The deeper the root system, the greater the access to moisture and the less need for irrigation.

The juniper tree has up to 200 metres depth of root system.

It is an important tree and can only grow profusely in certain locations. The above image is of a reserve located in Pakistan.

“Inclusion of Juniper Forest of Ziarat in the World Network of Biosphere Reserve is yet another step towards recognition of Pakistan’s natural sites of international significance on global level, which is a matter of great honour and pride”, says Mr. Mahmood Akhtar Cheema, Country Representative, IUCN Pakistan.

The process for designating the Ziarat Juniper Forests as a Biosphere Reserve was initiated by IUCN Pakistan in 2010 under its UNDP funded project titled: Mainstreaming Biodiversity Conservation into the Juniper Forest Ecosystem Production in collaboration with the Balochistan Forest and Wildlife Department with UNESCO Pakistan’s financial support under One UN Programme. To meet the criteria, a management plan was formulated and approved by the Government of Balochistan. Consultations were also held with all the stakeholders, local communities and other relevant government departments for which the Additional Chief Secretary (Dev), the Secretary Forests and the Conservator Wildlife, Government of Balochistan played an active role.”

Ecological Characteristics

The biosphere reserve is home to the largest area of juniper forest (juniperus excelsa polycarpus) in Pakistan, covering about 110 000 ha. It is believed that the forest is the second largest of its kind in the world. The juniper tree species found there are of global significance because of their advanced age and slow growth rate. In fact, the junipers of Ziarat are among the oldest living trees in the world. Although no dendrological study has yet been conducted, according to one estimate the age of a mature tree can exceed 1 500 years. Local people refer to the trees as ‘living fossils’ and this remarkable longevity allows research into past weather conditions in the region, making the species of special significance for climate change and ecological studies.

The juniper forest ecosystem of Ziarat provides a habitat for endangered wildlife species and supports a rich diversity of plant species. Because of its rich biodiversity the different areas of the ecosystem have been assigned the status of protected areas, including wildlife sanctuaries and game reserves. The mountain ranges, including Khalifat mountain, consist of a core habitat reportedly hosting several globally important wild species, among them Suleman Markhor, Urial, black bears and wolves. The forests also serve as a habitat for a number of other species: Afghan Pica, foxes, jackals and several species of migratory birds. However, various anthropological factors such as illegal hunting, human habitations and livestock grazing have encroached on the wildlife habitats leading to their fragmentation.

Balancing ecosystems is a natural process over time, if we exclude the interference of insensitive human activity.

Vegetation and soils are the foundation upon which all terrestrial ecosystems are built. Soils provide the medium for the storage and delivery of water and nutrients to plants, which in turn provide animal populations with both habitat and food.

Where constructive monitoring of soil health is carried out, land can be protected from harmful human practices, often linked to agriculture.

Juniper trees have been known to live for 1300 years.

Researchers have been studying them because of their importance and concern of threats to their existence.

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Citations (12)References (20)Figures (8)

“Abstract and Figures

The study analyses physiogeographical factors of the Zeravshan Range as a basis for environmental and habitat diversity. They provided the background for considering conditions for the functioning of juniper forest ecosystems and their role in maintaining biodiversity especially of of endemic species. The uniqueness of these ecosystems also relies on the longevity of juniper (Juniperus seravschanica Kom., J. semiglobosa Regel and J. turkestanica Kom.). These trees can live 400-600 years, or even 1300 years, and therefore are very important species in dendroindication studies. Landscapes with juniper forests are diverse in terms of species composition, which is conditioned by aspect and relief as species show different habitat requirements. On the individual Pamir-Alay and western Tian-Shan ridges juniper is an important mountain forest-forming species. Physiognomic features of the landscape are conditioned by the habitat, climate, landforms, and recently also by anthropopressure. Juniper forests play an important ecological, landscape and economic roles: they increase water resources, prevent soil erosion as well as provide a source of good quality building material and firewood. They fulfill also a very important cultural role. The ecological, environmental and the cultural importance of juniper trees makes them a distinctive and determinant feature of the landscape. Currently juniper forests across Tajikistan, including those in the Zeravshan Mts, have been significantly disrupted as a result of chaotic, uncontrolled and excessive felling. Damage done by cattle grazingintensifies erosion, especially through sheet-wash. These unfavorable processes may also lead to the disappearance of unique forms of cultural behavior of the people of Tajikistan., Junipers are at the core of national, religious and ethnic identity.”

