A March 2, 2015 NY Times article states, “Drawing one of the strongest links yet between global warming and human conflict, researchers said Monday that an extreme drought in Syria between 2006 and 2009 was most likely due to climate change, and that the drought was a factor in the violent uprising that began there in 2011.” In this photo, a young Syrian refugee is photographed in the Al Za'atri refugee camp for Syrians, near Mafraq, Jordan on Nov. 17, 2013, which at peak capacity (April 2013) held over 200,000 refugees according to UNHCR data.
Muddy feet of Bedouin boys who are drilling for water in the desert in August 1992 in Syria. “The drought that began in 2006 was the worst on record and was “more than twice as likely as a consequence of human interference in the climate system,” shows the report, which was published today in the journal, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS). The country was not prepared for such extreme conditions...Syrians were “vulnerably tied to the land,” says Shahrzad Mohtadi, author of the socio-political component of the study.” Decades-long bad agricultural policies exacerbated the effects of the dry period. In the 1970s, president Bashar al-Assad’s father, Hafez, pushed for the country’s agricultural self-sufficiency rather than sustainability, says Mohtadi. Syria depended on wheat and cotton, both crops which require a lot rain. The quotas for agricultural production were high, which led to the digging of countless, unregulated water wells. The severe, three-year drought depleted the country’s unchecked water resources and caused “widespread crop failure,” the report says.”
View from above of the beautiful country of El Salvador on Jan. 15, 2015. Sadly, this beauty is put in jeopardy because of climate change. El Salvador is highly vulnerable to climate change and its vulnerability is set to increase between 2010 and 2030 (DARA; Climate Vulnerability Monitor, 2012). According to El Salvador's Ministry of the Environment and Natural Resources, this country will lose somewhere between 10 percent and 28 percent of its coastal territories in the next century as a result of rising seas caused by climate change.
Heaps of discarded fan shells are piled up in the mountainous desert of Pisco, Peru in 1999. For the diving fishermen of this area, the 1999 El Nino weather produced a rich harvest of Concha de Abanico, fan-shaped mussels that are a sought after delicacy. According to a recent New York Times article, "this year's El Nino weather pattern could be the most powerful on record." Conditions observed in the Pacific Ocean are suggesting that what has formed rivals the 1997-98 system that popularized the term El Nino, and is remembered for it's destructive flooding in California.
A local man casts his net in the Balloki Headworks, part of the British-built canal system in Punjab in 2009. Despite thousands of miles of waterways, the minister for water and energy Khawaja Muhammad Asif, is quoted in a Feb. 13, 2015 New York Times article, “Under the present situation, in the next six to seven years, Pakistan can be a water-starved country.” This is in large part due to climate change. The article continues, “The prospect of a major water crisis in Pakistan, even if several years distant, offers a stark reminder of a growing challenge in other poor and densely populated countries that are vulnerable to global climate change.”
In this photo from 2004 a resident of Sanghana town, in the Niger Delta, attempts to board an oil rig as a form of protest. Methane emissions caused by gas flaring is a serious issue worldwide; gas flaring impacts the environment as a major contributor to climate change. Nigeria is among the top 30 nations in methane emissions from oil and gas according to a recent Environmental Defense Fund Report, “Untapped Potential”. A recent article in the New York Times references this report, “if the 30 nations that emit the most methane from oil and gas reduced emissions by 50% by 2030, the impact on climate change of curtailing that waste would be as great as stopping the combined CO2 emissions of India and the entire European Union in 2012.”
In an Ogoniland village in the Niger Delta, an unattended oil wellhead that had been leaking for weeks has turned into a raging inferno. This environmental disaster effects the crops, water, and air for locals forcing farmers and fishermen out of work, amplifying tensions between locals and the oil companies. Oil fires like this one emit large amounts of carbons into the atmosphere, degrading air quality and contributing to global warming. This is one example of the adverse impacts of resource extraction on our climate.
Men work on a brick kiln in Anosibe, Madagascar on Jan. 14, 2010. Mainly fueled by burning wood, this is a very inefficient use of forest resources. Brick kilns also emit carbons and other toxic fumes into the atmosphere, impacting our environment and climate.
