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Category: Climate Change

Generational Curse? A different view of pollution

Back in the day when I attended Pentecostal Holiness churches, in addition to believing most people were chock full of demons, my ministers also warned us of generational curses. The sins of the fathers fall upon the heads of the sons to the third and fourth generation.

Is it a Demon, a Curse, or Both??

When no amount of repenting rid us of our homosexual inclinations, the ministers assumed we have a naughty ancestor (usually a sailor) who must have diddled with another man. As a result, like a demonic gene mutation, the man on man lust got passed along to us. They insisted we must break the power of these curses if we wish to live a good, clean life in the future.

Well, drawing on that experience, I present to you Elizabeth Jeremiah, a fierce minister of the Gospel, with a word for you. And like often happens with this character, she doesn’t end up where you might expect her to go. She has a thing or two to say about our evil, sinful, polluting ways.

Introducing Elizabeth Jeremiah!

The Day the Whales Rejoiced, then got into hot water.

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We love getting submissions from Climate Stew followers, so I was thrilled when Jen in PA wrote me about her recent trip to the New Bedford whaling museum and important connection she made to our modern fossil fuel pollution problem.

I’ve written about New England whaling and energy before. (see: Whaling, Quakers, and Alternative Energies)

Jen provides a novel twist to the story of whaling including the glee whales might have felt when they were no longer being targeted in such a large scale. A new form of energy made their oil far less valuable. Ah, but there was an unseen cost.


The Day the Whales Rejoiced

On a recent visit to the New Bedford Whaling Museum in New Bedford, MA, I learned that one of the events which contributed to the decline in the whaling industry was the discovery of oil in Titusville, PA in the mid 1800s.

I then came across the following cartoon across the street at the New Bedford Whaling National Historical Park, published in 1861, of sperm whales having a party to celebrate this discovery (because they won’t be killed as much, as crude oil would replace the highly valued sperm oil). Note the sign in the background that reads oils well that ends well. Whaling did still continue but eventually declined.

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Salvation at a cost–Ocean Acidification

Little did these 1861 partying whales know that the discovery of this oil was not their salvation but the beginning of just another means to their end. Now over 150 years later, our oceans are suffering from falling ph levels and increased acidification, affecting the food chain, posing starvation for our whales. Mollusks (and other shelled creatures including corals) pull the ingredients they need to build their shells (calcium and carbonate) from the ocean.

But as our oceans are absorbing increasing amounts of carbon dioxide from the burning of fossil fuels, the chemistry results in increased acid and reduced carbonate; as a result, baby mollusks are forming deformed and weak shells and are dying because they have insufficient carbonate (see PBS Nova: Lethal Seas, May 2015, a great explanation of this chemistry for the lay person). Whatever eats the mollusks also suffers, and so on and so forth all the way up to our partying sperm whales.graphics_oceanacidification

Save the People!

So, while the 1861 sperm whales were living large thinking their ship had come in (puns actually intended), it was not to be so for their descendants. I wonder if anyone could foresee in 1861 that this oil well discovery would lead to some of today’s problems.

25946-y4sla6And beyond whales, it’s a major problem for humans, as more than a billion people depend on the ocean for food, not to mention all the industry dependent on it.

Like Marvin Bloom says, it’s not just about the polar bears (but Marvin, we need to care about them too so please don’t take this and complain about whales to Peterson!)

Maybe someday there will be another cartoon and this time the sperm whales will be celebrating as the infrastructure switches to clean renewable energy such as solar.

Lessons for a more stable, sustainable future

Can we learn from this cartoon – that when we exploited one natural and unsustainable resource (whales) and replaced it with another (crude oil), it was cause for a false celebration because it was just a temporary solution?

I would hope that the great transition that Timothy Meadows refers to in the Climate Stew podcast is the final party for our whales, with no hidden or unknown dangers that could hurt the whales of 150 years in the future (and us for that matter), so this time, we have the most healthy and sustainable solution for us all.


 

The only known photo of Marvin Bloom

The only known photo of Marvin Bloom

Thank you, Jen! Note: I contacted Marvin Bloom for a statement about Polar Bears. He writes,

“Polar bears are dangerous and disgusting creatures, a lot like humans, so I guess if we are going to save people, we might as well save the polar bears too. Great piece, Jen!”

