By Governor Jay Inslee
Climate Week this year coincides with clear skies in Washington state for the first time in almost two weeks.
In just a few days in early September, Washington state saw enough acres burned – more than 600,000 – to reach our second-worst fire season on record. Our worst fire season came only five years ago. Wildfires aren't new to the west, but their scope and danger today is unlike anything firefighters have seen. People up and down the West Coast – young and old, in rural areas and in cities – were choking on smoke for days on end, trapped in their homes.
Fires like these are becoming the norm, not the exception.
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
By Bill McKibben
To understand the planetary importance of this autumn's presidential election, check the calendar. Voting ends on November 3—and by a fluke of timing, on the morning of November 4 the United States is scheduled to pull out of the Paris Agreement.
President Trump announced that we would abrogate our Paris commitments during a Rose Garden speech in 2017. But under the terms of the accords, it takes three years to formalize the withdrawal. So on Election Day it won't be just Americans watching: The people of the world will see whether the country that has poured more carbon into the atmosphere than any other over the course of history will become the only country that refuses to cooperate in the one international effort to do something about the climate crisis.
By Mark Hertsgaard and Kyle Pope
In this autumn of horrific fires and deadly floods, it's easy to overlook one bit of promising news on the climate front: Some major U.S. media coverage of the crisis is finally getting better.
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By Jazmin Murphy
Whenever you talk about race relations here in so-called "America," Indigenous communities [are] always the last ones on the rung," says Wanbli Wiyan Ka'win (Eagle Feather Woman), also known as Joye Braun, a front-line community organizer with the Indigenous Environmental Network who fought against the Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines. In defending the land so deeply beloved and cherished by her people, the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe, Braun recounts how actively her community is excluded from environmental work and how she and her colleagues are blatantly silenced, even when working alongside allies. "We've had to really fight … to even have a seat at the table," she says.
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By Melissa Kravitz Hoeffner
When I call Chef Q. Ibraheem to discuss urban farming in her own cooking career, she's in the middle of placing an order for microgreens from a small farm in Lake Forest, a ritzy suburb just north of downtown Chicago. Now's a great time for her to chat, actually, because the Chicago-based chef is immersed in what she loves, sourcing ingredients as locally as possible.
Urban Farming as a Social Practice<p>In her work, Chef Q has helped turn empty lots and abandoned buildings into urban farms, which allows neighbors to "take ownership in their communities" and also become educated consumers. In neighborhoods where the fancy grocery store is referred to as "<a href="https://www.usatoday.com/story/money/2019/04/01/whole-foods-prices-amazon-announces-cuts-and-more-prime-benefits/3335214002/" target="_blank">Whole Paycheck</a>," Chef Q has seen seed exchanges help folks start growing new produce, and regain agency over their food budgets and eating habits. Programs like the <a href="https://www.eventbrite.com/e/15th-annual-chicago-food-policy-summit-registration-89317576275" target="_blank">Chicago Food Policy Summit</a>, a free annual event on Chicago's South Side, help popularize urban farming and education and help provide Chicagoans with grants to start growing their own food. Though <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2019/08/30/dining/urban-farming-kids-healthy-food-new-york-city.html" target="_blank">gentrification may bring relief</a> to previously dubbed <a href="https://truthout.org/articles/how-do-people-living-in-a-food-desert-feed-themselves-amid-a-pandemic/" target="_blank">food deserts</a> — neighborhoods without a nearby source of fresh food — the slew of problems attached to gentrification, including higher costs of living, can easily make these new, more nutritious food options completely unaffordable to residents of the neighborhood.</p><p>As seen in smaller cities, urban farming may be the key for cities to be less reliant on rural areas, and also help <a href="https://theconversation.com/how-urban-agriculture-can-improve-food-security-in-us-cities-106435" target="_blank">achieve food security</a>. As Dr. Miguel Altieri, professor of agroecology at the University of California, Berkeley, has shown, diversified gardens in urban areas can yield a large range of produce and efficiently feed nearby residents.</p><p>Of course, land in cities is often at a premium, with many people living in little space. Shifting public land use to incorporate food growth and getting creative with rooftops, basements and unused buildings can seriously change the way cities consume fresh ingredients.