a result, the neighborhood gets its water from wells and not from a public water facility (Facio-Krajcer & Cowan, 2022). When water is retrieved from local wells, it is not always properly treated before consumption, leading to the population consuming harmful contaminants, such as arsenic. Arsenic in groundwater can come from organic matter, and organic matter may apply to nearby fields in Thermal percolates into the well water, which is then not treated to remove arsenic. Housing in Thermal is less expensive than elsewhere in California, which is why it attracts underpaid immigrant workers (Facio-Krajcer & Cowan, 2022). California’s expensive cost of living is why these people cannot move to escape the harmful water situation (Facio-Krajcer & Cowan, 2022).
If the high arsenic levels in the water continue, more people in Thermal will experience health issues associated with arsenic (Facio-Krajcer & Cowan, 2022). These can range from minor illnesses like rashes to life-threatening kidney disease and cancer (Facio-Krajcer & Cowan, 2022). Unborn children could also be harmed if their mothers accidentally consume the contaminated water while pregnant (Facio-Krajcer & Cowan, 2022). Likely, the people of Thermal do not have health insurance provided through work, so the cost of medical bills to treat major arsenic-related illnesses falls entirely on their shoulders. They may not be able to pay these bills, and ill citizens may have to stop working, which further devastates this population.
One solution is to appeal for state and federal government aid to install proper water treatment systems to remove arsenic from well water. The EPA has mandated that community leaders install filtration to address high arsenic levels, but this has not been a quick solution (Facio-Krajcer & Cowan, 2022). A second solution would be to connect Thermal to a public water facility from a nearby city, such as Coachella Valley, which would deliver safe water to the community (Facio-Krajcer & Cowan, 2022). This could also require government aid to fund the installation of the infrastructure, however, it might be a faster and easier solution than improving the filtration of the current well water system. If fixing the water quality issue proves too difficult or costly, a third solution involves relocating the people of Thermal. Since citizens in this community cannot afford to live elsewhere in the state, support from the government would be required to enable these people to move to more expensive communities with safer water (Facio-Krajcer & Cowan, 2022). The state government has provided the county with money to build more affordable housing, which has yet to be used (Facio-Krajcer & Cowan, 2022). If the community members push the state to build this housing where safe water is guaranteed, it would allow them to move away from Thermal and hazardous water.
Facio-Krajcer, A & Cowan, J. (2022, July 31). When There’s Arsenic in the Water, but ‘We Have Nowhere to Go.’ The New York Times. https://www.nytimes.com/2022/07/31/us/oasis-mobile-home park-coachella.html?searchResultPosition=4
Martha Christino, Penn State University
More than 10 million people in Mexico lack access to fresh water. The Comcàac Indigenous village in Punta Chueca has struggled with a lack of water for decades (Fox, 2022). During the Coronavirus pandemic, the village went without access to fresh water for two months. The accessible groundwater in Punta Chueca is too salty to be used. A desalination plant was installed in 2000, but broke frequently, leaving the people without access to freshwater for weeks to months at a time.
Punta Chueca faces two threats when attempting to gain access to fresh water. Desalination is required to use the local groundwater, so desalination plants must be installed to provide consistent local access to water. However, the desalination process dumps brine into the local waterways, which decreases the oxygen levels available for marine life. This can lead to reductions in the local fish population and even large-scale fish kills. Moreover, Mexico lacks regulations on the proper disposal of brine from desalination plants (Fox, 2022). The indigenous people in Punta Chueca rely on fishing and marine life for food and income.
There was a mixed reaction when the government agreed to fund a second larger desalination plant for the village in October of 2021 (Fox, 2022). The indigenous community is vulnerable with or without the installation of a second desalination plant. Access to fresh water for drinking and hygiene is obviously critical. Many community members became seriously ill during the two months the village went without fresh water. Nonetheless, dumping of brine into the local fishing area will lead to a decrease in the available food supply for the community.
Unfortunately, the forecasts for the area only bring bad news. Arid regions, such as the Punta Chueca village in northern Mexico, are expected to get drier due to climate change. This will further reduce the local water supply. Additionally, rising ocean temperatures and acidification will threaten the indigenous community’s ability to fish. Even without the second desalination plant, the annual fish yield has been between 10% and 40% lower than average across the Mexican state of Punta Chueca is located in (Fox, 2022).
