Climate Migration

Following the onset of The Great Depression in 1929, the United States caught the second blow to its population right in the gut the next year. Directly in the heart of the country, the lower midwestern plains of North America began to experience a manmade disaster brought on by years of undisciplined farming practices and drought. These two circumstances combined turned this country’s once-fertile with rich, deep topsoil into a baron wind-blown dust bowl. This phenomenon happened due to farmers’ lack of understanding of the area’s ecology, non-rotation of crops, and improper plowing techniques, all of which promoted erosion of the topsoil.

Cutting Their Losses

As the situation worsened in the Midwest, many farmers who were already financially strapped packed up their belongings and left. As many as 2.5 million people exited the Midwest during the 1930s due to the conditions brought on by this ecological disaster. Some rural areas in the Midwest saw population drops as much as 40%. Many relocated to the west coast of the country. There they worked the abundant farms in California, Oregon, and Washington. This migration, brought on by a manmade ecological disaster, was the largest in U.S history.

In this November 1936 photo from the U.S. Farm Security Administration, a mother, originally from Oklahoma stands with her five children near Fresno, Calif., where she works as a cotton picker. The Dust Bowl led to a massive migration of Midwestern farmers out of the region, many of whom traveled to California in search of j
Dust Bowl Refugees

Climate Migration

This massive migration is an example of climate migration. Climate migration occurs when people have no other choice but to leave their homes due to the changing environment, more frequent storms, higher tides, more frequent flooding, long periods of drought, more frequent wildfires. These are all examples of ecological scenarios that may cause people to up and leave their homes searching for a more stable environment to thrive. With the acceleration of climate change brought on by our industrialized societies, we see more of these massive migrations take place. For example, the Central Americans moving north towards Mexico and the United States. Many are leaving due to a changing climate that is causing more and more drought affecting their farmlands, causing food prices to soar, and leading to overall instability in their communities.

Honduran migrants take part in a caravan heading to the US, on the road linking Ciudad Hidalgo and Tapachula, Chiapas state, Mexico, on October 21, 2018. – Thousands of Honduran migrants resumed their march toward the United States on Sunday from the southern Mexican city of Ciudad Hidalgo, AFP journalists at the scene said. (Photo by Pedro Pardo / AFP) (Photo credit should read PEDRO PARDO/AFP/Getty Images)
migrant mothers with children

More Migration

If we continue doing the same things we’re doing, more and more people from everywhere will have to move. It won’t only be people from other countries coming into the United States to escape the environmental problems in another country. Look at the map posted below. That is a map of the drought in the United States as of May 25th, 2021. Look at it. Roughly one-half of the country is experiencing some sort of drought conditions. And if you look at it deeper, the areas deep in drought have been there for a long time. The land can only sustain a large number of people for so long without water. Eventually, all those people will have to move east.

https://droughtmonitor.unl.edu/

Why?

I ask myself, “Why have our leaders let it get this far?” Why have they politicized the issue to the point that a group of educated people doesn’t even believe it’s real? When will these people think it’s real? When they have to leave their country to live in a foreign land? By that time, it’s become too real. Many climate change deniers I know claim to be God-fearing Christians. If that’s the case, did God not leave us, human beings, as stewards of the land? As a father, if I built this immaculate house and then left it to my son and in a few short years it was in utter ruin, I’d be a rather disappointed father. Aside from the religious appeal, it’s also being a responsible person to maintain a nice living area, RIGHT? I digress and am putting my soapbox away.

Industrialization of Our Food Chain

google images

There’s a myth that all the large industrial agriculture companies would like for you and me to buy into. That myth is that without them and their innovative farming techniques, the world will run out of food by the end of this century. This is simply not true. Their farming techniques are simply unsustainable and will destroy our soil and waterways if we allow them to continue unsustainable practices well into this century.

INDUSTRIAL AGRICULTURE

 Industrial agriculture is the large-scale, intensive production of crops and animals, often involving chemical fertilizers on crops or the routine, harmful use of antibiotics and steroids in animals to enhance their growth and compensate for unsanitary conditions in which the animals are kept.

google images

INDUSTRIAL FARMING PRACTICES

Industrial farming practices are unstainable farming practices that deplete the soil of its natural fertility. They often plant the same crop over and over, not rotating crops, and not allowing for natural regeneration of the soil. This results in heavier use of pesticides and fertilizer. The heavier use of pesticides results in more resistant pests and the killing of pollinator insects. The heavier use of fertilizer results in runoff that causes dead zones in areas such as the Gulf of Mexico and the Chesapeake Bay, due to the high concentrate of phosphorus and nitrogen in the waters. The non-rotation of crops also results in soil loss, eventually rendering the land useless.

INDUSTRIAL LIVESTOCK OPERATIONS

Industrial livestock operations refer to a modern type of agriculture where densely populated groups of animals are confined to cages, barns, or feedlots. These conditions are unsanitary. They are injected with antibiotics to keep them well enough to make it to slaughter. They are also injected with large amounts of steroids to speed up their growing time to get them to slaughter quicker. Their diet consists of corn grown on an industrial farm complex. Their waste is pumped into large toxic holding ponds and slowly leeched back into the water table. These large livestock areas also contribute to methane release back into our atmosphere. Methane is a greenhouse gas that raises global temperatures.