</p><p>In fact, renewed efforts by the conservation organization <a href="https://www.worldwildlife.org/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">World Wildlife Fund</a> to <a href="https://www.fastcompany.com/90505222/why-the-world-wildlife-fund-is-trying-to-spark-an-indoor-farming-revolution" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">boost indoor farming</a> may revolutionize some sources of produce, particularly in cities. Repurposing unused indoor space, such as warehouses, can create direct sources of ingredients for restaurants or community-supported agriculture for neighbors. Indoor farming, while potentially more expensive, also allows urbanites from all walks of life to connect to the food system, repurpose food waste into compost and expand knowledge on growing food. <a href="https://www.gothamgreens.com/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Greenhouses like Gotham Greens</a>' rooftop spaces can supplement indoor and outdoor spaces, adding even more potential healthy food to local ecosystems.</p>
Urban Gardening With Neighbors in Mind<p>When she's not hosting pop-up dinners with culinarily curious Chicagoans, Chef Q volunteers with <a href="https://www.facebook.com/fosterstreetgarden/" target="_blank">Foster Street Urban Agriculture</a>, a nonprofit garden that aims to help end food insecurity in Evanston, the Chicago suburb home to Northwestern University. In the garden, Chef Q teaches kids how to water, plant, weed and grow produce. She'll notice a multigenerational interest: "Once kids taste zucchini, it's over," she jokes, of little ones bringing in parents and grandparents to learn to cook with more fresh produce. "They'll start [the program] eating hot Cheetos, and they're eating something green and leafy and won't go back."</p><p>Kids also just love being able to eat something that comes out of the ground and will take their passion back home, growing tomatoes in their windowsills or trying other small gardening projects in spaces available to them near home. Harvests from Foster Street are donated to food pantries and also sold at a local farmers market, where kids learn community-based entrepreneurial skills.</p><p>"Everyone eats, it's a common denominator," she says. "When food is on the table, people will have conversations."</p>
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By Monica Gandhi
Masks slow the spread of SARS-CoV-2 by reducing how much infected people spray the virus into the environment around them when they cough or talk. Evidence from laboratory experiments, hospitals and whole countries show that masks work, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends face coverings for the U.S. public. With all this evidence, mask wearing has become the norm in many places.
Exposure Dose Determines Severity of Disease<p>When you breathe in a respiratory virus, it immediately begins hijacking any cells it lands near to <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cell.2020.05.042" target="_blank">turn them into virus production machines</a>. The immune system tries to stop this process to halt the spread of the virus.</p><p>The amount of virus that you're exposed to – called the viral inoculum, or dose – <a href="https://doi.org/10.1038/nri2802" target="_blank">has a lot to do with how sick you get</a>. If the exposure dose is very high, the immune response can become overwhelmed. Between the virus taking over huge numbers of cells and the immune system's drastic efforts to contain the infection, a lot of damage is done to the body and a person can become very sick.</p><p>On the other hand, if the initial dose of the virus is small, the immune system is able to contain the virus with less drastic measures. If this happens, the person experiences fewer symptoms, if any.</p><p>This concept of viral dose being related to disease severity has been around for <a href="https://doi.org/10.1093/oxfordjournals.aje.a118408" target="_blank">almost a century</a>. Many animal studies have shown that the higher the dose of a virus you give an animal, the <a href="https://doi.org/10.1258%2Fla.2012.011157" target="_blank">more sick it becomes</a>. In 2015, researchers tested this concept in human volunteers using a nonlethal flu virus and found the same result. The higher the flu virus dose given to the volunteers, <a href="https://doi.org/10.1093/cid/ciu924" target="_blank">the sicker they became</a>.</p><p>In July, researchers published a paper showing that viral dose was related to disease severity in hamsters exposed to the coronavirus. Hamsters who were given a higher viral dose <a href="https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.2009799117" target="_blank">got more sick than hamsters given a lower dose</a>.</p><p>Based on this body of research, it seems very likely that if you are exposed to SARS-CoV-2, the lower the dose, the less sick you will get.</p><p>So what can a person do to lower the exposure dose?</p>