Solutions that would improve the expected hardship for the Punta Chueca village are likely unrealistic. While the global reduction in CO2 emissions would help significantly, the world has already started warming and Punta Chueca will feel the impacts. The feasible solution that could benefit this community is a safe method of brine disposal and regulations to ensure safe brine disposal from desalination plants. If brine from the desalination plants could be used to generate revenue or create a useful product for the community, the desalination plants would gain popularity among villagers and the risk to the local fish population would be reduced. In addition, global regulations that mandate safe, if not productive, disposal of brine from desalination plants could aid Punta Chueca and similar villages around the world.
Fox, M. (2022, February 28). Desalination brings fresh water — and concern — to an Indigenous. The World From PRX. https://theworld.org/stories/2022-02-28/desalination-brings-fresh-water-and-concern-indigenous-village-northern-mexico
Shamima Chowdhury, Penn State University
Water quality and scarcity are becoming a growing issue and communities around the world are becoming sick as a result of water contamination, and this includes cities like Detroit, Michigan in the US. A New York Times article discusses how the citizens of Detroit, similar and geographically close to Flint, in particular, have become victims of failing infrastructure (old and outdated plumbing) and government inaction resulting in lead and copper-contaminated water in the cities and specifically in its schools (Nir, 2018). The issue of water contamination in this city does not necessarily directly relate to climate change, but it does highlight the continuous decline of water quality across the globe. Even outside of the consequences of climate change, community authorities are contributing to the worsening quality of water and decrease in the availability of clean drinking water. Detroit makes it clear that this is not just one or two cities, but a systemic failing of infrastructure and negligent government inaction that is making life (and water) more difficult to sustain. Detroit school districts performed blood tests that revealed elevated levels of lead in their children, and people have resorted to utilizing only bottled water (Nir, 2018). The children of Detroit are most vulnerable to this threat as they have had no choice for years but to drink and use their school drinking water, and early exposure to lead has long-term negative health effects as kids are still in the middle of their development. In addition to this, the city of Detroit is particularly at risk as the poverty rate is disproportionately high, and is home to a large community of color. These minority populations are inherently disadvantaged and unfortunately experience the brunt of failing water quality and lead poisoning. Additionally, these tests have only been done recently, indicating potential decades of exposure across thousands of people over time. The issue of water quality/scarcity will only continue to get worse without effective government intervention, as the solution of utilizing bottled water is a temporary bandage on a systematic issue. The deteriorating infrastructure in Detroit (and many other cities like it) needs new reverse osmosis filtration systems and the decaying pipes all across these communities need to be replaced. People can prioritize utilizing cold water when possible, and limit water use to aid in conservation efforts, but individual efforts only go so far. Effective environmental policies and regulations to protect water quality, improve infrastructure, and conserve water are necessary for successful change. The solution to this threat is not simple as clean water becomes more scarce, and widespread conservation efforts are necessary to preserve what is still available.
Nir, S. M. (2018, November 15). Not far from Flint, contamination has left Detroit School Taps Dry. The New York Times. https://www.nytimes.com/2018/11/15/us/detroit-schools-water-lead-contamination.html
Shamima Chowdhury. Penn State University
The threat of global climate change is pervasive, and the Native Swinomish tribe near the Washington coast is actively experiencing the consequences and planning for the future. The effects of ocean warming in particular threaten their community and their food supply. A Washington Post article explains that the Swinomish tribe relies on salmon as a staple of their food supply and culture, and the ocean’s warming waters have resulted in a decrease in the available fish as their tribal fisheries suffer (Morrison, 2020). As the ocean warms further and viable habitats diminish, organisms within the water are going to become more and more endangered. Fisheries are negatively affected, and access to fish and shellfish may become scarce as temperatures continue to increase. Disadvantaged minorities, such as natives, are the most vulnerable to suffering from climate change consequences, as they have the least resources, and larger, more resource-rich communities should ideally aid them in their time of need. The Swinomish tribe has responded well to the warming oceans with preservation efforts, imposing limits (either season limits or otherwise) to the fishing of endangered creatures, helping restore the native habitats, and using a combination of culture and science to shape their practices (Morrison, 2020). The native community is working on their solution to the threat of climate change by adapting their fishing practice, and helping restore environments for organisms to thrive and replenish. These restoration practices are vital in rebuilding habitats and mitigating the pervasive consequences of climate change. Fish populations can slowly recover and organisms that have become endangered will slowly expand in numbers. Though it may take decades for the environment in this area to recover, the Swinomish tribe is still investing in environmental efforts to protect populations in the long term. Their efforts are valuable and should be the model of how other communities/larger governments approach climate change. However, the oceans will only continue to further and the situation will only continue to worsen until larger actions are taken to reduce greenhouse gas emissions as well. If waters are still uninhabitable, fish/ocean creature populations may never fully recover. The native community’s solution to the changing climate and warming ocean is a great step in the right direction, as they are doing their best to restore their coastal environment, but fundamental changes in government and corporate practices are necessary as well.