If you would like to contribute an article you wrote, a reflection, a link to a resource, or an idea for a video or podcast episode, just contact me here at Climate Stew.

Climate Change chat with Polar Bear-Free Communication

My friend, Joe G, thoughtfully sent me a link to an excellent article in Grist that outlines some important pointers for those of us doing climate communication. I think the next episode of Climate Stew podcast (the penultimate one) I will talk about it in more detail, but I wanted to make sure you have a chance to look at it. I’d like to open a discussion about it and share some best practices.

Amelia Urry writes: Here’s everything we know about how to talk about climate change

Over the past year, we’ve asked experts — activistspsychologistspolicy wonks, even therapists — for their best advice. The conclusion? There’s no one-size-fits-all approach, but here are some broad do’s and don’t’s to help you get your message across.

I’m sticking with my story!

graphic credit: Grist

graphic credit: Grist

No surprise, Amelia leads with storytelling, perhaps one of the best tools for all kinds of communication, especially climate communication. Just yesterday I spoke to 400 high school students about climate change. I covered lots of ground, but mostly I stuck with stories, particularly my own story. When I got into the storytelling mode, the room quieted down and I got to communicate important information in a creative personal way that was tailored for my audience.

Urry explains:

Some climate scientists and activists think that if the American people only knew the solid science behind climate change, they’d be motivated to fight this big problem. But most people just aren’t going to be inspired by hearing, “There’s overwhelming consensus among scientists.”

Much better is to tell a good story. Give it a gripping plot, with a beginning, a middle, and an end (and it never hurts to have a villain). And put people at the heart of the story — not icebergs or atmospheres or endangered tree frogs. Help people understand what climate change really means on the ground, today, and what is at stake for them.

Amelia Urry provides lots other ideas for us to consider. Oh, and like me she says we need to leave the polar bears about of the conversation. People are self-interested–find out what is closest to their hearts.

Let me know what you think. I’d love to share your thoughts on the podcast. Thanks.

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Here’s everything we know about how to talk about climate change

 

Polar bear puppet photo taken at Cambridge Friends School

Republicans Discover Climate Change!

Former Climate Skeptic, Rep David Jolly, Florida Republican in US Congress

Former Climate Skeptic, Rep David Jolly, Florida Republican in US Congress

For those of us doing climate change activism in the USA we can get downright discouraged by the wall of denial that blocks action, particularly by lawmakers in Washington, DC. Besides the actual denial, we have to deal with the anger and despondency from people who feel hopeless as they see the logjam and inaction stagnating in congress.

Ah, but there is movement! I have been cheered by the news of US Congress members in the Republican Party taking positive steps to address climate change. Perhaps the most dramatic and meaningful moment came when a Republican-led resolution was put forward by Republican lawmaker Chris Gibson (NY-19). Other moderate Republicans signed on AND even one lawmaker who refused to acknowledge the climate crisis and now is an advocate for climate action. See: Jolly good! Florida rep joins sponsors of Gibson climate resolution.

My friend and climate colleague, Penn Garvin, first learned about the Gibson Resolution during the Save the Coffee Bean house party I held in October. I talked about the work we were doing with Citizens Climate Lobby to build relationships with lawmakers. She was thrilled to discover that something is actually happening in DC. So much so that the other day she published an opinion piece in the local paper, the Sunbury Daily Item. It is a brilliant piece that I must share with you.


A QUIZ for our readers:

WHO WROTE THIS?

“We need to protect, conserve, and be good stewards of our environment, and base our policy decisions in science and quantifiable facts on the ground.

There has been a marked increase in extreme weather events across the United States, including more frequent heat waves, extreme precipitation, wildfires, and water scarcity. These negative impacts are expected to worsen in every region of the United States.

If left unaddressed, the consequences of a changing climate have the potential to adversely impact all Americans, hitting vulnerable populations hardest, and harming productivity in key economic sectors and imposing additional costs on State and Federal budgets.

