Industrial palm oil production in West and Central Africa is mainly controlled by five companies: Socfin, Wilmar, Olam, Siat, and Straight KKM (former Feronia). These multinationals control an estimated 67 per cent of the industrial oil palm planted area with foreign investment and may drive continuous expansion. (1) Their established industrial plantations have been linked to numerous impacts on the populations and territories. The impact on water availability for communities that live in and around industrial oil palm plantations is systematic and dramatic. This is becoming increasingly evident with the many community reports of water scarcity and water pollution. Industrial plantations often lead to loss of lakes, springs or streams, directly affecting the livelihoods and wellbeing of communities.
Residents of West Jackson are in the midst of a severe water crisis due to the failure of a water treatment facility and don't know when they will have clean water in their homes again. The state is failing to get water to everyone, so many local groups are organizing mutual aid efforts. The governor refuses to access federal funds to fully repair the city's water infrastructure, which has been failing for decades. Clearing the FOG speaks with Kali Akuno, a co-founder of Cooperation Jackson, about the current crisis, including how the wealthy residents were spared, how it fits into the bigger picture of systemic racism and the drive to privatize, and what you can do to support efforts to build water sovereignty.
Jackson, Mississippi - Jackson, Mississippi Is Currently Suffering Through An Unprecedented Water Crisis. After Decades Of Systematic And Intentional Neglect Due To Environmental Racism, Capital Flight And Deindustrialization, The City's Water System Has Collapsed. This Collapse Didn’t Have To Happen. As A Result Of The City’s Declining Tax Base Over The Decade, It Cannot Pay For The Repairs By Itself. Nor Should It Have To. Jackson Is The Capitol Of The State Of Mississippi, Which Means It Is The Base Of State Government And Resources. In Addition, It Is Also Where The Federal Government’s Administrative Resources In The State Are Concentrated.
Jackson, Mississippi - Residents of Jackson, Mississippi, a city of 150,000 that is 82.5 percent Black, have not had reliable access to clean water for five days. On Monday, the Pearl River flooded from extreme rainfall, and caused the main water treatment plant to fail, resulting in low to no water pressure. A second treatment plant has simultaneously been having issues with its water pumps. If residents are getting any tap water at all, it’s brown. All this is happening while Jackson is facing extreme heat. Residents have faced long lines in order to get cases of bottled water, of which the city is running out. All schools have switched to remote learning since Tuesday.
Reports reveal that people of color are especially impacted by environmental disasters. Jackson is 82.5% Black, and has been hit with multiple water crises in recent months. As of September 2, the vast majority of the residents of the city of Jackson, Mississippi—over 150,000—still have no access to safe drinking water. The Jackson water crisis began on August 30 when flooding caused the pumps at the main water treatment facility, O.B. Curtis, to fail. This left most residents without clean water and many with no water at all due to low water pressure. Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves warned residents on August 31, “Do not drink the water from the pipes if you can avoid it.”
On the island of Gotland in Sweden, residents have spent this year letting their green lawns die off in a mass effort to conserve water. Irrigation bans led neighbors to get creative, offering a title to whoever ended up with the ugliest lawn. For this year, Marcus Norström’s lawn took the crown. The jury described the winning lawn humorously as “a really lousy lawn that lives up to all our expectations of Gotland’s ugliest lawn and has good conditions for a more sustainable improvement.” The jury also said the lawn exhibited “meritorious laziness” and “great care for our common groundwater,” as reported by The Guardian. The prize: a visit from Sara Gistedt, one of the lawn judges and a gardener, who will advise Norström on what drought-resistant plants to add to his property.
The group targeted sites near the city of Toulouse, calling golf the "leisure industry of the most privileged". The exemption of golf greens has sparked controversy as 100 French villages are short of drinking water. Golf officials say greens would die in three days without water. "A golf course without a green is like an ice-rink without ice," Gérard Rougier of the French Golf Federation told the France Info news website. He added that 15,000 people worked in golf courses across the country. The recent action targeted courses in the towns of Vieille-Toulouse and Blagnac. It was claimed by the local branch of the Extinction Rebellion movement. In a petition, the activists said the exemption showed that "economic madness takes precedence over ecological reason".
Climate change is already affecting much of the world’s population, with startlingly high temperatures from the Arctic to Australia. Air pollution from wildfires, vehicles and industries threatens human health. Bees and pollinators are dying in unprecedented numbers that may force changes in crop production and food availability. What do these have in common? They represent the new frontier in human rights. The United Nations General Assembly voted overwhelmingly on July 28, 2022, to declare the ability to live in “a clean, healthy and sustainable environment” a universal human right. It also called on countries, companies and international organizations to scale up efforts to turn that into reality. The declaration is not legally binding – countries can vote to support a declaration of rights while not actually supporting those rights in practice.