Morrison, J. (2020, November 24). An ancient people with a modern climate plan. The Washington Post.
Aubree High, Penn State University
In 2020, nearly 1 in 3 people did not have access to adequate food (FAO et al., 2021). 2.37 billion people in the world experienced periods where they did not know where their next meal would come from. Food insecurities have a range of negative health effects; those without a proper diet lack the nutrients necessary to live an active, healthy life. Current trends predict global food insecurities to continue rising as our world begins to experience the dramatic effects of climate change. Since most of our resources rely on environmental stability to meet global food demands, any level of climate change will impact food production. We are currently experiencing high carbon dioxide levels and an increase in temperatures worldwide. Projected emission rates and extreme temperature changes will negatively impact food security across the globe. One region that is already being impacted by these changes is Tillabéri, Niger. A recent study determined that households in the Tillabéri region experience food insecurity an average of 3.54 months out of the year (Ibro et al. 2022). The same study also concluded that low agricultural production was largely to blame for food uncertainty and child malnutrition (Ibro et al. 2022). This area disproportionately experiences climate events that destroy crops and disrupt food transportation (Kemoe et al. 2022). Most people in sub-Saharan Africa rely on rain to water their crops as less than 1 percent of the land is rigged for irrigation (Kemoe et al. 2022). Relying upon rain to water crops is very unpredictable, especially since drought in the area is predicted to worsen; this will lead to increased food supply bottlenecks and shortages from variations in rainfall patterns (BMZ, 2018). Furthermore, climate-changing events have the ability to decrease the fertility of the farmland. One study showed that 57% of farmers in the Tillabéri region have reported a decline in their rainfed crops, and over 66% of those surveyed were not selling their crops as they did not even have enough for their families (Ibro et al. 2022). To reverse the impacts on this region, many have proposed training those living in Tillabéri on how to fight food insecurity. One German-led project in the area held women’s training sessions on how to treat and prevent undernourishment (BMZ, 2018). They also gave households better-quality seeds and advice on better crop-growing methods to improve total crop yield (BMZ, 2018). However, transformative change is also needed to improve food insecurity in the Tillabéri region. Strengthening the role of women in the area and emphasizing proper nutrition and sanitation levels will help improve malnourishment levels (Ibro et al. 2022). Overall, food insecurity is an incredibly important topic that needs to be focused on, particularly in areas like Tillabéri where the problem has already gotten out of hand. Everyone deserves access to food, and no one deserves to go to bed hungry.
Dan-badjo, Abdourahamane Tankari, et al. “Using improved varieties of pearl millet in rainfed agriculture in response to climate change: A case study in the tillabéri region in Niger.” Climate change research at universities. Springer, Cham, 2017. 345-358.
FAO, IFAD, UNICEF, WFP, and WHO. “The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World 2021” Transforming food systems for food security, improved nutrition and affordable healthy diets for all, 2021
German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ). “Food Security of Vunerable Population Groups in the Tillabéri Region.” Ministère du Plan, de l’Aménagement du Territoire et du Développement Communautaire, (2018)
Ibro, Germaine, et al. “Food security and child malnutrition in the regions of Maradi, Tahoua and Tillabéri in Niger: The status, the causes, and transformative change.” AIMS Agriculture and Food 7.3 (2022): 704-720.