Therefore, we must work to create and support private and public solutions to address the causes of changes to our global and regional climates.”

Who wrote the above statement?

A. a national environmental organization

B. members of the Republican Party

C. President Obama’s administration

It would be easy to believe that it was written by A or C. In fact, the answer is B! This passage is taken directly from a resolution submitted in September 2015 in the United States House of Representatives called the Gibson Resolution. (For the complete text of the resolution, go to http://gibson.house.gov/)

This resolution was written by Republican U.S. Representative Chris Gibson, from New York. Nine other Republicans signed onto the Environmental Stewardship Resolution including three from Pennsylvania: Representatives Patrick Meehan, Michael Fitzpatrick, and Ryan Costello. (note: now there are 13 in total)

Smart planning does not have to be divided by political party. We should each learn about these issues, how they are expected to worsen, and how they might negatively affect our area. Thinking ahead can prevent problems and disasters in our future.

Let’s start talking with our neighbors, in our churches and organizations and with our elected officials about what we in our area can do to protect ourselves against these negative impacts.  We owe it to ourselves, our children and our grandchildren!

Signed,

Penn Garvin, Mifflinburg, PA

 

Climate Change is sucking the life out of Guatemala

IMG-20140807-03212Those people who have encountered Climate Stew podcast correspondent, Marvin Bloom, know he has a complicated past. Little did we know that his involvement in a Christian church led him to Guatemala some years ago.

In fact, Marvin points out a fact that many climate activists rarely consider, Christian missionaries from North America and Europe are often eyewitnesses to climate change.

In addition to the drought that has gone on for over five years, El Niño is making things even more complicated.

Marvin helps us better understand the drought that has hit Guatemala hard. He gets beyond politics to consider the people he met and his concerns for their rapidly changing world.

Have a listen (4 minutes. transcript below)

Marvin and Sucking the Life out of Guatemala 

A man picks up oranges at the garbage dump of the La Terminal food centre, one of the largest food markets in Guatemala City February 27, 2015. REUTERS/Jorge Dan Lopez

A man picks up oranges at the garbage dump of the La Terminal food centre, one of the largest food markets in Guatemala City February 27, 2015. REUTERS/Jorge Dan Lopez

TThis is Marvin, Marvin Bloom with this Climate News story. Drought Drought Drought. That’s all I am hearing about these days. Well, except for the floods in some places, but mostly drought. No doubt you have heard of the drought that is sucking the life out of California, where we get 40% of our agriculture. Yeah, California but I only just learned that the Central American country of Guatemala has been in a severe drought for the past three years. They say that up to one million people face a severe food emergency. And thanks to that nasty brat, El Nino, the dry spell is not expected to ease up anytime soon.

Now I I have a personal relationship with the country of Guatemala. About 10 years ago I took a weird turn in my life where I tried to de-gay myself with the help of a church in Long Island, or as my pastor at the time called it, The Lord’s Island. It’s a long story but I’m okay now and happily gay married. But during my time in the church I was exposed to an on-going church mission project right outside of Guatemala City. I even went for a short trip myself in 2006.

For like 25 years the church has sent short-term missionaries to help with medical needs and building projects (although to be honest most of the schools the teens in our church youth group helped construct ended up collapsing. Thank God no one was hurt.) Anyway in addition to hearing a lot about Jesus and my sinful lifestyle, I also picked up of information about Guatemala and developed a soft spot for this country and the Guatemalans I’ve met. 15 million people live in Guatemala and half of those live in poverty. They have the world’s fourth highest rate of chronic malnutrition, affecting mostly children under five. And now this drought.

Coffee Leaf Rust not affects coffee lovers AND coffee growers.

Coffee Leaf Rust affects coffee lovers AND coffee growers.

It’s bad. I mean the El Nino weather pattern comes around in cycles, but because of climate change it’s stronger than ever. But also because of the warming temperatures in the mountainous coffee growing regions of Central America, there’s an awful fungus spreading like wild fire, attacking coffee plants. Even part time many Guatemalans work in the coffee industry. But because of coffee leaf rust there are few shifts and they are getting paid only 3 to 4 dollars a day, half of what they got last year. And then there is the corn, a staple in Guatemala.