Masks Reduce Viral Dose<p>Most infectious disease researchers and epidemiologists believe that the coronavirus is <a href="https://doi.org/doi:10.1001/jama.2020.12458" target="_blank">mostly spread by airborne droplets</a> and, to a lesser extent, tiny aerosols. Research shows that both cloth and surgical masks can <a href="https://dx.doi.org/10.7326%2FM20-2567" target="_blank">block the majority of particles that could contain SARS-CoV-2</a>. While no mask is perfect, the goal is not to block all of the virus, but simply reduce the amount that you might inhale. Almost any mask will successfully block some amount.</p><p>Laboratory experiments have shown that good cloth masks and surgical masks could block at least <a href="https://doi.org/10.1093/annhyg/meq044" target="_blank">80% of viral particles from entering your nose and mouth</a>. Those particles and other contaminants will get trapped in the fibers of the mask, so the CDC recommends <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/how-to-wash-cloth-face-coverings.html" target="_blank">washing your cloth mask after each use if possible</a>.</p><p>The final piece of experimental evidence showing that masks reduce viral dose comes from another hamster experiment. Hamsters were divided into an unmasked group and a masked group by placing surgical mask material over the pipes that brought air into the cages of the masked group. Hamsters infected with the coronavirus were placed in cages next to the masked and unmasked hamsters, and air was pumped from the infected cages into the cages with uninfected hamsters.</p><p>As expected, the masked hamsters were less likely to get infected with COVID-19. But when some of the masked hamsters did get infected, <a href="https://doi.org/10.1093/cid/ciaa644" target="_blank">they had more mild disease</a> than the unmasked hamsters.</p>
Masks Increase Rate of Asymptomatic Cases<p> In July, the CDC estimated that around <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/hcp/planning-scenarios.html" target="_blank">40% of people infected with SARS-CoV-2 are asymptomatic</a>, and a <a href="https://doi.org/10.7326/M20-3012" target="_blank">number of other studies</a> have <a href="https://theconversation.com/can-people-spread-the-coronavirus-if-they-dont-have-symptoms-5-questions-answered-about-asymptomatic-covid-19-140531" target="_blank">confirmed this number</a>. </p><p> However, in places where everyone wears masks, the rate of asymptomatic infection seems to be much higher. In an <a href="https://www.msn.com/en-us/travel/news/greg-mortimer-passengers-to-be-evacuated-after-almost-60-test-positive-for-coronaviru/ar-BB12ie3v" target="_blank">outbreak on an Australian cruise ship</a> called the Greg Mortimer in late March, the passengers were all given surgical masks and the staff were given N95 masks after the first case of COVID-19 was identified. Mask usage was apparently very high, and even though 128 of the 217 passengers and staff eventually tested positive for the coronavirus, <a href="https://doi.org/10.1136/thoraxjnl-2020-215091" target="_blank">81% of the infected people remained asymptomatic</a>. </p><p> Further evidence has come from two more recent outbreaks, the first at a <a href="https://apnews.com/4b9d38f206db9ce5267a5898ac24f238" target="_blank">seafood processing plant in Oregon</a> and the second at a <a href="https://www.tysonfoods.com/news/news-releases/2020/6/tyson-foods-inc-releases-covid-19-test-results-northwest-arkansas" target="_blank">chicken processing plant in Arkansas</a>. In both places, the workers were provided masks and required to wear them at all times. In the outbreaks from both plants, nearly <a href="https://doi.org/10.1007/s11606-020-06067-8" target="_blank">95% of infected people were asymptomatic</a>. </p><p> There is no doubt that universal mask wearing slows the spread of the coronavirus. My colleagues and I believe that evidence from laboratory experiments, case studies like the cruise ship and food processing plant outbreaks and long-known biological principles make a strong case that masks protect the wearer too. </p><p> The goal of any tool to fight this pandemic is to slow the spread of the virus and save lives. Universal masking will do both. </p><p> <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/monica-gandhi-1080710" target="_blank">Monica Gandh</a> is a Professor of Medicine, Division of HIV, Infectious Diseases and Global Medicine at the University of California, San Francisco. </p><p> Disclosure statement: Monica Gandhi does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organization that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment. </p><p> <em>Reposted with permission from <a href="https://theconversation.com/cloth-masks-do-protect-the-wearer-breathing-in-less-coronavirus-means-you-get-less-sick-143726" target="_blank">The Conversation</a>.</em><em></em> </p>
By Arkilaus Kladit
My name is Arkilaus Kladit. I'm from the Knasaimos-Tehit tribe in South Sorong Regency, West Papua Province, Indonesia. For decades my tribe has been fighting to protect our forests from outsiders who want to log it or clear it for palm oil. For my people, the forest is our mother and our best friend. Everything we need to survive comes from the forest: food, medicines, building materials, and there are many sacred sites in the forest.
