- 7,000 homes predicted to be lost to the sea in the next century along the managed retreat policy for much of the UK
- Sea levels expected to rise between 0.18 m and 0.59 m by 2100
- Estimates made by the Environment Agency that £1 x10^9 worth of property will be destroyed in the next 100 years; less than the cost of protecting them
- If sea protection is not maintained the prediction of lost properties rises to 74,000 homes
- Cornwall, the worst affected county, is expected to lose 76 homes in the next 20 years.
Of the top 25 richest nations on Earth, Japan is the most equal. The top 5% of earners take 4.5 times the income of the lowest earners in Japan; in contract, the top 10% in the UK earn 20 times the income of the poorest 10%. There are more people earning more than £1,000,000 in the Barclays Tower in Canary Wharf than in the whole of Japan.
Japan achieved their equality after the dropping of the atomic bombs during WWII. After the War, the USofA started rebuilding the state, took all of the land, and divided it equally between the Japanese people.
The average life expectancy is 83 years in Japan.
The United Kingdom is more divided by economics than countries like Israel are by ethnic conflict. London is the most expensive city in the world to live in. There are no significant equality changes under political party changes. Apart from in NYC, no other city pays financiers like in London; and the UK pays bankers, proportionally to the Gross National Product, earn far more. On current projections, the UK is set to become the most unequal society in the world.
In the UK, the average clothing item is worn 5 times before being thrown away; it’s worth noting that this is probably highly skewed by the richest in society who can afford to wear something just once. 2% of the GDP is made up of advertising, while 1% of the rest of Europe’s GDP was.
The Domestic water supply is one of Oman’s most pressing environmental issues.
- Oman has a limited supply of rainfall each year
Mean rainfall in coastal areas can be as low as 40mm annually. In mountain areas, this can reach up to 350mm. The total average annual rainfall is 62mm.
- Enough of a water supply has to be maintained for agriculture and domestic use. 94% of Oman’s water is used in agriculture, and 2% in industry.
- Rapid population growth in the North of Oman
- Overuse of water resources has lead to the soil near coastal regions becoming increasingly saturated with salt water, and increasingly saline.
Unconventional water sources make up 13% of the water supply of Oman, which means desalination techniques from salt water and reuse of waste water. Much of the waste water is used in irrigation and agriculture.
- Water is collected from fossil water sources; largely underwater springs in the desert.
At the moment, desert springs are largely used as an extra reserve supply in times of peak demand. Oman is making huge efforts to reduce its dependency on this supply of water.
The aquifers were originally produced during a period of time where Oman had a far wetter climate, and it is unlikely that they can naturally replenish in a warming planet, where less rain will fall in Oman.
- Piped water is available throughout the country.
- Effluent water is reused, once purified, to be used on crops.
In 2006, 37 million m^3 of water was reused from waste water.
- Dams have been built to store water
Since 1985, 31 dams have been built throughout Oman to control water flow and retain some of the peak discharge which would otherwise be lost and cause damage downstream. In 2006, maximum capacity was 88.4 million m^3 of water.
- The government in Oman has realised the detrimental effects of over using ground water; Oman has now started using a desalination technique on sea water, which has become Oman’s main source of drinking water
The Public Authority for Electricity and Water takes salt water from four separate sites, in Ghubra, Barka, Sohar, and Sur. Barka, Ghubra and Sohar all supply the more densely populated North on the Main Integrated System while Sur supplies the Ash Sharqiyah region (I couldn’t find Ghubra on a map; searching for it brings up a district within the capital, Muscat, a few blocks from the sea, o there is a reasonable chance that is correct. If it is, then Ghubra is still labelled within Muscat).
The Ghubra plant was built first. Barka has three smaller plants within it; two are reverse osmosis systems while the other is a thermal desalination plant.
To cope with the growing population, Oman is investing in two further water purification plants in Qurayyat and at the border between two districts; north and south Al Batinah. Work is also underway on pipelines to transport surface water to Muscat.
In 2006, the desalination plants were able to desalinate 109 million m^3 of water each year.
