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More Than 100,000 Displaced in Deadly Myanmar Monsoon Floods
Myanmar is the latest Southeast Asian country to be inundated by heavy rains this monsoon season. A dam collapse in Laos last week left thousands homeless, and early monsoon rains in Thailand trapped a team of 12 young soccer players and their coach in a cave, leading to a successful rescue effort that garnered international attention.
"I just want to alert the people that climate is changing all over the world and we all have to be careful about it," he said.
Observed climate changes in Myanmar over the past 60 years have included an uptick in "intense rainfall events" and floods, according to the Myanmar Climate Change Alliance.
But local environmentalists told The New York Times that logging and deforestation have also made floods more severe in recent years.
"This time, flooding in our state is the worst," Karen Rivers Watch coordinator for the state of Mon Saw Tha Phoe told The New York Times."It is because of deforestation and we cannot deny it."
Karen Environmental and Social Action Network worker Kyaw Swa also said that the government could do more to warn citizens effectively.
"In the Thai cave rescue, 13 people were treated as human beings by the military government," Kyaw Swa told The New York Times. "But in the Myanmar flood, many people are suffering and we are not informed by the government, as usual."
He said he received a government warning via Facebook a day after waters had already flooded his home so quickly that he and his family had to be rescued from the second floor window.
"The flow of water was so fast, our house was flooded in 30 minutes," he said. "We have nothing, and now we have to start our life from the beginning."
The Myanmar states most impacted by the flooding have been Mon and Kayin. There has also been flooding in the north.
Win Myat Aye acknowledged that the government's response had been slow, in part because they had expected flooding along the Belin River in the north, but not the Thanlwin River in Mon and Kayin.
He also told The New York Times that his agency did not have enough people to mount an effective response and that three of the dead were soldiers attempting to help with rescue efforts.
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By Tracy L. Barnett
Sources reviewed this article for accuracy.
For Sicangu Lakota water protector Cheryl Angel, Standing Rock helped her define what she stands against: an economy rooted in extraction of resources and exploitation of people and planet. It wasn't until she'd had some distance that the vision of what she stands for came into focus.
Last week, the Peruvian Palm Oil Producers' Association (JUNPALMA) promised to enter into an agreement for sustainable and deforestation-free palm oil production. The promise was secured by the U.S. based National Wildlife Federation (NWF) in collaboration with the local government, growers and the independent conservation organization Sociedad Peruana de Ecodesarrollo.
The rallying cry to build it again and to build it better than before is inspiring after a natural disaster, but it may not be the best course of action, according to new research published in the journal Science.
"Faced with global warming, rising sea levels, and the climate-related extremes they intensify, the question is no longer whether some communities will retreat—moving people and assets out of harm's way—but why, where, when, and how they will retreat," the study begins.
The researchers suggest that it is time to rethink retreat, which is often seen as a last resort and a sign of weakness. Instead, it should be seen as the smart option and an opportunity to build new communities.
"We propose a reconceptualization of retreat as a suite of adaptation options that are both strategic and managed," the paper states. "Strategy integrates retreat into long-term development goals and identifies why retreat should occur and, in doing so, influences where and when."
The billions of dollars spent to rebuild the Jersey Shore and to create dunes to protect from future storms after Superstorm Sandy in 2012 may be a waste if sea level rise inundates the entire coastline.
"There's a definite rhetoric of, 'We're going to build it back better. We're going to win. We're going to beat this. Something technological is going to come and it's going to save us,'" said A.R. Siders, an assistant professor with the disaster research center at the University of Delaware and lead author of the paper, to the New York Times. "It's like, let's step back and think for a minute. You're in a fight with the ocean. You're fighting to hold the ocean in place. Maybe that's not the battle we want to pick."
Rethinking retreat could make it a strategic, efficient, and equitable way to adapt to the climate crisis, the study says.
Dr. Siders pointed out that it has happened before. She noted that in the 1970s, the small town of Soldiers Grove, Wisconsin moved itself out of the flood plain after one too many floods. The community found and reoriented the business district to take advantage of highway traffic and powered it entirely with solar energy, as the New York Times reported.
That's an important lesson now that rising sea levels pose a catastrophic risk around the world. Nearly 75 percent of the world's cities are along shorelines. In the U.S. alone coastline communities make up nearly 40 percent of the population— more than 123 million people, which is why Siders and her research team are so forthright about the urgency and the complexities of their findings, according to Harvard Magazine.
Some of those complexities include, coordinating moves across city, state or even international lines; cultural and social considerations like the importance of burial grounds or ancestral lands; reparations for losses or damage to historic practices; long-term social and psychological consequences; financial incentives that often contradict environmental imperatives; and the critical importance of managing retreat in a way that protects vulnerable and poor populations and that doesn't exacerbate past injustices, as Harvard Magazine reported.
If communities could practice strategic retreats, the study says, doing so would not only reduce the need for people to choose among bad options, but also improve their circumstances.
"It's a lot to think about," said Siders to Harvard Magazine. "And there are going to be hard choices. It will hurt—I mean, we have to get from here to some new future state, and that transition is going to be hard.…But the longer we put off making these decisions, the worse it will get, and the harder the decisions will become."
To help the transition, the paper recommends improved access to climate-hazard maps so communities can make informed choices about risk. And, the maps need to be improved and updated regularly, the paper said as the New York Times reported.
"It's not that everywhere should retreat," said Dr. Siders to the New York Times. "It's that retreat should be an option. It should be a real viable option on the table that some places will need to use."
Leaked documents show that Jair Bolsonaro's government intends to use the Brazilian president's hate speech to isolate minorities living in the Amazon region. The PowerPoint slides, which democraciaAbierta has seen, also reveal plans to implement predatory projects that could have a devastating environmental impact.