Kemoe, Laurent, Pritha Mitra, Cedric Okou, and D. Filiz Unsal. “How Africa Can Escape Chronic Food Insecurity Amid Climate Change.” International Monetary Fund (IMF), (2022)
Chris Konen, Penn State University
The threat that the Inuit community faces is food insecurity. The Inuit community is a group of indigenous people spread across the United States, starting from Alaska, Canada, and Russia. The nature of the community’s way of life is that they rely directly on the environment for food. They obtain food through hunting in the forests and high seas. However, the community faces a real threat of food insecurity due to climate change patterns, which alter several essential food sources for the Inuit people (Bello, 2017). As a result, they face an existential threat.
The community is vulnerable because they rely on the environment and climatic patterns for food through hunting. Many of these communities move from one place to the next to hunt caribou, seals, and whales, among other food sources (Rosol et al., 2016). These food sources are limited and depend on the availability of these sea animals. Rudimentary hunting also increases their vulnerability because they must rely on traditional ways of monitoring weather conditions, and their fishing tools are not advanced enough to take them through dangerous conditions. For those who have motorized boats, their low-income status exposes them further to food insecurity because they cannot afford fuel or buy alternative food (Bello, 2017). These conditions work together to aggravate the situation.
The forecast impact is that communities will not access proper nutrition. The Inuit community is likely to have an insufficient supply of protein from the sea animals they consume because of the shortages of the animals and poor climatic conditions. Secondly, the cultural practices of the communities will likely be affected negatively because the Inuit hunt seals and caribou for cultural ceremonies. Since hunting sea animals is an important economic activity for the Inuit people, failure to capture them adequately will hurt their incomes (Bello, 2017; Rosol et al., 2016). Hence, the problem of poverty in the community could worsen. Adaption to climate change is a viable solution. The government can help subsidize the speed boats, which help the community to hunt in place of the present rudimentary boats that often make it dangerous for them to travel through broken ice. The community can help with modern technology to conduct the timing of the arrival of the animals since the Inuit rely on traditional weather patterns to determine which time to starfish hunting. Lastly, adopting new food alternatives may also help the community have something to fall back on when it is impossible to swim because of bad weather or the unavailability of sea animals (Bello, 2017). Combined, these methods may alleviate the food security of the Inuit people.
Rosol, R., Powell-Hellyer, S., & Chan, H. M. (2016). Impacts of decline harvest of country food on nutrient intake among Inuit in Arctic Canada: Impact of climate change and possible adaptation plan. International Journal of Circumpolar Health, 75(1), 31127. https://doi.org/10.3402/ijch.v75.31127
Bello, L. D. (2017, October 12). Globalisation and Global Warming Threaten Inuit Food Security. Rethink. https://rethink.earth/globalisation-and-global-warming-threaten-inuit food-security/
Grant Martin, Penn State University
Mecca (or Makkah), Saudi Arabia is going to face severe water shortage challenges in the future as a result of climate change. Studies have shown that Mecca has seen a gradual increase in average temperature since the late 1970’s (Kane, 2021). These increased temperatures not only put the population of Mecca at risk for heat-related health problems but this is coupled with a significant decrease in the amount of rainy days the city sees per year. Farmers in Mecca are concerned about the future of their crops with the increasing volatility of temperature. A recent study demonstrated that nearly 80% of Saudi Arabian farmers are concerned about climate change (Alotaibi). Not only will this adversely impact food security, but water availability and quality are at stake as well.
Mecca has responded to the threat of freshwater scarcity by turning to desalinization plants for the vast majority of their water supply. Saudi Arabia has the most desalinization plants of any country, and production of these plants has doubled over the past ten years. Saudi Arabia as a whole produces about 5 million cubic meters of drinkable water every day. Mecca, on average, consumes about 2.3 million cubic meters of water daily (Saleh, n.d.). This means that currently, the country produces enough fresh water to sustain the city of Mecca in its entirety while still having plenty left over. Increasing temperatures as a result of climate change (and an increasing population) in Mecca will only mean that the demand for freshwater will continue to rise. The development of desalinization technology has been a remarkably resourceful response to the looming threat of climate change. The rest of the world needs to take notice of what is going on in this city because desalinization offers incredible potential to ameliorate the world’s freshwater scarcity issue. The further development of these plants offers a more-than-plausible solution to one of the impacts of climate change, water scarcity, in the city of Mecca, and this should be implemented in more places around the globe.
