By Liz Blood
A little over a year ago, Morgun Frejo, a member of the Pawnee, Otoe-Missouria, Navajo nations, began camping at Oceti Sakowin at Standing Rock. The Missouri River is sacred to both his Pawnee and Otoe-Missouria tribes and Frejo recalls elders in both tribes telling him stories of its importance as a child.
He lived at Standing Rock from mid-August 2016 to late February 2017, just before the camp was evicted and closed by the National Guard and local law enforcement.
Tom Goldtooth: 'They Cannot Extinguish the Fire That #StandingRock Started' https://t.co/dVzhsGhjKZ @IENearth @StandingRockST @MarkRuffalo— EcoWatch (@EcoWatch)1487945021.0
When I first saw Frejo, he was working camp security at the main gate—informing people no weapons or alcohol were allowed in the camp. Occasionally, security volunteers were asked to close the gate, or only let in a certain amount of people. They also escorted people out of camp when needed, and walked with participants in the marches.
"The main focus was the safety of everyone participating in a march," said Frejo. "So, we acted as a kind of wall between the people there and the cops, to make sure no one on our side started anything, like an agitator. We made sure we were there in unity. There would be some people who went to a march ready to be pepper-sprayed. Masked up, not showing skin, looking suspicious—when everyone else would be moms, children, elders, people in their regular clothes."
In September 2016, Frejo was arrested, along with his uncle and several others. The police had pictures of Frejo walking away from some construction material with equipment that he could have used to lock himself to it. He was charged with disorderly conduct, criminal trespassing, conspiracy to commit reckless endangerment (a class C felony), and conspiracy to obstruct government function. Morgun maintains he never locked himself to any machinery. His court date was scheduled for August 18, but the charges were dropped a few days before he was scheduled to appear.
I met Frejo when I was reporting on Standing Rock for The Tulsa Voice. He was tight-lipped that day; he didn't seem to care to talk to me or the photographer accompanying me. The acquaintances who introduced us said Frejo had been a lot of help working security at camp.
One night in November, not long after I returned home from Standing Rock, a helicopter circled the area of Tulsa that I live in. My eyes snapped open in the dark. I lay there anxious. I thought of the people still camped in the cold by the river. They experienced that every single night, for most hours of the night, for months on end. Floodlights poured into camp, helicopters and small planes circled over it—intimidation and sleep deprivation tactics. I was there only two nights. How would any of them feel when they ever heard a helicopter at night again?
When I heard that Frejo had returned to Oklahoma after Standing Rock was shut down, I wanted to ask if he was open to speaking to me. He was the only person I knew of who had been there for nearly the entire arc of the camp. What the rest of the world watched transpire on poor cell phone videos and in Facebook updates he had experienced in person.
Frejo and I talked about what was life changing—good and bad—about Standing Rock, what changed while he was there, and what survives after the physical camp is gone.
LIZ BLOOD: Over the time you were at Standing Rock, between August 2016 and February 2017, how did you see the camp change?
MORGUN FREJO: I saw a lot change. The first sight of it, all the teepees and the camps … it was a beautiful sight to see all those tribes and nations come together. The grass was like up to above our knees and a little lawnmower was going around camp so people could make little camps. Towards the end of that month into September I was seeing more and more people coming, seeing different areas being occupied by different tribes.
Then there was the incident when they dug up those graves over the hill from camp. That was one of the first turning points. We had heard they can't go there, they can't bulldoze there, that they were still getting their papers. They were told there were burial sites up there. But they went up there and tore it all up.
A few of us jumped over the fence. My uncle got taken down by one of the security guards; that's when everyone just kind of rushed in, to not only protect him but just push off the workers there. I remember walking where they turned up the ground. A bunch of the worker's trucks were stuck in that mud. People started surrounding them and telling them to leave. One guy almost hit a woman. He got stuck and gunned it and almost hit her.
