This is part 1 of 3 in a series about the effects of climate change in parts of the developing world. In the coming articles I’ll focus on India and the city of Bangalore where everyday people will talk about the effects that climate change on their lives. In addition, each post has some cool, new inventions from people all over the world which reduce our footprint as a civilization and prepare us for whatever the future holds. Be sure to click follow at the bottom of the screen to see all of the posts as they come out!
Normally, September is the height of the monsoon season in India. This makes for cooler weather following summertime (which typically ends in May/June) and some much-needed hydration both to the people and the land. Monsoons also deliver 80% of the annual rainfall to India. Last summer, India had the second deadliest heatwave in it’s history. The numbers were a little fuzzy, but upwards of 2,300 died as a result of the heat according to the Indian government. Heat indexes around the country reached as high as 143F (62C) in some places, and it became the 5th deadliest heatwave in world history. The lack of rain falling this monsoon season is a dim predictor of the summer to come – and it doesn’t look much brighter.
In the US, we worry about superstorms hitting our coasts, rising sea levels burying low-lying areas and severe droughts in the west. California is facing their worst drought in history with some parts of the state requiring water to be trucked in and delivered due to dried up reservoirs. Wildfires have engulfed thousands of acres of land in Alaska, and scientists are predicting an extreme storm to hit Oregon in the coming years and warn the infrastructure is not ready to handle it.
In the town of Tepeyac outside of Granada, Nicaragua, water was shut off for four years because of politics (it was finally restored in July 2015). Droughts made it impossible to get water from nearby sources, so residents had to start a water shipping system to get 50 gallon drums of water once a week from other parts of the state. Can you imagine not being able to flush a toilet normally, use a washing machine or shower with running water for four years? Though this was mainly due to a political squabble, as water becomes more and more scarce, there will be many more types of these issues that arise.
The small island nation of Kiribati in the South Pacific recently purchased 6,000 acres of land in the neighboring nation of Fiji in case all of its residents need to relocate. The majority of Kiribati citizens live at 10 feet above sea level or less; the entire island is only 811 square km (313 square miles). This raises the question – what will happen when an entire nation can’t come back from a natural disaster?
If an entire country becomes uninhabitable, a new type of refugee will be created. With the world currently experiencing the worst refugee crisis since WWII, we need to figure out as a global population how we deal with people whose homeland is uninhabitable due to war or due to extreme weather. It’s not that much of a stretch to say that if droughts and temperatures of 143F (62C) continue, parts of India would become barren. And if that happens in cities where there is currently lush greenery, imagine what would happen in parts of Africa or the Middle East which already are deserts. We would have a complete redistribution of the population on a global scale.
Fortunately, many of the best inventions are bred out of necessity. People all over the world are racing to see who can come up with the best ideas for preventing disasters or surviving with them.
- The World Bank is holding a Youth Summit in November to crowd-source solutions for climate change.
- Last summer, a few European countries teamed up to hold a summer school for students and professionals alike and trained attendees in fighting climate change and create a supportive environment for entrepreneurs to come up with new methods.
- In northern India, engineers have created artificial glaciers to ensure farmers have water into the spring when they need to plant their crops for the year.
- In 2013, Lagos, Nigeria built a floating school which is 100% self sufficient and is able to adapt to storm surges or flooding, making it an interesting option to ‘storm-proof’ a coastline.
- UNESCO-Bangkok, on the other hand, created an app which teaches children what to do if there is a flood, which got very high reviews.
- In Britain, Oxfam is currently using 3D printers are to make supplies for Syrian refugee camps which promote hygiene and stave off disease. This same technology could be used to manufacture supplies for a large-scale environmental disaster.
- Drones can deliver supplies when typical travel isn’t possible, allowing a faster response time.
Each country faces its own challenges when talking about climate change and how to prepare for the future, and each one has at least one brilliant solution, large or small, to improve the planet for all. Though climate change isn’t pretty, the reaction of some is beautiful.