The UK government has given £65 million to the Nepalese government to use in its health services. This has allowed the government to cut health care fees and allow even the very poorest to access health care. Since 1996, the maternal mortality rate has fallen by 50%, with a 1/3 reduction in infant mortality within 5 years.
The UK provided £20 million in aid over five years for the Safe Motherhood Program, which trains doctors and nurses, improves healthcare facilities, provides equipment, and encourages hospital births, which are generally safer. 90% still give birth at home, but in 2009 alone, 60,000 extra women gave birth in hospitals or other specialised healthcare centres.
Haiyan slammed into the Philippines on 8th November 2013 with the force of a category 5 Atlantic hurricane, at a speed of 250kmh^-1. It came with a 5m storm surge and up to 290 mm of rainfall in just 12 hours. Haiyan was likely known as Yolanda. Fewer than 20 other hurricanes had reached the same strength.
Between 5 and 10 typhoons hit the Philippines every day, leading to, within normal bounds, 2% of GDP lost annually.
|Top Five Natural Disasters, 2004-2012 in the Philippines||Date||Number Kiled|
|Typhoon Bopha||Dec 2012||1,901|
|Typhoon Winnie||Nov 2004||1,619|
|Typhoon Washi||Dec 2011||1,439|
|Typhoon Durian||Nov 2006||1,399|
|Leyte landslide||Feb 2006||1,126|
Bopha had a windspeed of 280kmh^-1 and hit the island of Mindanao. It caused over US$1 billion of damage. Yet no one remembers Bopha. This reflects how the richest countries tend to ignore the issues that prevent development in other countries once the immediate issue appears to be dealt with.
Many people made the link between Haiyan and climate change:
“I’ll leave the scientists to speak for themselves about the link between severe weather events and climate change. The evidence seems to me to be growing.”- David Cameron
Rising sea levels from melting ice caps mean that areas which are low lying or coastal are at more risk of damage from storm surges and other sea based hazards linked with the hurricane. An IPCC AR5 report judged that there would be no real increase in the number of hurricanes but the intensity of them would rise.
|Date||Development of Haiyan|
|2 Nov||An area of low pressure developed South East of Micronesia|
|3 Nov||Haiyan started to move westward, turning into a tropical depression|
|5 Nov||Classified as a typhoon|
|6 Nov||Joint Typhoon Warning Centre classified it as a category 5 storm|
|7 Nov||Haiyan intensified to winds up to 314kmh^-1. Made landfall at Guiuan, Eastern Samar.|
|8 Nov||Five more landfalls within the Philippines. Passed into the South China Sea|
|10 Nov||Turned NW and made landfall in Vietnam as a category 1 typhoon|
|11 Nov||Weakened to a tropical depression|
To form, hurricanes, typhoons and cyclones (the same thing by different names depending upon location), need warm deep water (around 27°C for 70m) and sufficient rotatory power from the Coriolis effect; the coriolis limitation means that tropical storms can rarely be formed outside of about 5-20° away from the equator. Tropical storms form around an area of low pressure- Haiyan’s sea surface pressure was as low as 895mb- where air starts to rush in in a spiralling effect.
The air then starts to rise with warm water evaporating off the warm sea, forming clouds. The clouds then start to rise. The accumulation of air at the top creates a higher section of high air pressure. Air is then blasted out at immense speeds, creating the clouds visible on satellite images.
Hurricanes maintain their full force when they are over warm water with no real wind sheer (high up winds which move the top layer of cloud away from the hurricane). In the Philippines, most of the land is made of small islands with larger sections of warm water between them, meaning that the hurricane never gets far away from warm water when over the Philippines, and thus don’t really weaken around the country.
Across the Philippines, Haiyan made 6 separate land falls. It travelled very quickly, meaning that the water in front of it was not stirred up. Stirred up water will often have cold water near the surface, but the water in front of Haiyan did not. This meant that the water entering the typhoon was very warm, so when it rose it released masses of latent heat energy, giving the typhoon enormous power.
