Clouds of dust rose behind the wheels of the pickup truck as we hurtled over the back road in Palo Verde, El Salvador. When we got to the stone-paved part of the road, the driver slowed as the truck heaved up and down with the uneven terrain. Riding in the back bed of the truck, Ruben (not his real name) and I talked while we held on tight, sitting on sacks of dried beans that he was taking to market.
Land and Livelihood<p>Migration from Central America has gotten a lot of <a href="https://www.pewresearch.org/hispanic/2017/12/07/rise-in-u-s-immigrants-from-el-salvador-guatemala-and-honduras-outpaces-growth-from-elsewhere/" target="_blank">attention</a> these days, including the famous migrant <a href="https://www.sierraclub.org/sierra/root-migration-climate-change-caravan-central-america" target="_blank">caravans</a>. But much of it focuses on the way migrants from this region — especially El Salvador, Guatemala, Nicaragua and Honduras — are driven out by <a href="https://academic.oup.com/rsq/article/33/3/34/2797909" target="_blank">gang violence</a>, <a href="https://theglobalamericans.org/2019/04/the-cost-of-systemic-corruption-in-honduras-migration-north/" target="_blank">corruption</a> and <a href="https://www.hrw.org/world-report/2019/country-chapters/nicaragua" target="_blank">political upheaval</a>.</p><p>These factors are <a href="http://www.internal-displacement.org/publications/understanding-and-estimating-displacement-in-the-northern-triangle-of-central-america" target="_blank">important</a> and require a response from the <a href="https://www.unhcr.org/en-us/claims-from-central-america.html" target="_blank">international community</a>. But displacement <a href="https://insideclimatenews.org/news/08072019/climate-change-migration-honduras-drought-crop-failure-farming-deforestation-guatemala-trump" target="_blank">driven by climate change</a> is significant too.</p><p>The link between environmental instability and emigration from the region became apparent in the late 1990s and early 2000s. Earthquakes and hurricanes, especially <a href="http://hurricanescience.net/history/storms/1990s/mitch/" target="_blank">Hurricane Mitch</a> in 1998 and its aftermath, were ravaging parts of Honduras, Nicaragua and El Salvador.</p><p>Many people from El Salvador and Honduras lived in the U.S. at the time, and the Bush administration granted them <a href="https://cmsny.org/publications/jmhs-tps-elsalvador-honduras-haiti/" target="_blank">Temporary Protected Status</a>. In this way, the government of the United States recognized the inhumanity of sending people back to places struggling with ecological disaster.</p><p>In the years since those events, both rapid-onset and long-term environmental crises continue to <a href="http://www.internal-displacement.org/sites/default/files/publications/documents/20181213-slow-onset-intro.pdf" target="_blank">displace people</a> from their homes worldwide. Studies show that displacement often happens indirectly through the impact of climate change on <a href="https://www.nri.org/publications/working-paper-series/4-coffee-and-climate-change/file" target="_blank">agricultural livelihoods</a>, with some areas pressured more than others. But some are more dramatic: Both Honduras and Nicaragua are among the top 10 countries <a href="https://germanwatch.org/sites/germanwatch.org/files/Global%20Climate%20Risk%20Index%202019_2.pdf" target="_blank">most impacted</a> by extreme weather events between 1998 and 2017.</p><p>Since 2014, a serious drought has decimated crops in Central America's so-called <a href="http://www.fao.org/emergencies/crisis/dry-corridor/en/" target="_blank">dry corridor</a> along the Pacific Coast. By impacting smallholder farmers in <a href="https://www.reuters.com/article/us-elsalvador-drought/salvadoran-farmers-lament-brutal-drought-hope-for-recovery-idUSKBN1KG2RE" target="_blank">El Salvador</a>, <a href="https://www.nbcnews.com/news/latino/central-america-drying-farmers-face-choice-pray-rain-or-leave-n1027346" target="_blank">Guatemala and Honduras</a>, this drought helps to drive <a href="https://econpapers.repec.org/article/sprclimat/v_3a140_3ay_3a2017_3ai_3a3_3ad_3a10.1007_5fs10584-016-1863-2.htm" target="_blank">higher levels</a> of migration from the region.</p><p>Coffee production, a critical support for these countries' economies, is especially vulnerable and sensitive to weather variations. A recent <a href="https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/coffee-rust-battle-intensifies/" target="_blank">outbreak of coffee leaf rust</a> in the region was likely <a href="https://2012-2017.usaid.gov/news-information/press-releases/may-19-2014-usaid-texas-am-invest-5-million-combat-coffee-rust-crisis" target="_blank">exacerbated</a> by climate change.</p><p>The <a href="https://time.com/5346110/guatemala-coffee-escape-migration/" target="_blank">fallout</a> from that plague combines with the recent <a href="https://www.reuters.com/article/us-centralamerica-immigration-coffee/coffee-slump-reaps-bitter-harvest-for-central-american-migrants-idUSKCN1TS2QB" target="_blank">collapse</a> in global coffee prices to spur desperate farmers to give up.</p>
