Making the Links: March 2015

This is my third post in “Making the Links,” a monthly blog series in which I attempt to connect the dots between nature and people in some recent news stories. (To learn more about the goal of the series, read the first post.)

Iguazu Falls

Aerial view of Iguazu Falls National Park. (© Conservation International/photo by John Martin)

Here’s my link roundup from March.

The Nature in Humans (Stories Secretly about Nature)

  1. Yemen’s Shiite Rebels Capture Presidential Palace in Aden

It’s been a tough few weeks for Yemen, as Iranian-backed rebels and a Saudi-supported coalition clash for control of the country, causing a rising number of civilian deaths and plunging the already conflict-weary region into chaos.

The link: There are undoubtedly numerous factors that have contributed to the outbreak of this devastating conflict; resource scarcity is one of them. As Thomas Friedman reported during a 2013 visit to Yemen, decades of deforestation and freshwater depletion have taken a toll on farming, reducing employment options and increasing the country’s vulnerability to conflict.

  1. Tropical Cyclone Pam Hits Vanuatu

In the aftermath of Cyclone Pam this month, much of the media attention rightly went toward the people of Vanuatu, 24 of whom were killed while thousands were left homeless.

The link: Few articles discussed the cyclone’s effects that reverberated to other, more low-lying islands like Kiribati, where CI’s own Greg Stone witnessed the island nation’s struggle to recover from the flooding of the capital city’s main causeway due to storm surge. With its highest point at only 2 meters (less than 7 feet) above sea level, Kiribati is extremely vulnerable to sea level rise attributed to climate change. As the ocean’s water levels rise, the impacts of large storms like Cyclone Pam will be exacerbated.

  1. Myanmar Signs Draft Peace Deal with Armed Ethnic Groups

This week, a draft cease-fire agreement was signed between the Myanmar government and representatives of armed rebel groups, the beginning of a process that could bring peace after decades of conflict.

The link: Myanmar’s history is filled with clashes between political and military groups vying for control of the country. Their motivations are complex, but a prominent goal is the control of natural resources, both renewable ones like forests and nonrenewable minerals. This is just one example of how access to nature’s benefits is at the root of many conflicts worldwide.

The Humans in Nature (Stories Secretly about People)

  1. Rhino Runs through Nepali City

This Washington Post article (and video) recounts an Indian rhino that ran through the streets of the city of Hetuada, Nepal this week, killing at least one person.

The link: Habitat loss has been one of the largest threats to this species, which is classified as Vulnerable by the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. As more of their native grassland is destroyed, the animals compete with each other for territory and more are forced into greater proximity with humans, causing danger for people and rhinos alike.

  1. Iguazu Falls: Unlike Any Waterfall on Earth

This CNN article goes into detail about how gorgeous these falls are, providing info on how visitors should get there and where they should stay.

The link: Iguazu Falls, which sit on the border of Brazil and Argentina, are part of the same water system as the Guarani Aquifer, one of the largest reservoirs of groundwater on the planet and an important source of drinking water for nearby people. Given that human populations in this area of South America are growing fast, there is potential risk for overexploitation of these vital waters.

Editor’s Note:

My intention is not to call out these articles for their omissions; I know the authors have word counts to stick to, and sometimes the links I’m making are hidden several layers deep. However, the more we can train ourselves to put the pieces together and see the whole picture, the more aware we’ll all be of nature’s central role in our lives — and the importance of doing more to protect it to secure our future.

Stay tuned at the end of April for my next “Making the Links” post — and in the meantime, keep an eye out for these “missing links” as you peruse the news.

Molly Bergen is the senior managing editor of Human Nature. 

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