Module 10, African Human Extinction Event

Current Events:

United Nations Environment Program releases cautionary fact sheet on climate change

From news story released April 21, 2016

Climate: Africa’s Human Existence Is at Severe Risk

In current news today, the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) released a statement describing the peril that climate change might cause on the continent of Africa. UNEP announced that the African continent is the most severely affected continent when it comes to the effects of climate change, due to its poor development, natural deficiencies, and rapid climate change. T

The article describes several aspects of the biosphere that would be in danger of creating loss of biodiversity, including human life. Water is a big part of the climate change affects. Climate change affects rainfall which could affect droughts as well as flooding in various parts of Africa. These phenomenon could put drinking water strains on a population that already has a population that is under-nourished. Sea-level changes have also been noted and if they continue could affect coastal areas with large populations and endanger their lives.

According to the fact sheet produced ecosystems are critical in Africa, “contributing significantly to biodiversity and human well-being. Between 25 and 40% of mammal species in national parks in sub-Saharan Africa will become endangered.” This loss of biodiversity could adversely affect the human population by reducing resources and putting a strains on population survival.

The World Bank reported that by 2030 nearly 90million people in African will be exposed to malaria. If this disease or other diseases is combined with the phenomenon above, the African people face imminent danger.


System Diagram

The System Diagram above describes the hypothesized African Human Extinction Event. The source of such an event, is described in detail by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP.) UNEP predicts that current levels of climate change are affecting the African continent the most of any continent and that the African population is the most endangered human population due to climate change.
The Diagram shows climate change as the main source topic at the top. The red boxes above show the main topics, or how we get from A to B. The green boxes are the adversely affected areas of the biosphere, that could lead to a human extinction event on the continent of Africa. The arrows are in yellow to describe caution, as all of the effects shown here, happen to have negative effects.

Module 8 – Happening Hazards – Bernstein

Hometown: Bernville, Pennsylvania

Disaster Reporting On: Wildfire in Cherokee National Park (northeast Tennessee)

  • EDIS NUMBER: WF-20160401-52740-USA
  • DATE OF OCCURRENCE: April 1, 2016 (~3:17 AM UTC)
  • Believed to have been human-caused

1). In my hometown (Bernville, PA), we are prone to wind and rain. Given the choice, I would use another map for Natural Hazard information. The results shown by Nathan’s World Map were too blurry to make distinct (especially as one zoomed in further and further), and so I am afraid that I had to almost guesstimate on many of the hazards. I am thankful that I do not live in such disaster-prone areas as some others do, but also remember that it is still in the realm of possibility; we have had the local man-made lake flood over on several occasions (we have since gotten better at preventing that) and there has been heavy winds and damages before.

2). My hometown itself cannot experience such a disaster, but the area around it could. My hometown doesn’t actually have a lot of wooded areas to catch fire –  mainly apartment buildings and homes – but it is surrounded by wooded areas out towards the farm areas. This is not to say that fires do not happen here though – they do, they’re just not “forest fires”. The scale of the event is not larger than the size of my hometown, but would take a sizable portion of it away. The fire I chose to study spread (as of this writing) to 150 acres; Bernville is only 272 acres – that’s over half of Bernville destroyed if the disaster were to happen there as opposed to where it did (the Cherokee National Forest). Since the forest is obviously much bigger (650,000 acres)  than my modest hometown, the proportion of damage done is significantly smaller, thereby making a bigger impact on my town. Wealth would be the biggest factor of vulnerability in my town; coming from a small more “rural” town, most of the residents are in the lower economic classes. As a result, these people would not be able to afford rebuilding their homes after the fire. Age could be considered tied for first with “Wealth” as a vulnerability factor as there are a lot of aged and children. My hometown is very unfortunate in this as we have a lot of elderly residents (looking for quiet areas to live) and the local elementary school not 15 minutes walk from my home. Reducing the vulnerability (and/or getting rid of it completely) is not something that could be easily done; asking the elderly to move or moving the children to the other school district some distance away could prove futile and anger many, but we have a good response team – there are at least 3 fire companies within a 10 mile distance from my hometown making for a good response in disaster.