In the middle of a forest in Ifarantsa, Madagascar a crew of independent coal producers prepare a mound for burning and cooking wood into coal on Jan. 19, 2010. They also saw trees that they have just cut down. This activity is a serious problem for the forest and is part of the problem of unabated tree cutting and forest reduction. Deforestation is a major component of climate change as it impairs the ability of our planet to cleanse carbons from the atmosphere.
A laborer strips sugarcane at the sugar and ethanol plant, USINA, in Sao Manoel, Brazil on Sept. 24, 2011. #Brazil is host to the largest sugar and ethanol producers in the world. According to a report on sugarcane.org, the use of low-carbon, renewable energy is an important strategy for mitigating emissions of greenhouse gases and combating global warming. In 2006 the reduction of GHG emissions attributable to the use of ethanol (as a gasoline substitute) reached 22% of final emissions for the transportation and electricity generation sectors in Brazil, and could reach 43% in 2020.
Tavy, or burning of the forest to clear for planting, is illegal but local farmers in Madagascar continue to do this despite the massive reductions of their forests. Deforestation is an important factor in global climate change. A build up of CO2 in our atmosphere causes climate change and deforestation eliminates our most important tools to diminish this build up.
A logger cuts down a 300 foot tall Redwood tree that is 1000 years old in Redwood National Park in 1993. The region containing redwoods today is undergoing significant climate change and Save The Redwoods organization is studying these changes to figure out how to best help these magnificent trees survive. A video on their website states, “We want to be working with timber companies, we want to be working with the parks, other public agencies and concerned members of the public who want to help us make sure that we steward our redwoods through this intense period of change…if we understand what these plants need in their environment to survive we can help make sure that those conditions don’t change so drastically because of our own actions.”
Sugarcane fields near Melmoth in South Africa are cut down and burned off after the harvest in 1998. “South Africa is a major emitter of greenhouse gases…The emission rate is at almost ten tonnes of CO2 per person per year – 43% more than the global average. As a signatory to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and the Kyoto Protocol, South Africa has made a voluntary commitment to combat climate change. It aims at reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 34% by 2020 and 42% by 2025.” The Climate Change Response Strategy and the 2010 Green Paper identify sugarcane burning as one of the areas where South Africa can reduce GHG to meet its obligation to UNFCCC.
Crews from CDF and the Dept. of Forestry work together to fight this forest fire in Tehama county, California 1999. With climate change worsening drought effects in present day California, forest fires are having a severe impact not only on the trees, but also the soil. According to a Dec. 2014 article on NPR, Eric Nicita, a scientist with the Forest Service explains, “What influences the burn severity is the amount of organic material that's on the ground.” The charred soil is not easily permeable, Nicita continues, "Even though we've had, what, 5 or 6 inches of rain, we're only getting soil wetting down to about a half an inch to an inch. We're dusty dry down below an inch."
A Feb. 15, 2015 article on the The Oklahoman states, “As the effects of climate change grow more severe, the Great Plains and American Southwest will see an increased likelihood of so-called megadroughts, or droughts that last 20 years or more, the study concludes. The report appears this week in the online journal Science Advances.” In this photo, a farmer, Scott Murdock walks through a dust storm in drought stricken Felt, Oklahoma on August 1, 2013.
A bleached out skeleton lies before an abandoned home on drought stricken and blighted pasture lands near Felt, Okla. on July 29, 2013. “Toby Ault, a climate scientist from Cornell University, said if humanity manages to rein in greenhouse gas emissions, the worst effects of climate change could still be avoided.” Although the current water situation is looking extremely dire for much of the Great Plains, “The Oklahoma Water Resources Board is working with the federal government on a water study for southwest Oklahoma to determine how much water can be pumped from aquifers, and how best cities can insulate themselves from future droughts,” according to Jan. 15th report from State Impact/NPR.