Compounding Factor<p><br>These trends have led experts at the World Bank to claim that around <a href="http://documents.worldbank.org/curated/en/983921522304806221/pdf/124724-BRI-PUBLIC-NEWSERIES-Groundswell-note-PN3.pdf" target="_blank">2 million people</a> are likely to be <a href="http://www.ecowatch.com/tag/climate-refugee" target="_self">displaced</a> from Central America by the year 2050 due to factors related to climate change. Of course, it's hard to tease out the "push factor" of <a href="https://www.ecowatch.com/tag/climate-change" target="_self">climate change</a> from all of the other reasons that people need to leave. And unfortunately, these phenomena interact and tend to exacerbate each other.</p><p>Scholars are working hard to assess the scale of the problem and study ways people can <a href="https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0088463" target="_blank">adapt</a>. But the problem is challenging. The number of displaced could be even higher — up to almost <a href="http://documents.worldbank.org/curated/en/983921522304806221/pdf/124724-BRI-PUBLIC-NEWSERIES-Groundswell-note-PN3.pdf" target="_blank">4 million</a> — if regional development does not shift to more climate-friendly and <a href="https://ccafs.cgiar.org/news/central-americas-climate-smart-agriculture-strategy-contains-key-recommendations-ccafs-future#.XWUp8pNKgWo" target="_blank">inclusive models</a> of agriculture.</p><p>People who emigrate from Central America may not always fully realize the role climate change plays in their movement, or think of it as the final trigger given all the other reasons they have to flee. But they know that the crops fail too often, and it's harder to get clean water than it used to be.</p>
Seeking a Protected Status<p>Ruben recently contacted me to ask for a reference to a good immigration lawyer. He and his daughter are now in the United States and have an upcoming hearing to determine their status.</p><p>Just as he predicted a few years ago, Ruben couldn't make a living in El Salvador. But he may find it hard to live in the U.S. too, given the mismatch between refugee law and current factors causing displacement.</p><p>For several years now, scholars and legal advocates have been asking <a href="https://www.fmreview.org/peopletrafficking/romer" target="_blank">how to respond</a> to people displaced by environmental conditions. Do <a href="https://www.researchgate.net/publication/328261364_Possible_Framework_for_Climate_Change_IDP's_Disaster_and_Development_Induced_Displacement_and_Resettlement_Models_and_their_Integration" target="_blank">existing models</a> of humanitarian response and resettlement work for this new population? Could such persons be recognized as in need of <a href="https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/j.1467-9930.2008.00290.x" target="_blank">protection under international law</a>, similar to political refugees?</p><p>Among the most complicated political questions is who should step up to deal with the harms of climate change, considering that wealthier countries pollute more but are often shielded from the worst effects. How can <a href="https://heinonline.org/HOL/Page?collection=journals&handle=hein.journals/nzjel20&id=112&men_tab=srchresults" target="_blank">responsibility be assigned</a>, and more importantly, what is to be done?</p><p>In the absence of coordinated action on the part of the global community to mitigate ecological instability and recognize the plight of displaced people, there's a risk of what some have called "<a href="https://news.un.org/en/story/2019/06/1041261" target="_blank">climate apartheid</a>." In this scenario — climate change combined with closed borders and few migration pathways — millions of people would be forced to choose between increasingly insecure livelihoods and the perils of unauthorized migration.<em> </em></p><p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/miranda-cady-hallett-343720" target="_blank">Miranda Cady Hallett</a> is an Associate Professor of Anthropology and Human Rights Center Research Fellow at University of Dayton. </em></p><p><em>Reposted with permission from our media associate </em><u><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/how-climate-change-is-driving-emigration-from-central-america-121525" target="_blank">The Conversation</a>.</em></u></p>
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EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
By Cosby Stone
Whenever I am asked what I do for a living, the phrase "I'm an allergist" is almost immediately followed by "So, where are all of these allergies coming from?"
