Climate-smart cities, locust invasion, children's health: 3 stories you may have missed

© Katie Bryden

Editor's Note: News about conservation and the environment is made every day, but some of it can fly under the radar. In a recurring feature, Conservation News shares three stories from the past week that you should know about.

1. Retreat or adapt: A city that flourished by the ocean is now preparing for rising seas 

Boston’s iconic harbor could pose a threat for the entire city, forcing officials to adapt to rising seas before it’s too late.

The Story: To prepare for rising sea levels caused by climate change, Boston city officials are commissioning developers to rapidly raise streets, build fences to deflect waves coming in from the harbor and develop additional climate-smart infrastructure, reported Steven Mufson for The Washington Post. Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh has pledged to spend more than US$ 30 million annually on these projects and other efforts to protect the city from increased flooding and storm surges.

The Big Picture: From Boston to Bangkok, coastal cities across the globe will suffer the effects of climate change, according to a recent study that also projected rising sea levels will impact more than 150 million people by 2050. To adapt to these impacts, many cities will need to transform their existing infrastructure and invest in climate-smart and nature-based solutions. 

Read more here.

An unprecedented locust invasion is tearing through Kenya. 

The Story: Kenya is experiencing its worst desert locust outbreak in 70 years, which has destroyed cropland and exacerbated conflict over land use throughout the entire country, reported Abdi Latif Dahir for The New York Times. Traveling up to 80 miles (128 km) daily across Kenya in hordes of around 80 million locusts per square km, these invasive insects can eat as much vegetation per day as 35,000 people. The outbreak is beginning to spread across  Eastern Africa, posing a food security threat to more than 20 million people throughout the continent. 

The Big Picture: “In general, locust outbreaks are expected to become more frequent and severe under climate change,” said Arianne Cease, director of the Global Locust Initiative at Arizona State University. As temperatures rise, desert locusts can mature more rapidly and spread to higher elevations in regions that are becoming more arid due to climate breakdown, which could have devastating impacts for farming communities across Africa. 

Read more here.

Recent research shows that children in developing countries are disproportionately suffering from health issues caused by climate change.  

The Story: Authored by 40 global health experts, a new report revealed that developing countries have the highest number of climate-related health issues among children, despite releasing the fewest per capita greenhouse gas emissions, reported Saeed Kamali Dehghan. From heatwaves to the proliferation of tropical diseases, the report predicts a range of devastating climate-related health consequences for children — who will suffer the most severe impacts of the climate crisis by 2100 if countries continue to release emissions at current rates.

The Big Picture: “These children [in developing countries] face enormous challenges to their health and well-being, and are also now at the greatest disadvantage due to the climate crisis,” he said. “We need sustainable gains in child health and development, which means that big carbon emitters need to reduce their emissions for all children to thrive, poor and rich.” With about 10 years left to avoid the worst impacts of climate change, countries must commit to more ambitious emissions reductions targets to limit temperature rise to 2 degrees Celsius. 

Read more here


Kiley Price is a staff writer at Conservation International. Want to read more stories like this? Sign up for email updates here. Donate to Conservation International here.

Cover image: The 2020 desert locust outbreak, Kenya. (© Katie Bryden)

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