ADAPT­ING TO CHANG­ING CLI­MATES

LEARN FROM THE PAST TO BE READY FOR THE FU­TURE.

American Survival Guide - - NEW PRODUCTS - BY PETER SU­CIU

One of the big­gest po­lit­i­cal hot-but­ton is­sues to­day re­volves around cli­mate change—a topic that lit­er­ally gets peo­ple on all sides of the issue hot un­der the col­lar.

The fact is, the cli­mate does change; it has done so be­fore and through­out hu­man his­tory. Since man first built cities and plowed the fields, hu­mankind has al­tered the en­vi­ron­ment and, with it, changed the cli­mate … at least in small ways.

The ques­tion shouldn’t be whether it is hap­pen­ing but how to pre­pare for it. Aside from fo­cus­ing ef­forts on lower-emis­sion cars, more-ef­fi­cient light bulbs and less­en­ing one’s “car­bon foot­print,” the smart money is on adapt­ing. Hu­man his­tory is filled with cases where hu­mans ei­ther adapted to cli­mate change or died.

WA­TER IS A FI­NITE RE­SOURCE, SO ANY CLI­MATE CHANGE PREPA­RA­TION SHOULD RE­VOLVE AROUND SUS­TAIN­ABIL­ITY OF THIS MOST PRE­CIOUS RE­SOURCE.

ADAPT OR DIE

It is pos­si­ble to pre­pare for cli­mate change—not by mov­ing as the Vik­ings or Mon­gols did (see the side­bar on the right)—but by pre­par­ing for the chang­ing con­di­tions. On the sim­plest level, this means ad­e­quately en­sur­ing your shel­ter will keep you warm in the win­ter and rel­a­tively cool in the summer. While heat in the summer can be un­com­fort­able, cold in the win­ter is a far big­ger prob­lem.

There is the ar­gu­ment that you can al­ways put on more cloth­ing to stay warm, be­cause the bru­tal truth is that cold ac­tu­ally kills far more peo­ple each year than ex­treme heat. For any very cold out­door ex­cur­sions, sev­eral lay­ers are re­quired for com­fort and safety. This can present prob­lems, not only in main­tain­ing and clean­ing what you wear, but also in re­plac­ing it if com­mer­cial pro­duc­tion of ap­parel and tex­tiles has ceased.

There­fore, the best ad­vice might be to move to a tem­per­ate cli­mate (but, again, the dan­ger of cli­mate change is that what is ideal now may be far less so in the fu­ture). In­stead, it is nec­es­sary to pre­pare ad­e­quate and ap­pro­pri­ate cloth­ing for a long, cold win­ter and come up with a way to stay cool dur­ing long, hot sum­mers. Shade helps in the summer, and wooded ar­eas ob­vi­ously pro­vide ma­te­ri­als for burn­ing wood in the colder weather. But how long will that last?

Be­cause cli­mate change is rel­a­tively slow and grad­ual, shel­ter is ac­tu­ally a small part of ad­e­quate prepa­ra­tion, be­cause most build­ing ma­te­ri­als are de­signed to ac­com­mo­date heat­ing/ cool­ing needs and can be sup­ple­mented as needed over time. Rather, the big­ger issue is one of en­sur­ing you have enough food and, more im­por­tantly, wa­ter. Where there is the lat­ter, there is life.

“We hu­mans are in­fin­itely adapt­able to en­vi­ron­men­tal change, to cli­matic events short- and long-term,” says

THE FACT IS, THE CLI­MATE DOES CHANGE; IT HAS DONE SO BE­FORE AND THROUGH­OUT HU­MAN HIS­TORY.

Brian Fa­gan, world his­to­rian and au­thor of The Lit­tle Ice Age: How Cli­mate Change Made His­tory 1300-1850. “What makes every­thing much more com­plex to­day is the multi-mil­lion peo­ple cities on the coasts and in semi-arid lands that rely on im­ported food. The fu­ture looks bleak un­less we take cli­mate change and both wa­ter and food short­ages se­ri­ously.”

WA­TER, WA­TER—NOT EV­ERY­WHERE

Clean wa­ter is a fi­nite re­source, so any cli­mate change prepa­ra­tion should re­volve around sus­tain­abil­ity of this most pre­cious re­source.

