Cape Town Is Set to Run Out of Water in Less Than One Hundred Days

A three-year drought has caused water supplies to dwindle in the South African city of Cape Town. Based on the current trajectory, the city will likely have to shut off municipal water on April 21, after which residents will need to visit collection sites for their daily water allowance.

The post Cape Town Is Set to Run Out of Water in Less Than One Hundred Days appeared first on Futurism.

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Is Climate Change Impacting Your Mental Health?

Climate change can create stress, which can exacerbate or trigger psychological problems.

We already know that climate change comes with major public health implications, like the spread of disease as climate refugees flee their homelands and live in close-packed conditions with inadequate sanitation. What we’re now growing to understand is that this includes not just physical, but also mental health. If world governments don’t rise to the challenge, they could face a human-made mental health crisis on a very large scale.

On the most superficial level, the connection is probably pretty easy to make: Climate change can create stress, which can exacerbate or trigger mental health problems. In addition to depression, people may experience anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder and a variety of other intense emotional responses to changing conditions.

In 2017, severe hurricanes highlighted the fact that surviving a major storm can leave people with a significant psychological legacy. In the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, for example, people developed anxiety, PTSD and survivor’s guilt in response to living through the historic storm. Meanwhile, in Puerto Rico—which had a poor public health infrastructure before Hurricane Maria—the psychological challenges posed by survival also took a heavy toll. Katrina, too, left a wave of mental health problems in its wake.

It’s not just storms or severe flooding that comes at a cost, though. Climate change can cause extreme heat, which may increase stress and aggression. It can also contribute to drought, with some researchers arguing that the wave of farmer suicides in India may be connected to climate change. When your livelihood is closely connected with the environment around you, changes to that environment can be devastating—especially when it’s also tied to your personal or cultural identity.

Even in developed nations with good infrastructure, treating people who suffer from the psychological aftermath of traumatic climate events can be challenging. In Australia, for example, farmers are reluctant to acknowledge or talk about climate change, even as they discuss its effects, and this can hinder efforts to provide them with the care they need. Especially in the aftermath of a major event, like Sandy, it can be difficult to get psychiatric services up and running again to handle the volume of patients that may emerge after the storm waters recede.

Because low-income communities are often more vulnerable to the effects of climate change, managing mental health may be even more challenging. Residents may lack insurance coverage or the ability to pay privately for care, while stretched public health resources often struggle to reach everyone who needs help.

A failure to recognize and address community-wide mental health challenges can expose people to increased risks—even when simple steps, like identifying at-risk students in school and providing psychological screening for people receiving benefits, could help communities care for their own.

But when it comes to under-resourced regions—like Puerto Rico—or countries, the mental health challenges of climate change are even scarier. Communities in dire need of mental health services may not be able to obtain them even in the best of possible conditions. And when communities are faced with climate challenges, it can be nearly impossible to meet everyone’s needs. People with existing mental health conditions may have unstable access to care, while those with emergent problems in the wake of major natural disasters may be left out in the cold.

There’s a long history of viewing mental health and physical health of two separate issues—and of regarding psychological implications of major events as “less serious.” But that would be a mistake in the case of climate change, which is taking a tremendous mental toll. Governments should be collaborating to explore what works, what doesn’t and how to get resources to the neediest communities.



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Why Urban Farming Is Key in the Fight Against Hunger and Climate Change (Video)

A new study has found that urban farms are “critical to survival” in a changing climate.

The urban farms sprouting up and across cities around the world aren’t just feeding mouths—they are “critical to survival” and a “necessary adaptation” for developing regions and a changing climate, according to a new study.

Urban farms—which include plain old allotments, indoor vertical farms and rooftop gardens nestled amongst busy streets and skyscrapers—have become increasingly popular and important as the world’s population grows and more and more people move to cities.

The United Nations predicts that by 2030, two-thirds of the world’s population will be living in cities, with the urban population in developing countries doubling. That’s a lot of mouths to feed.