A Chinchorro mummy is on display at the Museo Arqueologico San Miguel de Azapa in Arica, Chile on Aug. 17, 2015. The Chinchorro people were known for their unique burial practices that have left us with the world's oldest known mummies. These fascinating pieces of history are currently under threat by climate change. As highlighted in a recent Washington Post article, a group of Harvard researchers began to study an apparent degradation in the Chinchorro mummies in relation to the climate's increasing moisture levels. Their research findings suggest that a set of environmental conditions present in Arica have allowed an opportunistic bacterial to "take advantage of a more humid environment to 'use the skin as a nutrient and start to break it down.'" The Washington Post article states, "the fact is that damage to historical artifacts and world heritage sites is an expected consequence of climate change in general. Many of these sites have been remarkably preserved precisely because of the fact that they have been climatically unperturbed. Alter that, and, along with many other consequences, the world could lose some of its history."
Men work in a mine near the small village of Dareta, Nigeria on April 9, 2013. Climate change has caused severe land degradation and as a result a drop in produce yields. Dareta and other communities in Zamafara state, previously sustained by farming and agriculture, have begun to pursue gold mining as an alternative means of livelihood Ð albeit a dangerous one. Mining has led to a large amount of health problems in workers and their families due to contamination of the environment by substances such as, lead, mercury, and cyanide. Lead poisoning linked to informal mining has killed over 400 children under five years old since March 2010, according to the United Nations.
The Golden Quadrilateral Highway project is one of India's largest and most ambitious infrastructure projects that took nearly 2 decades to complete. This super highway connects the four major cities of India: New Delhi, Kolkata, Mumbai and Chennai. As the number of vehicles traveling on this infrastructure continues to increase, emissions like Carbon Dioxide and Methane also increase. According to Climate Progress, as carbon emissions continue to increase, “heat events once considered extreme would become relatively common…A searing and continuing heat wave in India has so far killed more than 2,300 people, making it the 5th deadliest in recorded world history.”
Cars go through the assembly line at the Karsan Automotive Plant in Bursa, Turkey on April 6, 2011. This plant has the potential capacity to produce more than 100,000 vehicles with additional investments. According to NASA, Most vehicles driven, burn fossil fuels, which increase the concentration of atmospheric carbon dioxide and methane. Consequently, there is more than 90% probability that these human produced greenhouse gases have caused much of the observed increase in the Earth’s temperature over the past 50 years.
Locals plant rice in flooded fields in 2010. In 2012 & 2013 cyclones made landfall on Madagascar, creating humid conditions favorable to swarms of locusts. The World Food Programme states that 60% of rice production will be affected by the locust invasion. Direct impact from the cyclones and flooding have also severely impacted farmers.
Ski Dubai is an indoor ski resort with 22,500 square meters of indoor ski area. It is a part of the Mall of the Emirates, one of the largest shopping malls in the world, located in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. This facility uses a tremendous amount of energy to exist in the intense desert conditions of the UAE. Can our natural environment sustain these kinds of man made environments?
Children play at Salina Elementary School just outside the Ford Rouge plant in Dearborn, Michigan, 2001. It was this factory that originally attracted the first waves of Muslim immigrants to this community a century ago. NASA states that the industrial activities which modern civilization depends on have raised atmospheric carbon dioxide levels from 280 parts per million to 379 parts per million in the last 150 years. These increased concentrations have caused the greenhouse effect to occur, where heat that was radiated from earth toward space becomes trapped, allowing for climate change to ensue.
Automobiles are partially submerged in flood water in the wake of Hurricane Sandy at a dealership in Point Pleasant, N.J., Oct. 30, 2012. The super storm ravaged the East Coast, leaving many dead and billions of dollars in damage. Climate change has been linked to an increase in severity and frequency of weather events like hurricanes.
A boat with tourists sails past glaciers near Seward, Alaska on Aug. 2, 2015. According to the EPA, glaciers all around the world have generally decreased in size since the 1960s at a rapid rate that has accelerated considerably in the last decade alone. An article on PBS states, "If this period of [warmer temperatures] is extended by global warming, scientists warn that it may result in outright loss of the glaciers." This in turn, contributes to other issues including rising sea levels.