We we learned from Yuri in episode 32 of Climate Stew, corn production, or maize, is threatened by drought. Most farming families in Guatemala will loss half or even all of their corn production this year. Because of the poverty and now the drought many indigenous families are only eating one or at the most only two meals a day.

The drought in California is awful, no question. but since it is a rich place, globally speaking, they can adapt, irrigate, even take the salt out of seawater in a pinch. But I think of Alma and Jose Flores, there in Guatemala and their children, Ana, Carlos, Maria, and little Sebastian. I think of the amazing spicy hen stew Alma made and the night we sat around the table talking. Si halblo un poco de Espanol. I wonder, How are they coping? They were living on the edge then, what about now? Because for me this isn’t just about a drought or poverty in Guatemala, it’s about people I know who might be suffering right now. Alright I’m going to find out.

 

Art credit: Kevin Miller

When Climate Change Affects Our Health

Seriously, most people do not care to hear about climate change

Many people assume climate change is either an environmental issue or a scientific one. Since most people on the planet are neither environmentalists or scientists, they typically switch off when they hear one of us prattle on about the risks of a rapidly warming planet.

In response to what we see as apathy, some of us can get downright desperate employing fear and shame tactics to rattle people awake and into action. While it may momentarily jar someone, this strategy rarely brings about a meaningful or lasting response.

But what do people want to hear about?

Dr. Clair Herrick

Dr. Claire Herrick

While loads of people seriously could care less about nature and the earth, they do care about their health and the health of their family. Therefore, it is important to be literate in talking about climate change as a health issue. And there are many health issues associated with the climate crisis.

Joining us this week on the Climate Stew podcast is Dr. Claire Herrick, a pediatrician from Flagstaff, Arizona. She outlines the many, and there are many, health problems we have already begun to see with in a warmer world. She also points out trouble ahead that we need to consider for ourselves and our families.

Behold Episode 46 of Climate Stew just for you

In addition to the excellent information about health and climate, we also look at the environmental justice issue of pollution and asthma. Yale Climate Connections reveals a powerful story of a community in Chicago who took on power plants in the neighborhood. The pollution from these caused a host of health problems, including asthma.

Our own Marvin Bloom, also talks about asthma and pollution. He raises the disturbing point that pollution and asthma does not affect everyone in America equally. Just like most issues here, there is discrimination and inequity based on race.

We hope you enjoy this informative and lively episode of Climate Stew.

Featured image: Easy Does It by Judity Shea (photo taken by P.Toscano at MOMA PS1)

What do Faith Communities Offer to the Climate Crisis? Hope

The annual IFCMW Interfaith Leadership Summit attracts some of the most engaged people of faith I have ever met. (Image credit: IFCMW.)

The annual IFCMW Interfaith Leadership Summit attracts some of the most engaged people of faith I have ever met. (Image credit: IFCMW.)

During times of great turmoil, uncertainty, and fear, emotions and rhetoric rise. Denial also sets in as people struggle to make sense of the world around them. Writing on her blog, Climate Stew crew member, Keisha McKenzue raises questions about crises and responses, particularly in regards to climate change. The entire piece is well worth reading and reflecting upon. This part in particular jumped out at me.

So much of the discourse around climate change frames it as “crisis,” or “corruption,” or “conspiracy,” but people of faith are well-positioned to offer an alternate framework.

Faith and spirituality can generate an orientation of hope based on humanity’s capacity to not only create problems but also solve them, to not only break down order but also build new orders from periods of chaos.

People of faith can ground their hope in Christian teachings about human will and the divine inspiration that draws us toward the good; or Jewish teachings about our responsibility to safeguard human welfare and protect what future generations need to thrive; or Muslim teachings about the deen, the comprehensive religious duty that includes managing resources without waste or excess.

Keisha covers language, denial, and more. Read more: From Actions to Metaphors: Language Matters

Anything But Isolated. Climate Change & the Earthship

The Global Warming/Climate Change movement has been anything but isolated

ES7As the movement has grown, its effects have spread through a wide variety of the other aspects of our lives, proving that the people involved in the movement are not merely single minded, one issue robots, but rather they are taking their knowledge as it accrues and applying to other areas of life as well.

