By Maria Trimarchi and Sarah Gleim
If all the glaciers and ice caps on the planet melted, global sea level would rise by about 230 feet. That amount of water would flood nearly every coastal city around the world [source: U.S. Geological Survey]. Rising temperatures, melting arctic ice, drought, desertification and other catastrophic effects of climate change are not examples of future troubles — they are reality today. Climate change isn't just about the environment; its effects touch every part of our lives, from the stability of our governments and economies to our health and where we live.
<p>Why environmental refugees flee their homes is a complicated mixture of environmental degradation and desperate socioeconomic conditions. People leave their homes when their livelihoods and safety are jeopardized. What effects of climate change put them in jeopardy? Climate change triggers, among other problems, desertification and drought, <a href="https://science.howstuffworks.com/environmental/green-science/deforestation.htm" target="_blank">deforestation</a>, land degradation, rising sea levels, <a href="https://science.howstuffworks.com/nature/natural-disasters/flood.htm" target="_blank">floods</a>, more frequent and more extreme storms, <a href="https://science.howstuffworks.com/nature/natural-disasters/earthquake.htm" target="_blank">earthquakes</a>, <a href="https://science.howstuffworks.com/nature/natural-disasters/volcano.htm" target="_blank">volcanoes</a>, food insecurity and famine.</p><p>The September <a href="http://visionofhumanity.org/app/uploads/2020/09/ETR_2020_web-1.pdf" target="_blank">2020 Ecological Threat Register Report</a>, by the Institute for Economics & Peace, predicts the hardest hit populations will be:</p><ul><li>Sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia, the Middle East and North Africa</li><li>Afghanistan, Syria, Iraq, Chad, India and Pakistan (which are among the world's least peaceful countries)</li><li>Pakistan, Ethiopia and Iran are most at risk for mass displacements</li><li>Haiti faces the highest risk of all countries in Central America and the Caribbean</li><li>India and China will be among countries experiencing high or extreme water stress</li></ul>
- Think Today's Refugee Crisis is Bad? Climate Change Will Make it a ... ›
- Climate Change Forces 20 Million People to Flee Each Year, Oxfam ... ›
- Meet the World's First Climate Refugees - EcoWatch ›
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
The second-most active volcano in the Philippines belched to life on Sunday when it sent a cloud of ash miles into the air that forced thousands to evacuate and shuttered the airport in the capital of Manila.
Mysterious hums that were heard around the world in 2018 have now been identified as the rumblings of a magma-filled reservoir deep under the Indian Ocean, announcing the birth of an underwater volcano, according to a new study, as CNN reported.
- Listen to an Underwater Volcano Burp 750-Foot Bubbles | WIRED ›
- Underwater volcano erupts giving birth to an island - YouTube ›
- The Mystery of an Underwater Volcano | Smithsonian Ocean ›
- Earth's Hum: Scientists Record the Very Sound of Earth—but Don't ... ›
- This is What An Underwater Volcano Sounds Like | Smart News ... ›
- New seismic phenomenon discovered, named stormquakes ›
- How are US bridges built to withstand powerful winds, hurricanes ... ›
- Wildfires, Earthquakes and Hurricanes: Is All This Normal? - Video ... ›
- Are Hurricane Maria and the Mexico Earthquake Related? Scientists ... ›
- Hurricanes and earthquakes—can one predict the other? ›
A powerful earthquake struck near Athens, Greece and shook the capital city for 15 seconds on Friday, causing people to run into the streets to escape the threat of falling buildings, NBC News reported.
For some combat veterans, the Fourth of July is not a time to celebrate the independence of the country they love. Instead, the holiday is a terrifying ordeal. That's because the noise of fireworks – loud, sudden, and reminiscent of war – rocks their nervous system. Daily fireworks in many U.S. cities in recent weeks have no doubt been interfering with the sleep and peace of mind of thousands of veterans.