I was right behind the first row of people just going face to face with those dogs. The way the handlers were using them, they were trying to attack us. I wasn't surprised or scared—it was almost calming. I felt like I'd been in that situation before, but I never have in my life. I talked to others and my uncle about it and he said it's in our genetics—it's in our DNA because of when our ancestors went through it. The best way I can describe is the colonizers, they had dogs. They terrorized villages. They used dogs to attack people. That experience is embedded along with all of the other tragedies and misfortune we've been dealt. We've been dealing with this for hundreds of years. So even though we were scared, we were comfortable.
Then, in October, there were more people in camp. There were more police. They were militarized. I won't say they were antagonizing us but they knew where to push our buttons, not as individuals but like as a camp, also.
Camp shifted the day north camp got raided. A lot of people got arrested. That camp was treaty land that was promised to the tribe. That's why people moved up there. But where that was also a protected route for the pipeline, so it was also a blockade camp.
They rounded those people up like cattle—pulling them out of their teepees. I had family that got arrested there. Some got pulled out of a prayer circle. A lot of their sacred items got desecrated. It's saddening to know how Martin County and whoever else handled what is held sacred and precious. I heard stories of them desecrating it with urine, dumping it all on the ground as if it was already trash.
When Thanksgiving came around, that's when it started getting colder. Month by month, what I noticed personally, was the spirituality—people were coming for the wrong reasons.
BLOOD: This was a change you were seeing?
FREJO: Yeah. Why I went there was for that water, you know, because that water is us, we are that water. We are made of it. I wanted to go there and pray with that water because not only is the Missouri a powerful river—but me, as a Pawnee and Otoe-Missouria Indian in Oklahoma—that same river that flows up north flows through here. It's a sacred river to us, too.
But some that came for that call they put out—we need more people, we need more bodies, come stand on the front line, show your support that way—that's when the mentality of camp teetered. Before it was about spirituality, listening to the elders, following a protocol of being visitors, respecting their tribe.
Then it goes to we have to stop this pipeline. That was always the goal but spirituality was a main factor. It turned into yelling on the front lines, calling cops names, pigs, cussing them out. Before October, there was none of that.
There was chanting of Mni Wiconi, you know, water is life. Spirituality, prayers and singing. Then to have to wear a ballistic vest, or walk up with a plastic shield, or goggles and a face mask so you won't get sprayed in your face with mace or a rubber bullet, you know. People were saying Morton County had the OK to use live rounds, live ammo—instead of pepper spray. That's what was being spread around the front line. I think that's when people started bringing in ballistic vests. Being on those front lines, just being there, made you a target. It wasn't about being ready to take them on, it was about being ready for whatever they were going to do.
The spirituality of it was lost more and more in the sight of the people that were there. That's one of the major changes I saw. It was a lot of factors … the police escalating things, us, or certain individuals in camp that took it upon themselves to think that they were doing something justly. The cold coming in, elders leaving—or elders going so they could stay safe, you know. I think most of the camp wasn't fully prepared for winterizing.
BLOOD: How are you dealing with not being there—a place where everyone was there for, if not the same, at least a similar reason?
FREJO: It's an adjustment. It's a big adjustment. Just yesterday me and my girlfriend were cooking and she mentioned it to me. She was like, "I miss that propane"—like the smell of propane, having to make sure if the tank was empty to change it out. And having a big camp bonfire, like a campfire any night or any moment for no reason. I miss it a lot. Not only focusing on like stopping the pipeline but just being there, being unified with other people for the same cause of clean water. Everyone there not judging. We knew what we were doing and we weren't distracted.
BLOOD: This is something that, when you're just out experiencing the world now, you flash back to?
FREJO: Yeah, it's like a—it's a form of PTSD. When I was up there I got arrested, me and my uncle, and we went through our own trauma up there.
I've talked to my grandpa, who served in Vietnam. He went through crazy things. He was MIA for a while as a POW, and he escaped. After I got arrested, I went back home for a couple of weeks in October and I was talking to him and he said, "What you went through, a normal citizen that wouldn't happen to. What you went through, you're basically a warrior, a soldier now."
The way I did it is kind of frowned upon in my family's eyes because I went to jail. But they understand. They also shifted to see me as a man. They said it was good and bad. And it was along the lines of what would give you PTSD. He told me it wasn't like what he did, but it was affecting me, taking a toll.