Not only does this fundamentally challenge the way we all think and the way we all live as we see these changes occur, we begin to see and imagine a wide variety of new, sustainable options for living as lightly and as cleanly on the surface of this planet as possible.

As the Global Warming/Climate Change movement spreads and encompasses the way we all live, we not only witness radical change, but also  permanent change.

Global Warming/Climate Change & The Shelters Where We Live Our Lives

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New models of architecture are emerging not only in this country, but across the world. Energy efficiency is key, from the LEED hierarchy ratings (Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design), to net-zero architecture (where the energy consumption of the shelter is completely offset by its energy generation) on to family shelters that are capable of enabling people to live completely off the public utilities grid, without fossil fuels, even out in the wild, if they so choose.

Of this, the latter has interested me the most as an architecture nerd, especially a form of housing called the Earthship.

ES1

The Earthship is a fundamentally new way of looking at human shelter that incorporates passive solar design as well as solar and wind power to produce heat and energy. It is built from as many recycled objects as possible, such as the bottles embedded in the wall above to create solid curtain walls of light and color.ES2

The use of old tires to create exterior and interior walls offers huge areas surrounding as well as inside the dwelling that enable heat retention via the use of thermal mass, which augmented by natural cross ventilation, keeps the dwelling at a pretty constant temperature year round, winter included.

The use of glass across the south facing side of the shelter (in the northern hemisphere) allows for constant solar gain all year long, heating the used tire thermal banks, as well as creating an indoor greenhouse which can not only freshen the air (humans breathe in oxygen and expel carbon dioxide, the plants do the opposite), but that very same greenhouse can be used as a year round source of food for the people living there.

ES6There is also a innovative water conservation system that reclaims and reuses as much water as possible. Gallons and gallons are not simply pumped and/or collected and then flushed away.

Earthships offer those who wish to live their lives with an absolutely minimal impact on the environment a thoughtful, integrated way to do just exactly that.

 

 

 

ES4

Behold–The Earthship!

For more information

 

Photos: HighExistence

Super Storms of the future and New York City flooding

Angels (dusk) by Greg Parma Smith at MOMA PS!

Angels (dusk) by Greg Parma Smith at MOMA PS!

I just spent a wonderful weekend in New York City where I attended a reading by Garth Greenwell, visited PS1 Museum, and enjoyed a musical recital by faculty at the Manhattan School of Music. Of course I also ate amazing food–Peruvian, Ethiopian, Dominican. New York is the first city I ever experienced when I was a boy, and I end up judging all other cities by it.

After living in NYC for 10 years, I moved on, but of course I keep my eye on the city from a distant. When Super Storm Sandy hit, I was 100 miles away with my dad, who was dying of cancer. While my dad and I had a pretty easy time of it, with the lights on most of the time except for an hour or so and no major flooding, New York City got smashed. Our friends Lila and Terry on 2nd Street on the Lower East Side lived without electricity for days. Tim and Scott on East 10 had no idea that they were in a flood zone. That’s because it had never flooded in their neighborhood in recorded history.

That was a freaky storm, a perfectly perfect storm that horrified meteorologists even as they grew giddy over seeing a weather event that no one had ever seen or imagined before. Well, that’s not true. We had been warned that larger storms are coming. We have been told sea-level rise will be felt first during extreme weather. New York City officials know that they need to act. 

Our own Climate Stew roving reporter, Tony Buffusio from the Bronx, joins us with a special report about the flooding expected in NYC over the next few decades and the threats right now. Have a listen to a Climate Stew special report. (Transcript below)

This is Tony Buffusio in the Bronx. Remember Super Storm Sandy back in 2012? I do and I don’t. I was in Florida with my girlfriend slash fiancee, Tina, so we missed it, then got stuck there and by the time we got home the drama was over. They said Anderson Cooper was in our neighborhood. Still it was a mess. Turns out it is just a preview of what is yet to come.

