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According to a report released by world bank recently, the climate change could force 216 million people across six regions to migrate within their countries in the next 30 years, with "hotspots" emerging within the next nine years unless urgent steps are taken.
The "Groundswell Part 2" report examines how climate change is a powerful driver of migration within a nation because of its impact on people's livelihoods through droughts, rising sea levels, crop failures and other climate-related conditions.
The original Groundswell climate report was published in 2018 and detailed projections and analysis for three world regions: sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia and Latin America. "Groundswell 2" conducted similar studies on East Asia and the Pacific, North Africa, and eastern Europe and Central Asia.
"Groundswell Part 2" report examines how climate change is a powerful driver of migration. Photo by Mika Baumeister on Unsplash
Both studies established different scenarios to explore potential future outcomes and identify internal climate in- and out- migration hotspots in each region — that is, the areas from which people are expected to move, and the areas to which they might go. The study suggests that by 2050, sub-Saharan Africa could see as many as 86 million internal climate migrants; East Asia and the Pacific, 49 million; South Asia, 40 million; North Africa, 19 million; Latin America, 17 million; and eastern Europe and Central Asia, 5 million.
To slow the factors driving climate migration and avoid these worst-case outcomes, the report recommends a series of steps world leaders can take, including reducing global emissions in line with the goals established by the Paris 2015 climate agreement, and taking steps to better understand the drivers of internal climate migration, so appropriate policies to address them can be developed.(VOA/HP)
keywords: Climate change, Migration, Groundswell Climate report, World Bank
The Oregon State University will lead a National Science Foundation-funded effort to discover Antarctica's oldest ice and learn more about how the earth's climate has changed over the past several million years.
The Center for Oldest Ice Exploration, or COLDEX, will be created under a five-year, $25 million Science and Technology Center award announced on Thursday. The center will bring together experts from across the US to generate knowledge about earth's climate system and share this knowledge to advance efforts to address climate change and its impacts.
"This is fundamental exploration science," said Ed Brook, a paleoclimatologist in OSU's College of Earth, Ocean, and Atmospheric Sciences and the principal investigator for COLDEX.
"What we're after is to see how the earth behaves when it is warmer than it has been in the last one million years. In order to do that, we have to find and collect ice cores that go back that far."
The oldest continuous record of Antarctic ice, collected by drilling miles down from the continent's surface, currently goes back about 800,000 years. The researchers hope to find a continuous record that goes back 1.5 million years, Brook said. "The characteristics of the climate system were really different in the period between 800,000 years ago and 1.5 million years ago," he said.
Brook and COLDEX collaborators also hope to locate much older ice, perhaps up to three million years old and even older. Photo by Derek Oyen on Unsplash
Brook and COLDEX collaborators also hope to locate much older ice, perhaps up to three million years old and even older. Ice that old is not likely to be found in a continuous record, but initial research shows that patches of older ice are trapped in the mountains around Antarctica. "This ice and the ancient air trapped in it will offer an unprecedented record of how greenhouse gases and climate are linked in warmer climates and will help to advance our understanding of what controls the long-term rhythms of earth's climate system," Brook said.
COLDEX is one of six new science and technology centers announced by the National Science Foundation, which currently supports 12 centers, with the last group funded in 2016. The objective of the program, established in 1987, is to support transformative, complex research programs in fundamental areas of science that require large-scale, long-term funding.
Oregon state is well qualified to lead COLDEX because the university has a growing polar science program, Brook said. The university also is home to the Marine and Geology Repository, one of the nation's largest repositories for oceanic sediment cores that also houses Antarctic ice core samples stored in a freezer kept at 20 degrees below zero Fahrenheit. But the quest to find Antarctica's oldest ice is a collaborative affair.
University partners on the project include Amherst College; Brown University; Dartmouth College; Princeton University; University of California, Berkeley; UC Irvine; UC San Diego; the University of Kansas; University of Maine; University of Minnesota, Duluth; University of Minnesota, Twin Cities; University of Texas; and the University of Washington.
"Drilling ice cores is super hard, very expensive and can take years of planning," Brook said.