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Bringing your own reusable grocery bags when you go shopping is one of the easiest ways to cut down on your plastic consumption — according to the UN Environment Program, up to 5 trillion single-use plastic bags are used globally each year.The most sustainable option is to use a bag you already have, whether it's an old tote or a laundry basket (thank TikTok for that idea). You can also make your own reusable grocery bags out of T-shirts. But if you'd rather purchase designated reusable grocery bags, here are our recommendations.
ChicoBag<p>Standard reusable grocery bags — foldable cloth "green bags" that typically have company logos on them — are bulky, can't be machine washed, and tend to break down after a number of uses. <a href="https://www.amazon.com/ChicoBag-Original-Reusable-Shopping-Grocery/dp/B006WA9LRA" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">ChicoBag reusable grocery bags</a> solve these problems and more. They hold up to 25 pounds each, can be tossed in the wash, and stuff down into a tiny attached pouch that you can easily keep in your purse or the center console of your car until you need them.</p><p><strong>Customer rating:</strong> 4.8 out of 5 stars with over 1,000 Amazon reviews</p><strong>Why buy: </strong>Machine washable; Certified B Corp; Climate Neutral Certified; Supports 1% For the Planet; Fair Labor Association member
Lotus Sustainables<p>If you prefer bigger reusable grocery bags that add convenience to your shopping experience, <a href="https://www.amazon.com/Trolley-COOLER-Reusable-Grocery-Eco-friendly/dp/B07WTLWF4Z?th=1" target="_blank">Lotus Trolley Bags</a> may be perfect for you. These bags fold flat and nestle in your cart so that you can sort items while you shop. There's a large insulated cooler bag, as well as two standard reusable shopping bags and a bag with pockets for wine bottles and <a href="https://www.ecowatch.com/brown-eggs-healthier-than-white-eggs-2314254330.html" target="_self">egg cartons</a>. Each can hold up to 50 pounds and has double-stitched seams for added durability.</p><p><strong>Customer rating: </strong>4.6 out of 5 stars with over 3,000 Amazon reviews</p><strong>Why buy:</strong> Machine washable; Removable rod for non-cart use; Supports 1% for the Planet
BAGGU<p>For another versatile option, try the <a href="https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07N4D829J?tag=ecowatch-20&linkCode=ogi&th=1&psc=1" target="_blank">Baggu Standard Reusable Shopping Bag</a>. This product is modeled after a conventional <a href="https://www.ecowatch.com/thailand-plastic-bag-ban-2643538829.html" target="_self">plastic grocery bag</a> but is made with 40% recycled ripstop fabric. Baggu reusable bags can carry up to 50 pounds but stuff down into a five-inch internal pocket for carrying.</p><p><strong>Customer rating:</strong> 4.7 out of 5 stars with over 50 Amazon reviews</p><strong>Why buy:</strong> Machine washable; Made with 40% recycled materials; Ethically manufactured; Packaging made from Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified material