Map of the Knasaimos traditional lands.
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By David Korten
Our present course puts humans on track to be among the species that expire in Earth's ongoing sixth mass extinction. In my conversations with thoughtful people, I am finding increasing acceptance of this horrific premise.
By Alejandro Argumedo
August 9 is the International Day of the World's Indigenous Peoples – a celebration of the uniqueness of the traditions of Quechua, Huli, Zapotec, and thousands of other cultures, but also of the universality of potatoes, bananas, beans, and the rest of the foods that nourish the world. These crops did not arise out of thin air. They were domesticated over thousands of years, and continue to be nurtured, by Indigenous people. On this day we give thanks to these cultures for the diversity of our food.
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By Olivia Sullivan
One of the many unfortunate outcomes of the coronavirus pandemic has been the quick and obvious increase in single-use plastic products. After COVID-19 arrived in the United States, many grocery stores prohibited customers from using reusable bags, coffee shops banned reusable mugs, and takeout food with plastic forks and knives became the new normal.
Kamikatsu, Japan. Yuki Shimazu / CC BY-SA 2.0<p>This reveals a worldwide truth: Even products made mostly from easily recyclable materials like paper, aluminum or cardboard can't be sorted and recycled if they contain plastic components that can't be separated.</p><p>The truth is, some materials simply aren't recyclable, and <a href="https://advances.sciencemag.org/content/3/7/e1700782" target="_blank">only 9%</a> of all the plastic ever created has <em>been </em>recycled. As Kamikatsu's residents have painstakingly proven, no matter how many categories consumers sort their waste into or how diligently they scrub down their plastic food containers, most plastics <a href="https://www.greenpeace.org/usa/wp-content/uploads/2020/02/Greenpeace-Report-Circular-Claims-Fall-Flat.pdf" target="_blank">cannot be recycled</a>.</p><p>Meanwhile we keep hearing the <a href="https://thehill.com/opinion/energy-environment/504091-the-insanity-of-plastic-recycling" target="_blank">industry-driven narrative</a> that recycling can stop plastic from choking our marine life or littering our natural places. That's intentionally misleading.</p><p>Around the world, as in Kamikatsu, plastic is everywhere. With excessive amounts of plastic products and packaging stocked on store shelves, it's clear that zero-waste goals cannot be achieved by consumers alone. Plastic is not a "zero waste" material, so in order to achieve zero waste, companies must stop making so much plastic.</p>
Marine debris collected at Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument. NOAA<p>We can achieve that. The first steps include banning some of the worst and most polluting single-use plastics, placing a pause on the development of new plastics facilities, and protecting state and local governments' ability to enact more stringent regulations.</p><p>We must also shift the paradigm by holding producers responsible for the waste they create. By requiring new plastic products to contain recycled plastic and making producers fund the collection and recycling of plastic products, producers would be incentivized to design longer lasting products that can <em>actually</em> be reused and recycled.</p><p>These goals — outlined in numerous scientific studies and advocacy reports — have some forward motion. In the United States, a federal bill was recently introduced in both the House and the Senate, the <a href="https://www.congress.gov/bill/116th-congress/house-bill/5845" target="_blank">Break Free From Plastic Pollution Act</a>. If passed this bill — or others like it on the local, state or national levels — could help move the world beyond single-use plastics and make that needed systemic change a reality.</p><p>The bill hasn't moved forward since it was introduced this past February, but the world is still on a deadline. A recent study published in the journal <a href="https://science.sciencemag.org/content/early/2020/07/22/science.aba9475" target="_blank"><em>Science</em></a> looked at rising levels of plastic production and said "coordinated global action is urgently needed to reduce plastic consumption, increase rates of reuse, waste collection and recycling, expand safe disposal systems and accelerate innovation in the plastic value chain."