Cyclone Idai lays bare the fundamental injustice of climate change

Cyclone Idai lays bare the fundamental injustice of climate change

SOURCE: Grist DATE: March 19, 2019 SNIP: A humanitarian catastrophe is underway in Mozambique, Malawi, and Zimbabwe as the full scale of devastation from Cyclone Idai becomes more clear. The World Meteorological Organization said Idai, which made landfall five days ago, could become the worst tropical cyclone on record in the Southern Hemisphere. Mozambique President Filipe Nyusi fears that 1,000 people may have died in his country alone. The U.N.’s World Food Program called it “a major humanitarian emergency that is getting bigger by the hour.” Nearly 3 million people have been affected across the region, one of the poorest in the world. Cyclone Idai is not a natural disaster; the storm was made worse by climate change, centuries of colonialism, and continuing international injustices. There are at least three major ways that the Mozambique floods are related to climate change: First, a warmer atmosphere holds more water vapor, which makes rainfall more intense. Idai produced more than two feet of rainfall in parts of the region — nearly a year’s worth in just a few days. Second, the region had been suffering from a severe drought in recent years in line with climate projections of overall drying in the region, hardening the soil and enhancing runoff. Third, sea levels are about a foot higher than a century ago, which worsens the effect of coastal flooding farther inland. During four centuries of colonial rule, Mozambique was used as a source of slaves, mines, and plantation agriculture. The nation gained independence from Portugal in 1975 after a 10-year long revolutionary war. A devastating 15-year civil war followed shortly thereafter. But...
What Terrible Injustices Are Hiding Behind American Energy Habits?

What Terrible Injustices Are Hiding Behind American Energy Habits?

SOURCE: DeSmogBlog DATE: November 16, 2018 SNIP: When someone charges a cellphone or flips on the lights, what costs are felt by the far-off communities that produced the coal or gas powering that home? What happens to those same communities when a utility decides to switch from coal power to natural gas? And what keeps these impacts of American energy habits hidden from view? Reliance on coal mining in La Guajira to turn on the lights in Massachusetts supported a mine that over more than three decades has forcibly displaced several nearby indigenous communities and tried to suppress, with bloody results, union activity. The mine’s operations have been linked to widespread pollution from coal dust and the destruction of fishing and hunting grounds, leaving La Guajira plagued by food insecurity. “Some villages were bulldozed, communities forcibly removed, like the Afro-Colombian community of Tabaco,” said Noel Healy from Salem State University in Massachusetts, who has conducted research surrounding the Cerrejón mine. “Others were displaced via the ‘slow violence’ of contaminated farmland and drinking water.” “Communities live in fear,” he added. “We witnessed high levels of community trauma, anxiety, and stress.” In the communities Healy interviewed, children reportedly suffer from respiratory illnesses and some people are afraid to drink the water. “Mining operations have destroyed the social and cultural fabric of communities within the region, traditional migration routes have been cut off, and communities lost access to sacred sites and ancestral grounds,” Healy said. “Most of us like to think of ourselves as good people who would not deliberately harm someone or take advantage of someone,” Aviva Chomsky, professor, and activist...