The islands of Leyte and Cebu’s configuration channeled the storm in a particular way, funneling it straight towards the city of Tacloban; the decreasing ocean depth also increased the intensity of the storm surge.
|Lowest Pressure||895 mb|
|Sustained wind speed||314 kmh^-1|
|Radius of hurricane-force winds||85 km|
|Peak Strength||Category 5|
|Strength at Landfall||Category 5, 314 kmh^-1|
|Storm Surge Height||15 m|
There had also been an earthquake (at 7.2 on the Richter scale) recently beforehand, in October 2013, which had an impact on how effective any aid work could be.
Haiyan affected 11 million people.
- 6,021 were killed, although the initial estimate was 10,000
- 10,000s of people were made homeless, and further 10,000s lost their main sources of income.
- The Tacloban City Convention Center was being used as an evacuation centre, but became a death trap as water poured into it.
- A 5.2 m storm surge destroyed Tacloban airport’s terminal building.
- Many water vessels were washed ashore; in some areas 95% of fishing equipment and boats were destroyed.
- The phone network was lost, making it hard to establish contact between victims, the authorities, and the victims’ families.
- 1,000s of trees were destroyed; 33 million coconut palms were destroyed, destroying 15 million tons of timber.
- Roads were undamaged, but huge piles of debris still made transportation of aid workers and supplies very slow.
The worst affected area, the Eastern Vasayas were flooded up to 1km inland.
There was no clean water, electricity or food for survivors. There was also no available fuel for vehicles, many of which were also upturned.
The Philippines has many low scale hurricanes on a regular basis; thus, many people had a false sense of safety going into the disaster because they had been desensitized to the danger of it.
The government frequently produces risk maps and provides evacuation shelters for its citizens.
On November 6th, PAGASA (Philippines Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration) issues a low level Public Storm Warning, but had raised this to the highest level it could within 24 hours.
The military deployed planes and helicopters in advance to areas likely t be worst-hit. Community buildings were designated as storm shelters, although there was concern that they may not resist the high wind force. Some islands, such as Tulang Diyot, were completely evacuated of its 1,000 residents, due to years of education and community preparedness.
The local mayor of Tulang Diyot won an award in 2011 for community work in the “Purok system”, where community members agree to deposit their own money into a fund for post-disaster assistance rather than waiting for government aid.
When Haiyan made land fall, the International Charter on Space and Major Disasters was activated, allowing relief agencies to have satellite data from space agencies to help in relief and recovery after a disaster.
Journalists arrived very quickly to the area, largely consisting of storm chasers who arrived before the storm to help contribute to better models for use in predicting the effects and severity of future disasters.
The first actual aid work was done by survivors who searched the ruins for bodies and other survivors. The government was criticised for a very slow response, as locals turned to looting to acquire enough food for themselves. The UK and USofA sent supplies of diggers, and other moving equipment to help the distribution of aid. Aid supplies were often ambushed and looted. Mass graves were dug to contain the bodies before disease could break out.
Pledges of aid were made quickly but the actual carrying out of the aid schemes was severely delayed, partly because of the isolated nature of the effected islands, and the damage done to infrastructural and transport links.
Street sellers had started to set up stands again a week after the event. Fishermen salvaged water proof items to turn into impromptu boats, such as tree trunks and fridges. Broadband antennae were constructed and Micromappers.com managed to map out the worst hit areas to send workers into where they were most needed.
Water and sanitation services were set up fairly soon afterwards. Cebu Chamber of Commerce and Industry, representing 3,000 small businesses set up a permanent disaster committee. A month after the event, 100,000 people were still in evacuation centres, with 4 million in temporary homes. 324,00 households were given materials for emergency shelters, and began building 30,000 higher standard homes.
If material distribution had been slower, many people would have started to just rebuild with what they had, leading to more unsafe structures than what was there before the event.
Representatives of national and local governmental departments started administering aid directly, speeding up distribution and reducing bureaucracy. 50,000 homes in affected areas were given US$50 in addition to emergency supplies, overseen by the Philippines Red Cross.
