This Week On Earth: March 4-11


Sinking Land in the Bay Area A new report suggests that the land around San Francisco Bay is sinking to meet rising sea levels, providing more cause for concern about the effects of climate change on the Bay Area.

Sinking land, also referred to as land subsidence, can increase potential flooding and damage in the Bay Area, resulting in the submerging of more land in the region by 2100 than previously estimated. Groundwater pumping is one of the biggest causes of land subsidence, which acts to “deflate” the ground above it.

The San Francisco International Airport is now projected to have half of its runways submerged by the year 2100. The original estimates that take the effects of land subsidence into consideration were much less extreme. Other areas that were built on engineered landfill, lands filled in with compacted waste, are especially vulnerable to the impacts of land subsidence and sea level rise. Such areas include parts of Foster City and Treasure Island.

While the majority of land in the Bay Area is sinking at a rate less than two millimeters per year, some areas have recently been found to be sinking at 10 millimeters per year.

These new projections are still suspect to change depending on the melting speed of Antarctic ice, which can greatly accelerate sea level rise.

Women are more vulnerable to climate change than men

Even though climate change is accelerated by human behaviors, societal structures influence the impact of climate events and as a result, the disasters do not impact people equally.

According to UN estimates, 80 percent of people displaced by climate change are women. Women, especially in developing countries, tend to have roles as primary caregivers and food providers, making them more vulnerable when to floods and droughts.

Ninety percent of Lake Chad in Central Africa has disappeared, putting nomadic indigenous groups at risk. Women in these groups now have to walk much farther to collect water.

As climate change causes dry seasons to become longer, women have to work harder to feed and care for their families while the men go to nearby towns for work.

This is not just an issue in developing countries, however. All over the world, women are more likely to experience poverty than men, making it harder for them to recover from natural disaster that affect housing, jobs and infrastructure.

Although average representation of women in national and global climate negotiating bodies is still below 30 percent, climate change-oriented governments and organizations have been working hard on gradually including more women’s voices in policy and planning.

Water stress in Bangalore, India

The south Indian City of Bangalore is under “water stress” and similar to Cape Town in South Africa, is also facing the threat of running out of drinking water.

Officials in the city admit that Bangalore’s growth has undoubtedly put a strain on its water resources. In just the most recent few years, more than 100 villages were absorbed into the city, known as India’s Silicon Valley. The city’s population has risen from nine million in 2012 to 11 million today.

The shortage of water in the city is a very real problem, considering the outer areas of the city have already been dependant on tankers for drinking water.

In 2013, the city government called to divert an additional 10 thousand million cubic feet of water from the Cauvery river to Bangalore for drinking water.

Tushar Girinath, chairman of the water supply board, said that this new policy, combined with an additional supply from another river called the Nethravati, the water position of the city will be more “comfortable.”