On a large scale, ac­cess to clean wa­ter could be what tips so­ci­ety over the brink in the com­ing decades. Right now, ef­forts to pre­pare on the large scale are fall­ing short.

“The strate­gies have to be di­verse—de­sali­na­tion, wa­ter reuse and re­cy­cling, con­ser­va­tion, and plan­ning for cy­cles in rain­fall and drought,” Fa­gan adds. “The silent ele­phants in the room are, of course, grow­ing ur­ban pop­u­la­tions, as well as in­dus­trial, wa­ter-hun­gry agri­cul­ture.”

On a smaller scale, peo­ple can pre­pare by en­sur­ing they have enough wa­ter. Key to wa­ter stor­age is hav­ing the right con­tainer. While wa­ter can be pur­chased in easy-to-store plas­tic bot­tles by the caseload, these aren’t ideal for long-term stor­age. Plas­tic may not be biodegrad­able for the most part, but plas­tic wa­ter bot­tles are pho­todegrad­able and will break down quickly if ex­posed to sun­light.

More im­por­tantly with plas­tics, it is cru­cial that wa­ter is stored in plas­tic that is truly food-grade safe, so look at the numbers: Food grades are 1, 2, 4 and 5, as well as some bio-plas­tics that are marked with a 7. Like­wise, not all glass is food grade and shouldn’t be used for long-term stor­age—es­pe­cially be­cause glass can break and crack as a re­sult of changes in tem­per­a­ture.

The best method for long-term wa­ter stor­age is ac­tu­ally a stain­less steel tank, be­cause these have up to a 40-year life span. When ad­e­quately sealed, the wa­ter can be stored with­out fear of con­tam­i­na­tion. If pos­si­ble, wa­ter should be stored in a dark room and should gen­er­ally be ro­tated, be­cause it can have small amounts of con­tam­i­nants that can com­pound over time.

“WE HU­MANS ARE IN­FIN­ITELY ADAPT­ABLE TO EN­VI­RON­MEN­TAL CHANGE, TO CLI­MATIC EVENTS SHORT- AND LONG-TERM … ”

DRIV­ING HIS­TORY

Af­ter wa­ter, food is the most ba­sic key to long-term sur­vival, and ac­cess to it has re­sulted in some of the great­est mass mi­gra­tions in his­tory. The Vik­ings didn’t so much aban­don Greenland be­cause of cli­mate change; it was be­cause of the lack of food from that change. And the Huns and other East­ern tribes didn’t mi­grate to the lands of the Ro­man Empire be­cause of a de­sire to have baths and travel on roads. It oc­curred be­cause the lands to the east weren’t sus­tain­ing the pop­u­la­tion.

“Food drives his­tory, from mi­gra­tion to in­no­va­tion,” says food his­to­rian and ex­pert Frederick Kauf­man, “[the] most re­cent ex­am­ple be­ing the soaring food prices that lay be­hind the world-chang­ing chaos of the Arab Spring. Food ri­ots top­ple gov­ern­ments … The short­est path to regime change is food in­fla­tion.

“Food and money have gone to­gether since time im­memo­rial,” Kauf­man added. “The first con­tracts on cu­nei­form tablets were about who owed whom how much wheat go­ing for­ward. Ever since the Old Tes­ta­ment’s Ja­cob made his for­tune as the price of wheat went through the roof, the ‘money peo­ple’ have been wait­ing around, wait­ing for the next scarcity.”

The irony is that de­spite the of­ten-re­peated mes­sage that kids in Africa or Asia are starv­ing, the world al­ready pro­duces a great deal more food than is needed.

“The prob­lem is that most of the food and wa­ter goes to feed cat­tle, and one part of this is our ad­dic­tion to meat,” adds Kauf­man.

Even on a small scale, pro­duc­ing meat isn’t sus­tain­able for a farmer. The land needed to raise enough cat­tle to feed a fam­ily could be bet­ter used to raise other foods, such as pota­toes. There­fore, chick­ens are a more-prac­ti­cal op­tion, be­cause they can pro­vide eggs; and a small chicken coop can al­low you to store a live chicken in the yard in­stead of a dead one in a freezer.