REDUCING THE IMPACT OF INDUSTRIAL AGRICULTURE

The good news is that as of right now, these large-scale farming operations only produce 30% of the food we consume, the other 70% is produced by smaller farms that tend to practice more sustainable farming practices. But 30% of our growing population is still a large amount and a huge impact on our environment. Allowing these practices to increase higher could have a devastating impact on the environment. One way to reduce the impact of these industrial complex farms is to grow our foods in smaller areas allowing for rotation of crops and natural regeneration of soil. Think about blighted areas in inner cities? Community programs could get those areas and plant a community farm and provide nutritious food for community members. Some say that’s an outrageous idea, but why in most inner cities you can walk a couple of blocks to a fast-food restaurant, but it’s miles to a grocery store to purchase nutritious vegetables.

OUR FUTURE IS AT STAKE

We can’t continue down this path allowing big business to infiltrate our farming industry. It will only result in an unhealthier planet and an unhealthier population. For thousands of years, our ancestors lived off the land and left enough to be passed onto the next generation, we should make that a priority in our lives. This unsustainable way we’ve been living for the past 100 years has done more damage to the Earth than any other period in our existence. How much longer can we go on like this?

Wildfires and Climate Change

            Over the past 15 to 20 years, there has been a noticeable uptick in wildfires globally. Just here in the United States, it seems fire season has become a year-round thing. The Australian wildfires of 2019-2020 burned over 46 million acres and were declared one of the world’s worst wildlife disasters in modern history. In 2018 the Attica fire of Greece claimed the life of 102 people, making it the second most deadly wildfire of the 21st century.

Google Images
Google Images

Climate Change and Wildfires

            Climate change has had a massive impact on the number of wildfires we see worldwide. These fires are more prevalent in areas experiencing drought and dry conditions brought on by climate change. The drought conditions dry the organic material in the forest to a point to favor fire conditions, then all that is needed is an event that creates dry lightning or high winds down a powerline in dry brush. The next thing that happens is millions of acres burn, wildlife is displaced or killed, and people have lost their homes and potentially their lives.

Google Images

Living with Climate Change and The Wildfire Threat

            Until a substantial effort worldwide is put into combating climate change, it seems the wildfire threat will continue. This manageable threat will result in higher insurance and building cost for everyone. The following points should be considered when living in a world plagued by wildfire threats.

  • Discouraging developments (especially residential) near fire-prone forests through smart zoning rules.
  • Increasing the space between structures and nearby trees and brush, and clearing space between neighboring houses
  • Incorporating fire-resistant design features and materials in building
  • Increasing resources allocated to firefighting and fire prevention.
  • Removing fuels, such as dead trees, from forests that are at risk.
  • Developing recovery plans before a fire hits and implementing plans quickly after a fire to reduce erosion, limit flooding, and minimize habitat damage.
Google Images

A Call to Address the Issue

We as citizens need to take climate change and wildfire threats seriously. We may say to ourselves, “It’s not affecting the area we live in.” Yet it is or soon will be with rising insurance costs and taxes to combat the issue. Also, you never know when the weather may shift, and the area you reside in will experience a long-term drought and become a tinder box ready to ignite. We should hold our elected officials’ feet to the fire and tell them we want the climate issues in our world addressed. This is an issue that will eventually affect us all and making our planet a livable place for all is everyone’s responsibility.

A Look At Deforestation

            With our growing population, deforestation around the world is at an all-time high. We are removing large swaths of forest around the planet at alarming rates. This practice makes way for agricultural development, wood extraction for housing, and infrastructure development. By removing all these trees, we are removing valuable carbon storage resources and negatively impacting our already unstable climate. Also, we are destroying ecosystems that house other species that benefit our very existence on this planet. These unsustainable practices will affect future populations if we don’t stop now and develop a large-scale, sustainable operation to support our growing population.

Image taken from google images

            Forest act as our planet’s air filtration system. They pull in carbon dioxide and expel oxygen. A single tree can absorb as much as 48 pounds of carbon dioxide per year from our atmosphere. Trees are our most effective weapon against climate change. With our growing population and governments’ needs to support their people, we are destroying forests faster than they can regrow. In effect, carbon dioxide levels rise in our atmosphere. Leading to an overall temperature rise globally, allowing for more natural disasters such as hurricanes and wildfires. Creating economic strife and heartache for the very people that governments are trying to support.