What Is PTSD?<p><a href="https://theconversation.com/veterans-refugees-and-victims-of-war-crimes-are-all-vulnerable-to-ptsd-130144" target="_blank">PTSD</a> can occur when someone is exposed to extreme exposure traumatic experience. Typically, the trauma involves a threat of death, serious injury, or sexual violence. Along with war veterans, it happens to refugees; to victims of gun violence, rape and other physical assaults; and to survivors of car accidents and natural disasters like earthquakes or tornadoes.</p><p>PTSD can also happen by witnessing trauma or its aftermath, often the case with <a href="https://www.psychiatry.org/patients-families/ptsd/what-is-ptsd" target="_blank">first responders</a> and <a href="https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-many-faces-anxiety-and-trauma/202006/invisible-wounds-the-frontline-heroes" target="_blank">front-line workers</a>.</p><p>All this adds up to tens of millions of Americans. Up to 30% of combat veterans and first responders, and 8% of civilians, <a href="https://www.ptsd.va.gov/professional/treat/essentials/epidemiology.asp" target="_blank">fulfill the diagnostic criteria for PTSD</a>. And that criteria is not easily met: symptoms of PTSD include nightmares, flashbacks, intrusive trauma memories, difficulty sleeping, avoidance of reminders of trauma, negative emotions, and what we call "hyperarousal symptoms."</p>
Fireworks Can Trigger Flashbacks<p>Hyperarousal, a core component of PTSD, occurs when a person is hyper-alert to any sign of threat – constantly on edge, easily startled and continuously screening the environment.</p><p>Imagine, for instance, stepping down the stairs in the dark after hearing a noise; you're worried an intruder might be downstairs. Then a totally unpredictable loud sound explodes right outside your window.</p><p>For people with PTSD, that sound – reminiscent of gunfire, a thunderstorm or a car crash – <a href="https://theconversation.com/veterans-refugees-and-victims-of-war-crimes-are-all-vulnerable-to-ptsd-130144" target="_blank">can cause</a> a panic attack or trigger flashbacks, a sensory experience that makes it seem as if the old trauma is happening here and now. Flashbacks can be so severe that combat veterans may suddenly drop to the ground, the same way they would when an explosion took place in combat. Later, the experience can trigger nightmares, insomnia or worsening of other PTSD symptoms.</p><p>Those of us who set off fireworks need to ask ourselves: Are those few minutes of fun worth the hours, days, or weeks of torment that will begin for some of our friends and neighbors – including many who put their lives on the line to protect us?</p>
Who Else Is Affected?<p>Millions of others, though not diagnosed with PTSD, may similarly be affected by fireworks. <a href="https://adaa.org/about-adaa/press-room/facts-statistics" target="_blank">One in five Americans</a> have an anxiety disorder, many with symptoms of hyperarousal. Also impacted are those with autism or developmental disabilities; they find it difficult to cope with the noise, or just the drastic change from life routines. Then there are people who have to work, holiday or not: nurses, physicians and first responders, who have to be up at 4 a.m. for a 30-hour shift.</p><h3>How to Reduce the Negative Impact</h3><p>There are ways to reduce how fireworks affect others:</p><ul><li>For those with PTSD, the unexpected nature of fireworks is probably the worst part. So at least make it as predictable as possible. Do it in designated areas during designated times. Don't explode one, for instance, two hours after the designated time window. And avoid setting them off <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/society/2018/jul/04/fireworks-ptsd-fourth-of-july-veterans-shooting-survivors" target="_blank">on the 3rd</a>. People are less prepared then.</li><li>If you're aware that a veteran or trauma survivor lives in the neighborhood, move the noise as far as possible from their home and give them prior warning. Consider putting a sign in your front yard noting the time you'll set the fireworks.</li><li>Remember, it doesn't have to be super loud to make it fun. Consider using <a href="https://thehill.com/opinion/energy-environment/504964-its-time-for-silent-fireworks" target="_blank">silent fireworks</a>. And you don't have to be the one who lights the fireworks. Simply enjoy watching while your city or township does it safely.</li></ul>
- 4 Ways Acupuncture Helps Restore Balance to the Body - EcoWatch ›
- Why Can't Veterans Get Medical Marijiuana for PTSD When People ... ›
Over the past decade, climate-fueled disasters drove over 20 million people a year from their homes, concluded a report released by Oxfam on Monday. The Oxfam study, titled "Forced from Home," was released as two weeks of UN climate negotiations kick-start in Madrid.
- Record 7 Million People Displaced by Extreme Weather Events in ... ›
- Oxfam Warns 12,000 Could Die Per Day From Hunger Due to Pandemic - EcoWatch ›
- Oxfam Warns 12,000 Could Die Per Day From Hunger Due to Pandemic - EcoWatch ›
- New Report Documents How Climate Migration Could Reshape U.S. - EcoWatch ›
- One Billion People May Become Climate Refugees By 2050 - EcoWatch ›
As the climate crisis takes hold, the effects are noticed most conspicuously at the extremes like the poles and the desert, where the harsh environments are drastically altered by a changing climate.