People started to be paid for clearing up the mess, allowing them structure back into their lives while also helping the aid work.
There were no outbreaks of diseases, despite the large risk and the lack of initial sanitation.
More than 20% of government spending in the Philippines is on debt repayment. This crippling cost keeps much of the population in poverty and at risk of another disaster.
Fidel Castro took charge of Cuba in 1959. At the start of the revolution, 1/4 of the population were illiterate and living in poverty. 1/2 died before the age of 60, and only 1/2 of all children went to school.
The main causes of Castro’s “special period” were the break down of the Soviet Bloc, a reliance on soviet nations to supply almost everything to the country, a trade embargo and a massive nationwide food shortage. The food problem was solved by the increased use of sustainable organic farming, with 10,000 urban gardens to grow food within cities. To this day, one of the main study areas emphasised in higher education in Cuba is agriculture, with the other two being Medicine and Sciences.
The rivers within Cuba became very polluted due to their starting development. There was a huge demand for clean water from the gardens, yet not enough money to build water treatment plants, despite the prevalence of old factories along the river polluting freely, leading to a high concentration of contaminants. Furthermore, there was no real sewage treatment system. A scheme was devised to mostly use a natural wetland replacement to remove most of the waste products. Plants are by no means a perfect filter for pollution, but they do help significantly, supposedly leading to a 85% removal of pollution from the water sources.
Cuba has had some major benefits for its development; their water cleaning scheme has helped to prevent waterborne disease, and they can now buy solar panels for use in schools. All children can now go to school, where they are guaranteed an education anywhere. This has lead to some very small schools across the country.
Cuba has a strong focus on Preventative Medicine. There is 1 doctor for every 170 people in Cuba. Each doctor spends 4 hours a day within their clinics and 4.5 hours on house visits, which is referred to as “integrated general practice medicine”. It is easier for a doctor to observe the patient’s symptoms in a home setting, and also helps to relax the patient. This system is entirely free.
As a result of this, Cuba has the lowest infant mortality rate of any developing country, which is lower than some areas of North America. Their health care system is so renowned in the Americas, that many US doctors receive training there, as well as doctors from other countries; this comes with the caveat that they are not able to afford their education within their home country, or that their home country has no proper medical schools. For instance, Belize has no medical schools, and all their doctors are trained within Cuba as a result. During aid drives, Cuba rarely sends any money, but instead sends huge medical teams out to disaster events.
Traditional medicine is actually encouraged in Cuba, largely because of a lack of money. Patients can normally choose what type of treatment to prioritise in their own health care. It’s thought that the traditional medicine is good for treating the whole of a person, and the locals claim it gives different results to just western medicine. It’s unclear exactly how effective any of these treatments are, but many modern medicines are loosely based off of traditional remedies, so it’s entirely possible that a good proportion (it won’t be all) are quite effective.
Cuba has spent a lot of funding on biotechnology, which has helped to ensure there are a variety of cheap and effective drugs available for Cubans. This has helped to keep the health care free for all citizens, with a lowered government cost. 1500 citizens are employed in biotechnology, and have developed several drugs and vaccines, and has eradicated some tropical diseases from within Cuba.
Tourism has created an issue for Cuba in recent years as the government is used to controlling the supply of goods and currency. Tourists demand to have control of funding properly, which meant that a second currency had to be made; the Convertible Pesal is worth 25x as much as the Cuban Pesal. Tourism has also lead to inequality; tourist guides can earn as much in an afternoon as doctors will in a month (roughly equivalent to US$25 a month).
Cuba is in a fragile position at the moment. Castro’s reign was autocratic, so few politicians were trained to manage the country. A few trusted advisers seem to have taken charge for now, but it is hard to discern how the country will function in the long term.
A real time global air quality index visual map can be found here.
The growth of the PRC since the 1980s has lead to major soil pollution. The State Environmental Protection Administration believes it to be a threat to environmental quality, food safety and sustainable agriculture. 100,000km^2 of the PRC’s cultivated land has been polluted, with contaminated water irrigating a further 21,670^2 and 1,300km^2 have been destroyed or covered in solid waste. This accounts for 1/10 of the PRC’s cultivatable land. 6 million tonnes of grain are contaminated annually, costing about 29 billion yuan to the Chinese economy, roughly US$2.57 billion.
