By Todd Miller
Less than a mile south of the U.S.-Mexico border, in Sasabe, Mexico, a Guatemalan man named Giovanni (whose first name is used to protect his undocumented status) propped up his feet while an EMT applied antibiotic ointment to his feet in the shade of a cottonwood. Giovanni left his home country because of a catastrophic drought and was attempting to unite with his brothers who were already in Dallas. After trying to cross the border into the Arizona desert, his feet were ravaged: discolored, covered in gashes and tender red blisters. One toenail had been ripped off. Across the arroyo or dry wash, were about 30 more prospective border crossers, primarily Guatemalan, some awaiting a similar medical checkup, others stocking up on water and food.
It was July, and several days before in a 110-degree heat wave, he had crossed the border with a small group of about five other people from Guatemala. After 14 hours, they ran out of water. After 21 hours, Giovanni gave up and turned back alone. He had no water, no food and quickly lost his orientation, but he made it back to Sasabe.
Giovanni is part of a Central American exodus of people that has been increasing for decades. The recent caravans are the most recent chapter. And while there are complex and compounding reasons for the massive displacements and migrations—especially rising violence (in places like Honduras, for example, after the 2009 military coup) and systemic poverty—there is another driver behind the movement of people seeking refuge in the U.S.: climate change.
As the EMT tenderly wrapped an adhesive bandage around Giovanni's feet, Giovanni told me about the droughts back in his home of San Cristobal Frontera. It hadn't rained for "40 days and 40 nights," he said. The crops in the milpas—subsistence farm plots of corn, beans, and squash—were wilting, and the harvests failing. The cattle were skinny and dying of starvation. Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador lie in the trajectory of the so-called "dry corridor" of Central America that stretches from Southern Mexico to Panama. This epithet is a recently adopted description of the region, to describe the droughts that have risen in intensity and frequency over the last 10 years.
Most members of the human caravans are from these three "dry corridor" countries.
According to the United Nations Refugee Agency, "Families and communities have already started to suffer from disasters and the consequences of climate change." From 2008 to 2015, the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre reported that at least 22.5 million had been displaced per year because of climate-related-events, the equivalent of 62,000 people per day. Over this time, environmental forces uprooted more people than war. And in 2017 alone, disasters displaced 4.5 million people in the Americas.
In September, the World Food Programme essentially confirmed what Giovanni had told me earlier that summer in Sasabe. According to reporting by the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the WFP said, "Poor harvests caused by drought in Central America could leave more than two million people hungry" and "climate change was creating drier conditions in the region." In July, El Salvador declared a red alert as the drought affected 77,000 corn farmers, and Honduras reported that as much as 80 percent of its maize and bean crops were lost. The accumulated losses of these crops exceeded 694,366 acres in Guatemala and El Salvador. This summer's devastating losses came after other recent, hard-hitting dry spells, particularly from 2014 to 2016, that had already left millions on the brink of hunger.
As climate scientist Chris Castro told me in 2017, Central America is ground zero for climate change in the Americas. Among the thousands of people caravanning north are climate refugees.
Climate change is a force in Central America. As one Honduran subsistence farmer named Guillermo told me in 2015 in an interview published in my book Storming the Wall: The weather is changing. And that is affecting food supply. Guillermo's first name is used because of safety concerns.
"We used to have a place—a warehouse—to store the community's food," Guillermo said. But now, he said, that storage house was empty, and he described how the first rains of the season—which used to be so reliable—had become unpredictable.
Guillermo's small coastal community of Vallecito is one of about 46 Garífuna communities in Honduras. The Garífuna people are descendants of Caribbean Native Arawak as well as Central and Western African people forcibly brought to this hemisphere by White enslavers. Coastal Garífuna communities are subject to storm surges and hurricanes (such as Hurricane Mitch, which killed more than 7,000 people in Honduras in 1998) and are at the center of land disputes over ever-expanding African Palm plantations, tourism, and other development projects, some U.S.-backed, which Garífuna community members have called a "systematic eviction" from their land by corporate and state forces.
Drought, crop failure, storms and land disputes pit the rich versus the poor: All of these things have displaced people in Vallecito and other north coast communities, some of whom have moved to increasingly volatile cities—like San Pedro Sula, which has one of the highest homicide rates in the world—in search of work.
According to the 2017 Global Climate Risk Index, both Guatemala and Honduras are among the countries most affected by climate change. From 1996 to 2015, Honduras had 61 extreme climate events and an average of 301 climate related deaths per year. Guatemala had 75 events and an average 97 deaths per year. According to the report, over the last couple decades, Central America has experienced a temperature rise between 0.7 and 1 degree Celsius.
Meanwhile, there are increased and increasing border controls in Central America, Mexico and, of course, the U.S. In April 2016, Miriam Miranda, the coordinator of the Black Fraternal Organization of Honduras, a Garífuna rights organization, told teleSUR English that rather than truly address global warming, world leaders were instead "preparing to avoid and control human displacement as a result of catastrophes" through "ramped-up militarization and the so-called war on drugs in indigenous territories."
According to the border strategy known as Prevention Through Deterrence, by effectively making the urban borderlands impassable, people would be forced to cross in places such as Sasabe, areas so desolate and dangerous that the environment itself became a weapon.
This was what Giovanni experienced when he had to turn back to Sasabe, Mexico. Indeed when Giovanni turned around to try to get back to Sasabe, he was walking through a place where thousands of bodies of other crossers have been found in one of the least discussed humanitarian crises in the U.S.
The harshest impacts of climate change are reserved specifically for people like Giovanni: the poor, the marginalized, the displaced and in this case, the unauthorized.
Historically, U.S. foreign policy has often contributed to increased Central American displacement. When tens of thousands of Guatemalans and Salvadorans crossed into the U.S. in the 1980s, they were fleeing wars by military dictatorships financed, armed, and trained by the U.S. These are the same places where U.S.-based corporate oligarchies—such as the United Fruit Company—have profited at the expense of locals living in poverty or extreme poverty.
And now there's climate change. The U.S. leads in greenhouse gas emissions, having produced 27 percent of the world's emissions since 1850. The European Union follows with 25 percent, China 11 percent, Russia 8 percent. And U.S. emissions (314,772.1 millions of metric tons of CO2) dwarf those of Guatemala (213.4), Honduras (115.5) and El Salvador (135.2). In other words, the U.S. has contaminated the atmosphere with 678 times more CO2 than the three countries whose people are in the caravan.
