As the recent series of hurricanes has demonstrated, climate change is no longer a nebulous futuristic menace, but an existential threat. However, we are beginning to realize that the rising temperatures and violent weather are hardly the only outcomes of planetary warming. Climate change, it seems, is affecting nearly every aspect of our lives, our environment, and our wellbeing, manifesting new problems and claiming new victims faster than we can keep up.
The Great Nutrient Collapse (Politico)
The rising levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere are causing more than temperature spikes. More carbon dioxide in the air, means more food for trees and crops, but as scientists have discovered, that’s not necessarily a good thing. When overfed, plants can become “food junkies,” bringing unbalanced nutrition onto our own plates. According to Irakli Loladze, a mathematician with a background in biology, this phenomenon is barely researched, but pervasive. Analysis based on the data provided by Loladze and other researchers found that increased atmospheric CO2 can lower the amount of iron, magnesium, and zinc in some plants, while increasing the levels of sugars. “Every leaf and every grass blade on earth makes more and more sugars as CO2 levels keep rising,” Loladze told Politico. “We are witnessing the greatest injection of carbohydrates into the biosphere in human history―[an] injection that dilutes other nutrients in our food supply.”
Climate Change Threatens the World’s Parasites (That’s Not Good) (The New York Times)
As Earth’s temperature rises, many species—including parasites—will lose their natural habitats. As their respective host species perish, nearly one third of the world’s parasites may follow. But as much as we may dislike these creatures, they play important role in the ecosystems. Parasites can control the behavior and reproduction of their hosts. Some parasites like tapeworms don’t kill their hosts but weaken them or stunt their growth. Others, like Toxoplasma gondii, can make rodents ignorant of cats, turning them into easy prey because the parasite needs to complete its lifecycle inside a feline. It stands to reason then, that parasites’ extinction may alter entire food chains, and possibly affect humans. And of course, there’s a million-dollar question scientists don’t have a clear answer for: If some parasitic species lose their hosts, would they seek new habitats and jump onto humans?
When extreme weather events strike, women often find themselves in a uniquely disadvantaged position. They may need access to emergency contraception or need urgent obstetrical care, which is particularly hard to find in the aftermath of a disaster. As the Gulf Coast states reckon with hurricanes’ impact, these problems are becoming more pronounced.
Studies found that social and economic breakdown that follows natural or man-made disasters often makes women more vulnerable to violence and health problems. The shelters for the displaced often lack security and privacy. Pregnant women may have trouble finding obstetrical care and young women may lack access to contraception or sanitary items. Even when supplies are available from relief programs, they are often distributed by men, and some displaced women feel uncomfortable getting them from men. Most disaster relief efforts, as research finds, fail to cater to the unique needs of females because disaster management policies are seldom designed with women in mind.