A new report from the New York City Panel on Climate Change warns of growing climate change threats to NYC. (AP Photo/John Minchillo) | ASSOCIATED PRESS

A new report from the New York City Panel on Climate Change warns of growing climate change threats to NYC. (AP Photo/John Minchillo) | ASSOCIATED PRESS

According to the New York City Panel on Climate Change, NY, NY “is expected to see more frequent heat waves and extreme precipitation events.” In fact, it’s been hotter and wetter in NYC since the year 1900. Average temperatures rose by 3.5 degree Fahrenheit and sea levels rose over one foot, about 1.2 inches per decade. Maybe it doesn’t sound like much to you, but scientists and public officials are freaking out.

Ok, so I’m 28 years old, by 2050, when I’m 63, not even retired, sea level rise is projected to between a foot to almost two feet. And there is no escape to Florida where it’s gonna be worse. By 2100 NY Harbor could rise as much as 6 feet. Goodbye Wall Street unless they build a serious wall Yikes! Same holds true for Boston, with the only upside being the Red Socks may get flooded out. Go Yankees.

But forget about the future. We got problems right now. With the current sea level rise when the storms come, they will bash the city with serious flooding. Right now over 400,000 people live in a NYC flood zone, making it the most populous flood zone in the USA, even worse than New Orleans. Sometimes its not so hot being number one.

City planners are talking about mitigation, fancy word for saying ‘Stop for the fossil fuel pollution already! and adaptation, fancy word for saying break out of the sandbags, build flood walls or relocate NYC to the Catskills.

You know i hear about these island nations like Tuvalu, Kiribati, and the Maldives and how they are going underwater like a modern day Atlantis sunk because of carbon pollution. But I never imagined that the greatest islands in the world—Manhattan Island Long Island, City Island in the Bronx where you can get some kick butt oysters, are gonna drown. We need to cut out all the carbon polluting crap and like the Netherlands, NYC must protect itself. Mayor Deblasio, you know what we need? A big, strong, powerful dyke to save us all. Mr. Deblasio, build that flood wall.

featured image: Order by Hayley Silverman

Mosquitos, Disease, and Climate Change — Oh My!

Mosquitos are hot right now. Well, from a news perspective. We see lots of stories exploding in the media about the rapid spread of the Zika virus in Latin America. Expectant parents or those planning families in South, Central, and North America are very concerned.

The virus is not at all deadly: the flu-like symptoms are mild and last only a few days.  The big panic is about the dramatic rise in Microcephaly, a condition that causes heads of newborns to be smaller or misshaped. In every place where the zika virus has been growing, so have the cases of microcephaly in newborns. Scientists are scrambling to better understand this condition and its possible connections to the Zika virus in pregnant women.

As a result of the large outbreaks of both zika and microcephaly in Latin America, countries including Ecuador, El Salvador, and Columbia, currently encourage women to delay getting pregnant until the communities can get the outbreak and the mosquito populations under control. There is also work on a vaccine. The situation is serious enough that the US government has issued travel warnings about it.

Late Friday, U.S. health officials said pregnant women should consider postponing trips to 14 destinations – Brazil, Colombia, El Salvador, French Guiana, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Martinique, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Puerto Rico, Suriname and Venezuela. Pregnant women told to avoid countries with Zika outbreaks. Pregnant women told to avoid countries with Zika outbreaks

Today the World Health Organization (WHO) met to discuss the growing crisis and how to respond. Below is a report from National Public Radio

WHO Director General Margaret Chan called the meeting for Monday in Geneva to decide whether the Zika virus outbreak rises to a public health emergency that would be of international concern.

[UPDATE: The WHO declared Zika Virus an International Emergency. Two cases were reported in Australia. Where there is a case in Texas that apparently spread through sex, the real danger is for people in the developing world who do not have the government or community resources required to adequately deal with mosquito populations. Even so, Florida is taking steps to prepare for the warmer weather with the increase of mosquito populations.

