Mudslides, Locust Swarms and Climate apartheid
Climate, Health and Equity Brief

Mudslides, Locust Swarms and Climate apartheid

Photo Credit: Ben Curtis/AP

The Climate, Health & Equity Brief is GMMB’s take on the week’s news on the current impacts of climate change. If you haven’t subscribed yet, you can do so by clicking here.

Hot Topic: Science, not fiction.  Massive swarms of locusts are invading East Africa, devastating crops, causing human misery and threatening millions of people with famine and starvation. The United Nations estimates that one of the swarms is three times the size of New York City and contains 200 billion of the creatures, which have a relentless drive to eat and reproduce. The infestation is creating a humanitarian crisis in communities that were already facing food shortages. Scientists say the swarms have been fueled by warming ocean waters, increased cyclones, and heavy downpours, and could continue to grow exponentially through June if left unchecked.

In southeast Brazil, unrelenting rains have caused torrential mudslides that have buried dozens of people alive, covered entire communities in sludge and left thousands of people homeless. While Rio de Janeiro faces particularly high risk for mudslides and the impacts of a warming climate only continue to intensify, state and federal governments have consistently failed to meet funding goals to adapt, leaving millions of people vulnerable.

These other-worldly events continue to show the devastating impact of a warming climate, particularly on the poor. In both Africa and Brazil, it is the most vulnerable populations that are at particularly high risk of starvation and homelessness. And so-called climate apartheid is also bearing out in places like Australia and the U.S., where those in power continue to deny the climate crisis while the poorest among us suffer the greatest consequences.

—Matt & Traci, GMMB


At least 62 people have died and thousands more have been displaced after extreme rainfall set off landslides and flooding in southeastern Brazil, where at least 100 towns have declared a state of emergency. (The Washington Post)

A new study has found a link between living near highways and an elevated risk of developing neurological disorders such as Parkinson’s disease and dementia due to increased exposure to air pollution and fine particulate matter. (The Province)

A new study has revealed that short-term exposure to low levels of air pollution is enough to increase the likelihood of cardiac arrest among older populations. (CNN)

Read our interview with Dr. Georges Benjamin, executive director of the American Public Health Association, about public health in the face of climate change. (GMMB)

African doctors and environmental scientists are coming together to address climate change impacts, including the spread of infectious diseases and deadly heatwaves, that have greatly affected the continent but are so far uninvestigated. (Reuters)

Heavy rains and warming temperatures have led to unprecedented locust invasions across Africa that are threatening a food shortage and stunted economic growth that could last for six months. (The Telegraph)

As the Australian government and media continue their refusal of climate change, the country’s poorest communities face its worst effects, a trend toward climate apartheid that can also be seen in Brazil and the United States. (Aljazeera)

Politics & Economy
Polls show that climate change is the second most important issue among Iowa voters, whose state was ravaged by floods in 2019; the state’s caucuses officially kick off the Presidential primary contests next Monday, February 3. (The Hill)

New research from the Center for American Progress found that policies designed to decrease carbon emissions could funnel $8 billion into rural communities. (KRCC)

New Jersey will be the first state to require that climate change impacts are considered as a condition for approval of community and land development projects. (The New York Times)Hundreds of Amazon workers are risking their jobs by speaking out against the company’s carbon footprint and the fact that its cloud-computing business aids exploration by oil and gas companies. (The Washington Post)General Motors announced plans to invest $2.2 billion in a new Detroit plant that will only build electric vehicles and that is expected to create more than 2,200 jobs. (Our Daily Planet)Market Street, San Francisco’s busiest downtown thoroughfare, officially went car free on Wednesday, in an effort to move forward with the city’s climate goals and increase safety for pedestrians and transit riders. (CBS SF Bay Area)Kicker
Don’t know how to talk to your kids about climate change? Check out these strategies.
“We can’t ‘doctor’ our way out of this. We must address the root causes of climate change.”
– Dr. Georges Benjamin, Executive Director of the American Public Health Association
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