The PRC’s general lack of real environmental awareness (which proves the level of thought into one president elect’s allegations of the PRC “inventing global warming”) has lead to a lack of decent recycling systems. In 2012, the PRC generated 300 million tonnes of waste material.
In 1997, the World Bank issued a report targetting the PRC stating that “hundreds of thousands of premature deaths and incidents of serious respiratory illness have been caused by exposure to industrial air pollution. Seriously contaminated by industrial discharges, many of China’s waterways are largely unfit for direct human use.”
The New York times stated in a 2007 article that “Environmental degradation is now so severe, with such stark domestic and international repercussions, that pollution poses not only a major long-term burden on the Chinese public but also an acute political challenge to the ruling Communist Party.”
- Air pollution has made cancer the PRC’s leading cause of death
- Ambient pollution kills hundred of thousands of citizens annually.
- 500 million Chinese citizens have no safe, clean drinking water.
- only 1% of the 560 million city dwellers breath air considered safe within the European Union
- Lead poisoning from pollution kills many Chinese children
- Large sections of the ocean have no marine life because of massive algal blooms- eutrophication
- Pollution from China has spread internationally, causing acid rain fall in Seoul and Tokyo, and even in Los Angeles.
- The Chinese Academy of Environmental Planning estimated in 2003 that 300,000 people die each year from ambient air pollution.
- Environmental experts estimated in 2005 that by 2010 380,000 people would die of air pollution in the PRC annually, and that in 2020 550,000 would.
- “outdoor air pollution was already causing 350,000 to 400,000 premature deaths a year. Indoor pollution contributed to the deaths of an additional 300,000 people, while 60,000 died from diarrhoea, bladder and stomach cancer and other diseases that can be caused by water-borne pollution.”, “China’s environmental agency insisted that the health statistics be removed from the published version of the report, citing the possible impact on ‘social stability'”- World Bank, 2007
- Up to 760,000 people died prematurely in the PRC in 2007 due to air and water pollution. Around 360,000 to 400,000 people died of air pollution within PRC cities. 300,000 died because of poor indoor air quality, and 60,000 from poor water quality.
Electronic Waste means discarded electronic devices which have not been recycled or re-purposed.
In 2011, the PRC produced 2.3 million tons of electronic waste. Additionally, a lot of electronic waste is imported from abroad.
Due to general water shortages and high water pollution, there are often issues in the PRC in acquiring healthy drinking water. A quickly growing population, as well as often lax environmental laws regarding buildings have only increased demand for clean water.
Coal combustion produces Particulate Matter known as PM. Beijing suffers from PM2.5- Particulate Matter less than 2.5 micrometers across. Such fine matter can easily lead to breathing problems such as bronchitis and asthma, and even lung cancer at extremely low ages (the typical age to contract cancer is above about 75 through most of the world, with this being raised to 80 with a healthy lifestyle, but in the PRC cases have been recorded of even 8 year olds having lung cancer).
Lung cancer is about 3x as common in Chinese cities as opposed to the countryside, despite similar exposure to other carcinogens such as tobacco smoke.
Despite now having means to measure much of the air pollution, measurements in 2013 showed that the pollution was beyond the scope of what could be measured in the present particulate sizes.
Impacts of Pollution Generally
- In 2005, pollution cost 3.05% of the PRC economy
- Depending on the economic model (Eastern or Western), in 2003, according to the World Bank, 2.68% or 5.78% of GDP was spent on water or air pollution
- A review of this in 2009 said that this might be as high as 10%
- A 2012 study said that pollution had little effect on the actual growth of the PRC economy; even if they were going to continue using polluting industries and inefficient energy sources. Eventually, the effects of pollution would start to off set the gains from them into the economy.
- In 2015, Berkeley Earth estimated that 1.6 million people die annually in the PRC from strokes or heart or lung issues caused by pollution.
