The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!
1,200 Dead, 41 Million Affected by Flooding in India, Bangladesh and Nepal
By Andy Rowell
As much of the North American media focuses on the ongoing unprecedented flooding and relief efforts in Texas and now potentially Louisiana, another tragedy is unfolding, which is going largely unreported, in Asia.
Whereas the death toll in Texas stands at 20, the death toll in South Asia is estimated at 1,200 after weeks of unusually strong monsoon rains affecting India, Bangladesh and Nepal.
The Red Cross estimates that 14 million people have been affected by flooding in India; more than seven million in Bangladesh and 1.5 million in Nepal. The United Nations puts the total number of people affected by floods and landslides at a total nearly double that, at 41 million.
According to the Red Cross, "Vast swaths of land across all three countries are under water ... Hundreds of thousands of people have lost their homes and their livelihoods. Many medical facilities, schools, markets and other essential services are submerged."
And as the rains continue, many people are worried that the death toll—and the number affected—will rise.
Although the monsoon is an annual event, this year's rains have been considered far worse than usual, and people are blaming climate change for making things much worse.
In India, for example, half the huge state of Uttar Pradesh, which is home to 220 million people, is under water. But they are not alone. One rescue and relief officer recently told Reuters that at least 850 people had been killed in six flood-affected states in the past month.
In the eastern state of Bihar, "People didn't have much time to get out," Hanna Butler at the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent (IFRCRC), who has been studying the damage in region, told the Financial Times. "More traditional homes have been wiped out and concrete homes have also been ripped from their foundations."
In India's largest city, Mumbai, which is home to some 20 million people, and which is largely built on reclaimed land, schools and colleges are shut, with the city's transport system said to be "in chaos." One news report said that city has been "paralyzed by incessant rains." In some parts of the city, water is said to be five feet high. Five people are believed to have died in the city in the last 24 hours.
In Bangladesh, at least 134 people have died and 700,000 homes have been impacted, with more than eight million affected. A third of the country is now subject to flooding.
"This is the severest flooding in a number of years," said Matthew Marek, head of disaster response in Bangladesh for the IFRCRC, who recently flew over the country. "I could not find a single dry patch of land. Farmers are left with nothing, not even with clean drinking water."
His colleague, Corinne Ambler, a Red Cross spokeswoman in Bangladesh, who also flew over the affected area, said, "All I could see was water, the whole way. You have tiny little clumps of houses stuck in the middle of water."
Indeed Reaz Ahmed, the director-general of Bangladesh's Department of Disaster Management, told CNN, "This is not normal … Floods this year were bigger and more intense than the previous years."
Meanwhile, in Nepal, 150 people have been killed and some 90,000 homes destroyed. Francis Markus, a spokesman for the IFRCRC told the New York Times from Kathmandu, "We hope people won't overlook the desperate needs of the people here because of the disasters closer home."
That disaster is Superstorm Harvey. Many people have commented at how little press coverage the South Asia floods have received compared to Harvey. Indeed, as with Harvey, climate change is exacerbating the problem in Asia, with one commentator in the Pacific Standard noting, "Climate change appears to be intensifying the region's monsoon rains."
"Thankfully, we are now starting to see media coverage of the devastation in South Asia facilitated by the coverage of Houston," added Jagat Patnaik, the Asia Regional Head at ActionAid International. "If there is one thing that unites us, it's climate change: so perhaps our attention and efforts should be equal."
Reposted with permission from our media associate Common Dreams.
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
By Julia Conley
Scientists at the United Nations' intergovernmental body focusing on biodiversity sounded alarms earlier this month with its report on the looming potential extinction of one million species — but few heard their calls, according to a German newspaper report.
The climate crisis is a major concern for American voters with nearly 40 percent reporting the issue will help determine how they cast their ballots in the upcoming 2020 presidential election, according to a report compiled by the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication.