Countries, like the U.S., that have emitted the most CO2 are fortifying their borders against people from countries who have emitted the least. And these are countries where people, like Giovanni and Guillermo, are feeling the effects of climate change. In the future, projections for climate displacement are staggering, and range from 25 million to 1 billion by 2050. One estimate from the World Bank says that climate change will displace 17 million Latin Americans by 2050. Another forecast projects that one in 10 Mexicans between 15 and 65 will be displaced.
Yet, instead of any sort of reckoning with the human displacement caused by climate change, Washington only deploys more armed agents, builds more walls, and deploys active duty troops authorized to use lethal force to stop caravans of refugees. Among these are refugees who recently tried to cross the border from Tijuana and were held back with tear gas fired by U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents. These border crossers were primarily from Honduras; it's likely some were from communities like Guillermo's. And elsewhere, it's almost certain that Giovanni—or people from his community—are among those arriving at the border every day.
Reposted with permission from our media associate YES! Magazine.
The Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration acknowledged climate change as a cause of migration, both due to extreme weather and "slow onset events" like drought after various advocacy groups pushed for the addition.
"It's the first time the international community has recognized that migration and displacement can be caused by climate change disasters and has made specific commitments on how to address that," Walter Kaelin from the Platform on Disaster Displacement told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.
Weather disasters displaced an average of 26.4 million people a year between 2008 and 2015, according the UN. And in March the World Bank warned that more than 140 million people in Africa, South Asia and Latin America could be forced to migrate due to climate change unless the world acts quickly to lower emissions, according to Reuters.
Most of the climate change mentions in the current compact come under Objective No. 3, calling on signatories to "Minimize the adverse drivers and structural factors that compel people to leave their country of origin."
The compact lists investing in "climate change mitigation" as one way to minimize these forces.
The compact also calls on signatories to share information to better understand and predict climate-caused migrations, develop strategies to combat the effects of climate change, consider possible displacement when creating disaster response plans, coordinate at a regional and subregional level to make sure the humanitarian needs and rights of climate migrants are met and develop strategies to respond to the challenges posed by climate-based migration movements.
"After this compact, no one can say: 'We don't see a relation between climate change and displacement and migration,'" head of climate change and resilience policy at CARE International Sven Harmeling told The Thomson Reuters Foundation.
"But we'll have to see how fast and how many governments will sign up to this," he added.
The compact will be officially adopted at a meeting in Morocco in December.
The compact is non-binding and does not require countries to agree to targeted goals or to grant any climate migrant legal status.
It was first begun in 2015 in response to the refugee crisis in Europe, which saw the largest number of refugees enter the region since World War II.
The compact was originally agreed to by all 193 UN member countries, but the U.S. pulled out last year and Hungary also promised to withdraw Wednesday.
The U.S. government has since come under fire for its treatment of Central American asylum seekers at the country's southern border, some of whom are partly fleeing drought and food insecurity linked to climate change.
Correction: An earlier version of this article misspelled the Thomson Reuters Foundation
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The bright patterns and recognizable designs of Waterlust's activewear aren't just for show. In fact, they're meant to promote the conversation around sustainability and give back to the ocean science and conservation community.
Each design is paired with a research lab, nonprofit, or education organization that has high intellectual merit and the potential to move the needle in its respective field. For each product sold, Waterlust donates 10% of profits to these conservation partners.
Eye-Catching Designs Made from Recycled Plastic Bottles
waterlust.com / @abamabam
The company sells a range of eco-friendly items like leggings, rash guards, and board shorts that are made using recycled post-consumer plastic bottles. There are currently 16 causes represented by distinct marine-life patterns, from whale shark research and invasive lionfish removal to sockeye salmon monitoring and abalone restoration.
One such organization is Get Inspired, a nonprofit that specializes in ocean restoration and environmental education. Get Inspired founder, marine biologist Nancy Caruso, says supporting on-the-ground efforts is one thing that sets Waterlust apart, like their apparel line that supports Get Inspired abalone restoration programs.
"All of us [conservation partners] are doing something," Caruso said. "We're not putting up exhibits and talking about it — although that is important — we're in the field."
Waterlust not only helps its conservation partners financially so they can continue their important work. It also helps them get the word out about what they're doing, whether that's through social media spotlights, photo and video projects, or the informative note card that comes with each piece of apparel.
"They're doing their part for sure, pushing the information out across all of their channels, and I think that's what makes them so interesting," Caruso said.
And then there are the clothes, which speak for themselves.
Advocate Apparel to Start Conversations About Conservation
waterlust.com / @oceanraysphotography
Waterlust's concept of "advocate apparel" encourages people to see getting dressed every day as an opportunity to not only express their individuality and style, but also to advance the conversation around marine science. By infusing science into clothing, people can visually represent species and ecosystems in need of advocacy — something that, more often than not, leads to a teaching moment.
"When people wear Waterlust gear, it's just a matter of time before somebody asks them about the bright, funky designs," said Waterlust's CEO, Patrick Rynne. "That moment is incredibly special, because it creates an intimate opportunity for the wearer to share what they've learned with another."
The idea for the company came to Rynne when he was a Ph.D. student in marine science.
"I was surrounded by incredible people that were discovering fascinating things but noticed that often their work wasn't reaching the general public in creative and engaging ways," he said. "That seemed like a missed opportunity with big implications."
Waterlust initially focused on conventional media, like film and photography, to promote ocean science, but the team quickly realized engagement on social media didn't translate to action or even knowledge sharing offscreen.
Rynne also saw the "in one ear, out the other" issue in the classroom — if students didn't repeatedly engage with the topics they learned, they'd quickly forget them.
"We decided that if we truly wanted to achieve our goal of bringing science into people's lives and have it stick, it would need to be through a process that is frequently repeated, fun, and functional," Rynne said. "That's when we thought about clothing."
Support Marine Research and Sustainability in Style
To date, Waterlust has sold tens of thousands of pieces of apparel in over 100 countries, and the interactions its products have sparked have had clear implications for furthering science communication.
For Caruso alone, it's led to opportunities to share her abalone restoration methods with communities far and wide.
"It moves my small little world of what I'm doing here in Orange County, California, across the entire globe," she said. "That's one of the beautiful things about our partnership."
Check out all of the different eco-conscious apparel options available from Waterlust to help promote ocean conservation.
Melissa Smith is an avid writer, scuba diver, backpacker, and all-around outdoor enthusiast. She graduated from the University of Florida with degrees in journalism and sustainable studies. Before joining EcoWatch, Melissa worked as the managing editor of Scuba Diving magazine and the communications manager of The Ocean Agency, a non-profit that's featured in the Emmy award-winning documentary Chasing Coral.