Some chick­ens can lay up to 300 eggs per year, and each egg can pro­vide about 74 calo­ries, 5 grams of fat and 6 grams of pro­tein.

Chick­ens also pro­vide pest con­trol for the rest of the gar­den. In ad­di­tion, they are ac­tu­ally a tick’s worst en­emy. A few chick­ens can re­duce the tick pop­u­la­tion in a small area and keep it un­der con­trol. These feath­ered friends will also eat fleas, bee­tles and ants —all pests that like to feast on your veg­etable gar­den.

BE­CAUSE CLI­MATE CHANGE IS REL­A­TIVELY SLOW AND GRAD­UAL, SHEL­TER IS AC­TU­ALLY A SMALL PART OF AD­E­QUATE PREPA­RA­TION …

Above: Chick­ens are easy to raise, and they pro­vide eggs, as well as meat.

A re­con­structed Vik­ing set­tle­ment in L’anse aux Mead­ows, New­found­land. The Vik­ings trav­eled across the At­lantic dur­ing the Me­dieval Warm Pe­riod and, had it con­tin­ued, they might have set up per­ma­nent set­tle­ments.

An ex­am­ple of adapt­ing to cli­mate change. This vine­yard at Wyken Hall in Wales was planted in 1988 and is rec­og­nized for pro­duc­ing some of the best Bri­tish wines. The Bri­tish wine in­dus­try has been helped by warmer sum­mers.

Right: The bed of the Jacarei River dur­ing a drought af­fect­ing São Paulo State, Brazil, in late 2014. São Paulo’s Cantareira reser­voir sys­tem sup­plies wa­ter to 9 mil­lion peo­ple in the São Paulo re­gion. Some reser­voirs were down to 3 or 5 per­cent of ca­pac­ity. But by June 14, 2017, ca­pac­ity was up to 97.27 per­cent. Be­low: Des­per­ate fam­i­lies clutch their be­long­ings af­ter be­ing up­rooted by river ero­sion in Bangladesh af­ter the Padma River closed in on their homes. Ero­sion is en­demic in Bangladesh, with mil­lions af­fected as farm­land, crops and vil­lages are de­stroyed.

Left: A 16th-cen­tury en­grav­ing by Jost Amman of a Ger­man-style brew­ery. Thanks to the Lit­tle Ice Age, there was a shift from wine pro­duc­tion to beer pro­duc­tion in Europe. (Photo: Pub­lic Do­main)

Right: An Egyp­tian Fay­oumi is a good egg-layer that can adapt to hot cli­mates.

Left: Peo­ple wait­ing for famine re­lief in Ban­ga­lore, 1877 (From the Il­lus­trated Lon­don News, 1877. Photo: Pub­lic Do­main)

Wa­ter can be trans­ported in a va­ri­ety of ways, but glass isn’t rec­om­mended. While wa­ter is sold in light­weight plas­tic bot­tles, they aren’t very rugged. There are also ath­letic plas­tic wa­ter bot­tles. But for longterm stor­age, a stain­less steel bot­tle is rec­om­mended.

Dur­ing the lat­ter part of the Lit­tle Ice Age, north­ern Europe had long, cold win­ters. Artist Bartholomeus Jo­hannes van Hove of­fered this view of win­ter skat­ing on the main canal of Pom­pen­burg, Rot­ter­dam, in 1825.

To­day, Lon­don has a rather cool and damp cli­mate, but the Thames rarely freezes over. How­ever, dur­ing the Lit­tle Ice Age, the Thames would of­ten freeze solid, as noted in Abra­ham Hondius’ paint­ing, The Frozen Thames. Right: The Battle of Oroi­jalatu in 1755 be­tween the Qing and Oi­rat armies—one of the fi­nal bat­tles in­volv­ing the Mon­gols

Far right: A 1747 map by Emanuel Bowen based on Egede’s de­scrip­tions of North Amer­ica. It shows how far Norse trav­el­ers were able to ven­ture dur­ing the Me­dieval Warm Pe­riod. (Photo: Pub­lic Do­main/ David Rum­sey Col­lec­tion)

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