Climate Change and Archeology

by Alejandro Sandell-Gandara

Adam Johnson describes how archeologists are observing tsunami surges as a way to predict the impact of rising sea levels on archeological sites. In 2011 the 9.0 magnitude Tohoku earthquake created a tsunami that caused damage to Japan and communities across the pacific. The costal archaeological sites at Pu’uhonua o Honaunau National Historical Park on Hawai’i were affected by the tsunami.

The Pu’uhonua archaeological site in the coast of Kona is significant due to its ceremonial complex. On the site there is the Hale o Keawe temple which served as a royal mausoleum. The site is located on the coast line and surrounded by a stone wall to the east and south. The site has been excavated by several archeologists and determined to be originally related to chief Ehu-kai-milano in the 1500s. In the 1600s, Umi-a-Liloa built the stone wall around the site. An analysis and excavation of the bedrock shoreline shows evidence of activities such as dyeing of fishnets, processing seaweed, and pounding fish bait.

Tsunamis, hurricanes, and high surf caused damage to this site. The first documented tsunami occurred in 1819; a two-meter-high wave caused by a submarine fault in Chile struck the archeological site from the northwest, filled the royal fishponds with stones and sand, and broke down the northern part of the stone wall. Since 1900, twenty-four tsunamis have been recorded in Hawai’i with eleven causing significant damage.

In 1992, hurricane Iniki struck Hawai’i and caused 143 mph winds and water levels thirty feet above normal. The hurricane damaged the archaeological site by destroying structures and removing surface sand and sediments.

The damage caused by rising sea levels, hurricanes, and tsunamis can be analyzed and used to predict the effects of climate change. The destruction caused by these natural disasters confirm that climate change would cause major damage to archeological sites in coastal areas.

Adam Johnson, Lisa Marrack & Sara Dolan (2015) Threats to Coastal Archaeological Sites and the Effects of Future Climate Change: Impacts of the 2011 Tsunami and an Assessment of Future Sea-Level Rise at Hōnaunau, Hawai’i, The Journal of Island and Coastal Archaeology, 10:2, 232-252, DOI: 10.1080/15564894.2014.980472

 

Gruesome Virus attacks Sea Turtles in Florida

by Pushan Hinduja

Climate change and pollution around the world are causing marine mammals to see an increase in illness and disease. More specifically, Lorraine Chow, discusses a rising number of sea turtles affected by fibropapillomatosis (FP), a disease similar to herpes, in the waters around Florida. Chow believes that the possible culprits for the observed rise in affected turtles are increased pollution and the warming of the waters. Between 2012 and 2014, the Turtle Hospital rescue and rehab facility based in the Florida-Keys has seen an increase in the number of turtles admitted, from 56 to almost 100. FP is a virus that primarily causes tumors to grow on the exterior of a turtle’s body. In some cases, however, FP can cause tumors so large that they prevent a turtle from being able to swim, see, or avoid predators. The hospital tries its best to find turtles and cut off the tumor growths with a carbon dioxide laser, however the process and sheer volume they are dealing with doesn’t make it easy. Although the survival rate after the surgery is almost 90 percent, some surgeries can take almost “half a year,” given the huge number of tumors some turtles can have; additionally, because many turtles are already sick, only one in five actually gets to return to the wild after the surgical procedure. Continue reading

Typhoid Fever Bacteria Detection in Fecal Contaminated Kathmandu Drinking Water

by Natalie Creekmur

  The quality of drinking water in the densely populated city of is a major concern. The Kathmandu region is home to an endemic of typhoid fever, a disease that causes a severe systemic infection in the human body. The bacterial pathogens that cause typhoid fever are Salmonella Typhi (S. Typhi) and Salmonella Paratyphi A (S. Paratyphi A). It is generally accepted that these two types of bacteria are transmitted via ingestion of contaminated food and drinking water or via human-to-human contact. In Kathamandu, the main water sources for the population are gravity-dependent stone waterspouts. The rainfall and snowmelt that sustain the waterspouts collect in soft-rock aquifers that act as natural reservoirs. This water is untreated and vulnerable to contamination. As a result, the areas surrounding the stone waterspouts experience increased S. Typhi and S. Paratyphi A infections in the population. Continue reading

The Economy of Climate Change

by Alejandro Sandell-Gandara

In “Economists: Climate Change is Going to Cost a Lot More than Previously Thought”, Chelsea Harvey analyses a survey published by New York University School of Law’s Institute for Policy Integrity. The survey report shows answers from more than 300 experts on how climate change is impacting the world economy.

The survey asked economists a series of questions including when and how the economy will be influenced by climate change and how Unites States policy can influence international action. The report also compared the results to those from a survey conducted on the American public by MIT. Continue reading

Climate Change Policy and Ethics

by Alejandro Sandell-Gandara

In “Why Climate Change is an Ethical Problem,” Stephen Gardiner describes the ethical dilemma that policy makers face when deciding how and to what extent we should combat the adverse effects of climate change. We often confront ethical challenges by adhering to a personal moral code in which we can identify right from wrong and make decisions by weighing sacrifice against the benefits to obtain the best relative outcome. The issue that Gardiner highlights is that not everyone shares the same ethical outlook, which leads to discrepancies in policy making. 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

Effect of Non-Stationary Climate on Infectious Gastroenteritis Transmission in Japan

by Allison Hu

Infectious gastroenteritis, otherwise known as the stomach flu, is a medical condition from inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract that involves both the stomach and the small intestine, causing a combination of diarrhea, vomiting, and abdominal pain and cramping. This common disease contributes significantly to the 1 billion episodes of diarrhea and 3 million deaths in children under 5 years of age per year, and is the fifth-leading cause of death worldwide (Onozuka et al. 2014). The transmission of infectious gastroenteritis is rather complex, involving both host and environmental factors. Continue reading