After what CNN called a surprise primary victory Tuesday over 10-term incumbent Representative Joe Crowley in New York's 14th congressional district, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez just became the leading Democrat on fighting climate change, The Huffington Post reported.
Ocasio-Cortez, a 28 year old Democratic Socialist, is now likely to win November's general election in the historically Democratic district that stretches from the Bronx to Queens, meaning she will join Congress with some of the most ambitious climate plans of any current representative, according to The Huffington Post.
In an email to The Huffington Post, she explained her plans for a Green New Deal to help America switch to 100 percent renewable energy by 2035, which advocates say is our best shot of keeping warming below 1.5 degrees above pre-industrial levels.
"The Green New Deal we are proposing will be similar in scale to the mobilization efforts seen in World War II or the Marshall Plan," she wrote. "We must again invest in the development, manufacturing, deployment, and distribution of energy, but this time green energy."
Ocasio-Cortez's climate plans dovetail with some of the other progressive points on her platform, such as a Federal Jobs Guarantee and Solidarity with Puerto Rico following the devastation of Hurricane Maria.
Ocasio-Cortez told The Huffington Post that the island would be the ideal place to test-run a Green New Deal to help with recovery efforts.
"Our fellow Americans on the island have suffered horrendous losses and need investment at a scale that only the American government can provide," she said.
On her platform, Ocasio-Cortez also links the fight against climate change with her commitments to economic justice and immigrant rights.
"Rather than continue a dependency on this system that posits climate change as inherent to economic life, the Green New Deal believes that radically addressing climate change is a potential path towards a more equitable economy with increased employment and widespread financial security for all," her platform reads.
Her platform also says fighting climate change is necessary "to avoid a world refugee crisis." Concern for immigrants is a large part of her platform. She supports abolishing the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) which was created in 2003 in the post-9/11 escalation of national security operations and executive power and operates outside the Department of Justice, unlike previous immigration enforcement.
The link between the potential for global warming to increase the number of climate refugees and the need to improve the treatment of current immigrants, many of which are already fleeing deteriorating environmental conditions, is something picked up by the Democratic Socialists of America, the group to which Ocasio-Cortez belongs, on the platform for its climate and environmental justice working group, according to The Huffington Post.
Immigration justice is climate justice. We are calling on all climate justice organizations to mobilize to… https://t.co/4ASwImMVC7— DSA Ecosocialists🌱🌹⚡️ (@DSA Ecosocialists🌱🌹⚡️)1530043301.0
The impacts of climate change do not respect international borders. If they did, it wouldn't be the case that the countries who have done the least to contribute to global carbon dioxide emissions are expected to suffer disproportionately from their effects.
But as climate refugees begin to flee deteriorating conditions, they are already finding that borders very much apply to them.
Many of the immigrants being detained at the southern U.S. border under President Donald Trump's "zero tolerance" immigration policy are fleeing food scarcity brought on by climate change, The Daily Beast reported Thursday.
"We're seeing a new level of desperation," University of Colorado Boulder sociology professor Carrie Seay-Fleming told The Daily Beast. "When you might have seen an adult male leave before their family follows, you see, increasingly, entire families leaving in waves."
Many of those families come from the Northern Triangle of Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador, where, beginning in 2015, an especially extreme El Niño / La Niña cycle has led to severe drought followed by heavy rainfall, reducing harvests by up to 90 percent and leaving 30 percent of the population food insecure, a UN study found.
"What we're talking about here are changing precipitation patterns," American University Center for Latin American and Latino Studies associate professor Robert Albro told The Daily Beast. "Climate scientists have observed that climate change is exacerbating El Niño and La Niña, so we see radically changing seasonal patterns."
The impacts of these changing patterns are especially harmful to the region because farmers there rely heavily on coffee for cash and maize for subsistence, and neither are resilient in the face of weather that is either too dry or too wet.
Climate causes have been lost in a media narrative about migration that focuses on families or unaccompanied minors fleeing gang or drug related violence, but Seay-Fleming told The Daily Beast that the violence narrative was over-simplified. She said most current migrants crossing the Mexican border are from Guatemala, where economic insecurity is a greater driver of migration than violence, which is more often cited as a motivating factor by those from El Salvador and Honduras.
"Guatemala has the highest poverty rate and the highest food insecurity. It's seeing rates of food insecurity that have never been seen before," Seay-Fleming said.
Both Seay-Fleming and Albro agreed that violence and climate migration were connected, as farmers would first migrate to cities when crops failed, and then be driven north by a lack of opportunity and urban violence. This means they don't always mention environmental factors when asked their reasons for coming to the U.S.
The climate connection adds an extra barb to the cruelty of Trump's hardline immigration policy that, beginning in April, mandated criminally prosecuting migrants crossing the border and separating children from their parents. After public outcry, an executive order signed Wednesday said parents and children would be detained together, but it may still result in family separations, since children can only legally be detained in the U.S. for 20 days, CNN reported.
Since many of the families caught up in these policies are fleeing climate change, it means that they are being doubly punished for a problem the president has washed his hands of, through actions such as withdrawing the U.S. from the Paris agreement.
The policy also sets a troubling precedent for how the U.S. may deal with even greater climate migrations to come, as Kate Aronoff points out in a piece for In these Times. She cited a 2010 study that estimated that climate change could cause up to 6.7 million people from Mexico alone to migrate elsewhere. Overall, she wrote, scientists estimate that climate change could displace between 25 million and one billion people in the coming decades.
"This week's onslaught of immigration news offers a chilling preview of events that could become all the more likely as the planet warms. At the core of the immigration debate is the question that will come to dominate the climate-defined politics of the 21st century: Who gets to live here and live well?" Aronoff wrote.
Climate Crisis to Uproot Millions in the Coming Decades: Nations Need to Be Ready https://t.co/BIzjRfdD8V… https://t.co/WKqQ1g9XW9— EcoWatch (@EcoWatch)1513911631.0
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By Kieran Cooke
As another monsoon season begins, huge numbers of homeless Bangladeshis are once again bracing themselves against the onslaught of floods and the sight of large chunks of land being devoured by rising water levels.
Bangladesh, on the Bay of Bengal, is low-lying and crisscrossed by a web of rivers: two thirds of the country's land area is less than five meters (approximately 16 feet) above sea level. With 166 million people, it's one of the poorest and most densely populated countries on Earth—and one of the most threatened by climate change.
A recently released report by the Environmental Justice Foundation (EJF) says rises in sea levels caused by climate change could result in Bangladesh losing more than 10 percent of its land area by mid-century, resulting in the displacement of 15 million people.