Illegal felling of these ancient trees is widespread. Motivation to commit illegal acts is usually tied to exploitative schemes.

There are many tragic examples such as those who felled the ancient alligator juniper trees in New Mexico:

Once they are gone, they are gone. Their splendid presence is torn from the earth and with them goes the perfect ecosystem and balance we should all bow down and be thankful for……But humans continue with perverse schemes to destroy what took centuries to grow.

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The arrogance of religious beliefs to assimilate the Guardians of the Planet–lakota-sioux-holy-man-patricia-januszkiewicz.html

I was reading about how Jesuits sent from Rome helped destroy the culture of the Sioux at the behest of US government officials through re-education techniques. I have reproduced the article which informed me of this travesty which took place during the 19th and 20th century. This is a grevious crime against those whose spiritual and physical bond with the natural world was something we should have emulated, not tried to destroy.

Buried Secrets: Red Cloud takes the lead in uncovering boarding school past

Stairs lead down to the basement of Drexel Hall on the campus of Red Cloud Indian School on the Pine Ridge reservation in South Dakota, where officials are set to begin excavation Monday, Oct. 17, 2022, to search for unmarked graves. Red Cloud is among the first schools to address the issue of its boarding school past with a Truth and Healing initiative to find out the truths about what happened. (Photo by Mary Annette Pember/ICT)

Pine Ridge school’s Truth and Healing effort looks for long-sought answers

WARNING: This story contains disturbing details about residential and boarding schools. If you are feeling triggered, here is a resource list for trauma responses from the National Native American Boarding School Healing Coalition in the U.S. In Canada, the National Indian Residential School Crisis Hotline can be reached at 1-866-925-4419.

This story and a two-part podcast are the result of a collaboration between ICT and Reveal to examine Indigenous boarding schools in the United States. The podcast, “Buried Secrets: America’s Indian Boarding Schools,” starts with part 1 on Saturday, Oct. 15, and concludes with part 2 on Saturday, Oct. 22.

Mary Annette Pember

PINE RIDGE INDIAN RESERVATION, South Dakota – Justin Pourier will never forget what he saw in the basement of Drexel Hall.

Pourier, a citizen of the Oglala Lakota Tribe, was working as a bus driver and maintenance person for the Jesuit-run Red Cloud Indian School on the Pine Ridge reservation when sometime in the 1990s a supervisor asked him to go into the basement to look for a leak.

Pourier made his way down the rickety steps to the vast basement below Drexel Hall, former home to student dormitories and later a convent for nuns who taught at the school.


Back in a corner, past a wooden door that led into a small room with a dirt floor, he saw three small mounds of dirt. Evenly spaced, shaped like child-size graves, the mounds were marked with primitive crosses.

“Right away, I knew that wasn’t right,” Pourier told ICT and Reveal in May.


When he told his supervisor about his discovery, however, the man grew angry, demanding that he never discuss his findings with anyone.

And so, Pourier obeyed. Until now.

After learning of the discoveries of unmarked graves of children who attended residential schools in Canada, Pourier reached out to Red Cloud leaders earlier this year and told them his story.

By then, Red Cloud had already launched a Truth and Healing effort amid growing pressure to reveal the truths about the school’s boarding school past.

The Holy Rosary Cemetery, shown here in May 2022, sits next to Red Cloud Indian School in Pine Ridge, South Dakota. (Photo by Mary Annette Pember/ICT)

The Holy Rosary Cemetery, shown here in May 2022, sits next to Red Cloud Indian School in Pine Ridge, South Dakota. (Photo by Mary Annette Pember/ICT)

Now a day school that provides education to about 600 Indigenous students from kindergarten through high school, Red Cloud is among the first of the former Indian boarding schools in the United States to actively work toward truth and reconciliation.