Ecodunia<p><a href="https://www.amazon.com/Ecodunia-Canvas-Tote-Women-Eco-Conscious/dp/B08LY82NYW/ref=sr_1_1?dchild=1&keywords=Ecodunia&qid=1613051665&sr=8-1" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Ecodunia's reusable bags</a> have a sturdier feel than most products on this list. The canvas used to make each bag is produced from 100% renewable resources and natural cotton, plus they have long handles for comfortable carrying over your shoulder. Ecodunia's fun prints will likely make you want to use these bags for more than carting groceries, but they're great for a weekend trip to the <a href="https://www.ecowatch.com/farmers-markets-coronavirus-safety-2645581711.html" target="_self">farmers market</a>.</p><p><strong>Customer rating:</strong> 5 out of 5 stars with under 5 Amazon reviews</p><p><strong>Why buy: </strong>Made from natural cotton; Machine washable; Handmade; Provides dignified work for communities in Kenya </p>
Simple Ecology<p>Another canvas bag option comes from <a href="https://www.amazon.com/Simple-Ecology-Reusable-Shopping-Certified/dp/B086Z7XQ79?ref_=ast_sto_dp" target="_blank">Simple Ecology</a>. This brand's eco-friendly grocery bags are made with Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) certified cotton and feature pop-out sleeves for more fragile goods and double-stitched seams for extra reinforcement. The large size has about the same capacity as a grocer's paper bag. Simple Ecology also has a reusable bag <a href="https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01N6AUMBG/ref=sspa_dk_detail_2?psc=1&pd_rd_i=B01N6AUMBG&pd_rd_w=MA3ZS&pf_rd_p=cbc856ed-1371-4f23-b89d-d3fb30edf66d&pd_rd_wg=hVunQ&pf_rd_r=G6RTQ1Z5DKEY325MAJZ9&pd_rd_r=5d298b3a-1be7-4ebd-a9e1-d5d672a40497&spLa=ZW5jcnlwdGVkUXVhbGlmaWVyPUExMzc4RVAxWjNLOTdCJmVuY3J5cHRlZElkPUEwNTc0NTAwMzBDMjFYOVJPTUpWSCZlbmNyeXB0ZWRBZElkPUEwNjYyOTM4M0s4Vk81SVBPS1NFSyZ3aWRnZXROYW1lPXNwX2RldGFpbF90aGVtYXRpYyZhY3Rpb249Y2xpY2tSZWRpcmVjdCZkb05vdExvZ0NsaWNrPXRydWU=" target="_blank">starter kit</a> that comes with a tote and several reusable produce bags.</p> <p><strong>Customer Rating: </strong>4.6 out of 5 stars with over 900 Amazon reviews</p><strong>Why Buy:</strong> GOTS certified; Machine washable; Biodegradable; Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI) certified packaging when purchased from manufacturer
BagPodz<p><a href="https://www.amazon.com/BagPodz-Reusable-Bag-Storage-System/dp/B00QJ9PBBY" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">BagPodz Reusable Shopping Bags</a> are all about convenience. You can get a pack of five or 10 bags, all of which fit in a low-profile "pod" that can be stored for use on the go. When at the <a href="https://www.ecowatch.com/vancouvers-grocery-store-plastic-bags-2638807121.html" target="_self">grocery store</a>, the pod clips to your cart and has an easy-dispense pocket for when it's time to check out. After use, just stuff them back into the pod. BagPodz reusable bags are made with Bluesign® certified materials, which means they're manufactured sustainably.</p> <p><strong>Customer Rating:</strong> 4.8 out of 5 stars with over 2,000 Amazon reviews</p><strong>Why Buy: </strong>Machine washable; Made with Bluesign certified material
Cover all open wounds with waterproof bandages before swimming in the ocean. lzf / iStock / Getty Images Plus
By Brian Labus
Like humans, many bacteria like to spend time at the beach. The so-called flesh-eating bacteria, Vibrio vulnificus, don't just like the beach; they need it, and rely on sea salt for survival. And as with human beachgoers, the warmer the water, the more of them there are.
By Gavin Naylor
Sharks elicit outsized fear, even though the risk of a shark bite is infinitesimally small. As a marine biologist and director of the Florida Program for Shark Research, I oversee the International Shark Attack File — a global record of reported shark bites that has been maintained continuously since 1958.