Even seeing a small airplane or helicopter kind of makes me uneasy, but at the same time I miss that sound because we heard it all day and all night at that camp. One of the major things that used to kind of get me was the sound of a drum, hearing that outside of camp brought up a lot of feelings.
I'm still working through my own things. From talking to other people that were up there, it's not only things like that that trigger, it's that feeling of loneliness or depression … not feeling useful or having a purpose anymore because at camp everyone had a purpose.
BLOOD: So even the feeling can then be triggering. Is that what you're saying?
FREJO: Yeah. That's what hits me personally and some others that I know … that everyone's just kind of feeling useless or empty or just alone like no one understands. I still deal with the depression of missing camp, not knowing how to deal with society.
My anxiety builds up over time and sometimes hits me a lot, like for a night. That feeling of being paranoid. I try not to be mad at myself for feeling like that. I think, I'm out of camp so I shouldn't feel like this anymore. But I'm starting to realize every person who went to camp, no matter what they heard or saw or experienced—we won't fully heal from that, because we're still feeling what our ancestors felt. It's like coming to terms and being at peace, and understand all that, to try to find a healthy way to let it go or deal with it.
Just about every time I open up Facebook, you know, I'm seeing someone that I know from camp posting about what they're going through and they're wondering if everyone else or anyone else feels like that. It's an epidemic that we all have. Everything that happened up there takes a toll and it's gonna take time to heal.
Thinking about it now, it's crazy to think about two or three days of not really eating, drinking, or barely sleeping. I reflect and know I did that for the right reasons. I wasn't out partying or going on a bender. I wasn't thinking about eating or drinking water, either, but when I did I loaded up because I didn't know when the next time would be. But I didn't worry about it, either.
You know, what I was a part of up there in Standing Rock, it woke up the world. There's other camps everywhere now. There's people taking on big oil companies. There's marches. There's rallies. People are waking up to what has been happening here in Oklahoma for over a decade.
BLOOD: Where are you at right now?
FREJO: I'm working on myself—emotionally, physically and spiritually, and knowing what I can do and when I can do it. I know that, how many people have seen the light on what's going on and what's happening. It's an amazing feeling to know that there's so many people, not only in the U.S., but all over the world, that come up with inventions or a new way to get away from fossil fuels. I feel small but at the same time I'm part of something way bigger.
I have to take a step back. I know that I can't do much or I can't do what I truly want until I know that me and what I hold dear to me are ready. So I'm kind of keeping an eye on everything, but at the same time trying to take time for myself to make sure I heal and just be ready for whatever opportunities I have in the future.
BLOOD: How are people who are now gone from camp continuing to support each other?
FREJO: Keeping in touch with other protectors or other people from camp. I think that's one of the major ones. A lot of them are … just continuing the fight, going wherever they can or showing support where they can. I think a lot of them are trying to keep that momentum. But it's really hard because just that feeling of, you know, no on will understand. No one gets it.
But at the same time, it's up to the individual to either reach out or accept someone trying to support them … I know what else is out there. When they don't take that road they go to self comforting, what they know. It could be alcohol, drugs, self harm or harming others. That's a big problem, too, because a lot of natives, not only on reservations or in a small town, sometimes where we live, it's just overbearing. It's depressing … there's a lot of suicides. Just that hope, you know, of what it was like in camp. And then you go back to where you're from and there are people that, you know, they're like, "Why'd you go up there?" That doesn't involve us. It's really rough.
But as water protectors, and as a human race—have that compassion of reaching out to someone. They may look like they're having a good time or they're enjoying themselves but who knows what they're feeling on the inside … they could have a whole story that no one knows about.
Here, I walk to the gas station, or Wal-Mart, or the store and no one makes eye contact. They've got their ear buds in. No one wants to give you the time of day to look at you. But at Standing Rock man, you'd wake up, get out of your tent, someone's walking by—hey, good morning, how you doing? Even when everybody just woke up … you could walk around camp and someone would offer you coffee and you'd sit there and get to know them.