</p><p>Requiring producers to stop making nonrecyclable products designed to be thrown out is the first step toward achieving that goal. Only then will Kamikatsu and other towns, cities and countries around the world finally be able to eliminate plastic pollution and reach 100% zero waste.</p><p><em>The opinions expressed above are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of </em>The Revelator<em>, the Center for Biological Diversity or their employees.</em></p><p><a href="https://therevelator.org/author/oliviasullivan/" target="_blank">Olivia Sullivan</a> <em><em>is a zero waste associate with the U.S. Public Interest Research Group (U.S. PIRG) working on a campaign to move the United States beyond plastic.</em></em></p><p><em><em><span></span>Reposted with permission from <a href="https://therevelator.org/cities-zero-waste/" target="_blank">The Revelator</a>. </em></em></p>
Coronavirus Shines Light on Zoos as Danger Zones for Deadly Disease Transmission Between Humans and Animals
By Marilyn Kroplick
The term "zoonotic disease" wasn't a hot topic of conversation before the novel coronavirus started spreading across the globe and upending lives. Now, people are discovering how devastating viruses that transfer from animals to humans can be. But the threat can go both ways — animals can also get sick from humans. There is no better time to reconsider the repercussions of keeping animals captive at zoos, for the sake of everyone's health.
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By Jose Pablo Ortiz Partida
The immediate emergency of COVID-19 has been a powerful reminder that the most valuable things in our lives are our families, friends, and the welfare of our communities.
Thousands of People in the SJV Live Without Reliable Access to Water.<p>California is the wealthiest state in the most prosperous country in the world, and yet, there are close to one million people living without reliable access to safe, clean, and affordable drinking water. Most of these people are <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2019/05/21/us/california-central-valley-tainted-water.html" target="_blank">concentrated in disadvantaged communities</a> in the SJV. California identifies <a href="https://oehha.ca.gov/calenviroscreen/sb535" target="_blank">disadvantaged communities</a> as areas that experience disproportionate levels of a combination of poverty, air and water pollution, high unemployment, and high rates of cardiovascular diseases and asthma. According to a report from the UC Davis Center for Regional Change, residents in these communities are <a href="https://regionalchange.ucdavis.edu/publication/water-justice" target="_blank">over 60% Hispanic</a>.</p><p><span></span>The SJV is one of the most productive agricultural regions in the world, <a href="https://www.ppic.org/wp-content/uploads/water-and-the-future-of-the-san-joaquin-valley-overview.pdf" target="_blank">producing more than half of California's agricultural output</a> with over 200 different crops and annual revenue of about 20 billion US dollars. The astonishing volume of water that agriculture requires has led to over-exploitation of groundwater and the continuous lowering of groundwater levels that has impacted water quality and quantity.</p><p>Groundwater is the primary source for household water needs and agricultural water supply. Yet, thousands of people are unable to drink and use the water in the SJV, because there are multiple contaminants in it. Some of the water pollution comes from natural sources and includes substances like arsenic, but most of it has emerged due to agricultural practices. These contaminants include pesticides and nitrates, which are linked to cancer, birth defects, and blue baby syndrome.</p><p>In years with average precipitation, water flowing in California's rivers from rain and melted snowpack meets about 60 percent of the state's water demand and groundwater meets the remainder. However, during dry years water supply sources shift and put severe stress on groundwater levels. During the California drought from 2012 to 2016, groundwater use, mostly from agricultural water pumping, <a href="https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2020/04/droughts-exposed-california-s-thirst-groundwater-now-state-hopes-refill-its-aquifers" target="_blank">grew to 80 percent</a> in some regions of the SJV increasing overdraft. Groundwater overdraft occurs when water extractions exceed recharge into an aquifer. An analogy is your bank account; extract more money than is put in, and your account will go dry. Aquifers are like a shared account, with some people taking out more than others. Consequently, thousands of domestic wells ran dry, unable to reach water due to lowered groundwater levels, in large part due to increased agricultural water pumping, and affecting thousands of people across the valley.