3). Beside my personal experience (raised here from infancy) and the experience of others – namely older residents, I managed to dig up a Hazard Vulnerability Assessment and Mitigation Plan of my home county. The assessment and plan are rather old but still manage to hold up well when comparing to today’s (and recent past) events. Reviewing the assessment, I realize that wind has not been as big of a hazard as I previously had thought; it definitely causes damage (as there is a documented case), but apparently the main sources of strife have been heavy snow (for convenience I will loop that in with flooding/rain, or “precipitation”) and drought. Keeping along with what Nathan’s Hazard Map said, there are cases of fires (2001, 2007, 2008, and 2009) listed that were large enough to cause economic damage as well as physical.

Berks County Emergency Services.  (2013, February). Hazard Vulnerability Assessment and Mitigation Plan Update. Retrieved April 1, 2016, from

4). As mentioned previously, Bernville has had flooding before, but we have gotten much better at prevention measures. Blue Marsh, a manmade levee – was made in order to help catch the flood waters to prevent it from flooding the neighboring city of Reading. We also have dams in place in order to control the flow of the water (at least to some degree) allowing more relief in times of flood AND drought. The Army Corps of Engineering is actually the organization/people that would best be suited to deal with matters relating to Blue Marsh, as they were the ones who designed and built it in the first place. Becoming aware, buying flood insurance, and obeying orders when flooded are all different ways I can help (in this example at least); becoming aware of the natural hazards one is likely to be subjected to can better prepare one to face them.


Good Agriculture in Indonesia and Drought in Ethiopia


In Lampung, Indonesia Agribusiness owner Great Giant Pineapple is working hard to meet he demands of a modern agricultural business model that meets environmental standards from governments and consumers alike. ( The leader in pineapple exports had several areas of concern in keeping up with a business that required achieving high yield while reducing waste, complying with environmental regulations and customer requirements, and participating in global warming prevention by reducing green house gas emissions. They were able to meet their goals by practicing “Good Agricultural Practices.” The corporation has been quite successful in creating a sustainable development plan. They reduced waste by 100% by building a biogas plant that turns their previous waste product into a natural energy source. They also switched over to all organic fertilizers (cow manure) as a natural source of soil fertilization to comply with customers needs as well as the health of the soil. In a further effort to meet standards they switched the products they use to treat their crop and they now include bio fertilizer and organic fertilizer application, as well as organic pest controller, nutrient conservation, soil conditioner, plant rotation, and nutrient storage.

In Adigrat, Ethiopia, The Economist reports on the massive drought that the country is experiencing. ( Although nowhere near the national emergency the country experienced in the 80’s, citizens are suffering on a large scale due to a lack of water. The drought has caused the loss of crops, as well as the deaths of hundreds of thousands of livestock animals. The government is doing their best to address the sustainability crisis and also to provide for those citizens who are too poor to afford the food that is available. The government created the Productive Safety Net Programme, which provides jobs for about 7million people who work on public-infrastructure projects in return for food or cash. In this way the government is able to provide for its citizens as well as invest in infrastructure development within its cities. In a further stage of development, as well as to address the crisis Ethiopia managed to accelerate the building of a new railway line—the country’s only one—to bring food supplies from Djibouti on the coast of the Horn of Africa.

I currently live in Southern California, where we too are experiencing a massive drought, just as in Ethiopia. Thankfully, El Nino is bringing California some much needed rain, as opposed to further drought. However, the scarcity of water still exists, thankfully we have the infrastructure to be sustainable for the moment, although the increasing drought threatens this ability. In connection to the same water crisis in California, I chose the Pineapple exporter’s Good agricultural practices, because the farmers of California are not held to this same high standard by the state government. The overuse of water by farmers is one of the reasons for the extremity of the drought in California. I think that the state government could learn from the policies of the Ethiopian government and the good practices of the Great Giant Pineapple company to be proactive in addressing the need for sustainable crops and sustainable water, especially in a crisis like a drought. The government can’t expect the daily citizen to turn around a drought, it will take a massive reform effort and new rules for everyone.