The country is already experiencing some of the fastest-recorded sea level rises in the world, says the EJF, a UK-based organization that lobbies for environmental security to be viewed as a basic human right.
Increasingly erratic rainfall patterns—linked to changes in climate—are adding to the nation's problems. Sudden, violent downpours have resulted in rivers breaking their banks and land being washed away.
Rising sea levels mean land and drinking water is contaminated by salt. Farmers are forced to abandon their land and move—many to Dhaka, the capital, one of the world's so-called megacities, with a population of more than 15 million.
"Bangladesh has a long history of floods, but what used to be a one-in-20-year event is now happening one year in five," said Saleemul Huq, director of the International Centre for Climate Change and Development in Dhaka. "It is what we would expect with climate change models."
Farmers further inland are also forced to move to the capital in search of work due to surging rivers eating away their lands. The city's slums are expanding, and Dhaka's population is increasing by more than 4 percent each year.
"We had a small farm—we used to produce peanuts and gourd, corn and sugar all year round," said one farmer quoted in the EJF report. "Now I collect scraps of work as a labourer."
EJF says climate change should not be seen only as an environmental issue; climate change is also contributing to a rapidly developing humanitarian crisis, not just in Bangladesh but in many other regions around the world.
"It is countries like Bangladesh, and people like those we met, whose contributions to climate change have been among the smallest, that are now facing the worst impacts," said Steve Trent, EJF's executive director.
"We must act now to prevent this becoming a full-scale humanitarian crisis."
In recent months more than 600,000 people—Rohingya refugees from violence in neighboring Myanmar—have set up shelters in southern Bangladesh. There are fears that this community could also be under threat during the monsoon period.
The EJF report highlights how women in Bangladesh are especially vulnerable to climate-related disasters. In 1991 a cyclone which swept across the Bay of Bengal caused the deaths of 140,000 people and forced 10 million to leave their homes.
EJF says 90 percent of the dead were women; their lower status means they are often not taught survival skills. Women also tend to stay with children and other family members when disaster strikes.
Those women who do migrate find it more difficult to adapt to life in a Dhaka slum or elsewhere. Some become victims of trafficking, ending up in brothels in India.
Foreign Migration Grows
EJF says that while most climate migration is internal, there are indications that growing numbers of Bangladeshis are seeking to move outside the country. It says that in early 2017 there was a particularly big surge in the number of Bangladeshi migrants arriving in Italy after completing the perilous journey by land and sea from their homeland.
EJF is calling for the creation of an international legally binding agreement for the protection of climate refugees. The EU should take the lead in this process, it says.
"There should be clarifications on the obligations of states to persons displaced by climate change, with new legal definitions," says EJF.
"Definitions of climate-induced migration are urgently needed to ensure a rights-based approach and give clarity to the legal status of 'climate refugees'; these must be developed without delay."
1,200 Dead, 41 Million Affected by Flooding in India, Bangladesh and Nepal https://t.co/WhmnRqL6AU @climatecouncil @climateinstitut— EcoWatch (@EcoWatch)1504299671.0
Reposted with permission from our media associate Climate News Network.
A new study published in Science Advances Wednesday has bad news for the residents of low-lying atolls: If current greenhouse gas emission rates continue, climate change will render most of these islands uninhabitable by mid-century, not by the end of the century as previously believed.
The dramatic difference between these and previous findings is because previous studies only looked at sea level rise.
However, this study, conducted by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), Deltares, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa, also looked at the impact of flooding from "wave overwash" when waves from storms wash over the islands. The scientists found that this flooding would pose a serious threat to the islands' supply of fresh drinking water, rendering it non-potable between 2030 and 2060 and forcing residents to leave.
"The tipping point when potable groundwater on the majority of atoll islands will be unavailable is projected to be reached no later than the middle of the 21st century," lead author and USGS geologist Curt Storlazzi said in a USGS press release.
Overwash flooding will also impact infrastructure and wildlife habitats, but the danger it poses to drinking water is especially severe.
"The overwash events generally result in salty ocean water seeping into the ground and contaminating the freshwater aquifer. Rainfall later in the year is not enough to flush out the saltwater and refresh the island's water supply before the next year's storms arrive repeating the overwash events," USGS hydrologist and study author Stephen Gingerich explained in the release.
For this study, the researchers looked at Roi-Namur Island on Kwajalein Atoll in the Republic of the Marshall Islands. However, they said their findings would apply to atolls worldwide, which have similar shapes and lower average elevations. These include the more than 1,100 low-lying islands on 29 atolls in the Marshall Islands and atolls in the Caroline Islands, Cook Islands, Gilbert Islands, Line Islands, Society Islands, Spratly Islands, Maldives, Seychelles and Northwestern Hawaiian Islands. Most atolls are located in the Indian and Pacific Oceans.
A study published Tuesday found that climate change had not been the driving force behind the past 50 years of forced displacement in East Africa.
But the atoll study is one of many that points to a looming crisis of global displacement that will come sooner than expected if the world doesn't act quickly to reduce emissions and curb climate change.
"Millions of people are going to be at risk from extreme heat, extreme water shortages and flooding as well as sea level rises ... we are talking about something that is going to play a huge role in the years ahead in terms of forcing people to leave their homes," Dina Ionesco of the International Organization for Migration told The Guardian.
Climate Is a 'Threat Multiplier' But Not Primary Cause of East African Conflict and Displacement, Study Finds
While there are predictions that climate change will displace masses of people in the near future—an Environmental Justice Foundation study reported on by The Guardian put the number in the tens of millions within the next decade—some have indicated that the climate refugee crisis has already begun.
But when a team of researchers at University College London (UCL) set out to track the relationship between climate, conflict, and displacement in East Africa over the past 50 years, they found that climate change had not been the main force behind wars and displacement.
Insead, the study, published in Palgrave Communications Tuesday, found that conflict and displacement were primarily driven by population, economic and political factors.
Focusing on 10 East African countries from the period from 1963 to 2014, researchers compared a database of incidents of political violence and the number of displaced people per country with global temperature records, the Palmer Drought Index, and data on population growth, population size, Gross Domestic Product and change in Gross Domestic Product, life expectancy and political stability.
A map of the 10 East African countries featured in the UCl study.Palgrave Communications
They found that population growth, slow economic growth and political instability were the leading causes of conflict and internal displacement.
However, when they looked specifically at refugees, that is, displaced people forced to cross borders, they found that severe drought did play a role in forcing their movements, along with population growth, economic stagnation and political strife.