The PRC is one of very few countries actively increasing its forest coverage, which is working to reduce its environmental pollution. Due to Mao’s policies, much of the forest of the PRC was removed in the past, leading to dust storms frequently entering the city in line with the air currents from elsewhere. This started to cause pollution across urban areas. Replenishing forest areas should help to reduce this impact, although it will probably take many years to resolve the situation caused by deforestation entirely.
Additionally, the air pollution and water pollution within the PRC are also decreasing, according to government account. Although the PRC is clearly very polluted, the government claims that they are trying to reduce the situation, and there is reasonable evidence that they are taking some good measures on this line, but not very far into actively reducing air pollution, where it is really most needed.
On 1st June 2008, the PRC banned all shops from distributing free plastic bags to customers. Stores have to clearly mark the price of plastic shopping bags and are banned from adding that price onto products. The production of ultra-thin plastic bags, less than 0.025 mm across are also banned. However, the ban does not effect take-away food businesses or paper bags. The year after the ban was introduced, the International Food Packaging Association found that 10% fewer plastic bags had entered the rubbish system.
Legislation has been introduced preventing the introduction of electronic waste, but it has been criticised as vulnerable to fraud.
The PRC government recently started to include ozone and PM2.5 in their air quality indexes, which are the two most harmful forms of air pollution in the country. Official data shows air pollution decreasing, but with the PRC’s record of requests to not publish figures on their pollution rates, it is reasonable to assume that the published data was heavily manipulated.
After record high pollution levels in 2012, the government made an action plan to reduce pollution levels in September 2013. The plan was to reduce air pollution 10% between 2012 and 2017, which from the frequency of the alerts delivered in the last few years, has not been successful. The plan was published on the government website.
On 20th August 2015, to create a “Parade Blue sky” for the celebrations of the 70th anniversary of the end of WWII, the government shut down industries for a day in Beijing, and heavily regulated car exhaust fumes. PM2.5 concentration was briefly 35mg/m^3 lower than the national average in the city, down to 19.5mg/m^3, the lowest in the city’s recorded history.
The government is aiming to reduce its fossil fuel usage by increasing the PRC’s capacity for renewable energy sources, or other less polluting energy sources, such as nuclear power, hydroelectric power and compressed natural gas.
The PRC government set up a system of air quality alerts. These alerts are based on air quality indexes. The alerts are given through the large cities of the PRC.
- A Blue warning indicates pollution levels of AQI 201-300 (Heavy Pollution) within the next 24 hours
- A yellow warning indicates an AQI of 201-300 for three days or AQI between 301-500 (Hazardous) within the next 24 hours.
- An orange warning indicates that pollution levels will be above 201 for the next three days, going between “Heavy Pollution” and “Hazardous”
- A red warning indicates an AQI above 201 for four consecutive days, or above AQI of 301 for two days, or an average of over 500 over the course of one day.
Perversely, sometimes “We the People” are anti-democratic The word populism sounds like it ought to mean something close to democracy. Both are based on ancient words for “the People” (demos and populi), so you might expect them to be just different ways of saying the same thing: rule by the People. The Trump campaign has […]
Girls are often called “Too many” or “Little mistake”. In the 1800s there was a famine in the PRC which led to an outbreak of civil war in Huaipen.
Girls were killed because they were another mouth to feed. The boys then grew up to have no one to marry. There were hundreds of thousands of unmarried men, who became rebels. They almost overthrew the emperor.
Now there are 100 women for every 117 men. 80 million men have no hope of (heterosexual) marriage (or just marriage if they stay in the PRC). The age gap between couples has only exacerbated this. Old grooms will take teenage wives which only makes the situation worse for the next generation.
There are now whole bachelor villages refered to as “bare branches”. They used to become monks, soldiers or eunuchs. Now they move into the cities.
There has been an outbreak of female abductions, where women are sold to families looking for daughters in law or as prostitutes for male dominated cities. Selective abortion has been banned by the government with the official statement “girls are fine descendants too”.