That's a major difference I'm still trying to get used to. Because before Standing Rock I was like that, you know, I wouldn't look at people. I'd just do what I had to do and then leave … but after Standing Rock I look at people, I'll give 'em like a little nod and be like, "Hey, how ya doin?"
That little interaction of just saying hi or smiling at someone, you know? Maybe they're going through a rough day. I know when someone does that back I feel better. I like seeing someone else smile. Maybe they'll do it to the next person. Just that little happiness makes the world a little bit better.
Reposted with permission from our media associate SIERRA magazine.
Google's New Timelapse Shows 37 Years of Climate Change Anywhere on Earth, Including Your Neighborhood
Google Earth's latest feature allows you to watch the climate change in four dimensions.
The new feature, called Timelapse, is the biggest update to Google Earth since 2017. It is also, as far as its developers know, the largest video taken of Earth on Earth. The feature compiles 24 million satellite photos taken between 1984 and 2020 to show how human activity has transformed the planet over the past 37 years.
"Visual evidence can cut to the core of the debate in a way that words cannot and communicate complex issues to everyone," Google Earth Director Rebecca Moore wrote in a blog post Thursday.
Moore herself has been directly impacted by the climate crisis. She was one of many Californians evacuated because of wildfires last year. However, the new feature allows people to witness more remote changes, such as the melting of ice caps.
"With Timelapse in Google Earth, we have a clearer picture of our changing planet right at our fingertips — one that shows not just problems but also solutions, as well as mesmerizingly beautiful natural phenomena that unfold over decades," she wrote.
Some climate impacts that viewers can witness include the melting of 12 miles of Alaska's Columbia Glacier between 1984 and 2020, Fortune reported. They can also watch the disintegration of the Pine Island Glacier in Antarctica. The changes are not limited to the impacts of global warming, however.
Moore said the developers had identified five themes, and Google Earth offers a guided tour for each of them. They are:
- Forest change, such as deforestation in Bolivia for soybean farming
- Urban growth, such as the quintupling of Las Vegas sprawl
- Warming temperatures, such as melting glaciers and ice sheets
- Sources of energy, such as the impacts of coal mining on Wyoming's landscape
- Fragile beauty, such as the flow of Bolivia's Mamoré River
However, the feature also allows you to see smaller-scale change. You can enter any location into the search bar, including your local neighborhood, CNN explained. The feature does not offer the detail of Street View, Gizmodo noted. It is intended to show large changes over time, rather than smaller details like the construction of a road or home.
The images for Timelapse were made possible through collaboration with NASA, the U.S. Geological Survey's Landsat satellites and the European Union's Copernicus program and Sentinel satellites. Carnegie Mellon University's CREATE Lab helped develop the technology.
To use Timelapse, you can either visit g.co/Timelapse directly or click on the Ship's Wheel icon in Google Earth, then select Timelapse. Moore said the feature would be updated annually with new images of Earth's alterations.
"We hope that this perspective of the planet will ground debates, encourage discovery and shift perspectives about some of our most pressing global issues," she wrote.
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By Asher Rosinger
Imagine seeing a news report about lead contamination in drinking water in a community that looks like yours. It might make you think twice about whether to drink your tap water or serve it to your kids – especially if you also have experienced tap water problems in the past.
In a new study, my colleagues Anisha Patel, Francesca Weaks and I estimate that approximately 61.4 million people in the U.S. did not drink their tap water as of 2017-2018. Our research, which was released in preprint format on April 8, 2021, and has not yet been peer reviewed, found that this number has grown sharply in the past several years.
Other research has shown that about 2 million Americans don't have access to clean water. Taking that into account, our findings suggest that about 59 million people have tap water access from either their municipality or private wells or cisterns, but don't drink it. While some may have contaminated water, others may be avoiding water that's actually safe.
Water insecurity is an underrecognized but growing problem in the U.S. Tap water distrust is part of the problem. And it's critical to understand what drives it, because people who don't trust their tap water shift to more expensive and often less healthy options, like bottled water or sugary drinks.
I'm a human biologist and have studied water and health for the past decade in places as diverse as Lowland Bolivia and northern Kenya. Now I run the Water, Health, and Nutrition Laboratory at Pennsylvania State University. To understand water issues, I talk to people and use large datasets to see whether a problem is unique or widespread, and stable or growing.