“It’s important we explore our history and own our past,” Red Cloud President Raymond Nadolny told ICT/Reveal. “This is a strong, fierce community. We’re excited to get these conversations on the table.”

Red Cloud is a microcosm of the issues facing churches, government leaders and Indigenous people over the nation’s sordid boarding school history, and could provide a blueprint for other schools in years to come.

The Truth and Healing efforts, so far, however, have uncovered more questions than answers.

A seven-month review of the Red Cloud school by ICT and Reveal found evidence of at least one unmarked grave and at least 20 student deaths, and harsh, dehumanizing treatment of students at a time when the Catholic Church was accumulating thousands of dollars in government payments and hundreds of acres of land at the expense of the Oglala Lakota people.

From 1903 to 1940, records show the church received the equivalent of nearly $18 million in today’s dollars via the U.S. government from Lakota trust and treaty funds for providing education to Indigenous students at Red Cloud, and obtained about 700 acres of tribal lands for the mission and school, the ICT/Reveal review found.

Today, the nonprofit organization that now runs Red Cloud also operates another elementary school, six community churches and the Heritage Center art gallery. It reports $82 million in assets while based in a county, Oglala Lakota County, that ranks among the poorest 25 counties in the U.S.

And though Red Cloud officials have vowed to uncover the truths of their boarding school history, the Catholic Church’s openness with records has fallen short of expectations. The lack of transparency prevents researchers from determining how many children attended boarding schools across the United States and keeps family members from knowing what happened to their missing relatives, ICT/Reveal found.

Maka Black Elk, Oglala Lakota, is executive director of Truth and Healing at Red Cloud Indian School. He is shown in this undated photo in front of Drexel Hall on the school campus, where officials have agreed to excavate the basement after a report that small graves were seen there in the early 1990s. (Photo courtesy Red Cloud Indian School)

Maka Black Elk, Oglala Lakota, is executive director of Truth and Healing at Red Cloud Indian School. He is shown in this undated photo in front of Drexel Hall on the school campus, where officials have agreed to excavate the basement after a report that small graves were seen there in the early 1990s. (Photo courtesy Red Cloud Indian School)

“The Catholic Church needs to recognize that honesty, being forthright and vulnerable, are far more powerful and more healing than being reticent, restrictive and closed,” said Maka Black Elk, Oglala Lakota, who was hired in 2020 as executive director of Truth and Healing for Red Cloud.

ICT/Reveal also reached out for comment to Jesuit leadership internationally in Rome and in the U.S., the Vatican, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and the head of the Bureau of Catholic Indian MIssions. Officials did not make themselves available for interviews.

And while Red Cloud is being lauded by some for its efforts, others question whether an independent investigation might be more truthful.

“How can we let them investigate themselves?” asked Dusty Nelson, a citizen of the Oglala Lakota tribe and a former student at Red Cloud who has been an outspoken critic of Jesuit leadership.

Some questions may be answered in coming weeks. Red Cloud is set to begin excavation on Monday, Oct. 17, in the Drexel Hall basement where Pourier believes he saw the small graves.

Ground-penetrating radar of the site in May was inconclusive on what might lie beneath the ground, and officials agreed to dig up the concrete slab that now covers the area.

The ICT/Reveal findings will be featured in a two-part podcast, “Buried Secrets: America’s Indian Boarding Schools,” that starts with part 1 on Saturday, Oct. 15, and concludes with part 2 on Saturday, Oct. 22.

A long history in Lakota country

It was a hot July on the South Dakota prairie in 1888 when a Jesuit priest known as Father Jutz escorted four nuns from the Sisters of St. Francis of Penance and Christian Charity to Lakota country to teach Indigenous children at the newly built Holy Rosary Mission School.

