Zero-Waste Mine Reclamation: Coal + Steel + Human Wastes = Soil

by Zoe Dilles

Coal has seen a worldwide growth in production in recent decades despite health as well as environmental concerns as coal combustion is cited as the primary CO2 atmospheric source. In this age anthropogenic climate change, air emissions often overshadow the threats posed coalmine waste rock, which has far-reaching ecological effects from its metal and acid contents. Mixes of coal waste rock with other substances to balance the concentration of nutrients and minerals can order to promote plant growth. Fabricated soils have the potential to reduce landfill disposal as well as mitigate the issues attendant to reclamation reliant on borrowed soils, often leading to deforestation and hydrologic changes. Continue reading

Climate Change Threatens the Javanese Way of Life

 

by Blaine Williams

In the face of climate change and rising sea levels, atolls––rings of islands formed by coral reefs––are some of the most vulnerable human-inhabited regions. In the atoll of Ontong Java, the world’s largest atoll, climate change has begun to affect the quality of life for the locals, and will create more hardship in the years to come. The highest point of the Ontong Java atoll is 10 feet above sea level, and with sea levels rising at a rate of a few millimeters a year, the islands are losing more and more land to the ocean. Faced with issues such as irregular weather patterns and imminent land loss, a key struggle for the inhabitants of Ontong Java is adapting to these changes and attempting to take them in stride. Continue reading

Could Climate Change Cause Famines?

by Caroline Chmiel

More than ever, the rapid growth of the world population is causing a heightened demand for food. Making this struggle infinitely worse is climate change. Per decade, food demand rises by 14%. Climate change reduces wheat yields by 2% compared to the amount without climate change, and corn yields by 1%. The demand for food causes worry and stress, so the idea that climate change worsens an already critical situation makes the fight to feed billions even harder. This is the bleak picture painted by Eduardo Porter writing in the New York Times. Food price spikes because of increased demand strongly correlate with urban unrest. From temperature changes due to global warming, production of crops can change. Less than expected production often causes producers to ban exports and importers to try to hoard the crop. Overall, commodity markets experience chaos and strain further than just feeding people. The culmination of climate change, increased population and demand for food leads to a serious question about the possibility of famine. More likely, though, is a volatile world full of wars over substances. The most highly affected population will be the poor, unable to afford increased food prices. Continue reading

Could Climate Change Cause Famines?

by Caroline Chmiel

More than ever, the rapid growth of the world population is causing a heightened demand for food. Making this struggle infinitely worse is climate change. Per decade, food demand rises by 14%. Climate change reduces wheat yields by 2% compared to the amount without climate change, and corn yields by 1%. The demand for food causes worry and stress, so the idea that climate change worsens an already critical situation makes the fight to feed billions even harder. This is the bleak picture painted by Eduardo Porter writing in the New York Times. Food price spikes because of increased demand strongly correlate with urban unrest. From temperature changes due to global warming, production of crops can change. Less than expected production often causes producers to ban exports and importers to try to hoard the crop. Overall, commodity markets experience chaos and strain further than just feeding people. The culmination of climate change, increased population and demand for food leads to a serious question about the possibility of famine. More likely, though, is a volatile world full of wars over substances. The most highly affected population will be the poor, unable to afford increased food prices. Continue reading

Soy Sauce or Water? China’s Soil Contamination and Water Supply

by Phoebe Shum

For many Americans, the term “local” food usually coincides with sustainability, farmer’s markets, and everything environmental. This is not the case in modern day China. In fact, it is the very opposite. He-Guangwei, investigative reporter for The Times Weekly, explains that China’s rapid modernisation has brought about severe stress on the agricultural soil quality. The contamination in soil has brought about a myriad of other problems such as water quality degradation due to heavy metal pollution and cancer-caused deaths. In particular, Lake Tai, the third largest freshwater lake in China that supplies drinking water to more than 30 million people, has become so polluted as a result of factory run-off. The water has even been described to resemble soy sauce. It’s devastating to see that the once crystal-clear waters of Lake Tai now have the ability to turn people’s sweat into a color resembling mud. Farmers around the Lake Tai area refuse to eat the very crops they grow, fully aware that their produce is planted in cadmium, lead and mercury infused soil. The government remains unresponsive to the scale of the issue, wary of attracting negative media and international attention. Continue reading