"The question remains as to whether drought would have exacerbated the refugee situation in East Africa had there been slower expansion of population, positive economic growth and more stable political regimes in the region," lead author Erin Owain said in a UCL press release.
"Terms such as climate migrants and climate wars have increasingly been used to describe displacement and conflict, however these terms imply that climate change is the main cause. Our research suggests that socio-political factors are the primary cause while climate change is a threat multiplier,"UCL Professor Mark Maslin said in the press release.
This means that governments in East Africa have a crucial role to play in protecting their populations as the impacts of climate change increase. Africa is particularly vulnerable to climate change overall, and East Africa is projected to see increasingly intense and unpredictable rainfall, according to the study's introduction.
"Our research suggests that the fundamental cause of conflict and displacement of large numbers of people is the failure of political systems to support and protect their people," Maslin said.
The conclusions indicate that East African leaders can do a lot for their populations without having to wait on global action on climate change.
First Study on Climate Change and Internal Migration: World Bank Finds 140 Million Could Be Displaced by 2050… https://t.co/2QjLqLc8ZQ— EcoWatch (@EcoWatch)1521553458.0
First Study on Climate Change and Internal Migration: World Bank Finds 140 Million Could Be Displaced by 2050
But a new report released by the World Bank on Monday honed in on the problem of internal displacement, finding that as many as 140 million people in three densely-populated, developing regions might be forced by climate change to migrate within their countries' borders by 2050. It is the first report to focus on the impact of climate change on intra-country migration specifically, The Guardian reported.
According to the report's worst-case-scenario prediction, Sub-saharan Africa could see as many as 86 million internal migrants, South Asia could see up to 40 million, and Latin America could see 17 million.
The climate-change effects most likely to force migration will be drought, crop failure, sea level rise, and increased storms. But the report also found that swift action on the part of governments to limit greenhouse gas emissions in time and develop plans to help populations in vulnerable areas could reduce the number of migrants by 100 million.
"We have a small window now, before the effects of climate change deepen, to prepare the ground for this new reality. Steps cities take to cope with the upward trend of arrivals from rural areas and to improve opportunities for education, training and jobs will pay long-term dividends. It's also important to help people make good decisions about whether to stay where they are or move to new locations where they are less vulnerable," Word Bank Chief Executive Officer Kristalina Georgieva said in the release of the report.
The report also offers case studies of how governments and non-governmental organizations might plan effectively for migration or help populations live sustainably in rural areas.
Bangladesh, a low-lying country where agriculture is vulnerable to floods and salinization, could end up accounting for one third of South Asia's climate migrants. The Word Bank highlighted the case of Monoara Khatun, who left her village of Kurigram due to flooding, moved to the capital city of Dhaka, and enrolled in the World Bank's NARI project, which provides women with training, accommodation and work placement. The program allowed her to earn enough to support herself and her family, and represents an example of the type of project that could help urban centers prepare for an influx of vulnerable newcomers.
For an example of a program that could help people in rural areas find climate-resilient opportunities, the World Bank held up sustainable forestry programs like one in Oaxaca, Mexico. Because of the program, 26-year-old Javier Martinez was able to stay in his home and grow the carpentry business he runs with his brother.
"At the forest level there is employment, in businesses there is employment, so there is not a strong need to go away, because in the community there is a wide range of opportunities," Martinez told the World Bank.
Climate Crisis to Uproot Millions in the Coming Decades: Nations Need to Be Ready https://t.co/BIzjRfdD8V… https://t.co/WKqQ1g9XW9— EcoWatch (@EcoWatch)1513911631.0
Bangladesh was No. 6 on the Long Term Climate Risk Index of countries most affected by climate change from 1997 to 2016. The United Nations contents that climate change disproportionately impacts women, since they are more likely to be poor and dependent on local resources.
It is hopeful, then, that the UN's Green Climate Fund and Bangladesh's Ministry of Women and Children's Affairs will put $33 million towards helping Bangladeshi women and girls develop livelihoods that can withstand the changing climate, Reuters reported on Monday.
According to a United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) release, the funds will go towards empowering 25,000 women living in Satkhira and Khulna, coastal districts especially vulnerable to sea level rise, more frequent storms, and the salinization of farmland and drinking water.
The project will increase the women's access to business development training and financial credit. In addition, it will help them develop climate-resilient skills such as hydroponic vegetable farming, UNDP climate change specialist Mamunur Rashid told Reuters.
The initiative, which is set to begin in July and has a six-year timeline, also aims to provide clean drinking water to 130,000 people through rainwater harvesting and involve women in cyclone-warning systems.
The focus on women's roles in adapting to climate change "marks a paradigm-shift in the way women are empowered as 'change-agents'" the UNDP release said.
"Under this project, women will [be] more in command of their, and their communities', own future," Mia Seppo, UNDP resident representative in Bangladesh, added.
The announcement comes little over six months after flooding in India, Nepal and Bangladesh killed 1,200 people and left one-third of Bangladesh underwater. According to The World Bank, 60 percent of worldwide cyclone deaths from 1988 to 2000 occurred in Bangladesh.
1,200 Dead, 41 Million Affected by Flooding in India, Bangladesh and Nepal https://t.co/zaOeQAKQw0 @wbclimatechange @globalgreen— EcoWatch (@EcoWatch)1505252107.0
The salinization of farmland and drinking water is a less dramatic but more insidious problem for the low-lying country. According to studies of coastal river salinization in Bangladesh by The World Bank, The Institute of Water Modelling and World Fish–Bangladesh, the best-case scenarios would still impact 2.9 million poor and 1.7 million extremely poor Bangladeshis.
While initiatives like this one show that Bangladesh is working hard to adapt to the climate challenge, the country is still set to lose 20 percent of its landmass if sea levels rise by 3 feet, even though it only contributes 0.3 percent to global emissions, according to Scientific American. This would turn more than 30 million people into climate refugees.
- We Can't Close Our Eyes to Climate Change ›
- Climate Change, Conflict Leave 224 Million Undernourished in Africa ›
By Adam Lynch
Marámellys Castro-Pérez is a Puerto Rican refugee living in Orlando with her husband and twins after the one-two punch of Hurricanes Irma and Maria. Maria, in particular, scrubbed the island clean of electricity, working toilets and phone service. It dragged Castro-Pérez's world into the dark ages and pitted the island's modern, cosmopolitan populace against the once-tamed perils of hunger, biting insects and disease.