Clad from head to toe in black habits and head coverings, the nuns arrived to greetings from Lakota leaders under the prairie’s unrelenting summer sun, with temperatures likely reaching into the 90s.

This historic photo shows female students at Red Cloud Hall, circa 1910 – 1930, when the school on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation was known as Holy Rosary Mission. (Photo courtesy of Red Cloud Indian School and Marquette University from Holy Rosary Mission-Red Cloud Indian School records via Reveal)

This historic photo shows female students at Red Cloud Hall, circa 1910 – 1930, when the school on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation was known as Holy Rosary Mission. (Photo courtesy of Red Cloud Indian School and Marquette University from Holy Rosary Mission-Red Cloud Indian School records via Reveal)

Seeing women for the first time with the Black Robes, as the Lakota people called the priests, the tribal leaders were curious.

“Are these your wives?” they asked Jutz, according to a written history by the Sisters of St. Francis that recounts the exchange. The diary was originally written in German but the archives include a version translated into English.

Jutz was apparently flummoxed into silence by the question, so one of the nuns responded.

“No,” she said. “[We’ve] come only for the sake of the Indians.”

Jutz had arrived in Lakota country to open Holy Rosary in 1887, two years before Congress created the Pine Ridge reservation in an effort to reduce the size of the Great Sioux Nation.

Catholic historians say that Lakota Chief Red Cloud invited church leaders to his country to educate Lakota children. Seeing the inevitable encroachment by the White man on his peoples’ lands and way of life, they say, Red Cloud saw the similarities between the church’s use of ritual and that of Lakota holy men.

Others disagree with the church’s perspective. Nelson, who said she is descended from Chief Red Cloud, believes the leader wanted to help his people navigate a major change in their society and lives. If he had known about the often-brutal assimilationist methods at the school and the goals of destroying Lakota culture and language, he never would have allowed them access to the children, she said.

Dusty Lee Nelson, Oglala Lakota, is a descendant of Chief Red Cloud and a former student at Red Cloud Indian School. She serves as a mentor for the International Indigenous Youth Council on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation and is a critic of Jesuit leadership at the school. reservation. She is shown here outside her home on  Pine Ridge in May 2022. (Photo by Mary Annette Pember/ICT)

Dusty Lee Nelson, Oglala Lakota, is a descendant of Chief Red Cloud and a former student at Red Cloud Indian School. She serves as a mentor for the International Indigenous Youth Council on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation and is a critic of Jesuit leadership at the school. reservation. She is shown here outside her home on Pine Ridge in May 2022. (Photo by Mary Annette Pember/ICT)

Regardless of the long-ago motivations, the Catholic Church and its emissaries remain today on Pine Ridge, their existence intertwined with the fabric of the community for more than 130 years.

Much has changed at the school since the early days. The name was changed to Red Cloud Indian School in 1969, and the school stopped boarding students in 1980.

Its mission no longer includes destruction of Indigenous culture, spirituality and language, and now offers classes in Lakota language and culture. It employs tribal citizens as teachers and administrators.

And in keeping with the Jesuit reputation as rigorous educators, Red Cloud leads the nation in producing Gates Millennium Scholars per capita, with 72 students having received the honor as of 2016. An estimated 90 percent of graduates attend college.

That’s quite a feat in a community with a 70 percent high school dropout rate, and many Red Cloud graduates go on to attend Ivy League colleges and universities. Still, the school has rigorous admissions requirements and requires significant family support, which many students on Pine Ridge may lack.

“Since Red Cloud is a private school, they can set their own standards for entrance and attendance,” said Dayna Brave Eagle, director of the Oglala Sioux Tribe’s education department. “Tribal and public schools, however, don’t have that luxury.”

Nonetheless, there is a community of loyal Red Cloud supporters in Pine Ridge that includes generations of families who have graduated from the school and who take great pride in their ability to excel in the Jesuit’s demanding environment.

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Jesuit leadership proudly points out that U.S. Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito visited the school in 2011. And six of the current Supreme Court justices attended private Catholic schools, with Justices Clarence Thomas and Brett Kavanaugh attending Jesuit schools.