An Epidemic of Distrust
According to our research, there's a growing epidemic of tap water distrust and disuse in the U.S. In a 2020 study, anthropologist Sera Young and I found that tap water avoidance was declining before the Flint water crisis that began in 2014. In 2015-2016, however, it started to increase again for children.
Our new study found that in 2017-2018, the number of Americans who didn't drink tap water increased at an alarmingly high rate, particularly for Black and Hispanic adults and children. Since 2013-2014 – just before the Flint water crisis began – the prevalence of adults who do not drink their tap water has increased by 40%. Among children, not consuming tap has risen by 63%.
To calculate this change, we used data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, a nationally representative survey that releases data in two-year cycles. Sampling weights that use demographic characteristics ensure that the people being sampled are representative of the broader U.S. population.
Racial Disparities in Tap Water Consumption
Communities of color have long experienced environmental injustice across the U.S. Black, Hispanic and Native American residents are more likely to live in environmentally disadvantaged neighborhoods, with exposure to water that violates quality standards.
Our findings reflect these experiences. We calculated that Black and Hispanic children and adults are two to three times more likely to report not drinking their tap water than members of white households. In 2017-2018, roughly 3 out of 10 Black adults and children and nearly 4 of 10 Hispanic adults and children didn't drink their tap water. Approximately 2 of 10 Asian Americans didn't drink from their tap, while only 1 of 10 white Americans didn't drink their tap water.
When children don't drink any water on a given day, research shows that they consume twice as many calories from sugary drinks as children who drink water. Higher sugary drink consumption increases risk of cavities, obesity and cardiometabolic diseases. Drinking tap water provides fluoride, which lowers the risk of cavities. Relying on water alternatives is also much more expensive than drinking tap water.
A4: Choosing to drink fluoridated tap water over sugar-sweetened beverages to quench thirst is vital to protecting… https://t.co/3tm8wuWjeZ— Oral Health Watch (@Oral Health Watch)1600795750.0
What Erodes Trust
News reports – particularly high-visibility events like advisories to boil water – lead people to distrust their tap water even after the problem is fixed. For example, a 2019 study showed that water quality violations across the U.S. between 2006 and 2015 led to increases in bottled water purchases in affected counties as a way to avoid tap water, and purchase rates remained elevated after the violation.
The Flint water crisis drew national attention to water insecurity, even though state and federal regulators were slow to respond to residents' complaints there. Soon afterward, lead contamination was found in the water supply of Newark, New Jersey; the city is currently replacing all lead service lines under a legal settlement. Elsewhere, media outlets and advocacy groups have reported finding tap water samples contaminated with industrial chemicals, lead, arsenic and other contaminants.
Many other factors can cause people to distrust their water supply, including smell, taste and appearance, as well as lower income levels. Location is also an issue: Older U.S. cities with aging infrastructure are more prone to water shutoffs and water quality problems.
It's important not to blame people for distrusting what comes out of their tap, because those fears are rooted in history. In my view, addressing water insecurity requires a two-part strategy: ensuring that everyone has access to clean water, and increasing trust so people who have safe water will use it.
As part of his proposed infrastructure plan, President Joe Biden is asking Congress for $111 billion to improve water delivery systems, replace lead pipelines and tackle other contaminants. The plan also proposes improvements for small water systems and underserved communities.
These are critical steps to rebuild trust. Yet, in my view, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency should also provide better public education about water quality testing and targeted interventions for vulnerable populations, such as children and underserved communities. Initiatives to simplify and improve water quality reports can help people understand what's in their water and what they can do if they think something is wrong with it.
Who delivers those messages is important. In areas like Flint, where former government officials have been indicted on charges including negligence and perjury in connection with the water crisis, the government's word alone won't rebuild trust. Instead, community members can fill this critical role.
Another priority is the 13%-15% of Americans who rely on private well water, which is not regulated under the Safe Drinking Water Act. These households are responsible for their own water quality testing. Public funding would help them test it regularly and address any problems.