"We'll be doing a lot of modeling and also developing new tools to help us pinpoint the best locations to search."
keywords: COLDEX, Oregon state university, National Science Foundation, Antarctica's oldest ice, Antartica
NEW DELHI - In the vast Sunderbans delta that spans eastern India and Bangladesh, coastal erosion due to rising sea levels has been slowly carving away chunks of its low-lying islands, forcing thousands of people to relocate, according to climate experts.
"When we talk to families in the Sunderbans, we find that only elderly people are left behind. Many young people are already working in different parts of the country as day laborers or semiskilled workers," Harjeet Singh, senior adviser at Climate Action Network International, said.
The latest report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a United Nations body, warns that the Indian Ocean is warming faster than other seas. As a result, it says that sea levels around South Asia have increased faster than the global average, leading to coastal area loss and retreating shorelines in densely populated countries such as India and Bangladesh.
That is affecting millions -- a December report by ActionAid and Climate Action Network South Asia estimated that the combined effects of climate change will result in the displacement of 63 million people in South Asia from their homes by 2050 if emissions continue at the same levels.
Many of those displaced will be from coastal communities, and are already seeing their homes regularly inundated from rising sea levels and their farms shrinking or becoming unusable because of increased soil salinity, say experts.
While disasters such as cyclones and floods linked to climate change have grabbed headlines, the displacement of millions of people in the region has gotten less attention.
"The IPCC report points out that the sea level is rising much faster than earlier research had suggested," said Roxy Mathew Koll at the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology.
"A 3-centimeter rise in a decade might not seem much but it is equivalent to 17 meters of land carved out by the sea every decade along the entire coast of India. That is what we are seeing happening currently," Koll said.
Mega cities in India, such as Mumbai and Chennai, have been witnessing increased monsoon flooding, as rural communities along the shore see livelihoods destroyed.
Low-lying Bangladesh, where more than 35 million people live in coastal areas, could lose more than 15% of its land, affecting the homes and livelihoods of millions in coastal areas.
The Sunderbans are a unique stretch of geography near Bangladesh that are proving to be disastrous for those who inhabit these regions Image source: wikimediawikimedia
"This region is not prepared to deal with such levels of displacement because the poor do not have resources to relocate. These climate migrants are mostly pushed into slums in nearby towns and cities, which are already densely populated," Singh said.
Barriers of mud and rock erected by residents, as well as concrete structures, have done little to keep the ocean out.
Bangladesh's government is planning to improve coastal embankments that were built to keep out tidal flooding and offer protection against severe cyclones, according to Malik Fida Khan at the Center for Environmental and Geographic Information Services in Dhaka.
Ocean damages soil
Even where the land is not swallowed by the ocean, though, the sea water pushing into farms has caused long-term damage.
"We can build embankments and resilience against cyclonic storms and sea level rise, but it is very difficult to handle soil salinity. You need fresh water to push back the salinity," Khan said.
"For example, it will take 50 years or more to remove soil salinity that has increased in 10 years. So, you need different kind of adaptation measures such as growing saline-tolerant varieties of rice," he said.
While Bangladesh has developed several such varieties of rice, some studies say the soil salinity has increased so much that even growing these is difficult.
Nowhere is the situation more dire than in the Sunderbans, often called one of the world's climate hotspots. Increasingly battered by more intense cyclones, the region is witnessing one of the fastest rates of coastal erosion in the world, with islands dotting the delta steadily shrinking, according to several studies.
Ghoramara island in the Indian state of West Bengal for example has diminished by half since 1970, according to several studies. Once home to 40,000 people, India's 2011 census counted only 5,000 on the island.
Those who have grown up in the Sunderbans in India, such as Bhakta Purakayastha, founder of the Sunderbans Social Development Center, describe the dramatic changes they have witnessed.
Storms and floods in the Sunderbans are extremely feared as they wipe out infrastructure from the roots Image source: wikimediawikimedia
"When I was a child, we used to cross the river in a boat. Now the river has shrunk so much due to silt deposits from upstream that we can walk across," he said.
He said fish were once abundant in the river but the catch has shrunk as the rising sea pushes into rivers, affecting poor communities that rely on their rice paddies and fish for sustenance.