"I was very sad because the island was in desolation. It was a hard hit," Castro-Pérez explained through an interpreter. "It truly hurt to see my home like that: flooded, with no light or water, seeing my children suffering. I've cried. I've suffered. But hopefully this [move] will make it better."
Castro-Pérez is now living in Florida, but what happened back on the island still haunts her and will likely reflect in how she votes. And she's not the only one. A wave of climate refugees fleeing the island to Florida could change the face of Florida politics.
Maria's violence was unprecedented. It churned the island like a 125-mile-wide blender, set on "smite." Katia Avilés-Vázquez, a member of sustainable farming resource group Organización Boricuá de Agricultura Ecológica, says island residents know who hit the button.
The island's tropical rainforest climate, she said, is changing before their eyes. Local farmers are adopting drought-tolerant crops. Some have relocated as arable land goes sour from shifting water distribution patterns and rising seas, which drown aquifers. Two years earlier the island saw one of the worst droughts in its history. It spent more than a year grinding farmland into ash, but then broke with a maddening deluge that washed away crops just as delighted farmers were finally planting them. Then came 2017 and its cache of hurricanes.
"So when Irma and Maria hit within two weeks of each other people were like 'what the—Mother Earth is trying to kill us,'" said Avilés-Vázquez, who is also a researcher for the Center for Sustainable Development Studies at the Universidad Metropolitana in San Juan.
She claims Puerto Rico's climate-conscious inhabitants knew the value of recycling and a low carbon footprint long before the storms, but that couldn't stop them from being victimized.
"We're a small population. We can carbon sink or recycle and bike more and plant all the trees we want, but that won't change anything on the larger scale," she said. "We're bearing the brunt of climate change and we're not really responsible for it."
The U.S. stood only behind China as the planet's chief emitter of carbon dioxide in 2015—accounting for 15 percent of total global emissions from fuel combustion. Embattled Puerto Ricans don't get a say in the national climate debate, though, because of their commonwealth status. They can only watch as a president, for whom they could not vote, rolls back federal environmental protections while their island boils.
That changes when a Puerto Rican moves to the U.S. mainland, however. As U.S. citizens, islanders can vote as soon as they register in their new location. It's no different than moving from Albuquerque or Vegas. Knowing this, Puerto Rico's frustrated governor, Ricardo Rosselló, announced that he was mobilizing relocated Puerto Ricans to register to vote and use their fledgling political voice to rattle the presidential administration for its destructive decisions. Rosselló howled when Trump punctuated hurricane devastation with an untimely tax on U.S. businesses stationed on the island. Trump's refusal to permanently lift the Jones Act, which doubles the price of island imports, also curdles relations.
Trump alienates Hispanics in general, jeopardizing his party's dominance in a swingy state like Florida, which elected him by only 113,000 votes. Florida is facing an open gubernatorial race next year, as well as a Senate election and a series of congressional races that could upset Republican control of Congress.
The GOP is in damage control, with business affiliates at Koch Industries ingratiating themselves with P.R. refugees through generous language and civics training courses in Orlando. Anthony Suarez, president of the Puerto Rican Bar Association of Florida, said they have a long way to go.
"Trump's not getting good political speed out of his actions in Puerto Rico, especially with that towel incident," Suarez said, recounting unflattering footage of the president visiting storm-torn areas and derisively hurling rolls of paper towels to a crowd.
"We got something really big [brewing] here," he said.
Sierra Club Florida Director Frank Jackalone said climate-conscious Puerto Rican refugees will likely swell the ranks of existing Florida residents who are also sounding the climate alarm.
"Puerto Ricans are cognizant of the impact of climate change, but Floridians also are cognizant," said Jackalone. "We don't have a lot of (climate) deniers anymore."
Hurricane Irma made an impact after knocking out power to more than 50 percent of the state. Jackalone said Floridians are also noticing the sea level rise, with saltwater intrusion in reservoirs in parts of Miami and in some parts of the Florida Keys.
It will help that Puerto Ricans are enthusiastic voters back on the island, where turnout is regularly higher than turnout for presidential elections in the 50 states; throughout the late 20th century, voter turnout for the island's quadrennial elections was 50 percent higher than for mainland presidential contests. On the island, voting is a matter of cultural pride, with an intensity matched only by the ease of the voting process. The island has easy registration, requiring the presentation of state, federal or local government-issued ID and a utility bill proving your place of residence. Registrants receive an "Electoral Identification Card," which is the only thing required to vote. Juan Rosario, director of Puerto Rico's State Elections Center for Electoral Studies, said registration is possible the day before the election.
Unlike the mainland, a more racially homogenous Puerto Rico hasn't spent the last two centuries devising poll taxes, voter purges and outright restrictions to disenfranchise minorities.
Puerto Rican refugees from this less restrictive commonwealth will soon meet the longstanding U.S. tradition of undercutting democracy, warned Kathy Culliton-Gonzalez, senior counsel for Demos, a policy center that frequently challenges anti-democracy laws in court.
"It's harder to vote on the mainland than in Puerto Rico," said Culliton-Gonzalez, minutes after witnessing oral arguments before the Supreme Court regarding Ohio's discriminatory "use it or lose it" voter purge law.
For starters, new residents will hit an insidious language barrier. More than 70 percent of Puerto Rican adults, like Castro-Pérez, have limited English proficiency. Culliton-Gonzalez argues that this should not be an issue, according to Section 4(e) of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, but still likely will be.
"They have a right to vote with Spanish language ballots, with Spanish language poll workers, and be registered to vote in Spanish, but that's not something that's always followed, particularly in the state of Florida," Culliton-Gonzalez said. "Some won't be able to understand the ballots, particularly all the ballot measures in Florida. They may understand the main races like the presidency and the vice presidency, but beyond that they just won't understand it at all. They'll have to guess, or not vote a complete ballot."
Other issues facing Florida's refugees include maddeningly long voting lines, caused by the elimination of polling areas and wonky, aging voting machines. Puerto Rican climate refugees will have it worse in places like Wisconsin, which has birth certificate requirements at registration—made more daunting by the fact that Puerto Rico's storm-ravaged government won't be zipping out new birth certificates at record pace anytime soon. Even if it could comply, the application fee costs money, which Culliton-Gonzalez calls a poll tax. Refugees who managed to salvage their certificates from the storm may have wasted that effort, because states with voter ID laws, including Pennsylvania , Connecticut and Wisconsin, will not accept the document if it was issued before 2010.
Florida's less restrictive ID law may not require a birth certificate to register, but Aviles-Vazquez said Puerto Rican political participation in 2018 will be up against the inevitable distractions that come of being a climate refugee.