Alotaibi, B. A. (n.d.). Farmers’ Beliefs and Concerns about Climate Change: An Assessment from Southern Saudi Arabia. Impact of Climate Change on Agriculture.
Kane, F. (2021, November 11). A Saudi-led study puts climate change’s Middle East health impact in perspective. Retrieved from Arab News: https://arab.news/br5x4
Saleh, S. (n.d.). Water consumption colume in Makkah in Saudi Arabia from 2011 to 2019. Retrieved from Statista: https://www.statista.com/statistics/627217/saudi-arabia-water-consumption makkah/
Brenda Paull, Penn State University
The town of Yellapur sits halfway up the Indian subcontinent between the Arabian Sea and the Western Ghats mountain range. It is in a fertile area where villagers grow areca nut—a crop that serves a similar function to chewing tobacco—and crops like rice and taro that require paddy fields. To feed these water-demanding crops, the monsoon comes every year from approximately June to October and dumps over 100cm of rain, a large portion of the region’s annual rainfall. However, the future of the Indian monsoon season is uncertain as warming is projected to cause drastic increases in the total monsoonal precipitation and trends towards precipitation extremes; all of which could have devastating effects on the people of Yellapur.
The monsoon season occurs when winds carry moisture from the Arabian Sea to fall in front of the windward side of the Western Ghats range; bringing needed rain to grow crops that are extremely sensitive to rain variability and time. Although rain is needed to grow crops, too much rain can wash them away, find them at an inconvenient time of the growing season, or bring pests that thrive in warm, wet weather. In addition to farming, increased flooding events can lead to hundreds of deaths like those that occurred in July and September 2021 from extreme flooding (Deshpande). According to the Clausius-Clapeyron equation, increasing the temperature by 1 degree Celsius will increase the amount of moisture that air can hold by as much as 7%. Coupled with the Paris Agreement goal of 2 degrees of global warming, scientists predict that the total monsoonal precipitation will increase by around 10% by 2100 (Niranjan). Although atmospheric aerosols from pollution have a net cooling effect currently opposing the warming caused by the magnified greenhouse effect, all climate models and most scientists agree that we will see an overall increase in monsoonal precipitation (Niranjan).
Though the people of Yellapur depend on the monsoon rains for their livelihoods and very lives, they contribute little to climate change and have few resources to defend themselves from flooding and drought. An agricultural practice that could help is digging trenches which encourages more rainfall to supplement groundwater. This sustains the region it’s applied to during drier monsoon periods and the dry months that occur during much of the year (Fountain). To save lives, the government of India is also working to forecast monsoon rain events and evacuate flood-prone areas before casualties occur. Though some of the effects of increased monsoonal rainfall and variability can be mitigated, crops will still be highly vulnerable and, for the villagers of Yellapur, keeping to the Paris Agreement’s climate goal is critical for their well-being in a changing world.
Deshpande, T. (2021, October 11). Climate Change is Making India’s Monsoon More Erratic. India Spend. https://www.indiaspend.com/earthcheck/climate-change-is-making Indias-monsoon-more-erratic-780356
Fountain, H. (2022, October 4). The Monsoon is Becoming More Extreme. New York Times. https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2022/10/04/climate/south-asia-monsoon-climate change.html
Niranjan, A. (2021, April 14). Climate Change Makes Indian Monsoon Rains Stronger. Deutsche Welle. https://www.dw.com/en/indian-monsoon-climate-change-rainfall/a-57187793
Andrew Poole, Penn State University
Fort Bragg is a city along the Pacific Coast of California in Mendocino County. The city of approximately 7,300 people mainly relies on water from the Noyo River and its tributaries (Callahan, 2021). However, the Fort Bragg community has continued to face a lack of quality water for drinking and other domestic uses because of saltwater intrusion caused by high tides due to rising sea levels along the coast. In addition, low rainfall in Fort Bragg has occasionally caused a decline in the river streamflow, increasing the vulnerability of the river to the intrusion of salt water from the sea (Callahan, 2021).
