COVID-19 and Climate Change and ‘Locust Swarms’

April 25, 2020

Breezy Saturday afternoon in California’s Central Valley, laptop in the backyard on the glass table under the umbrella and live tapping, clicking on the outside. A good setting in our current form of environmental/health/living scenario.
I can see indeed we’re in a somehow-contrived and freakish Twilight Zone episode. Big difference, though — most of those old stories were told in black-and-white, our days are posted in screaming color.

As encapsulated by this right-on, delightful clip that’s been around a while, though what, two weeks?

As COVID-19 saga continues, the cases, deaths, the horrific inhumane lurching of the T-Rump, the storyboard of the tale has many levels, none of them good. As of this afternoon, the virus has infected 2.8 million people worldwide and killed at minimum 200,000. We’ve worked our way up the dying ladder and now the US has at minimum 52,000 deaths with 924,000 cases — should top a million by Monday.

The Future? What happens next? Just one even more-odious sidebar to this virus-infected installment of a surreal, beyond Rod Serling Twilight Zone plot, both in feel and texture. What truly is most-frightening of COVID-19 is the mystery — the medical experts/infectious-disease experts, all kinds of health workers, really don’t know shit about the real make-up of the virus.
A couple of for-instances: COVID-19 is not just a respiratory illness, but also causes great damage just about all the organs; and the startling discovery that young patients with minor symptoms of the virus are having strokes.
And there may be no recovery immunity, either.

Sad, sci-fi maybe in store — via BusinessInsider this morning:

Scientists fear that it may prove impossible to produce a working coronavirus vaccine and believe the world may have to simply learn to adapt to the permanent threat of COVID-19.

The UK’s Chief Medical Officer, Christopher Whitty, told a Parliamentary committee on Friday that there was “concerning” evidence suggesting that it may not be possible to stimulate immunity to the virus.

“The first question we do not know is ‘do you get natural immunity to this disease if you have had it, for a prolonged period of time?'” Whitty said.
“Now if we don’t then it doesn’t make a vaccine impossible but it makes it much less likely and we simply don’t know yet.
He said there was “a little bit of evidence that some people have been reinfected with this having had a previous infection.”

He added: “That’s a slightly concerning situation.”

No shit.
Sad, but real view of a possible near-future outcome, or not, to this pandemic.

And on the climate side, an unsung environmental story out of Scandinavia, even invoking our malevolent-malicious president, found this afternoon at the Independent:

Norway has come under fire from environmental groups who accuse it of caving to oil companies over a decision to shift an Arctic no-go zone.

The Norwegian government on Friday proposed an extension southwards of the so-called ice edge boundary, which marks the edge of the Arctic beyond which firms are barred from drilling for oil.

But the plans stay just northerly enough to exclude areas for which licenses have already been granted — going against the advice issued by the government’s own scientists.
Research has shown sea ice has a more widespread impact on Arctic life than previously thought. When spring comes, the area covered by drifting ice becomes abundant with life, with algae bloom supporting zooplankton growth, which in turn attracts fish, birds and sea mammals.

Greenpeace said the government had set a “completely arbitrary and unscientific border” in order to put the interests of the oil industry ahead of the science.
“The Norwegian government is acting like Donald Trump; ignoring scientific advice. The government is letting the Arctic and the climate down. Now the parliament must take responsibility,” Frode Pleym, the head of Greenpeace in Norway, told The Independent.

Anthony Field, Arctic expert at WWF, accused the Norwegian government of choosing “oil drilling over nature”.
“Oil companies are seeking to profit from the exploitation of the region’s oil reserves. But not only would general operations have a negative impact, an accident at the edge of the sea ice would be disastrous for this vitally important ecosystem because of the sensitivity of key species to oil,” he said.

“We want all oil companies — including British ones — to stop their exploration in this sensitive ecological region.”

Norway’s move to continue oil companies’ access to rich Barents Sea waters comes amid urgent warnings by scientists that the world is running out of time to address climate change.

A 2018 United Nations report warned the planet was on track to reach 1.5C between 2030 and 2052 if temperatures continues to increase at the current rate, and 3C by the end of the century.

Once we hit 2C warming, the world will be a profoundly different place.
There will be almost no coral reef remaining, the Arctic will be completely devoid of ice during summer at least once a decade, and huge numbers of animals and plants will become extinct as their habitat becomes smaller and smaller.

Times are subject to change, of course, as been noted last year. And what affect/effect does the COVID-19 pandemic have on the world getting a half-ass grip on climate change. An expedient pill: The US in 2020 could feel the hottest year on record. Even if it doesn’t turn out to be the hottest, there’s a 99.9-percent chance it’ll be the second-hottest on record.

Out of that, and beyond the boundaries of the Western world and the anxiety-inducing T-Rump, another environmental piece of shit is developing — giant packs of eating-everything insects are invading our food supply, first in East Africa, but where next? Time is essential:

A serious appeal/report from International Business Times this afternoon:

Since the beginning of 2020, East African nations have been battling swarms of desert locusts.
In decades, this is being called the worst outbreak the region has seen and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations has been warning that the rising numbers of desert locusts point at an enormously distressing threat to food security and livelihoods in the Horn of Africa.
The already prevalent coronavirus crisis has heightened due to a dangerous increase in locust swarm activity.

Locusts are insects, approximately the length of a finger, and they fly together in millions to take advantage of the suddenly abundant food supply.
They eat crops, destroy grazing plots, and pose a serious threat to the already frail local economies.

The Indian Ocean Dipole led to this year’s locust swarms and it also led to extreme drought in Australia and torrential rain in East Africa.
At least one swarm measuring 60km long and 40km wide in Kenya’s northeast, three times the size of New York City, was reported.

Locusts can lead the world to an extreme drought.

According to Jennifer Zhu Scott, a Ted speaker, and Forbes World’s top 50 women in Tech, “The locust problem is underestimated. We have a few weeks to keep it under control. Large swarms were seen in Saudi dessert in mid-March. If it damages India, we will be in a chain of events that set off food security problems this year. We have a few weeks only.”

Scott added, “Meanwhile, farmers in the US have to destroy excessive productions due to broken supply chain or lack of demands. Oil crisis also cause ethanol crash, a large amount of corn produced will have to be dumped. Yes, we will have millions starving, while this happens this year.”

Sound/words of someone exhausted.

(Illustration: Salvador Dali’s ‘Soft Watch at the Moment of First Explosion,’ found here)

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