The school’s latest effort, the Truth and Healing review, likewise has the support of the Jesuits, Nadolny said. They have allocated $20,000 to the school for the work and recently supported bringing in the ground-penetrating radar to search for graves on campus. The Jesuits have allocated another $50,000 to pay one year’s salary for an archivist to examine their boarding school records in St. Louis.

The radar found no evidence of graves under the school lawn, but the results in the Drexel Hall basement were inconclusive.

Unlike the discovery of unmarked graves at the Kamloops Indian Residential School in British Columbia, Canada, however, the potential for graves in the basement of Drexel Hall raise more sinister concerns. Tribal leaders and federal authorities will be on hand for the excavation.

“Red Cloud wasn’t a boarding school in the 1990s [when Pourier saw the graves] so we will be involving law enforcement, in addition to members of the community, when we excavate the area,” Black Elk said.

The revelation of Pourier’s findings has caused a stir in the community, with some calling for closure of the school while outside investigators search for evidence.

In August, Jesuit Father General Arturo Sosa visited Red Cloud school and offered an apology for the Jesuit’s role in assimilationist boarding school policies and actions, but many people in the community were not aware he was there until after he had left.

Harsh conditions

More than 1,000 graves have been discovered at Indian residential schools in Canada, where the searches continue, and more than 50 burial sites have been identified so far in the U.S. among the 500 Indian boarding schools that received federal funding.

The remains of more than two dozen children have already been returned to their tribes after being discovered on the grounds of the former government-run Carlisle Indian Industrial School in Pennsylvania, and more than 170 are still buried there, records show.

The search is ongoing, according to the U.S. Department of the Interior.

Rumors of missing students and unmarked graves have circulated around Indigenous boarding schools for years, including in the Pine Ridge community, and a number of other private schools across the U.S. and Canada are joining Red Cloud in searching their grounds for evidence of graves.

“These stories are rooted in horrific truths of the broader boarding school past,” said Black Elk.

Justin Pourier, Oglala Lakota, his daughter Joaquina, left, and wife, Marla, watch technicians conduct ground-penetrating radar in the basement of an old building at Red Cloud Indian School. Pourier was working for the school in the 1990s when he saw what appeared to be three small graves in a dark corner of the vast basement. He was told to stay quiet about it, and he did, until 2022, when he reported it again to school leaders. Officials are set to excavate the section of the basement starting Oct. 17, 2022. (Photo by Mary Annette Pember/ICT)

Justin Pourier, Oglala Lakota, his daughter Joaquina, left, and wife, Marla, watch technicians conduct ground-penetrating radar in the basement of an old building at Red Cloud Indian School. Pourier was working for the school in the 1990s when he saw what appeared to be three small graves in a dark corner of the vast basement. He was told to stay quiet about it, and he did, until 2022, when he reported it again to school leaders. Officials are set to excavate the section of the basement starting Oct. 17, 2022. (Photo by Mary Annette Pember/ICT)

The stories regarding Red Cloud school, however, have seldom included eyewitness testimony, at least until now, and the community is hoping for answers.

“This is a hard conversation for our community to have,” Black Elk said. “If our GPR work helps open the door to those conversations, then hopefully that leads people to healing.”

Nadolny did not dismiss the possibility of examining a larger area of the school grounds – an effort he estimated could cost millions of dollars.

“It’s something that might have to be done,” he said. “I think it’s important that the Truth and Healing work be Indigenously-led … As we have credible allegations of graves, we will address it.”

ICT and Reveal found evidence that at least 20 students died at the school – and another was sent home to die – in a review of documents at the Bureau of Catholic Indian Missions Archive at Marquette University in Milwaukee, Wisconsin; at the National Archives in Kansas City, Missouri; and at Red Cloud school.

Data, however, is scant, and the handwriting is sometimes difficult to read. The records often do not include any indication of how the children died, and their tribal affiliations are often redacted.

