This week, I’m opting for visual storytelling. It’s getting harder and harder to pick just one story when there is soooo much going on each week, unfortunately! I’ve chosen five stories from around the globe and represented them in this graphic. You can read about all… or, read whichever one interests you at the links below.
Unusually heavy rainfall in the midwest means that a LOT of nitrogen-based fertilizer is running into the Gulf of Mexico from the Mississippi river. Like plants on land, algae feeds on the nitrogen and the amount of this aquatic plants skyrockets. But when the nitrogen supply runs out, the extra algae dies. Bacteria which decompose the dead algae pull oxygen out of the water to do so, and don’t leave much for fish and other life that depend on it. This year we’re looking at a dead zone (meaning the water without enough oxygen to support life) the size of New Jersey.
The rainy season is an expected part of life in many parts of the world, but climate change is turning into something to be feared. Over a hundred people have been killed (so far) in flooding that decimated the Uttrakhand province of India, sweeping away hotels and toppling three story apartment buildings. Scientists believe that a combination of human factors is to blame: deforestation limited the land’s ability to control flooding while global warming shifted the weather patterns and increased the amount of rainfall in the area.
You’re zooming along on one of the world’s most famous road systems, known for it’s lack of speed limits, when you notice something odd in the distance. By the time you realize it’s a crack in the very street, it’s too late to stop and you go flying off the road. This is an unnerving possibility for German drivers, whose highways are a surprising victim of global warming. Uncharacteristically hot temperatures can cause huge cracks in damaged segments of the road that would function normally otherwise. A few motorists have been killed already and Germans are encouraged to be wary of road conditions as they drive.
No matter what time of year, the last thing you expect when living in Alaska is to check your thermometer and see that it’s 90 degrees outside. But earlier this week, parts of Alaska reached temperatures that were hotter than those in Miami. Temperature records across the state were shattered, and Alaskans found themselves having to cool off rather than warm themselves up. It may have been a nice change of pace, but it says some very unnerving things about the direction our planet’s weather is going…
5: World Bank report: Turn Down the Heat - Climate Extremes, Regional Impacts, and the Case for Resilience
And finally, the World Bank released a report last week about the importance of curbing climate change in order to protect the poor. Developing nations do not have the ability to address the problems of climate change when they strike- there are less resources for rebuilding and general support following a weather disaster, there are no stimulus packages when local businesses can’t grow crops due to drought or flooding, and many of the worlds poor simply live in areas more likely to be hit hard by extreme weather. In short:
The World Bank Group [is] concerned that unless the world takes bold action now, a disastrously warming planet threatens to put prosperity out of reach of millions and roll back decades of development. In response we are stepping up our mitigation, adaptation, and disaster risk management work, and will increasingly look at all our business through a “climate lens.”
If the rest of the world follows the bank’s advice, there will be some good environmental news for a change. What a week…