</p><p>We think about drought as standalone events, but in reality, human actions triggered by droughts can have effects that continue long after the drought has ended, like permanently lowering the water table. In the SJV, the last drought has permanently reduced the capacity of some aquifers because overdraft left air in between soil particles instead of water, and the soils subsided eliminating the space for water storage. Overdraft also leads to infrastructure damage from land subsidence, that is when the ground levels drop, plus reduction of surface water, and an increase in water quality problems. That range of concerns brought by overdraft formed the basis of SGMA.</p>
Groundwater Sustainability Plans Could Fix Part of the Problem but Are Currently Inadequate.<p>SGMA passed in 2014 and is the first legislation in California to mandate sustainable management of groundwater resources. SGMA is intended to bring about groundwater sustainability by the year 2040. Local water agencies describe the means to achieve this goal in their Groundwater Sustainability Plans (GSPs). For those interested in the details of SGMA, <a href="https://water.ca.gov/Programs/Groundwater-Management/SGMA-Groundwater-Management" target="_blank">here is a thorough description of it</a>. The focus of this post is on the latest developments.</p><p>The 21 most critically over-drafted groundwater basins submitted their GSPs at the beginning of the year and are now under review by the California Department of Water Resources (DWR). External reviews of these plans argue that some of them do not sufficiently address current and future impacts on disadvantaged communities. For example, the Groundwater Leadership Forum (a group of organizations funded by the <a href="https://waterfdn.org/" target="_blank">Water Foundation</a> focused on ensuring the success of SGMA and of which UCS is part) also reviewed several GPSs and found gaps in how drinking water, climate change, stakeholder involvement, managed wetlands, and groundwater-dependent ecosystems were addressed in the plans. The Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC) reviewed 36 plans submitted for basins overlapping the SJV. They found Kings Basin (surrounding Fresno) stands out for having the highest number of domestic wells that may go dry, about 600 of them, under the proposed water level sustainable thresholds and yet the local groundwater plan considers that an <a href="https://www.ppic.org/blog/will-groundwater-sustainability-plans-end-the-problem-of-dry-drinking-water-wells/" target="_blank">insignificant impact from continued overdraft</a>. This is concerning and unacceptable. Public comments can be consulted in the <a href="https://sgma.water.ca.gov/portal/gsp/all" target="_blank">SGMA portal from DWR</a>.</p><p>I, and many others are concerned that multiple GSPs have questionable integrations of climate change projections. GSPs are considering numerous projects to tackle their local overdraft, yet they are not planning for the uncertain future that climate change is bringing. To reduce some of the vulnerabilities that we see now, GSPs need to integrate climate change and show benefits on the range of future scenarios.</p><p>Another concern is that on May 14, the <a href="http://www.ebudget.ca.gov/FullBudgetSummary.pdf" target="_blank">Governor announced</a> a $40 million cut on funding for SGMA. Part of the money was expected to support 37 new staff positions at DWR to uphold its statutory obligation on reviewing GSPs. While the budget still allocated $26 million of existing Proposition 68 bond funds to help with implementation projects in critically overdraft basin, it is unlikely that DWR will have the capacity to review the GSPs thoroughly. However, the governor's budget did prioritize safe and affordable drinking water and the State Water Board approved <a href="http://californiawaternewsdaily.com/infrastructure/state-water-board-approves-2020-21-funds-to-improve-access-to-healthy-drinking-water/" target="_blank">$130 million for 2020-2021</a> to projects that support such objective on vulnerable communities.</p>