Public distrust of tap water in the U.S. reflects decades of policies that have reduced access to reliable, safe drinking water in communities of color. Fixing water lines is important, but so is giving people confidence to turn on the tap.
Asher Rosinger is an assistant professor of biobehavioral health, anthropology, and demography and director of the Water, Health, and Nutrition Laboratory at Penn State University.
Disclosure statement: Asher Rosinger receives funding from the National Science Foundation on an unrelated project. This work was supported by the Ann Atherton Hertzler Early Career Professorship funds, and the Penn State Population Research Institute (NICHD P2CHD041025). The funders had no role in the research or interpretation of results.
Reposted with permission from The Conversation.
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A new report promoting urgent climate action in Australia has stirred debate for claiming that global temperatures will rise past 1.5 degrees Celsius in the next decade.
Australia's Climate Council released the report on Thursday. The council is an independent organization of climate scientists and experts on health, renewable energy and policy who work to inform the Australian public on the climate crisis. But their latest claim is causing controversy.
"Multiple lines of evidence show that limiting global warming to 1.5°C above the preindustrial level, without significant overshoot and subsequent drawdown, is now out of reach due to past inaction," Dr. Kevin Trenberth of the National Center for Atmospheric Research and Prof. Christopher Field of the Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment wrote in the foreword. "The science is telling us that global average temperature rise will likely exceed 1.5°C during the 2030s, and that long-term stabilization at warming at or below 1.5°C will be extremely challenging."
The report is titled "Aim high, go fast: Why emissions need to plummet this decade," and as the name suggests, it is ultimately concerned with urging more robust climate action on the part of the Australian government. The report calls for the country to reduce emissions by 75 percent by 2030 and reach net zero by 2035 in order to achieve the long-term goals of the Paris agreement, which means limiting warming to well below two degrees Celsius.
"The world achieving net zero by 2050 is at least a decade too late and carries a strong risk of irreversible global climate disruption at levels inconsistent with maintaining well-functioning human societies," the authors wrote.
The report further argues that global temperatures are likely to exceed 1.5 degrees Celsius in the 2030s based on existing temperature increases; locked-in warming from emissions that have already occurred; evidence from past climate changes and the percentage of the carbon budget that has already been used.
The report isn't a call to give up on the Paris agreement. It is possible that global temperatures could swell past 1.5 degrees Celsius but still be reduced by removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Even if temperatures do exceed 1.5 degrees, every degree of warming that can be prevented makes a difference.
"Basically we can still hold temperature rise to well below 2C and do that without overshoot and drawdown," Will Steffen, lead report author from the Australian National University's Climate Change Institute, told Australia's ABC News. "Every tenth of a degree actually does matter — 1.8C is better than 1.9C, and is much better than 2C."
However, some outside scientists question both the accuracy and effectiveness of the report's claim. Both Adjunct Professor Bill Hare from Murdoch University and Dr. Carl-Freidrich Schleussner from Humboldt University told ABC News they have been trying to contact the Climate Council about its 1.5 overshoot claim for months. They said that it went against other major reports, including the UN Environment Program Gap Report and the recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Special Report on 1.5˚C.
"The big challenge their report reinforces is the need for urgent action to get on that 1.5C pathway, [so] it's very paradoxical to me that they've chosen to attack that target," Dr. Hare told ABC News.
However, Scientist Andy Pitman from the Center of Excellence for Climate Extremes at the University of New South Wales told The Guardian that the report's assessment was correct.
"It's simply not possible to limit warming to 1.5C now," he said. "There's too much inertia in the system and even if you stopped greenhouse gas emissions today, you would still reach 1.5C [of heating]."
However, one aspect everyone agreed on involved the importance of lowering emissions as soon as possible.
"[There is] absolute fundamental agreement on the task at hand, which is to get emissions to plummet," Simon Bradshaw, report author and Climate Council head of research, told The Guardian.
French winemakers are facing devastating grape loss from the worst frost in decades, preceded by unusually warm temperatures, highlighting the dangers to the sector posed by climate change.
"An important share of the harvest has been lost. It's too early to give a percentage estimate, but in any case it's a tragedy for the winegrowers who have been hit," said Christophe Chateau, director of communications at the Bordeaux Wine Council, told CNN.