Image taken from google images

            Another effect of deforestation is the breakdown of natural migration routes for different animal species. There is an island off the coast of Brazil named Snake Island. It’s named that for the large population of snakes that live there. The dominant species there is the Lancehead Viper, one of the top 10 most venomous snakes in the world. Being secluded to this island, their main source of food is migratory birds that stop on the island en route to the Amazonian Rainforest to rest. In recent years, with the rise of deforestation in the rainforest, scientists have noticed a decline in birds’ migration to the area. In turn, reducing the amount of food for the Lancehead Viper. It is believed, this will eventually lower its population and may even starve that population out completely, allowing for the snakes’ extinction. You may be asking yourself, “Why does that matter to me?” well, it should matter whether you believe in science or theology because the universal belief is that all species are here for a reason, to create balance. Another reason is that creepy snakes’ venom is used in blood pressure medicine worldwide. We all must understand that we are stuck in this world together. All life here is interdependent. Humans’, as the apex species of this planet, are charged with the stewardship of it. That is our burden.

Lancehead Viper, image taken from google images

            So, with an exploding population, how do we deal with this deforestation issue? Well, we first need to set aside political differences. Politicians should stop pandering to these lobbyists that line their pockets, then acknowledge together there is a problem, and develop sustainable practices of farming trees just as we do food. The trees will allow our climate to stabilize. Develop a more sustainable way of harvesting the trees for building materials and more forest-based green areas should be implemented in our cities, along with the practice of afforestation, planting new forest, should become more common. Many may think this is a radical approach to the problem, but the way we are heading leads us straight to global extinction. So, I’m of the mindset that radical circumstances call for radical preventive measures.

Image taken from google images

            Over the last hundred years or so, our population has increased dramatically, resulting in the consumption of more and more of our planet’s raw materials. Deforestation has become a problem throughout the world. The need to feed the global population, house them, and create infrastructure has driven the consumption of our forest figuring out a way to create a balance in our needs as a population and the health of our planet is paramount in the survival of all species. We will need to evolve our approach to this if we want to sustain this world to pass on to future generations.           

Global Reef Bleaching Events

            In 1983 the first coral bleaching was observed during a strong El Niño. The first worldwide coral bleaching event occurred in 1998, and then again in 2010. The period between 2014 and 2017 was the most prolonged and widespread bleaching event ever recorded. It resulted in the death of approximately two-thirds of the corals in the northern part of Australia’s Great Barrier Reef.

            What causes these bleaching events is the rising temperatures of the ocean brought on by climate change. Rising temperatures put the coral under high amounts of stress, causing it to expel algae, its food. This occurrence leaves the coral vulnerable to disease, stunts growth, affects reproduction, and can result in death.

            The world has lost half of its reefs in the last 30 years. This continued loss of coral reef systems worldwide could have a significant negative impact on sea life. For millions of peoples worldwide, this would mean a disruption of their primary food source. This food shortage will create a massive amount of stress on many countries’ economies.

            Reef loss is reversible by getting the current climate crisis under control. Reducing carbon pollution could bring down rising global temperatures. Finding a more environmentally friendly way to approach coastal development, fishing, and reducing water pollution would also help.

            Many private organizations are taking up the fight for our planet’s coral reefs. These organizations have developed systems of farming and out planting colonies of staghorn and elkhorn reef. One practice is to hang coral from a coral tree in the ocean. It will produce colonies to be out planted in six to nine months. Another method is where alliances have been made between public aquariums and coral scientists to grow coral in a laboratory environment, then integrate it with a natural population.            

These worldwide bleaching events will affect everybody if we do not get a handle on them. The death of these reef systems worldwide will result in the death of many other sea creatures. Affecting our food supply chain and causing global economic strife. The effects of these bleaching events are reversible if we get the current climate crisis under control by reducing carbon pollution and practicing more environmentally safe ways of coastal development and fishing. All is not lost yet. We should see to it that future generations get to enjoy these beautiful structures, as we have.

The Fall of the Gasoline Commuter

            I’ve had many discussions with friends, family, and fellow employees about the future of gasoline operated vehicles as of late. Many believe they aren’t going anywhere. I feel it’s way past time for society to make the transition to electric everyday commuter vehicles. The only reason these vehicles are still in mass production is the amount of lobbying the oil companies do to continue to make the profits they are making. Oil is a technology of the past. Continuing to pursue pathways in the oil industry is like using dial-up internet in a metropolitan area.

            With advancements in technology, soon, the everyday gas-burning commuter vehicle will become obsolete. There will still be uses for gas-burning machinery in an industrial application. But this limited use will lessen the impact of greenhouse gases on our world. Think about the early days of the coronavirus pandemic of 2020, when everybody was issued a stay-at-home order? There were very few people traveling for work or leisure. That lowered all emissions from gas-burning vehicles making our atmosphere much cleaner. This massive reduction from eliminating gas-powered commuter vehicles will allow the climate to stabilize and repair itself, reducing the frequency of natural disasters like wildfires and floods.

            The Age of Oil is coming to an end. Technology is moving past oil consumption toward a more efficient and environmentally safe option, electricity. Politicians will try to scare their constituents and say this will cost them their jobs, and they’ll fight for the well-paying jobs oil companies are providing for them. The reality is they’ll fight to keep the oil companies alive, so they can continue to get money from them. But soon enough, the cost of operating on electricity will be better than oil, and costs always sway people’s opinions. It’s the nature of humans to always search for a better option. That’s the price we pay for having an opposable index finger and thumb, along with a much larger brain than our primate counterparts.