"A lot of refugees who are moving to the U.S. are in survival mode. If I'm moving to Florida from a bad situation I'm thinking about my family here and my family back home that still needs help. I need to get a job. I need to get childcare for my kids. There are so many things going on that they may not be thinking about politics. I mean, I could not begrudge them if they are not."
Castro-Pérez is one of the lucky ones. Her husband nabbed employment at a local Autozone and has temporarily moved the family into his sister's Orlando home. The kids are settling in, food is on the table, and they have electricity that still escapes about 35 percent of the population they left back on the island. She said they retain ties to their homeland and would eventually like to return, but for now there is plenty of reason to stay in Florida.
And she says she will soon be registering to vote.
Reposted with permission from our media associate YES! Magazine.
- How Water Scarcity Shapes the World's Refugee Crisis ›
- Biden Administration Report Seeks to Identify Climate Refugees - EcoWatch ›
Behind barbed-wire fences at this camp in northern Jordan, about 33,000 Syrians—half of them children—exist uneasily, housed in rows of rudimentary shelters that barely protect them from the winter cold.
Drinking water must be brought in daily by dozens of tanker trucks or pumped from desert boreholes that overexploit Jordan's largest groundwater basin.
As in Jordan, the world's refugee crisis, which is intimately linked with water availability both in the homelands that people escape and in the camps where they find shelter, is large and growing. Some 66 million people—a France-sized population—are displaced.
An estimated 28,300 refugees a day across the globe flee conflict and persecution, the relief agency UNHCR said. Fifty-five percent come from just three countries: Afghanistan, South Sudan, and Syria, which the World Bank says has endured the largest refugee crisis since World War II with more than half the country's pre-war population having left their homes since 2011.
Now, with many Syrians in their seventh winter of displacement, hosting and supporting 650,000 registered refugees costs the Jordanian government almost $900 million a year, according to Oxfam. To help, non-governmental organizations supply water and relief groups visit to offer aid. Celebrities and royalty tour the camps on occasion.
Zaatari is the biggest refugee camp in Jordan, opening in 2012 close to Syria's border and now housing 79,000 Syrian refugees. Azraq, 50 miles southeast, was built on unused desert land after Zaatari swelled beyond capacity just a year after opening, to more than 156,000 people. With high summer temperatures, cool winters and blowing desert sand, conditions at both camps challenge the mind and body.
Zaatari's corrugated shelters take a beating in the sun and heat while its water supply and wastewater disposal are constant concerns. The UN said at least 82 water trucks a day fill the camp's water tanks so that 950,000 liters of water a day can flow to some 76 taps. Boreholes also provide 3.2 million liters of drinking water a day, giving camp residents access to about 20 liters a day, or 5 gallons per person. This allotment is used for bathing, cooking, cleaning and drinking.
Built as a temporary camp, Zaatari now functions like a city with 12 districts, hundreds of shops, a police station, mosque, schools, and health clinics. Water and wastewater networks were constructed by the humanitarian group ACTED.
A treatment plant purifies about 80 percent of the wastewater generated in the camp. A UNICEF grant led to the upgrading of 1,300 private toilets by ACTED. Hand-washing sinks and toilets for the disabled were also built to address complaints of unsanitary living conditions.
Both camps were visited in November by the non-profit Atlantic Humanitarian Relief group led by its Syrian-American founder, Humam Akbik, a Harvard-trained pain-management specialist from Damascus now based in Cincinnati. The international group of physicians, nurses, dentists and pharmacists worked almost without stop from morning to sundown. They came at their own cost, brought their own instruments and supplies to refugee camps and clinics that sometimes lacked sinks with running water or a clean toilet. They provided free exams, minor operations, dental services, medicine, and even psychiatric help to traumatized orphans.
Two sisters wait for care at the health clinic in Al Azraq. Randall Hackley
"Water was a big problem," said Rowena Milligan, a physician who took part in the humanitarian mission and traveled from the UK. "You couldn't wash your hands before/after examining patients so could only use alcohol gel, which isn't ideal."
At refugee camps, clinics and random camps in northern Jordan from Ajloun to the outskirts of Amman and Azraq, volunteers played with the children, painting their faces and engaging in games. Play activities "help take their mind off things," Akbik said. "Helps these kids feel like kids again."
Worrisome Trends for Climate and Migration
Security experts have warned for years that a drying climate in the Middle East, Sahel, and other mid-latitude regions will set up conditions of environmental stress for the countries least capable of managing the strain. At least 25 percent of the planet, including Jordan, will experience serious drought and desertification within three decades if attempts by the Paris agreement to curb global warming aren't met, according to the journal Nature Climate Change.
Those who choose to leave face peril on the journey. The International Organization for Migration says more than 3,100 migrants lost their lives last year drowning in the Mediterranean Sea, and 390 more from Jan. 1 to Feb. 4, 2018, compared with 257 for the same period in 2017, as they attempted the dangerous crossing from North Africa to southern Europe. It's the fourth year in a row that the death toll surpassed 3,000.
And in Asia, Rohingya Muslims have drowned trying to escape state-sponsored violence in their homeland of Myanmar. At least 670,000 men, women and children have fled to Bangladesh by boat and foot since August in what the UN calls "the world's fastest-growing humanitarian crisis."
The Rohingya crisis even prompted a UN video that ended with a plea to better address the refugees' urgent needs of clean water.
The pleas are founded on evidence of infection. At the informal Rohingya camps in southeast Bangladesh, water pumps next to open sewers have stoked fear of disease outbreaks, and led to vaccination, clean water and sanitation drives. At the Kutupalong refugee camp extension, 20 tube wells were added. So were almost 120 latrine chambers.
The World Health Organization reports that diptheria is "rapidly spreading among Rohingya refugees in Cox's Bazar," a city in Bangladesh. Six deaths were reported in December. Diptheria is a highly infectious respiratory disease that often appears in overcrowded areas with no proper sanitation system. Haiti endured similar cholera outbreaks in recent years related to contaminated water issues.
Sometimes small improvements in water technology can mean big lifestyle improvements for refugees.
In southwestern Algeria, Sahrawi refugees exiled by Morocco more than three decades ago are using what little water they have in newly efficient ways: growing soil-less hydroponics in solar-powered container units. At five remote camps near Tindouf, trays of barley are now grown for Sahrawi livestock in the Sahara desert through a World Food Programme project.
The Sahrawis have come a long way since eight years ago, when water was trucked in via UNHCR tankers and outhouses were crude holes beside mud-brick homes.