Saltwater intrusion is a huge problem and it will continue affecting Fort Bragg because of climate change. The increase in global temperature is expected to lead to the continued melting of great ice sheets (Branson-Potts, 2021). The result will be increased water in the Pacific Ocean, including along the coast of California, and the increase in sea level will make the city susceptible to high tides which would push more salt water into the nearby Noyo River, which will result in affecting Fort Bragg’s water supply.
Desalinization helps remove salt from the water and increases the freshwater supply to the residents for consumption. Currently, a desalination plant they have can filter up to 288,000 gallons per day, however, due to regulatory limitations with disposing of the leftover saltwater in the city’s sewer plant they are only allowed to process 144,000 gallons per day. One big issue with that is that is much lower than the 550,000 gallons of water used by the city residents daily (Callahan, 2021). Thus, more desalinization plants would need to be installed to help boost the freshwater supply in Fort Bragg. In addition, water conservation measures such as reducing consumption, fixing toilets, and fixing leaking mainlines can also help ensure adequate fresh water supply (Puszkin-Chevlin, 2021). Collecting and storing rainwater can also ensure an adequate fresh water supply.
Branson-Potts, H. (2021, August 12). Drought cripples a California coastal paradise: ‘we need water. we don’t have it’. Los Angeles Times. https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2021-08-12/mendocino-water-supply-depleted by-california-drought
Callahan, M. (2021, October 4). ‘we don’t have many other options’: Fort Bragg Readies Desalination Plant. The North Bay Business Journal. https://www.northbaybusinessjournal.com/article/news/postcards-from-the-drought-fort bragg-desalination-plant-ready-to-be-calle/
Puszkin-Chevlin, A. (2021, October 31). Climate & community: Saltwater intrusion is the climate threat few consider. News-Press. https://www.news press.com/story/opinion/2021/10/31/saltwater-intrusion-climate-threat-few-consider/6169238001
Therese Reilly, Penn State University
The threats of water contamination and declining water quality are difficult and complex climate change effects for society to remedy. Unsafe drinking water is something currently plaguing many communities around the world and those affected are multiplying as climate change gets more drastic each year. One area that is at the beginning of its contamination journey and is being extensively studied is Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The city originally came into the spotlight for water quality issues in 2017 when a warning was given to all residents of Pittsburgh, that they should boil their water before use in even the most menial of tasks. This was an effort to prevent a parasite that causes symptoms like nausea, cramps, and diarrhea from affecting the people of the city. Another thing affecting the city’s water quality is lead contamination. Lead has been found in the pipes of this city at quantities one and a half times greater than the federal maximum. The problems, however, will likely continue in Pittsburgh as the city is in the heart of what is being referred to as the ‘water belt’. This area of the United States is at a greater risk of contaminated waterways and contaminated drinking water due to flooding caused by climate change. In Pittsburgh, the city’s sewage system and storm drain system use one communal pipe to be transferred to a sanitation center. The issue with this system is that when there are large storms and flooding, the pipe becomes too full of storm drainage, and it results in an overflow into the Pittsburgh waterways.
Due to increasing climate change effects, there will be more storms to overwhelm the drainage system which will likely result in more frequent and more excessive dumping of contaminated sewage and storm water into the Pittsburgh water system. Fortunately, the city and the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority were awarded a state-issued loan to fix the drainage system. The city is also actively replacing pipes that suffer from lead corrosion to help alleviate the issues with tap water and public drinking water. These efforts will provide Pittsburgh with the tools it needs to fight against water contamination at the hands of climate change.
A city of water: Experts explain how climate change impacts Pittsburgh’s infrastructure. (2021, August 9). The Water Institute of the Gulf. https://thewaterinstitute.org/media/in-the news/a-city-of-water-experts-explain-how-climate-change-impacts-pittsburghs infrastructure.
Bendix, A. (2020, March 17). 12 cities with the worst tap water in the US. Business Insider. https://www.businessinsider.com/cities-worst-tap-water-us-2019-3.
Pittsburgh water crisis. (2022, October 3). In Wikipedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pittsburgh_water_crisis.
Raven Rickard, Penn State University
Yet another issue we face today is a threat to the quality of our water. The community I will be focusing on in this entry is Flint, Michigan. Specifically, the Flint, Michigan water crisis exposed an entire community to elevated lead levels and potentially life-changing effects.