Micro-Naps for Plants: Flicking the Lights on and off Can Save Energy Without Hurting Indoor Agriculture Harvests
By Kevin M. Folta
A nighttime arrival at Amsterdam's Schiphol Airport flies you over the bright pink glow of vegetable production greenhouses. Growing crops under artificial light is gaining momentum, particularly in regions where produce prices can be high during seasons when sunlight is sparse.
A 1931 study by Garner and Allard tracked the growth of Yellow Cosmos flowers under light pulses of various durations.
J. Agri. Res. 42: National Agricultural Library, Agricultural Research Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture., CC BY-ND
One variety of lettuce grew purple when given a 10-second dark period. They look similar to those grown with a five-second dark period, yet use 33% less energy. Extending the dark period to 20 seconds yielded green plants with more biomass.
J. Feng, K. Folta
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By Jerome Goddard
When it comes to problems caused by ticks, Lyme disease hogs a lot of the limelight. But various tick species carry and transmit a collection of other pathogens, some of which cause serious, even fatal, conditions.
Rocky Mountain spotted fever usually comes with a rash, as on this child.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases (NCIRD), CC BY
A female Ixodes scapularis tick.
Dr. Blake Layton, MSU, CC BY-ND
Tiny larval lone star ticks next to a penny.
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By Donald Scavia
Every year in early summer, scientists at universities, research institutions and federal agencies release forecasts for the formation of "dead zones" and harmful algal blooms in the Gulf of Mexico, the Chesapeake Bay and Lake Erie. This year the outlook is not good.
Dead zone and harmful algal bloom trends with 2019 forecasts in red.
Nutrient load trends; 2019 loads in red.
Under a worst-case climate change scenario, in which global temperatures rise nearly 5 degrees Celsius above preindustrial levels by 2100, very heavy precipitation events in the Midwest, Great Plains and Southeast regions would increase sharply.
A two-stage ditch has a low-ﬂow channel and a vegetated side 'benches' that are ﬂooded during higher ﬂows. The grass slows water flow and allows nutrients to settle out.
Ohio State University Extension, CC BY
AT Kearney, CC BY-ND
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By Cody Clements
Coral reefs are home to so many species that they often are called "the rainforests of the seas." Today they face a daunting range of threats, including ocean warming and acidification, overfishing and pollution. Worldwide, more than one-third of all coral species are at risk of extinction.
Experimental coral gardens on a degraded reef in Fiji. Gardens with a mix of coral species performed better than gardens containing only one species.
Cody Clements / CC BY-ND
Examples of single- and mixed-species coral gardens through time during our 16-month experiment. At four months, mixed-species gardens were outperforming single-species gardens in multiple ways – growing faster on average than even the best performing single-species gardens (Acropora millepora). By 16 months, growth was comparable between mixed-species and Acropora gardens, but aggregate performance of single-species gardens continued to lag behind their mix-species counterparts.
Clements and Hay, 2019 / CC BY-ND
By Megan Jones and Jennifer Solomon
The #MeToo movement has caused profound shake-ups at organizations across the U.S. in the last two years. So far, however, it has left many unresolved questions about how workplaces can be more inclusive and equitable for women and other diverse groups.
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By Leslie Burger
I heard a local story of a man who, in his excitement to kill a rattlesnake, used the only thing he had available ─ his thermos bottle. The next scene in this drama has the man in the hospital receiving anti-venom to treat a snake bite.
A coyote in Portland, Oregon.
SoulRider.222 / CC BY-ND 2.0
By John R. Platt
Got good eyesight and some time on your hands? Australia needs you.
Zoos Victoria has issued a public appeal to help find a lizard species that hasn't been credibly observed in 50 years. The Victorian grasslands earless dragon (Tympanocryptis pinguicolla) was last seen in 1969 and could possibly be mainland Australia's first reptile extinction — if it isn't just hiding.
By Lotfi Belkhir
Rarely does mention of the pharmaceutical industry conjure up images of smoke stacks, pollution and environmental damage.
Yet our recent study found the global pharmaceutical industry is not only a significant contributor to global warming, but it is also dirtier than the global automotive production sector.
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