Of more than 1,000 registered voters surveyed on global warming, climate and energy policies, as well as personal and collective action, 38 percent said that a candidate's position on climate change is "very important" when it comes to determining who will win their vote. Overall, democratic candidates are under more pressure to provide green solutions as part of their campaign promises with 64 percent of Democrat voters saying they prioritize the issue compared with just 34 percent of Independents and 12 percent of Republicans.
The climate crisis has become a driving and dividing factor in the political arena in recent years. According to the survey, almost three-quarters of respondents think global warming is happening (though that number varies across party lines) with more than half of registered voters agreeing that it is driven by human activities. As such, six-in-ten voters are worried about the current state of the climate — a marked increase from the last survey conducted in March 2018.
When asked how much they would support different strategies the government could use to reduce air pollution, more than three-quarters agreed that investing in renewable energy research and infrastructure and regulating pollution was a priority, as well as taxing pollution (requiring companies to pay a tax on pollution they emit to encourage a reduction in emissions). A majority of respondents also support more specific policies to reduce carbon pollution and promote clean energy, including a revenue-neutral carbon tax and a fee on carbon pollution that distributes money to U.S. citizens through monthly dividend checks. Furthermore, many support a Clean Power Plan that implements strict carbon dioxide emission limits on existing coal-fired power plants. A majority of voters also say they want policies that address the pollution that causes global warming and reduces pollution investments, regulations and taxes.
Climate change ranks as the 17th most important voting issue and is a more polarizing topic than abortion. So much so, that almost half of registered voters say they would support a president who declared global warming a national emergency if Congress does not act.
A handful of 2020 presidential candidates have put climate change at the forefront of their campaign platform as part of ongoing pressure to combat the effects of climate change. The Green New Deal, unveiled in part by Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) earlier this year is a decade-long plan that will "mobilize every aspect of American society ... to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions and create economic prosperity for all," according to a section of the resolution from her office posted by NPR.
Colorado Senator Michael Bennet, who introduced a plan just a few days ago to combat climate change. In it, Bennet calls for the establishment of a "Climate Bank" to use federal spending to incentivize the private sector to transition to net-zero emissions by 2050. His opponent, Governor Jay Inslee of Washington State, similarly announced a clean energy plan earlier this month dubbed the "100 Percent Clean Energy for America Plan" that would aim to phase out coal over the next decade and require all power production to be emissions-free by 2035.
Former Vice President Joe Biden also threw his name into the running hat but didn't mention climate change in his announcement. His overall stand on the Green New Deal and fossil fuel infrastructure is hazy. His campaign website promises environmental action but does not go into further detail. If elected president, Senator Elizabeth Warren has promised an executive order to ban new fossil fuel extraction leases in federal lands and waters.
- Abortion and the 2020 Election – Mother Jones ›
- Here's where the Democratic candidates stand on the biggest 2020 ... ›
President Donald Trump has agreed to sign a $19.1 billion disaster relief bill that will help Americans still recovering from the flooding, hurricanes and wildfires that have devastated parts of the country in the past two years. Senate Republicans said they struck a deal with the president to approve the measure, despite the fact that it did not include the funding he wanted for the U.S.-Mexican border, CNN reported.
"The U.S. Senate has just approved a 19 Billion Dollar Disaster Relief Bill, with my total approval. Great!" the president tweeted Thursday.
"There was a lot of devastation throughout the state," Governor Mike Parson said at a Thursday morning press conference, as NPR reported. "We were very fortunate last night that we didn't have more injuries than what we had, and we didn't have more fatalities across the state. But three is too many."
georgeclerk / E+ / Getty Images
By Jennifer Molidor
One million species are at risk of extinction from human activity, warns a recent study by scientists with the United Nations. We need to cut greenhouse gas pollution across all sectors to avoid catastrophic climate change — and we need to do it fast, said the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
This research should serve as a rallying cry for polluting industries to make major changes now. Yet the agriculture industry continues to lag behind.
"The Ministry of Environment, Natural Resources Conservation and Tourism wishes to inform the public that following extensive consultations with all stakeholders, the Government of Botswana has taken a decision to lift the hunting suspension," the government announced in a press release shared on social media.