Scorching heat has again been accompanied this year by reports of acute drinking water shortages in many villages. The situation was supposed to be different this time because of an unprecedentedly high increase in the budget for drinking water supply in villages announced about 15 months back, but clearly the actual improvement has fallen far short of the high expectations raised at that time. The budget estimate in the 2021-22 budget for Jal Jivan Mission, the main program for rural drinking water supply, was increased to an unprecedented extent to Rs. 50,011 crore, while in 2022-23 budget this was again creased to Rs. 60,000 crore. However, only 26% of the previous year’s allocated amount was utilized till January 2022, as pointed out by the Standing Committee on Water Resources (2021-22), 14th Report, Department of Drinking Water and Sanitation.
May 15 this year came as a timely warning that India is in the center of the global warming crisis. On this day the maximum temperature crossed the 47 degrees Celsius limit in about 20 cities, mostly in northwest and central parts of the country. These cities also figured in the table of the hottest cities at world level on this day. Most of these cities and the surrounding countryside have been figuring prominently also in the longer heat waves which have been experienced since early April. Six of these cities are located in the Thar desert or the area close to it. These include Jaisalmer, Phalodi, Pilani, Churu, Bikaner and Ganganagar. Four other cities are concentrated in a region of 13 districts known as Bundelkhand in Central India which saw temperature reaching 49 degrees C in Banda.
On May 10, a four-bedroom house perched on the beach of a North Carolina barrier island in the town of Rodanthe collapsed into the ocean. It was not the victim of a violent hurricane strike or storm surge. Rather, a low-pressure system coupled with a high tide drew ocean waves onto the shoreline, leaving heaps of sand on the prophetically named Ocean Drive. Then—in that viral video moment—the water gently pulled the house loose and set it to bob upon the sea. It was not the first house—this year! that day!—nor will it be the last. This is reality in the 21st century. By 2100, high tides will likely inundate land that’s home to between 190 and 630 million people worldwide. The range depends on whether humanity slashes carbon emissions by midcentury or, instead, continues to fail.
The climate crisis is making droughts more frequent and longer-lasting, a new UN report has announced. The report, Drought in Numbers, 2022, was released Wednesday in honor of Drought Day at the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD)’s 15th Conference of Parties (COP15) taking place in Abijan, Côte d’Ivoire from May 9 to 20. “The facts and figures of this publication all point in the same direction: an upward trajectory in the duration of droughts and the severity of impacts, not only affecting human societies but also the ecological systems upon which the survival of all life depends, including that of our own species.” UNCCD Executive Secretary Ibrahim Thiaw said in a press release.
Eight years ago, the water crisis in Flint, Michigan began, the effects of which linger today. The nation was shocked to see a city fail so spectacularly to meet its most basic responsibility to provide safe water to its citizens. Unfortunately, Flint is not alone. According to a 2020 Natural Resources Defense Council analysis of Environmental Protection Agency data, nearly 30 million people in the U.S. drink from unsafe water systems. The rate is significantly elevated in communities of color. The Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania water system was one of them. As in Flint and other cities, structural racism, chronic disinvestment, and economic austerity meant that Pittsburgh’s communities of color were most impacted by the failing water systems. Entering the 2000s, Pittsburgh’s water infrastructure was in dire need of repair and modernization.
When Governor Whitmer signed the bipartisan Building Michigan Together Plan, she chose to allow a $50 million subsidy to Michigan Potash Company to remain in the bill. MCWC and other concerned groups and citizens learned about this gift to a poorly conceived start-up project only days before the bill came out of the legislature for signature. We have been investigating and opposing this unnecessary and potentially destructive scheme for the last 6 years. Clearly neither the legislature nor the Governor took the time to investigate this venture before slipping it into the otherwise decent infrastructure bill. The people of Michigan deserve a better deal.
Total Congressional funding for all aspects of the Navy’s Red Hill water contamination debacle is now over $1.1 billion according to Hawai’i Congressional representative Ed Case and billions more are needed to complete clean-up, defueling and closing of the massive leaking Red Hill jet fuel storage facility. In a news release on March 9, 2022, Rep. Case said, “These funds ($700 million) are in addition to the $403 million in emergency funding we obtained in another bill we passed just weeks ago, bringing Congress’ total funding for all aspects of Red Hill in the current fiscal year alone to over $1.1 billion. But billions more will be required to complete all aspects of the cleanup, stabilization, defueling and closing of Red Hill and the relocation of its fuel and build fuel storage capacity elsewhere.”