Without Bold Action and Preparation, Climate Change Threats May Bring Similar Impacts to Those of COVID-19.<p>The lack of drinking water causes many residents in the valley to rely on bottled water as their primary source for drinking and cooking. Panic buying at the beginning of the pandemic left stores across the valley without bottled water. In the case of COVID-19, unsafe and unreliable access to water has endangered a multitude of low-income communities by preventing them from performing protective, hygienic acts, handwashing, in particular, and forcing them to go to public water supply kiosks. As we've all learned, hand washing is one of the most necessary measures needed to slow and stop the spread of a virus. Without a correct implementation of groundwater sustainability plans under SGMA, many of these risks will continue.</p><p>Shelter in place orders resulted in people losing their jobs and hence, their source of income and being unable to pay utility services. Small utility services were also impacted because of low economic margins of operations in which small drops in income translate to being unable to provide service. Fortunately, many organizations and individuals wrote a letter to Governor Newsom that prompted him to issue an <a href="https://www.gov.ca.gov/2020/04/02/governor-newsom-issues-executive-order-protecting-homes-small-businesses-from-water-shutoffs/" target="_blank">executive order</a> protecting homes and small businesses from water shutoffs.</p><p>We now have the opportunity to give meaning to these current hardships by learning from them to prevent hardships from climate change. Climate change is a threat intensifier. In this case, the threat is a virus, and historical inequities and water vulnerabilities increased its impact on the most vulnerable among us. An example of the unpreparedness of the system to support our vulnerabilities during times of crisis is seen in the case of school children who rely on school lunches as their main meal of the day but are now unable to access this resource due to school closures. Some farmworkers, <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2020/04/02/us/coronavirus-undocumented-immigrant-farmworkers-agriculture.html" target="_blank">while cataloged as 'essential' by the federal government</a> during this crisis, are undocumented and were not part of the stimulus package. The height of irony is <a href="https://www.kvpr.org/post/covid-19-deepens-food-insecurity-san-joaquin-valley" target="_blank">farmworkers struggled with access to food distribution</a> when they needed it.</p>
There Is No Scenario Where Water Is Not Absolutely Necessary to Lessen the Impacts During a Crisis.<p>One of my <a href="https://blog.ucsusa.org/cecilia-moura/covid-19-air-pollution-and-health-impacts-an-interview-with-pediatric-pulmonologist-dr-denise-serebrisky" target="_blank">colleagues wrote</a> that moments of crisis often expose the weak points of a system. In the SJV, the weak points of the water system have been exposed for years and won't be strengthened without managing water resources sustainably. This is evidenced by the number of people in the SJV without access to safe, clean, and affordable drinking water. Considering that about <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/feb/28/california-water-wells-dry-sgma" target="_blank">95% of valley residents</a> depend on groundwater for at least part of their water, it is critical that GSPs explicitly include strategies for addressing some of the current and future water issues in the SJV.</p><p>Numerous, various kinds of climate threats will come, whether they develop as <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41558-020-0804-2" target="_blank">floods, heatwaves, wildfires, droughts, or other climate hazards</a>, we need to be prepared and do everything possible to improve sustainable water management for all. While future climate-change-derived crises most likely will be different than COVID-19, there is no scenario where water is not absolutely necessary to lessen the impacts.</p>
By Varshini Prakash and John Podesta
At the 2019 Republican Retreat, Donald Trump promised his allies that he would make this election about climate change: "I want to bring them way down the pike," he said, "before we start criticizing the Green New Deal."
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