60,000 Suicides in India 'Linked to Climate Change'
By Andy Rowell
Three studies published Monday on climate change paint a bleak picture on how global warming is already affecting us now, how it could affect us in the future and how the window for action is seriously running out.
The first academic paper estimated that rising temperatures in India linked to climate change may have contributed to the deaths of 60,000 people over the last three decades.
As temperatures warm, crops then fail, which in turn pushes farmers into a deadly spiral of poverty and debt. Eventually, they can take no more.
This is vitally important research. We often forget that more than three quarters of the world's suicides occur in developing countries. Despite thousands needlessly dying every year, little is known about the drivers of suicidal behavior in poor populations.
India alone is responsible for one fifth of global suicides, and suicide rates have doubled in the country since 1980.
But now this academic study, published by a scientist from the University of Berkeley in California in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, has concluded that "fluctuations in climate, particularly temperature, significantly influence suicide rates." It warns of a "suicide epidemic."
The study argued that "for temperatures above 20°C, a 1°C increase in a single day's temperature causes 70 suicides, on average. This effect occurs only during India's agricultural growing season, when heat also lowers crop yields."
In total, "warming over the last 30 years is responsible for 59,300 suicides in India, accounting for 6.8 percent of the total upward trend."
The study concluded, "These results deliver large-scale quantitative evidence linking climate and agricultural income to self-harm in a developing country."
The author of the paper, Tamma Carleton argued, "Without interventions that help families adapt to a warmer climate, it's likely we will see a rising number of lives lost to suicide as climate change worsens in India."
"The tragedy is unfolding today," added Carleton. "This is not a problem for future generations. This is our problem, right now."
And the situation is set to get worse not just in India, but globally. Another study, published by academics from the University of North Carolina, predicted that unabated climate change will cause some 60,000 deaths globally a year by 2030, rising to 230,000 a year by 2100. The study concluded that rising air temperatures will exacerbate air pollution, leading to further deaths.
These two shocking studies come as it has also been revealed that the chances that we will avoid dangerous climate change by the end of the century, where temperatures are kept below two degrees warming, has fallen to just five percent.
This final research was published in the journal Nature Climate Change. "We're closer to the margin than we think," said the lead author, Adrian Raftery from the University of Washington.
"If we want to avoid 2°C, we have very little time left. The public should be very concerned."
Hundreds of endangered sea turtles were stranded on beaches after suffering "cold stunning" in the waters off Cape Cod, Mass. Local rescuers and wildlife rehabilitators stabilized the turtles at the New England Aquarium (NEAQ) and National Marine Life Center and began treatment. Many of the sea turtles were transported by land or air to partner facilities around the Eastern Seaboard for longer-term care to make room for more incoming, cold-stunned animals.
Rehabilitators at The Turtle Hospital in the Florida Keys assess critically endangered, cold-stunned Kemp's ridley sea turtles flown in after rescue in New England. The Turtle Hospital<p>NEAQ and local rescuers begin seeing turtles every fall when water temperatures drop to that 50 degrees F threshold, and typically expect to find them into early January. After that, <a href="https://www.ecowatch.com/sea-turtle-cape-cod-weather-2621527394.html" target="_self">temperatures are so cold that any animals found are usually no longer alive</a>.</p><p>Merigo estimated that this year's cold season "looks very busy" and noted that local rescue efforts had already surpassed 400 turtles.</p><p>"It is a lot of animals. They're still coming in," she told EcoWatch as she surveyed 39 rescued turtles that day and 20 the day prior. "So far, this is a huge year."</p><p>At NEAQ, the turtles are gradually warmed up about five to 10 degrees F a day. More aggressive warming can cause serious damage and the turtle might not survive, Merigo said. Emergency treatments also include providing replacement fluids, balancing electrolytes and addressing pneumonia. Assessments take place for other serious problems too, such as shell or limb fractures, frostbite, emaciation and eye damage.<span></span></p><p>As local aquariums don't have the capacity to care for all the injured turtles, a group of private pilots called <a href="https://www.turtlesflytoo.org/" target="_blank">"Turtles Fly Too"</a> donated planes, fuel and time to transport some to various partner facilities around the country. Other turtles were driven to closer care facilities.</p><p>"We have a huge network of really great partners working with us, so if we can spread out the care, we can give better care to all the animals," Merigo said.</p><p>The 40 Kemp's ridley sea turtles recovering in The Turtle Hospital will continue to be treated and rehabilitated anywhere from 30 days to a year, depending on the severity of injuries, Zirkelbach said.</p><p>The turtle expert noted that while she's treated cold-stunned turtles from the north before, the newest arrivals were the most cold-stunned Kemp's ridleys ever received at one time.</p>
After rescue, cold-stunned sea turtles received immediate emergency care and assessments at the New England Aquarium. Caitlin Cunningham / New England Aquarium<p>In the past decade, the Gulf of Maine, which spans from Cape Cod to Nova Scotia, has warmed 99 percent faster than the rest of the ocean, Zirkelbach said. The warm water encourages turtles that migrate north along the Gulf Stream in warmer months to stay in the bay longer.</p><p>"Turtles that fail to migrate south get stuck in the unique horseshoe-shaped topography of the Cape Cod peninsula, and when temperatures drop, the bay becomes a death trap," she added.</p><p>Before ocean temperatures warmed, the waters of Maine were too cold for many of these sea turtles, Merigo echoed. Now, with warming sea surface temperatures, Maine can reach the high 70s to low 80s, which is "perfect turtle temperature," she said. The potential for more turtles getting trapped in the bay and then cold-stunned is nerve-racking for Merigo.</p><p>In addition to shifting habitats as waters warm, warming global temperatures also disrupt natural gender balance in sea turtles, Merigo warned. Gender is determined by the temperature of eggs in nests, and as the planet warms, it will result in all females at some point, she said.</p><p>"The turtles we work with are all endangered and threatened," Merigo said. "For sea turtles in general, the future is a little grim. Climate change is real; it does impact them."</p>
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