Climate change, caused by the extraction and combustion of fossil fuels, has pushed winegrowing seasons earlier, putting crops at higher risk of cold — and wildfires supercharged by climate change also threaten American vignerons and farmworkers as well.
"I think it's good for people to understand that this is nature, climate change is real, and to be conscious of the effort that goes into making wine and the heartbreak that is the loss of a crop," Jeremy Seysses of Domaine Dujac in Burgundy's Côte de Nuits told Wine Enthusiast.
As reported by Wine Enthusiast:
Last week, images of candlelit French vineyards flooded social media. Across the country, winemakers installed bougies, or large wax-filled metal pots, among the vines to prevent cold air from settling in during an especially late frost.
With temperatures in early April as low as 22°F, and following an unseasonably warm March, this year's frost damage may be the worst in history for French winegrowers. Every corner of France reports considerable losses, from Champagne to Provence, and Côtes de Gascogne to Alsace. As a result, there will likely be very little French wine from the 2021 vintage reaching U.S. shores.
For a deeper dive:
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Climate change could make it harder to find a good cup of coffee, new research finds. A changing climate might shrink suitable areas for specialty coffee production without adaptation, making coffee taste blander and impacting the livelihoods of small farms in the Global South.
Published in Scientific Reports on Wednesday, the study focused on regions in Ethiopia, Africa's largest coffee-producing nation. Although studies have previously documented the impact of climate change on coffee production, what's less understood is how varying climates could change the flavors of specialty coffee, the researchers wrote.
The team aimed to fill this gap. Their results provide a glimpse into how future climate change could impact local regions and economies that rely on coffee cultivation, underscoring the value of local adaptation measures.
Researchers analyzed how 19 different climate factors, such as mean temperatures and rainfall levels, would affect the cultivation of five distinct specialty coffee types in the future, the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) reported. Although researchers found that areas suitable for growing "average quality coffee" may actually increase over time with climate change, regions where specialty coffee is grown will shrink — a pending problem in light of the global demand for high-quality coffee.
"This is an issue not just for coffee lovers, but for local agricultural value creation," Abel Chemura, the study's lead author, told the PIK.
Coffee profiles rely on specific climate patterns for their unique flavors, levels of acidity and fragrances. But in a warmer climate, the coffee cherry — the fruit picked from a coffee plant — matures faster than the bean inside, making for a lower quality cup of coffee, the PIK reported.
For example, the sought-after Yirgacheffe variety of coffee, which is cultivated in southwestern Ethiopia, could lose more than 40 percent of its suitable growth area by the end of the century, PIK reported. This could impact small farms and threaten Ethiopia's economy, the researchers noted.
"If one or more coffee regions lose their specialty status due to climate change this has potentially grave ramifications for the smallholder farmers in the region," Christoph Gornott, co-author of the study, told the PIK. "If they were forced to switch to growing conventional, less palatable and bitter coffee types, they would all of the sudden compete with industrial production systems elsewhere that are more efficient." In a country where coffee exports account for nearly a third of all agricultural exports, "this could prove fatal," Gornott added.
Climate change impacts on coffee production are not unique to Ethiopia. In Columbia's mountainous coffee-growing regions, temperatures are warming by 0.5 degrees Fahrenheit every decade, according to Yale Environment 360. Extreme levels of precipitation, which are becoming more common, also impact production, as they spread insect and fungal diseases.
"In earlier times, the climate was perfect for coffee," one small farmer in Columbia told Yale Environment 360. "In the period of flowering, there was summer. During harvest, there was winter. But from 2008 onward, this changed and we now don't know when it will be summer, when the coffee will blossom."
But researchers say there are glimmers of hope, emphasizing the importance of local adaptation measures that are designed for particular climates and communities. For example, in regions where temperature is an important factor for specialty coffee cultivation, the researchers suggest improved agroforestry systems that could maintain canopy temperatures, a promising step toward sustaining the "availability and taste of one of the world's most beloved beverages and, more importantly, on economic opportunities in local communities of the Global South," Gornott concluded.