“California governor orders country’s most aggressive emission cut goals” – The Washington Post, 29 April 2015

California is currently undergoing an overly aggressive, record-breaking drought. In order to combat that drought, California Governor Jerry Brown (D) has not only put a cap on how much water residents can use, but is also placing a cap on emissions levels.

For California, the worsening effects of climate change have directly led to its water shortage. Greenhouse gas emissions and other pollutants are the major culprit for the state’s remarkable drought. To combat the drought and any further climate change damage, Brown has issued a new executive order that has created new carbon emission goals for his state.

Brown’s aim is to curb emissions by 40 percent less than emissions levels in 1990, and to do so by 2030. Not even Arnold Schwarzenegger, who held the term before Brown, had such expectations for the state: Schwarzenegger’s aim was to cut emissions so that they were equal to 1990 levels, and to do so by 2020. Schwarzenegger then wanted to cut emissions an additional 20 percent by 2050. According to Brown, California is well on its way to fulfilling Schwarzenegger’s goal.

Brown is committing his last term in office to climate change. During his inaugural speech, he pledged that half of the state’s electricity will come from renewable energies over the course of 15 years. He also intends to halve petroleum use in vehicles on state roads.

The state is now required to integrate the effects of climate change into its infrastructure and financial planning. Moreover, state agencies are obligated to place caps on emissions for any supplies of emissions that they oversee.

In addition to the executive order, California has also signed an accord with Oregon, Washington, and British Columbia that aims at restricting carbon emissions in the regional area. Brown has signed similar agreements with countries like Mexico, China, Japan, Israel, and Peru. The Governor is hoping his work will make an impact at the upcoming UN climate change conference in Paris.

Previously, California tried to enact a program called “cap and trade,” where they required companies to pay for greenhouse gas emissions. However, the state’s Senators and Representatives — particularly the Democrats — fought back, alleging that the program would directly impact the poorest Californians. Hopefully Brown’s latest endeavor into mollifying the effects of climate change will pan out. California’s voice is very influential and proactive, particularly on a global scale.

(From The Washington Post)

Developed and Written by Dr. Subodh Das and Tara Mahadevan

April 30, 2015

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“Climate Change and Infected Bushmeat Threaten Women on Frontlines of the Ebola Crisis” – Vice, 24 September 2014

The origin of the rapidly spreading Ebola virus in Sierra Leone has been linked to two cases: 1. From a woman in Kailahun, Sierra Leone who served wild game to herself and her husband — the animal was carrying the virus; and 2. From another Sierra Leonean woman, a traditional healer who was working in Guinea with Ebola victims.

Sierra Leone’s government has been emphasizing the fact that Ebola is mainly growing from human to human contact, however, many believe the Ebola outbreak in Guinea began with bats. Bats are hunted for food in the region and are called “bushmeat.”

In the region, women are expected to handle food for the family. This issue, coupled with the impact climate change has had on food supplies — where women are often forced to seek out infected bushmeat — shows that women are bearing the brunt of two crises in Africa: the Ebola virus and climate change.

Seasonal drought, larger storms, and landslides are beginning to have a lasting influence on agricultural production in the region, and are encouraging families to hunt for wild animals. The same has occurred in the past in Malaysia and Bangladesh, where climactic changes caused epidemics because humans and agriculture began encroaching on bat habitats. As the effects of climate change continue to set in, food will likely become more difficult to grow, especially in western equatorial Africa.

The governments of Guinea and Sierra Leone have reported that 55-60 perfect of the people who have died from Ebola are women, while the Liberian government have revealed that 75 percent have been women. According to the Liberian Health Ministry, Ebola has largely affected more women due to their duties as caregiver — they have more contact with both diseased meat and diseased people.

However, the World Health Organization and Imperial College London published a new report denying the women’s death tolls, stating that there is no large difference between the sexes. The fatality rate is estimated to be 71 percent. The WHO’s goal is for the virus to stop spreading within six to nine months; the CDC calculates that the virus can transmit to 1.4 million people within four months.

Many view the Sierra Leone government as mis-informative: while they stress that the virus is transmitted from person-to-person, they fail to educate families on where the virus originated from, and fail to inform these families about the existence of infected bushmeat.