"Now they have to go out into the deep sea to catch fish, but rising tides pose a challenge" Purakayastha said.
'We do not have a plan'
A severe cyclone that hit the region in May has exacerbated the problem in the delta, with even drinking water becoming scarce because of rising salinity in rivers.
Experts are calling on regional governments to develop plans to assist the growing tide of climate migrants, saying marginalized communities are the hardest hit by climate change.
"The reality is we do not have a plan, although many of the impacts of climate change are already locked in," Singh of Climate Action Network International said.
"None of the governments in South Asia have specific policies for people forced to migrate due to climate change to eke out a living. Even the recognition of climate induced migration is not there," he said.
(This article is originally by Anjana Pasricha) (VOA/RN)
Keywords: Sunderbans, Climate Change refugees, Disaster, Bangladesh, West Bengal
By Salil Gewali
The past 100 years have witnessed the major injuries being inflicted upon the most beautiful planet in the solar system. We have in fact senselessly punctured mother earth in pursuit of our selfish ambition. We only felt important to respond to our base impulses of greed. We never gave a second thought to the consequences of our ceaseless exploitation of the earth's crust. Has the deep rat-hole mining not already disfigured many parts of Jaintia Hills, and other places resulting in a number of tragedies in the recent past? Since prudence and greed are inversely proportional, we have totally lost our own sanity in the process. Are we --- the so-called academically qualified people, not fully responsible for all the ecological mess and the change of climate now? We hardly can discriminate right from wrong. This present controversial plan of oil palm "monoculture" could be another recipe for disaster. It may go against the natural rhythm of biodiversity.
The widespread plantation of oil palm at a whim will surely invite various natural catastrophes as pointed by scholars such as Toki Blah, Patricia Mukhim and others. photo by Salil Gewali
Let me draw an analogy for a layman's understanding. What if we start eating "ghee only" as our principal food for a longer period of time? What will be its impact upon our bodies though it's one of the very rich and nutritious milk products? It will certainly lead to various health complications, apart from indigestion. Even if we would be able to digest the ghee, the body will still be lacking many other minerals and vitamins leading to various malfunctions in our internal system. Nature requires us that we take varieties of "locally" produced vegetables, fruits, cereals as our balanced food for healthy living. Perhaps that is why bio-diversity is the fundamental characteristic in the "body of creation". We have amazing verities of butterflies, we have wonderful honeybees, but we also have pesky houseflies, cockroaches and mosquitos. If the honeybees are so useful then why are there less or not apparently useful insects, some are very poisonous? Yes, there are a lot many complex things around than that meet our eyes.
The widespread plantation of oil palm at a whim will surely invite various natural catastrophes as pointed by scholars such as Toki Blah, Patricia Mukhim and others. A NEHU research scholar Clarissa Giri deeply laments how the extensive monoculture might upset the ecological balance. Needless to say, the infinite creation of GOD cannot be understood by our finite minds. However, we can heave a sigh of relief now that our upright member of parliament - Smt. Agatha Sangma has sent the letter to the Honourable Prime Minister citing the grave environmental fallout due to the extensive monoculture of palm oil in the Northeast. In one chorus all should lend support to Smt. Sangma. Moreover, this oil palm is not endemic to Northeast India either as a tea to Assam and Darjeeling. Unlike anything, it is going to adversely affect the terrestrial ecosystem, wildlife integrity and much more.
Efforts in adopting every possible measure to chill down the surging heat of global warming will be the greatest gift to our kids. Photo by Salil Gewali
Here one strongly feels that we should not turn our deaf ears to what has been warned by our learned environmentalists. Let's listen to the siren of climate change with utmost seriousness. Efforts in adopting every possible measure to chill down the surging heat of global warming will be the greatest gift to our kids. We should learn to make peace with the ecosystem, not with the wallet.
(An India-based writer and researcher, Salil Gewali is best known for his research-based work entitled 'Great Minds on India' which has earned worldwide appreciation. Translated into Twelve languages, his book has been prefaced by a world-acclaimed NASA Chief scientist – Dr. Kamlesh Lulla of Houston, USA.)
Keywords: Oil Palm, Monoculture, Nature, Biodiversity, NEHU, climate change