Why Should We Care About Climate Change?

by Caitlin Suh

Amy Davidson refers to a largely overlooked event called “The Great Famine” that happened in northern Europe in 1315-1317 as a prime example of the disastrous effects climate change and people’s disregard of it can have on humankind.

The famine started in 1315 when rain fell continuously for weeks on end. The foodcrops were spoiling and there was no way to make hay for livestock to eat. When the rains came again the next year and the next, up to a tenth of the population of some parts of Europe died from famine. However, according to Davidson, this specific event was never capitalized because the two events that followed were even worse; the Black Death in 1347 and the Hundred Years’ War that started in 1337, and because the Great Famine happened largely due to the weather, a “prosaic” cause. The seemingly never-ending rain became secondary to the focus on famine, leading people to blame the famine on ineptly farmed land instead of the weather. Today, the same sort of denouncement is seen in opponents of climate change, who pay no attention to, or even renounce climate change. But unlike in the past, there are many who come to the table with projections and the evidence to back it up. It is just a matter of choosing whether to listen or not. Continue reading

Socio-Economic Status and Climate Change

by Patrick Quarberg

The agricultural response to climate change will greatly affect how the world adapts to different environmental conditions. Given that crops respond differently to differently levels of CO2 in the atmosphere, it is important that agricultural developments are made to be able to cope with changing crop yields. A less thought of effect of climate change is how socio-economic factors influence how food is grown and distributed, as well as how different areas are able to respond to a shifting global climate. Studies on how crops respond to increased CO in the atmosphere have revealed some positive effects on growth and water retention. Using this information, Parry et al. set out to investigate how these changes affected places of different socio-economic status. Continue reading

Projected Delays in Reducing Waterborne and Water-Related Infectious Diseases in China Under Climate Change

by Allison Hu

In 2010, infectious disease due to unsafe water, sanitation, and hygiene (WSH) were estimated to be responsible for 337,000 deaths globally and the loss of over 21 million disability-adjusted life years (DALYs) (Hodges et al. 2014). These WSH-attributable diseases include soil-transmitted helminth infections, schistosomiasis, diarrhoeal diseases, and vector-borne diseases such as malaria, dengue fever, and Japanese encephalitis. In China, the WSH-attributable disease burden is concentrated in low-income areas and in young children. Cases not leading to morbidity and mortality, these diseases can causes malnutrition, stunting, impaired school performance, immunodeficiency, and impaired cognitive functioning which can hinder economic growth and development at a population level (Hodges et al.). Furthermore, there are studies associating certain diseases with key environmental variables that are responsive to changes in climate, such as temperature, precipitation, and relative humidity. Temperatures changes can influence the replication rate and survival of pathogens and vectors in the environment and impact transmission. Heavy precipitation can overwhelm existing water and sanitation systems, therefore mobilizing pathogens, while drought conditions can increase pathogen exposure by limiting the water available for hygiene and forcing populations to resort to the use of contaminated water supplies. Continue reading