In the News, September 2021

Written by Stacie Murphy, Director of Congressional Relations | Published: September 13, 2021

New Study Warns Global Warming Could Kill 83 Million People by Century’s End

A new study from researchers at Columbia University’s Earth Institute, published in the journal Nature Communications, calculates the so-called “mortality cost” of carbon emissions. It concludes that by the year 2100, carbon emissions could result in “excess mortality” of up to 83 million people—equivalent to the current population of Germany. Daniel Bressler, the study’s lead author, said that the research should give businesses and governments another way to evaluate the costs of their decisions around climate by bringing the questions “to a more personal, understandable level.”

UN Climate Report Warns Global Warming Has Become “Irreversible”

The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has released a bombshell report declaring that global warming of at least 1.5 degrees Celsius is no longer avoidable, and that unless countries take immediate and dramatic action to limit carbon emissions, at least 2 degrees of warming should be expected by the end of the century. The report finds that climate change is accelerating, intensifying, and already impacting every region on earth.

Former Secretary of State John Kerry, who is currently the U.S. Special Presidential Envoy for Climate, released a statement in response to the report, during which he said, “What the world requires now is real action. All major economies must commit to aggressive climate action during this critical decade. We can get to the low carbon economy we urgently need, but time is not on our side.”

World leaders are set to meet in November in Glasgow for COP26, the 2021 UN Climate Change Conference. The IPCC’s report is certain to feature heavily in those discussions.

Extreme Climate Events Displaced Millions of People in 2020

A new report from the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre indicates that, in 2020, at least 40.5 million people were forced to flee their homes—the highest number in a decade. Nearly 10 million displacements were due to local conflict or violence, while the rest were the result of disasters, most of them weather related. Researchers believe the final tally is a significant undercount and that the real number is far higher.

According to their findings, major climate-related disasters have almost doubled in the last 20 years, and the convergence of conflict and disasters means that some people suffer multiple displacements. The report notes that internal displacement results in significant economic costs for individuals, communities, and countries—some $20.5 billion in 2020.

Egypt Will Integrate Population Education into School Curriculum

Egypt has signed an agreement with the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) to add population education into its school curriculum. Tarek Shawki, Egypt’s Minister of Education and Technical Education, said that the goal of the Egyptian government is to focus on a strategic plan for the development of the Egyptian family. He said that the government seeks a comprehensive way of improving the quality of life for its citizens and achieving an educated and healthy workforce.

UNFPA Representative in Egypt Frederika Meijer, a Dutch national who has worked in Egypt since 2018, said of the agreement:

In our continuous efforts to engage young people in developmental issues, this partnership is particularly important. The Ministry of Education and Technical Education and UNFPA share the same goal: equipping young people with skills and knowledge, investing in their health and well-being so that Egypt can reap the benefits of the demographic dividend. Young people today constitute more than 60 percent of the population; hence empowered young people are key in the achievement of the SDGs of Egypt’s 2030 agenda.

China to Allow Couples to Have Up to Three Children

In a dramatic shift in policy, China, which officially ended its draconian one-child policy only five years ago, in favor of a still-coercive two-child policy, will now allow some married couples to have up to three children in an effort to reverse the country’s declining birth rate. The increasing cost of childrearing and women’s greater participation in the workforce, however, have meant that even as restrictions on childbearing have loosened, couples have not chosen to have larger families. China’s most recent census figures show that the country’s total fertility rate has dropped to 1.3 children per woman, well below the 2.1 children demographers say are needed to maintain the current population.

States Steered Federal Funding to Anti-Abortion Programs

According to a new report by the advocacy group Equity Forward, at least 10 U.S. states (Indiana, Louisiana, Michigan, Missouri, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, and Texas) have diverted federal dollars received under the Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) program to so-called “Alternatives to Abortion” or “A2A” programming. These efforts, often run by anti-choice activists, frequently offer inaccurate and biased information intended to frighten or intimidate pregnant people into carrying their pregnancies to term.

The TANF program, which takes the form of block grants to states, is intended to offer direct assistance to needy families in meeting basic needs like shelter, food, and childcare. Due to lack of oversight, however, anti-choice state legislatures have been able to funnel millions of dollars of taxpayer money to A2A programs run by private, often religious, institutions.

West Faces Increasing Water Challenges

The American West, already suffering historic levels of drought, is set to face even greater long-term water challenges as a result of population growth and climate change.

Seven states (Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah, and Wyoming) rely on water from the Colorado River. All are part of the Colorado River Compact, which was enacted in 1922 and determines how the water supply is to be distributed. However, the calculations used in 1922 were based on data taken from a wetter than average period. In essence, the compact guaranteed states more water than the river could actually supply under typical conditions. And conditions over the past 20 years have been anything but typical. Cities across the West have grown even as the climate has warmed and the amount of rainfall has decreased.

Additionally, warmer weather increases evaporation, which means less water reaches the river in the first place. Studies suggest that for every degree Celsius of additional warming, the Colorado River’s flow will decrease by an additional 9 percent, further straining supply. Some states have begun to introduce more stringent conservation measures, but with such high demand and warming set to continue, the West will confront some difficult choices in the years to come.

Salvadoran Woman Freed from Jail After Serving 30 Years for Being Convicted of Having Had an Abortion

Sara Rogel, a Salvadoran woman who had been sentenced to 30 years in prison for having had an abortion, has been paroled after her sentence was commuted to 10 years. Rogel was eight months pregnant when she was found lying unconscious on the floor of her home in 2012 and brought to a hospital, where she delivered a stillborn daughter. She has always maintained that she did not attempt an abortion. Instead, she says, she slipped and fell while washing clothes.

El Salvador has one of the world’s strictest bans on abortion, with no exceptions for rape, incest, or when the life of the pregnant person is at risk. According to a pro-choice advocacy group called Agrupación Ciudadana, there are at least 16 other women currently jailed in El Salvador in similar cases.