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A typical morning at a fishing harbor in Nagapattinam, India. Image: Karthikeyan Hemalatha
The deadly Boxing Day tsunami in 2004 killed 230,000 people in 14 countries and in response people across the world donated almost $6.25 billion in relief money. Thousands of fishermen lost their boats. In response, relief funds triggered an unsustainable investment in better boats, higher-tech “ring seine” nets, and that led to overcapacity in fisheries that set off a wave of overfishing that “changed the coastal ecology and the local economy in parts of Southern India forever.”
Worth Your Time: This recent article in the online newsletter about development aid DevEx.com tells the tragic story of how a sudden influx of disaster relief money from the Boxing Day tsunami resulted in the fish catch in Tamil Nadu, a region in southern India, increased by nearly 75% in the 10 years following the tsunami.
Why This Matters: Disaster relief proved to be a tsunami of a different sort — but equally devastating. We have to learn the lessons of previous disasters like this one and ensure that when we rebuild and replace, we do so sustainably.
H/T: To #FriendofthePlanet Tom G for pointing out to us this cautionary tale.
The planet needs an optimistic woman and fortunately for us, we have a really powerful one — Christiana Figueres. After having guided the Paris Climate Accord to completion — she served as the Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) from 2010-2016 — now Figueres is trying to change the narrative around achieving a sustainable future.
North Carolina Coastal Federation has a nature-based plan for dealing with heavy rainfall that captures and filters water instead. Green infrastructure includes solutions like rain gardens, restoring wetlands, and permeable pavement. The state plan calls for comprehensive incorporation of nature-based stormwater strategies across roadways, farmland, and in new building construction.
Why This Matters: It’s not just sea-level rise that causes increased flooding and infrastructure damage: heavy rains can be just as disruptive. Using plants, dirt, and other natural ways to handle excess water is often simpler and more cost-effective than their conventional counterparts.
The world is becoming more and more like The Matrix every day, at least in one particular way: scientists have figured out how to use the human body as a battery. No, your body can’t produce enough energy to create a global simulation, but it can produce enough heat to charge wearable devices like smartwatches and implants like pacemakers.
Why This Matters: Battery production and disposal have been problematic for decades. Mining for rare earth metals like such as cadmium, mercury, lead, and lithium threatens environments and communities across the globe.
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