The new paper, published in the journal Earth’s Future and led by the Arizona State University and Google, finds that this expected urban population boom will benefit from urban farming in multiple ways.

Urban Farmer Transforms Community Into Thriving Local Food Haven @urbangardens @UrbanFarmMag

— EcoWatch (@EcoWatch) April 12, 2017

As the Thomson Reuters Foundation explained from the study, “Urban farms could supply almost the entire recommended consumption of vegetables for city dwellers, while cutting food waste and reducing emissions from the transportation of agricultural products.”

According to the study, urban agriculture can help solve a host of urban environmental problems, from increasing vegetation cover (thus contributing to a decrease in the urban heat island intensity), improving the livability of cities, and providing enhanced food security to more than half of Earth’s population.

After analyzing multiple datasets in Google Earth Engine, the researchers calculated that the existing vegetation on urban farms around the world already provides some $33 billion annually in services from biocontrol, pollination, climate regulation and soil formation.

The future of urban agriculture has even more potential, the researchers found.

“We project potential annual food production of 100–180 million tonnes, energy savings ranging from 14 to 15 billion kilowatt-hours, nitrogen sequestration between 100,000 and 170,000 tonnes, and avoided stormwater runoff between 45 and 57 billion cubic meters annually,” the authors wrote.

“In addition, we estimate that food production, nitrogen fixation, energy savings, pollination, climate regulation, soil formation and biological control of pests could be worth as much as $80–160 billion annually in a scenario of intense [urban agriculture] implementation.”

Others have praised urban farming for its many benefits.

“Urban agriculture won’t resolve all food production and distribution problems, but it could help take pressure off rural land while providing other advantages,” wrote environmentalist Dr. David Suzuki.

He cited an example of how one patch of Detroit land, where 12 vacant houses were removed to grow food, “has supplied almost 200,000 kilograms of produce for 2,000 local families, provided volunteer experience to 8,000 residents and brought the area new investment and increased safety.”

“Local and urban agriculture can also help reduce greenhouse gas emissions and recycle nutrient-rich food scraps, plant debris and other ‘wastes,'” Suzuki continued. “Because maintaining lawns for little more than aesthetic value requires lots of water, energy for upkeep and often pesticides and fertilizers, converting them to food gardens makes sense.”

Writer and former Vancouver city councillor Peter Ladner also wrote in The Urban Food Revolution: Changing the Way We Feed Cities, “When urban agriculture flourishes, our children are healthier and smarter about what they eat, fewer people are hungry, more local jobs are created, local economies are stronger, our neighborhoods are greener and safer, and our communities are more inclusive.”

Watch a video posted by The Good Stuff about Ken Dunn’s crusade to turn food waste into productive farmland in Chicago:



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Rising Clouds Could Spell Disaster for the World’s Tropical Forests

Climate change models predict clouds will be pushed higher into the sky in coming years. Researcher Dan Metcalfe is undertaking a first-of-its-kind experiment in hopes of determining the effect these rising clouds could have on cloud forests.

The post Rising Clouds Could Spell Disaster for the World’s Tropical Forests appeared first on Futurism.

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Leaked Draft of Landmark Climate Change Report Pours Cold Water on 1.5°C Goal

A leaked version of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5°C confirms a “very high risk” that global warming will exceed 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. This means the most ambitious goal of the Paris Agreement is likely out of reach.

The post Leaked Draft of Landmark Climate Change Report Pours Cold Water on 1.5°C Goal appeared first on Futurism.

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Climate Change Is Acidifying Our Lakes and Rivers the Same Way It Does With Oceans

It’s well-known that CO2 emissions cause acidification in the ocean, which is harmful to wildlife such as shellfish. One new study shows that, while it is a different process, CO2 emissions cause harm in freshwater bodies of water as well.

The post Climate Change Is Acidifying Our Lakes and Rivers the Same Way It Does With Oceans appeared first on Futurism.

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