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Climate Change Pushing Millions to Edge of Starvation

• September 12, 2011 • 2:37 PM

Climatologist Chris Funk explains his findings that long-term ocean warming has created a chain reaction that is likely to permanently dry out East Africa.

East Africa is being hit with the worst drought in 60 years, with rainfall less than 30 percent of normal in many areas. In Ethiopia, Kenya, and especially Somalia, widespread crop failure and livestock death have left millions of people on the brink of starvation. In Somalia alone, about 30,000 children under the age of 5 have died. Almost a million more Somalis have fled into overwhelmed refugee camps in Ethiopia and Kenya.

In the podcast, Chris Funk, a climatologist at the University of California, Santa Barbara, fingers one of the key culprits for the drought: climate change. Funk relates that long-term warming of the Indian and Western Pacific oceans have started a chain reaction that is permanently drying out East Africa, an area that was already arid to begin with.

With severe droughts expected to occur more and more frequently in the region, the current East African famine may be just the beginning. All is not lost though, according to Funk, as international development aid focused on improving agricultural yields could effectively head off future food crises.

Click to hear podcast

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Music in this podcast includes Bring It On No Vox by Jamie Miller and David Matheson, Don’t Want To Come Back Down by Ivan Chew

[powerpress]

Jai Ranganathan
Dr. Jai Ranganathan is a biologist and his research focuses on questions of species conservation. He can be reached at jai.ranganathan at gmail.com.

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