Archive for August, 2016

Posted by Miguel Juanez On August - 19 - 2016 0 Comment

Global warming has raised global sea level about 8 inches since 1880, and the rate of rise is accelerating. Rising seas dramatically increase the odds of damaging floods from storm surges. A Climate Central analysis finds the odds of “100-year” or worse floods occurring by 2030 are on track to double or more, over widespread areas of the U.S.

Across the country, nearly 5 million people live in 2.6 million homes at less than 4 feet above high tide — a level lower than the century flood line for most locations analyzed. And compounding this risk, scientists expect roughly 2 to 7 more feet of sea level rise this century — a lot depending upon how much more heat-trapping pollution humanity puts into the sky.

Miami and St. Petersburg, Florida, New York City, various Islands across the worlds oceans, Holland, Bangladesh and many other places are seriously considering what should be their strategies to adjust to rising seas. All the while, debates between scientists and climate deniers continues in the background [source].

On a personal note, in 1963, I was a volunteer (one month training in engineering with degrees in botany and rural sociology) with the International Voluntary Service. I entered in a partnership with USAID, Social Conservation Service and the Algerian Forestry Service.

The newly formed government challenged my team and I to stop the Sahara Desert from moving farther north, that is, stop the desertification of northern Algeria. As a 26 year old at the time, an optimist, I thought about the request and wondered what steps could be initiated to stop the desertification process from the base in Tlemcen, Algeria. We planted some 30 thousand trees with 3000 Algerian refugees from the civil war per year. Unfortunately, because of the military takeover of the government, the project lasted only 3 years.

Slowing down climate change by moving to a non-carbon economy would appear to be necessary. It does seem adjusting to forced relocation of coastal populations around the world will need to be addressed, regardless. Recently the Financial Times reported that in the last five years, renewable energy use has jumped 70%, a good shift away from fossil fuels. (August 14, 2016). Some good news, but fossil fuels still dominate the energy sector.

Let us focus on Louisiana and the struggles of the Biloxi Chitimacha Choctaw band.

Plenty International is working with Biloxi Chitimacha Choctaw band. As the Gulf of Mexico is rising, the water is slowly eroding the coastal land. See snapshot from Rebecca Ferris’s documentary “Can’t Stop the Water” below.

Sea Level Rising

They have also been involved in the BP oil disaster which happened in the waters where the Choctaw live and fish. They were also exposed to millions of gallons of high levels of toxic dispersants that were sprayed to sink the oil.

Plenty International has been working with this tribe since Hurricane’s Katrina and Rita in 2005.

Rebecca Ferris’s documentary “Can’t Stop the Water”, a 30-minute film, does an excellent job telling the story of the Island Tribe and all that they are up against with the rising waters and exposure to hurricanes. The film can be purchased for $4.99 as a one-time rental or for $10.99 to buy as a download for continuous watching. Click here to visit the website for more information.

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Isle de Jean Charles is one Island that is sinking quickly and the people  on the island have been granted federal funding to move inland to higher ground.

Pointe-Aux-Chenes is on a peninsula experiencing flooding also and is stable at the moment but eventually will have to confront similar issues as the water continues to rise.

Two other locations to review the impact of climate change are the Chesapeake Bay, where islands have vanished due to rising sea levels and where other are being reduced in size. [Source]

The other location is the coast of Florida, where anti-climate change ideology is dominating the legislature in Florida. As a result, many Mayors of Florida’s coastal cities do not find much support for discussions on how the state can assist them. However, the shift from anti-climate change to climate change positions undertaken by costal Mayors indicates the seriousness of the matter.

All of this goes back to the title of the post. Are we experiencing an ecocide?

Jared Diamond (2005) in his book, Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail and Succeed, points to many reasons why societies decline and die historically, not all by “ecocide”. He writes about five major factors:

  1. climate change
  2. hostile neighbors
  3. collapse of friendly trade partners
  4. environmental damage
  5. society’s response to its environmental problems.

Climate change may or may not be slowed down.

Are the US and the world going to respond with wise choices and action? Or not?

Perhaps in some small way, the FWOP network can support Plenty International as it assists the Biloxi Chitimacha Choctaw band on the Southern Louisiana Coast adjust to relocation and climate change. The time is now.

 

Stan Ingman, PhD. University of North Texas 

 

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