- 7.9 Earthquake in Alaska Triggers West Coast Tsunami Warning ... ›
- 7.8 Earthquake Strikes off Alaska ›
Half the world is on lockdown. So, the constant hum of cars, trucks, trains and heavy machinery has stopped, drastically reducing the intensity of the vibrations rippling through the Earth's crust. Seismologists, who use highly sensitive equipment, have noticed a difference in the hum caused by human activity, according to Fast Company.
- Social Distancing Is Also Helping the Climate - EcoWatch ›
- Coronavirus Lockdown Linked to Falling Air Pollution Levels in Italy ... ›
- Idaho Rattled by Biggest Earthquake in 37 Years - EcoWatch ›
By Jessica Corbett
As the U.S. death toll from Covid-19 stood above 63,000 people Friday—with over a million confirmed cases nationwide—Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez introduced a bill in the U.S. House that would enable a federal relief agency to provide disaster assistance during pandemics.
- 'AOC Gets It': Bill Nye Supports Ocasio-Cortez and Her Efforts to ... ›
- Harris and AOC Introduce Climate Equity Act to Protect Frontline ... ›
- These Renewable Energy Companies Are Feeding Hungry Families - EcoWatch ›
- New FEED Act to Address Food Insecurity With Help From Restaurants - EcoWatch ›
By Coral Natalie Negrón Almodóvar
The Earth began to shake as Tamar Hernández drove to visit her mother in Yauco, Puerto Rico, on Dec. 28, 2019. She did not feel that first tremor — she felt only the ensuing aftershocks — but she worried because her mother had an ankle injury and could not walk. Then Hernández thought, "What if something worse is coming our way?"
A view of a washed out road near Utuado, Puerto Rico, after a Coast Guard Air Station Borinquen MH-65 Dolphin helicopter crew dropped relief supplies to residents Tuesday, Oct. 3, 2017. The locals were stranded after Hurricane Maria by washed out roads and mudslides. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Eric D. Woodall / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0<p>Help did arrive, although it didn't come from the government initially. Instead, a hyperlocal response made up of disparate nonprofits and volunteers arrived and provided much needed aid, even during continuing aftershocks. Hernández said she was especially thankful for the response from one community organization, Tabernacle Followers of Jesus Christ.<br></p><p>Those volunteer initiatives sparked a feeling of trust in refugee camps, said Víctor Amauri, a social worker and one of the help coordinators with Solidarity Brigade of the West, which is made up of people from many organizations who provided direct response to help communities after Hurricane Maria.</p>
A group of students from Aspira's Inc. Alternative School in the municipality of Mayaguez ready to go to the town of Cabo Rojo and receive farming instruction. Francisco Acevedo.<p>Aspira's alternative school in the western town of Mayagüez allows teenagers, most of them school dropouts, to explore the significance of agriculture. The students are learning to cultivate tropical root and tuber crops that can germinate in unfavorable conditions. They are particularly resistant to damage by high wind hurricanes and typhoons, Aspira's agronomist Francisco Acevedo said.</p><p>José Esteban López Maldonado, a student at the elite Residential Center of Educational Opportunities in Mayagüez, runs a <a href="https://www.periodicolaperla.com/le-dan-la-escuela-jose-esteban/" target="_blank">similar project</a> in the small mountainside municipality of Adjuntas. In 2016, he managed to acquire one of the hundreds of schools closed by the local Department of Education and transformed it into a coworking space where people can learn about hydroponic cultivation, coffee planting, and greenhouses. USDA Rural Development, which offers loans and grants to economic development projects, has offered López help to improve the infrastructure of the school, but local authorities have not been able to provide him a proof of ownership so he can take advantage of the program, he said.</p>
José Esteban in Ponce, Puerto Rico, presenting his new initiative to distribute coffee Caturra, produced in his farm Lírica. Coral Negrón<p>The island also faces a <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2019/10/04/finally-puerto-rico-has-way-out-its-debt-crisis/" target="_blank">bankruptcy crisis</a> and <a href="https://apnews.com/1211eb3e68b24c35a994c60973c8de65" target="_blank">austerity measures</a> imposed by the federal Financial Oversight and Management Board. José Caraballo-Cueto, an economist and assistant professor at the University of Puerto Rico, said the bureaucracy around government processes exemplifies how the island is the perfect prey for disaster capitalism. "Restoration doesn't have the impact it deserves on the local economy because the biggest beneficiaries are not locals," Caraballo said. "A private law firm is even handling the cases of lack of proof of ownership post-Hurricane María."