The Flint, Michigan water crisis began in 2014. This was a result of the city changing its water source from the Detroit Water and Sewage Department, which contained treated water and was more expensive, to the water of the Flint River instead. This caused residents to complain about the foul smell, bad taste, and discolored appearance of the water. Some claimed it caused skin rashes, itchy skin, and hair loss. Officials were responsible for applying corrosion inhibitors to the water but failed to do so. This resulted in over 100,000 residents being exposed to elevated lead levels in their water, including over 9,000 children who drank this water for 18 months.
The water crisis caused the community of Flint, Michigan to be vulnerable to elevated lead levels. Between 6,000 and 12,000 children were exposed to drinking water that contained high levels of lead. Another reason this community is vulnerable is because Flint has had economic hardship for a long time. This includes high unemployment and poverty rates. The city is also 57% African American and minority communities have been unfairly treated in terms of having access to both clean air and water.
This water crisis was forecasted to have a very negative effect on the community. Children can experience the long-term effects of lead poisoning because their bodies are still developing. These effects can include an increased chance of Alzheimer’s disease, learning and development issues, permanent brain damage, speech problems, and hearing issues that can last a lifetime. Adults can experience effects like increased rates of cancer. The water crisis also may have caused an outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease that killed 12 people and infected 87 more in the county during this time.
The solutions to this threat did not come quickly or easily for the residents. Though the citizens protested over the state of their water, officials tried to assure them that the water was safe to drink. This crisis was not taken seriously by many officials. This included four Government officials who resigned or were fired because of mishandling the situation. There were many other officials charged with felony counts and misdemeanors for their roles in the crisis. Although the city did switch back to the old water system in October of 2015, lead was still present in the water because of damage to the pipes. The solution was for the citizens to be delivered bottled water, and for thousands of lead pipes to be replaced. In August 2020, the victims of the water crisis were awarded a combined settlement of 641 million dollars, with 80% going to the families of the children who were affected by this crisis.
Bralower, T. (n.d.). Module 8: Flint Water Crisis..
Denchak, M. (n.d.). Flint Water Crisis: Everything You Need to Know. https://www.nrdc.org/stories/flint-water-crisis-everything-you-need-know.
Flint water crisis. (n.d.) In Wikipedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flint_water_crisis.
Justin Tannenbaum, Penn State University
There are water quality issues in most countries in this world. Water quality issues mean there could be problems with infrastructure, cleanliness, or access to water. Water is a basic need for humans to survive and in areas where there are water quality issues it can pose real threats to human life. Countries that do not have large amounts of money for good infrastructure often struggle to provide their citizens with good-quality water. In addition, a lot of these countries also do not have high precipitation rates and also have hotter and drier weather. All these factors combined can cause water availability and quality to be scarce and unhealthy.
Muyexe is a village in South Africa that has been identified by the National Comprehensive Rural Development Programme as one of the poorest villages in South Africa. This village does not have good access to adequate housing, electricity, and even water. Water in Muyexe is sourced from privately owned boreholes. This forces the citizens to buy this precious resource to survive. The community has to travel to a neighboring village to buy water in twenty-five-liter containers. To compare, the average American family uses more than three hundred gallons of water per day. Not having access to quality water can cause many issues, such as diseases that in other countries are preventable. In addition, water is needed for agriculture and lack of it hurts their food supply. As climate change becomes a greater issue, the problem will worsen and eventually, the area will dry up and it will be even harder to find good-quality water. However, the government and other organizations have been doing work to help the region.
The Department of Water Affairs in South Africa has and is planning to drill more boreholes for the local villages to have more access to water. The Macena Women’s Garden is a garden run by fifteen local communities, but because of poor infrastructure, there have been massive amounts of crop failures. The CRDP and the Development Bank of South Africa have partnered to create a water treatment facility to support the village and the region as drought seasons become worse. The facility will take water from a nearby dam that will be directly piped to Muyexe; however, it is still under construction. Water scarcity is a huge problem in areas where drought and infrastructure are a high concern, but some organizations are trying to help.
Muyexe. (2022, June). In Wikipedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Muyexe
Land and Environmental Affairs on the oversight visit to Muyexe, Limpopo. (2012, October). Pmg. https://static.pmg.org.za/doc/2012/comreports/121029sclandreport.htm