Among those was Zora or Zona Ironteeth, 7, who died in 1915 of unreported causes and was buried in the Catholic cemetery next to the school, according to the written history maintained by the Sisters of St. Francis. The written account covers a 40-year period at Holy Rosary Indian Mission, from 1888 to 1929.

ICT/Reveal found Ironteeth’s name and the location of her grave on a large, handwritten map of the cemetery at Red Cloud school, but was unable to locate a marker for her grave at the designated site during a search of the grounds.

Tyler Star Comes Out, Oglala Lakota, leads a group from the International Indigenous Youth Council on horseback around the church at Red Cloud Indian school in Pine Ridge, South Dakota in May 2022, during a search for unmarked graves with ground penetrating radar on the school grounds. The youth council has pressured Red Cloud officials to examine the school's boarding school past. (Photo by Mary Annette Pember/ICT)

Tyler Star Comes Out, Oglala Lakota, leads a group from the International Indigenous Youth Council on horseback around the church at Red Cloud Indian school in Pine Ridge, South Dakota in May 2022, during a search for unmarked graves with ground penetrating radar on the school grounds. The youth council has pressured Red Cloud officials to examine the school’s boarding school past. (Photo by Mary Annette Pember/ICT)

The nuns’ written history mentions several other student deaths at the school as well. Some entries include the names and causes of death, and others simply state the number of student deaths during select years.

In 1888-1889, the first year the school year was open, seven student deaths were recorded out of the 130 students who attended. Only the first child who died at the school is identified — Ignace Black Face, who died at the mission in 1888 or 1889.

Other students identified in the nuns’ history as having died at the school over the years include Etta or Ella Shangreauw or Shangrau, 1895; Clara Condelario, who died in 1915 from tuberculosis and other health issues; Harley Cook, who died in 1925 at age 16; and Lawrence Clifford, who died May 1, 1926, of double pneumonia.

ICT/Reveal found death records from the National Archives for Etta/Ella and Harley, and an additional child, Rosa Red Elk, who died in 1907 at the mission but whose name was not found in the written history.

Tim Giago, of the Oglala Lakota Nation and founder of Indian Country Today, now ICT, also recalled digging a grave for his friend Bozo Richards, who died at age 16 during the years Giago attended the school, from the late 1930s to the early 1940s. Giago spoke to ICT/Reveal in May, just a few months before his death in July 2022.

Official death reports on the Pine Ridge reservation are sparse, relying on information filed with the federal Indian agent by farmers who lived in districts on the reservation. The White farmers were paid to report the information, but seldom included age, cause or place of death, according to a Bad Lands Resource Study from 2006 by the National Park Service.

In searching the region’s newspapers, ICT found no information regarding deaths or obituaries on the reservation from late 1800s into the 1920s.

Further complicating the search for student deaths, moreover, is that the cemeteries associated with Christian missions served not only the schools but also the entire community.

According to the nuns’ written history, seriously ill children or the remains of those who died were often retrieved by their parents, since most of the children attending Holy Rosary were Lakota from the Pine Ridge reservation. Unlike federal schools that were usually located far from tribal communities, parents were better able to travel to Christian mission schools, frequently located on or near reservations, to collect their ill or dead children.

Records indicate children at both federal and Christian schools often died from contagious diseases exacerbated by overcrowding, poor living conditions and inadequate food.

At Pine Ridge, the nuns’ written history describes waves of illnesses moving through the school, including measles, mumps, flu, trachoma, “skin disease,” tuberculosis, smallpox and typhoid.

In 1911, a Catholic doctor told the nuns that the children were sleeping too closely together, and the nuns converted the kindergarten into a sick room, the history recounts. Another entry blames children for bringing disease into the school after they were allowed to return home for a visit.

Tuberculosis, often referred to as consumption, was a persistent problem, among the nuns as well as the children.

A 1910 entry in the nuns’ history describes a government doctor finding that one of the nuns had “consumption” and ordering her to stay away from the children.

