How the Environment, Economy and Health Are All Tied Together
In the last two months, I have found myself shaking my head in disgust: Washington leaders’ inability to come together in debt ceiling negotiations; the state of the economy that has left so many families unemployed or underemployed; two ongoing wars that has sent one of my husband’s cousins, a marine, for his seventh deployment and so many others like him; and the terrible crisis in the horn of Africa due to drought.
I never thought I would live to see the day in which science itself would be controversial in this country. This may have been the case during Galileo’s time, but now? I am a Christian and I don’t see any incompatibility between heading the warning of scientists and believing in God. It’s like I tell my children when we drive to mass every Sunday, one, we need to give thanks to God for everything that we have like our lives, and two, it is God who gives the knowledge to the scientists to help us here on earth. I’ll stop shaking my head when our leaders and the media stop acting foolishly when it comes to climate change.
There is a major drought in our own country. And clearly it affects us in so many ways from public health risks – I don’t need to tell you how serious starvation is – and the burden it places on countries’ public health and immigration systems.
From the New York Times:
Last month, the United States Department of Agriculture designated all 254 counties in Texas natural disaster areas, qualifying them for varying levels of federal relief. More than 30 percent of the state’s wheat fields might be lost, adding pressure to a crop in short supply globally.
Even if weather patterns shift and relief-giving rain comes, losses will surely head past $3 billion in Texas alone, state agricultural officials said.
Most troubling is that the drought, which could go down as one of the nation’s worst, has come on extra hot and extra early. It has its roots in 2010 and continued through the winter. The five months from this February to June, for example, were so dry that they shattered a Texas record set in 1917, said Don Conlee, the acting state climatologist.
Wow. It will be a good day in this country when the environment is not treated like some concoction by scientists, or this frivolous thing to worry about. $3 billion is real money. If you are as concerned as I am about the world our children are inheriting, please join me at the Moms Clean Air Force. We aren’t raising money–we are raising our voices to tell Washington that we are concerned about toxic air pollution and its severe effects on our children.
Everyone from humanitarian organizations to FOX news are calling the drought across Somalia and the horn of Africa one of the worst events on the planet today. According to the Unicef humanitarian relief fund:
“…more than 10 million people across Somalia and the Horn of Africa are in dire need of humanitarian assistance due to a deadly combination of drought, escalating food prices and armed conflict. Hundreds of thousands of children are facing death due to starvation…Among the most vulnerable to the drought and famine are 2 million children under the age of five in Somalia, Kenya, Ethiopia and Djibouti….In these famine zones, almost 10% of the children under age 5 die every 3 months.”
One in ten children under the age of five are dying every 3 months in this African region? Yikes! My heart breaks for these families.
And the bad news just piles on: many families are living in refugee camps while “thousands” are crossing the border to neighboring countries to escape starvation. If anyone needs our help it is our brothers and sisters in Africa. It is important that we help through our community organizations of choice, like Unicef or the Red Cross.
Our lack of attention on this crisis is startling. The Red Cross has pledged “only” $1 million to the crisis when tens of millions of people are at risk. But there is something else that I am finding irksome: the media’s reluctance to name global warming as a possible culprit for the drought. This is the worst drought this region of the world has seen in 50 years.
After a quick and dirty Google search – “global warming and drought of Africa?” – the only publications even touching the subject are scientific ones like Science Daily:
“The increased frequency of drought observed in eastern Africa over the last 20 years is likely to continue as long as global temperatures continue to rise, according to new research published in Climate Dynamics.”
This poses increased risk to the estimated 17.5 million people in the Greater Horn of Africa who currently face potential food shortages.
Scientists from the U.S. Geological Survey and the University of California, Santa Barbara, determined that warming of the Indian Ocean, which causes decreased rainfall in eastern Africa, is linked to global warming. These new projections of continued drought contradict previous scenarios by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change predicting increased rainfall in eastern Africa.