Climate Stew Crew member, Prescott Allen Hazleton, also sent me an important articles: Climate Change Could Tell Us Where the Zika Virus will spread next. Melanie Harken writes:

Larvae of the Aedes aegypti mosquito, which transmits the Zika virus, as seen in a lab in Brazil on Jan. 26. (Photo: Mario Tama/Getty Images)

Larvae of the Aedes aegypti mosquito, which transmits the Zika virus, as seen in a lab in Brazil on Jan. 26. (Photo: Mario Tama/Getty Images)

“We’ve seen these migrations before,” said Hotez, citing the 2013 outbreak of chikungunya virus in the Southwest and earlier outbreaks of dengue in Texas and along the Gulf Coast.

“The role of climate change is still unclear, but I think it has to be looked at very seriously,” he added. “Flooding following periods of drought leads to collecting pools of water, allowing mosquitoes to breed, and warmer temperatures allow them to emerge less seasonally, so they can be coming out and feeding all year.”

This is by no means the first time global warming has been implicated in outbreaks of such diseases; the rising incidence of Lyme disease and other tick-carried diseases appears to be climate-related as well.

Then there’s El Niño, which is heating up temperatures in the Pacific Ocean, especially along the coast of South and Central America. “It’s interesting that it coincides with spread of Zika. Whether they’re all causally related we don’t know, but it’s certainly important to follow up on,” Hotez said.

Warming temperatures and waters are not the only environmental factor experts are investigating when it comes to Zika. They also cite socioeconomic factors such as population growth, urbanization, and poverty, and the related environmental consequences.

This is a big important story, and one that requires calm and thoughtfulness. It also provides us an opportunity to help our friends, families, and neighbors understand how climate change can affect the life in the the USA. ]

How Can we Prepare for Zika Virus and Protect Communities in the Americas?

Questions and fears about Zika and microcephaly are swirling now in the USA. Will it reach US states and how can citizens prepare? Researchers have predicted that because of climate change we will see an increase of diseases spread by mosquitos. When it comes to diseases like West Nile Virus, which first came to the USA in the 1990’s and has since spread every state except Hawaii and Alaska, there are simple ways to prevent infection.

In our original Climate Stew podcast series, That Day in Climate History, we time-travel to 150 years into the future to learn how mosquitos brought disease and how humans addressed the crisis. In a time of panic we are here to insert rationality as we remind ourselves and each other that we are not helpless victims. Here are practical steps to protect our families and communities. Listen to audio (transcript below)

Transcript

That Day in Climate History

I am Timothy Meadows. It is Saturday, March 2nd, 2165 and time for That Day in Climate History. During the 21st Century, along with the relentless rising temperatures, mosquito populations throughout the world grew at an alarming rate. Earlier springs and hotter summers proved ideal conditions for flying pests.

As their territories expanded ever northward, so did the rapid spread of West Nile Virus.
Fortunately only one in five people infected with West Nile Virus exhibit symptoms. These include “a fever” along with “headache, body aches, joint pains, vomiting, diarrhea, or rash. Most people with this type of West Nile virus disease recover completely, but fatigue and weakness can last for weeks or months.” Still with the growing number of cases, so did the risk to public safety.

WNVflyerFirst discovered in Uganda in 1937, major outbreaks of West Nile Virus occurred in Algeria in 1994 then in Romania in 1996. The first reported American case was in Queens, NYC in 1999. By the year 2005 over 600,000 people from every US state except for Hawaii and Alaska contracted West Nile Virus resulting in over 750 deaths. 20 years later in 2025 the number of reported cases exploded to over 3 million.

While there is still no cure or vaccine for any of the nine different strains of West Nile Virus, rates of infections dropped dramatically after 2025 with the introduction of community-based initiatives aimed at educating the public on how to reduce mosquitos’ access to standing water where they most often breed. With the use of creative and even humorous advertisements and posters, an entire generation learned personal protection measures to avoid mosquito bites. These have been passed down through the years and have become standard practice in most households and schools today. In addition, privately and publicly funded projects sprung up to aid the poor in the installation of screens on windows and doors, and to provide solar powered fans in doorways to keep mosquitos from entering.

Through vigilance and discipline along with the controversial use of chemical pesticides, most people today do not suffer from West Nile Virus. On this day in 2165 we remember that day in climate history.

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Extreme Survivor Teenagers!

Extreme Survivor Teenagers!

Climate History is brou