Immersed in the news of the day and week – of COVID-19, racial injustice and violence, protests, politics, and even faux pro sports reopenings – you might be thinking that 2020 could hardly be worse than it has been in the U.S. Indeed, many a social media meme suggests as much. But let’s remember that the U.S. doesn’t have exclusive rights to a grim 2020. Things could always be worse. Look yonder.
Consider the plague of desert locusts, with unfathomable numbers swarming in the last two years over much of northeast Africa, the Arabian Peninsula, and into Pakistan and India; and Argentina and Brazil are also experiencing locust swarms.
This is an important, moving, and fascinating story. And yes, there is a climate change connection.
These two stories offer vivid on-the-ground reporting:
- “Hundreds of Billions of Locusts – Fueled by Conflict and Climate Change – Are Swarming East Africa” (Max Bearak, Washington Post, February 12). Enable audio to get full effects of this video.
- “‘Like an Umbrella Had Covered the Sky’: Locust Swarms Despoil Kenya” (Abdi Latif Dahir, New York Times, February 21)
These visual stories offer evidence that a photo (or video) can be worth a thousand words (enable sound for full effects):
- “They’re Back: Trillions of Locusts Descend on East Africa in Second Wave” (Max Bearak and Luis Tato, Washington Post, May 5)
- “Preventing a Plague: Fighting Kenya’s Locusts” (Joe Inwood, BBC, June 25)
These explainers provide useful background:
- “A plague of locusts has descended on East Africa. Climate change may be to blame” (Madeleine Stone, National Georgraphic, February 14)
- “The Other Plague: Locusts Are Devouring Crops in East Africa and the Middle East” (Umair Irfan and Jen Kirby, Vox, May 20)
- “Are the 2019-20 Locust Swarms Linked to Climate Change?” (Daisy Dunne, Carbon Brief, March 10)
These are interesting too:
- The UN’s FAO infographic on climate change and locusts and regular update page.
- The FAO’s Senior Locust Forecasting Officer, Keith Chessman, is quoted everywhere in these stories. You might also enjoy his 15-minute video interview July 1 with Japan’s NHK network.
And for quite recent coverage:
- “Record Locust Swarms Hint at What’s to Come with Climate Change” (Rina S. Khan, EOS, July 14)
This series is curated and written by retired Colorado State University English professor and close climate change watcher SueEllen Campbell of Colorado. To flag works you think warrant attention, send an e-mail to her any time. Let us hear from you.