Adapting to Climate Change and COP23

The search for adaptive strategies to the climate shifts is growing. Emory students weigh in on possibilities and options to meet climate threats. These projects were produced by students in the Climate Change and Society course and those who attended COP 23 as delegates.

Climate’s Impact on Agriculture, Food and Malnutrition

-By Lauren Balotin, '19C, Environmental Sciences and Media Studies

A common concern about climate change is people’s inability to make an individual impact. Climate change is an issue that doesn’t have borders; it affects everyone around the world, and negotiations concerning it take place at local, regional, national, and international levels. So what could anyone possibly do individually that could be potent enough to actually have an effect on the climate? 

My response is always this: everyone eats food. We are all consumers, and most of us are guilty of wasting food on occasion. When I was at COP23, I learned so much about the impact of the agricultural industry on climate, and in contrast, the impacts of climate on the agricultural industry. For me, a key takeaway of the conference was that food and climate are more interconnected than I first thought.

Human Health and Climate Change

-By Olivia Keck, ‘18C, Environmental Sciences 

Health became part of COP discussions with approval of the Paris agreement in December 2015. The Earth is experiencing climate change and impacting human health at an unprecedented rate. With over half of the world’s population living near the coast and one of the primary concerns of climate change being sea level rise, this is one of the most obvious effects on health and social adaptation. However, the primary concern has consistently been heat waves because these events cause the most fatalities. 

It is more difficult to predict the indirect effects on human health like food security and the spread of disease, but researchers are working on better modeling to inform future decisions. Human health is a climate change issue that exacerbates existing problems. Injury, disease and death will spread with the increasing change in global temperature. The worldwide human health related dangers stemming from climate change are respiratory and heat-related illnesses, insect-borne infections, water-borne diseases, and threats to safe food and water.  

The Adaptation Fund and Its Developments at COP23

-By Rachel Pui Shi Loh, ‘18C, Economics and International Studies 

The Adaptation Fund helps developing countries such as Tanzania finance climate adaptation projects. Populations in underdeveloped nations contribute minimally to global emissions compared to developed counterparts. However, they are often the ones who bear the greatest impacts of climate change. Some of the by-products of global warming are increased incidences of weather catastrophes, such as hurricanes and desertification. Their effects have threatened food security and human health. The Fund is financed primarily by governments and private donors. 

Women and Climate Change

-By Halle Bradshaw,  '19C, Environmental Sciences

“We are here not as victims, but as survivors.”

These words and so many others echoed through the halls of the COP23 conference in Bonn, Germany. Women’s rights organizations showed that women’s rights are inextricably linked to the issues of climate change and deserve to be center stage in the search for solutions.