One Complex Crisis: Case Studies
Citation: Bryan P. Galligan et al., “One Complex Crisis: Case Studies of Social and Environmental (in)Justice in Africa” (Nairobi: Jesuit Justice and Ecology Network Africa, June 15, 2022).
In Africa and around the world, people’s lives are threatened by climate change, pollution, and biodiversity loss. These changes to the biophysical environment are significant. They are also part of a larger story. Through a series of case studies, this report demonstrates how vulnerability to environmental change is driven by global systems and structures. Too often, the effects of wealthy nations’ policies and business practices are kept out of sight and out of mind in the Global North, while the four-fifths of the world’s population living in developing countries are left to deal with their effects. This report also illustrates how the environmental change being observed across Africa and the world is made much more damaging by socioeconomic vulnerability in affected countries. Poverty, poor infrastructure, and irresponsible governance in the Global North and South alike all limit the available options for communities and countries seeking to adapt to a more volatile and precarious world.
Ocean Dead Zones in the Age of Climate Change
Citation: Bryan P. Galligan et al., “Hypoxia-Induced Predation Refuge for Northern Quahogs (Mercenaria Mercenaria) in a Temperate Estuary,” Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science 265 (February 5, 2022): 107732
As the world becomes warmer, coastal oceans are losing oxygen. This happens in part because increased nutrient pollution from human activities is interacting with warmer water temperatures to create the perfect conditions for algae blooms. When marine ecosystems become overwhelmed by algae blooms, oxygen concentrations often crash to dangerous levels, creating so-called “dead zones.”
These dead zones can last for a few hours, a few days, or forever. One way to bring dead zones back to life is by cutting back on nutrient pollution. In Rhode Island, U.S.A., the local government has done just that, but the ecological effects of their restoration efforts are far from straightforward.
A species of clam that is targeted by local fishers could suffer if its predators are more successful in revived waters. As all kinds of ecosystems around the world continue to change, we need to pay attention and adapt to the complicated ways ecosystems respond.
Providing Access or Taking Sides?
Citation: Bryan P. Galligan and Sasha Kinney, “Providing Access or Taking Sides? Blue Growth, Small-Scale Fisheries, and the Case of Lamu, Kenya,” Promotio Iustitiae 132 (December 2021): 87–94.
When the prophet Ezekiel received a vision promising his people’s return from exile, he saw a miraculous river flowing from the threshold of the rebuilt Jerusalem temple (Ezek. 47:1-12). As the waters flowed east, the river became deeper and gained strength, bringing life to all it touched and renewing relationships both human and ecological. As one commentator argues, this post-trauma promise of consolation was as much about “restoration of the land” as “restoration to the land.” Ezekiel’s vision of restoration also included an abundance of fish, notable both for their beauty and their role as food. Today, as in Ezekiel’s time, God’s promise of healing and restoration applies to relationships that are human, ecological, and aquatic. And yet, so many of today’s conversations about water neglect rich perspectives like Ezekiel’s. In particular, they neglect the importance of wild capture fisheries, and especially small-scale fisheries, in the ongoing struggle for eco-social justice. In what follows, we make a case for the importance of small-scale fisheries and describe how they are simultaneously threatened by a “blue” turn in economic development and a failure of imagination on the part of those interested in helping them. We then turn to the case of a traditional fishing community in Lamu, Kenya, in order to illustrate these trends and seek guidance for ways forward.
The world’s poorest people contribute the least but suffer the most from the climate crisis. Climate change impacts people’s health, ability to access nutritious food, and livelihoods.
WHY WE’RE WORKING ON THIS
- Defend the Planet
- The climate emergency is forcing people into poverty and destroying the lives of millions.
- If leaders act now – to keep fossil fuels in the ground and support climate-vulnerable communities – we can protect our planet for future generations.
Jesuits in Africa and partners in mission are raising their voices with one clear message for those in power – we need climate action NOW!