Another strain of Ebola has broken out in the Democratic Republic of Congo, and the WHO has tracked the source to a pregnant woman who was preparing infected bushmeat.

Across the world, and particularly in the US, climate change has become a hot button topic — even Leonardo DiCaprio addressed the budding issue in front of the UN. When speaking on climate change, we discuss the massive amounts of carbon dioxide emissions China and India release into the air; we discuss the growing number of natural disasters and the general climactic upheaval; and we discuss the effect that climate change will have on our food supplies, and on the economies of poorer nations. Now, we are actually seeing how the effects of climate change are reaching the world’s poorer, outlying nations. Moreover, we are seeing how climate change is affecting the caregivers of families and leaving many children as orphans.

This is an increasingly prevalent duality that deserves our attention. If the celebrity of Leonardo DiCaprio didn’t direct our attention to the worsening impact of climate change, then hopefully this situation will.

Developed and Written by Dr. Subodh Das and Tara Mahadevan

September 24, 2014

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“Climate change is here, action needed now, says new White House report” – CNN, 6 May 2014

The White House released a new climate change report in early May, as part of President Obama’s attempt to ready the US for the effects of climate change. Obama has made climate change awareness a cornerstone of his second-term, primarily by taking it upon himself by using executive action to implement his Climate Action Plan. The White House report details reasons why Obama wants the US to take precautionary measures against our growing sea levels and progressively unpredictable weather.

However, Obama has been butting heads with conservatives, the fossil fuel industry, and their allies over the debate of whether or not climate change is indeed real, and if carbon emissions from power plants, factories, and cars—or human activity—are the biggest culprits. Conservatives view the report as a means for Obama to push his own agenda, which they believe would damage the economy, and place the burden on middle-income families.

While polling shows that Americans believe that climate change is a result of human activities, they are less concerned about environmental issues than they are about the economy, for instance.

A Gallup poll from March produced interesting results: 34% of those surveyed believe climate change is a “serious threat” to the earth, while 64% didn’t believe that. Over 60% believed climate change is currently happening or going to happen.

The report clarifies the approach of counteracting climate change into two strategies: mitigation and adaptation. Mitigation calls for curbing the effects of climate change by reducing the cause; adaptation calls for preparing for the consequences that are currently or likely to occur. The report also analyzes the US by region, pinpointing specific impacts to each region.

The report identifies three major concerns: rising sea levels, increased droughts, and a longer fire season. The report foresees sea levels growing by one to four feet by the end of the century. Those living on tropical islands and on the coast will be the hardest hit. Miami, for example, is spending hundred of millions of dollars to prevent massive flooding. The Great Plains, too, will suffer from prolonged droughts and heat waves, which is likely to cause more wildfires and endanger agricultural and residential areas.

The report upholds regulations that limit carbon emissions, and encourages investing in programs that stop climate change in its tracks.

Developed and Written by Dr. Subodh Das and Tara Mahadevan

May 24, 2014

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“Climate Change Seen Posing Risk to Food Supplies” – New York Times, 1 November 2013

According to a UN report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the effects of climate change are now expected to reach the global food supply: during each decade, our supply is anticipated to decline by 2%, while food prices increase. This comes at a time when food demand is also expected to skyrocket — 14% each decade.

The panel’s 2013 report is far harsher than its previous report, from 2007; the 2013 report includes recent research on how vulnerable crops are to heat waves and droughts, as well as more warnings of the necessity to lower global GHG emissions. However, the panel found that carbon dioxide emissions have the added affect of boosting food production — the gas apparently performs as a type of plant fertilizer.

The panel found that the effects of climate change and global warming will hit tropical regions’ food supplies the worst, due to greater poverty rates and tremendous heat waves. Not being able to satisfy global food demand might force us to cultivate more farm land for production purposes — i.e., deforestation, which would speed up the effects of climate change by releasing significant quantities of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.

Sweeping climate policy reforms, like the Obama Administration’s, though helpful, come a little late: the report finds that such actions might not be drastic enough to slow down the effects of climate change; advantages from steps, like curbing emissions, will generally be seen late in the 21st century.

Developed and Written by Dr. Subodh Das and Tara Mahadevan

November 20, 2013

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