</p><p>In Puerto Rico, almost 92 percent of houses were damaged by the hurricane, according to a <a href="https://www.americanbar.org/groups/crsj/publications/human_rights_magazine_home/vol--44--no-2--housing/the-lack-of-proof-of-ownership-in-puerto-rico-is-crippling-repai/" target="_blank">report</a> from the American Bar Association. More than 95 percent of those tenants, about <a href="https://www.americanbar.org/groups/crsj/publications/human_rights_magazine_home/vol--44--no-2--housing/the-lack-of-proof-of-ownership-in-puerto-rico-is-crippling-repai/" target="_blank">1.1 million people</a>, applied for the Federal Emergency Management Agency's Individuals and Households Program in 2018, but a FEMA spokesman told NBC News that 335,748 <a href="https://www.nbcnews.com/storyline/puerto-rico-crisis/no-deeds-no-aid-rebuild-homes-puerto-rico-s-reconstruction-n868396" target="_blank">claims were denied because they couldn't provide a deed</a> proving ownership of their homes.</p><p>Situations such as this one eroded Puerto Ricans' belief in local and federal institutions, which have promoted new governance models, said Arturo Massol Deyá, the executive director of 40-year-old environmental nonprofit Casa Pueblo.</p><p>In 150 locations across the island territory, Casa Pueblo ensured that, after Maria, those with the most urgent need for electricity received solar panels, including hospitals, small bodegas, and the homes of aging residents who required dialysis. In the recent earthquakes, the solar power systems proved to be more resilient than the <a href="https://spectrum.ieee.org/energywise/energy/environment/puerto-rico-earthquake-power-outages-prepa-news" target="_blank">Puerto Rican Electric Power Authority's electricity grid, which failed again</a>.</p>
Arturo Massol, executive director of Casa Pueblo de Adjuntas. Omar Alfonso<p>All these grassroots actions are becoming the backbone of survival in Puerto Rico. For the time being, however, the lives of those residing in earthquake zones are stagnant, said Edward Santiago-Pacheco, a U.S. Army veteran and father of a newborn girl.</p><p>He lost his newly purchased house in Yauco in the 6.4 magnitude earthquake and has not heard back from the insurance company, the bank, or any local government agency.</p><p>"It is hard to overcome this when you just brought a new life into this world," Santiago-Pacheco said. "FEMA only provided money for two months of rent for temporary housing, but I still must pay my house mortgage. The worst part is that the local government is using our pain in favor of their political propaganda."</p><p>On Feb. 10, the Solidarity Brigade learned about Hernández's and Santiago-Pacheco's cases and reached out to them, Amauri said. However, thousands need similar help.</p><p>"Two of our members are sociologists (Roberto Vélez and Jacqueline Villegas), and they developed a census to identify all necessities and help people the best possible way. But we need the government to publish relevant information that can help us organize our strategy," he added.</p>
Casa Pueblo's installation of solar panels in a hardware store in Adjuntas. Arturo Massol
- Oprah Winfrey Donates $2 Million to Help Puerto Rico's Recovery ... ›
- Puerto Rico Gov. to Bolster Island's Electric Grid With Renewables ... ›
- Trump Failed Puerto Rico. These People Picked up the Cost ... ›
- Puerto Rico Drought Leaves 140,000 Without Running Water - EcoWatch ›
By Matthew Ross
Modern society relies on metals like copper, gold and nickel for uses ranging from medicine to electronics. Most of these elements are rare in Earth's crust, so mining them requires displacing vast volumes of dirt and rock. Hard rock mining – so called because it refers to excavating hard minerals, not softer materials like coal or tar sands – generated $600 billion in revenues worldwide in 2017.
Along with metals such as gold, silver and iron, mines also produce materials including sand and gravel, crushed stone and Portland cement. USGS
- Judge Rebukes Trump's Attack on Public Lands, Rules Coal Mining ... ›
- Russian Mining Giant Admits to Polluting the Arctic With Wastewater - EcoWatch ›
Japan's New Environmental Minister Calls for Closing Down All Nuclear Reactors to Prevent Another Disaster Like Fukushima
Japan's new environmental minister, Shinjiro Koizumi, called Wednesday for permanently shutting down the nation's nuclear reactors to prevent a repeat of the 2011 Fukushima disaster, comments that came just a day after Koizumi's predecessor recommended dumping more than one million tons of radioactive wastewater from the power plant into the Pacific Ocean.