For those in Al Azraq, the hope is that they do not have to put down roots, that they can go home again.
Climate Crisis to Uproot Millions in the Coming Decades: Nations Need to Be Ready https://t.co/BIzjRfdD8V… https://t.co/WKqQ1g9XW9— EcoWatch (@EcoWatch)1513911631.0
Reporting contributed by Randall Hackley, a former AP and Bloomberg correspondent who has reported from 18 countries and visited refugee camps in Jordan, Algeria, Haiti, Peru, and the U.S.
Reposted with permission from our media associate Circle of Blue.
By Joe Sandler Clarke and Unearthed reporters
From the finest American journalism chronicling the worst excesses of the Trump administration to international stories showing the impact of climate change on the developing world, here are the stories we wish we had written this year.
On our changing climate
This striking New York Times piece is one of those rare pieces of journalism that communicates an issue so effectively and with such clarity that the reader is able to immediately grasp the complex science that too often makes environmental journalism impenetrable.
The perfect storm – Reveal
Hurricane Harvey pummelled Houston in August, and Reveal reporter Neena Satija was there to document the city's unpreparedness for the storm. This piece is a follow-up to Hell and High Water, the extraordinary 2016 joint investigation by ProPublica, The Texas Tribune and Reveal.
We were crying out for a piece of forensic reporting setting out the links between climate change and this summer's storms in the Caribbean and southern America, and Umair Irfan delivered. This is the kind of explanatory journalism Vox excels at.
Another piece on the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey. This cover story from Bloomberg Businessweek gives an insight into what a natural disaster looks like in one of America's most important economic areas. As Sims herself said, this is an article about "what justice looks like in a changing climate."
Stories that connect climate change with real human consequences should be the gold standard of environmental reporting. This piece from the Observer does just that, showing how increased droughts and floods are forcing farmers in sub-Saharan Africa to give away their daughters to stay out of poverty.
'Not a single thing was dry': Mumbai's residents count the cost of floods – The Guardian, Amrit Dhillon and Carlin Carr
Devastating floods in South Asia made for one of the most dramatic environmental stories this year. In this piece, Mumbai residents talk to the Guardian about facing up to the torrential rains.
Rich countries are providing aid to help developing nations adapt to climate change. But how much is being spent? Who is spending it? And where is the money going? Back in October, Carbon Brief set out to answer these questions. A month later, they also mapped how multilateral climate funds spend their money.
Under Trump, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has slowed actions against polluters, and put limits on enforcement officers – New York Times, Eric Lipton @EricLiptonNYT and Danielle Ivory @danielle_ivory
While the president's agenda has largely floundered in Congress, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt's efforts to undo Obama-era environmental rules have happened at a rapid pace. This New York Times piece sets out just what the agency has been up to in the first year of the Trump presidency.
Why the scariest nuclear threat may be coming from inside the White House – Vanity Fair, Michael Lewis
Michael Lewis has done some amazing work chronicling the Trump administration. We could easily have picked his piece on the administration's actions against scientists in the U.S. Department of Agriculture. But with the news dominated by fears over North Korea, this look at U.S. nuclear policy at home was timely and fascinating.
With Puerto Rico and the Gulf Coast devastated by hurricanes this year, Kyla Mandel reported on the Trump administration's efforts to cut support for American communities at the forefront of climate change.
Bombs in your backyard – ProPublica
It turns out that the U.S. military spends more than a billion dollars a year cleaning up sites it has contaminated with explosives and toxic chemicals. Some of these areas are near schools and residential neighborhoods. We know this because ProPublica went ahead and mapped them.
On the shifting energy system
This was the year the world got serious about green energy, and this feature from Time magazine tells the story of how China became a leader in renewable energy. We liked this line from Sang Dajie, a former coal miner who now works on the world's largest floating solar farm: "The coal mine was very hot and the air was bad. But here I feel safe. The new energy is safe."
The story behind this days-long traffic jam in Mongolia – Quartz, Johnny Simon
China may be leading the world on renewable energy, but it still loves coal. This photo gallery was a clear illustration of the country's energy conundrum.
Activist and journalist Bill McKibben reported on how American start-ups are competing with Chinese and European firms, and homegrown companies, to provide cheap, reliable power to a continent where fossil fuels have failed to spark development.
The town that disappeared – BBC News, Jenny Norton
Across Russia, hundreds of small towns have been abandoned in the past ten years as coal mining becomes increasingly unviable in the country and the fallout from the collapse of the Soviet Union continues.
Russia-backed hackers try to hijack Britain's power supply – The Times, Aaron Rogan and Mark Bridge
Amid the flurry of concern about hacking in the U.S. election, The Times reported in June that Russian hackers attacked networks running the national grid in the UK. A couple of days later, Motherboard, Vice's sister tech publication, reported that GCHQ believed the hackers had already compromised UK energy sector targets.
On the new and persistent threats to the environment
Series: So I can breathe – BBC World Service
There have been plenty of air pollution stories in the media over the last 12 months, but this series of programs broadcast across BBC platforms in March caught our eye for reporting on solutions to the global crisis.
Vladimir's Venezuela: Leveraging loans to Caracas, Moscow snaps up oil assets – Reuters, Marianna Parraga and Alexandra Ulmer
Venezuela's economy is unravelling and, as this special report from Reuters in August shows, the country's socialist government is taking increasingly drastic measures to survive.
2017 saw even more scientific research linking bee deaths with controversial pesticides called neonicotinoids. This piece in Politico methodically and forcefully lays out how chemical giants Bayer and Syngenta have lobbied EU politicians for years to weaken regulations.
With Indian mining company Adani seeking support for a controversial coal project on the edge of the Great Barrier Reef, the company's boss Gautam Adani visited Australian prime minister Malcolm Turnbull in April. As BuzzFeed reported, his visit was wildly cheered on by a bunch of definitely real Indian tweeters who all believed that Adani would bring coal jobs to Queensland.
A fight for Brazil's Amazon forest – Financial Times, Sue Branford
Since Michel Temer became president in August 2016, Brazilian politics has been dominated by rollbacks for key environmental and Indigenous protections. In September, as part of the FT's 'Brazil: the Road Ahead' series, Sue Branford reported on the new scramble for natural resources in the Brazilian Amazon.
Protecting the environment is an increasingly dangerous thing to do. This research by Global Witness found that in 2016, 200 environmental activists and others protecting their land from destructive industries were killed—and the rate only increased in 2017. This story launched The Defenders, an ongoing collaboration between the Guardian and Global Witness tracking such killings.
Reposted with permission from our media associate Unearthed.