And in 1914, parents at the Holy Rosary Mission complained to the Indian agent that their children had gotten consumption from the sisters, according to the written history. A government doctor visited the school and issued orders for the school to collect information on deaths and illness.

The sisters did not take kindly to the criticism, with an entry in the history complaining of excessive government interest in “corporal benefit of the Indians.”

The same year, the Pine Ridge Indian agent responded sharply to a government circular urging quarantine for contagious diseases.

“The position of agency physician on this reservation has been vacant for five months. We have no reservation hospital or other place for suitable isolation. There is considerable suffering among the Indians here,” he wrote.

Other health problems spread throughout the school. A government doctor making a 1913 visit found nearly 100 children had trachoma, now known to be a bacterial infection that can cause blindness. Later, three government doctors came to the school and conducted “operations” on the children’s eyes in the parlor, the written history notes.

“Nothing else could get done because of care being given to the children,” the author complained.

Some terse entries suggest poignant stories of death, suffering and abuse.

An entry in 1915 describes the short life of Clara Condelario, who appeared to be in her early 20s when she died. She is described as an orphan who came to the mission in 1890 after the deaths of her Mexican father and Indigenous mother.

“She asked to remain at the mission (after her schooling was completed) and live like the sisters; they accepted her work around the house,” the entry notes.

“One day whilst scrubbing in the church she slipped, knocked her elbow on a bench and broke her arm. She didn’t tell the sisters until the arm pained her so much she could hardly dress herself. They sent her to hospital in Omaha where they put her arm in a cask [sp]. After we removed it things were not as they should be so we prevailed on her to return to hospital.”

The doctor who examined her found several sores on her body, and concluded she also had appendicitis. When they operated, however, they found her intestines were decayed from “tuberculosis of the stomach,” which can cause abdominal pain.

Basil Braveheart, 89,  of the Oglala Lakota tribe attended Holy Rosary Mission when it was a boarding school in the late 1930s and early 1940s. He is shown here at his home in May 2022 on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. The school, renamed Red Cloud Indian School, now operates as a day school for children in grades K-12. (Photo by Mary Annette Pember/ICT)

Basil Braveheart, 89, of the Oglala Lakota tribe attended Holy Rosary Mission when it was a boarding school in the late 1930s and early 1940s. He is shown here at his home in May 2022 on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. The school, renamed Red Cloud Indian School, now operates as a day school for children in grades K-12. (Photo by Mary Annette Pember/ICT)

“There was nothing they could do, she died a few days later,” the entry concludes. “A requiem was held. She was the first Sioux girl to make a vow of chastity. She is buried near the sisters in the cemetery.”

Physical abuse, especially in the earlier years, was ever-present, former students told ICT/Reveal. Basil Braveheart of the Ogala Lakota tribe recalls the strict environment when he attended Holy Rosary School more than 80 years ago. Braveheart, now 89, said teachers used corporal punishment for even the smallest violation of school rules.

In addition to beatings, Braveheart described the emotional and spiritual abuse of being separated from family and being forbidden to speak the Lakota language.

“The experience was very traumatizing to me as a child,” Braveheart said. “Our language is what defines our culture. Having it taken away was a spiritual violation.”

Physical punishment is also mentioned in the historian’s entries. One describes a parent known as a “troublemaker” who complained to government inspectors about heavy-handed punishment meted out by the nuns and priests. The complaint drew a response from the inspector.

“The inspector suggests we use a strap rather than a stick to beat the children,” the history notes.

Other mentions of student deaths at Holy Rosary appear mostly in passing. An entry from 1913 mentions that an 8-year-old boy died from eating “a great quantity” of elm blossoms.

An entry in 1918 reads, “the flu comes, many die, funerals every day, authorities keep Indians away from the mission.” And in 1920, “children sick from smallpox, forbidden to return home.”

An entry from 1927 notes there was “much sickness” at the school and on the reservation, noting that three children died at Holy Rosary and more than 300 “babies” died on the reservation.

Additional details are believed to be included in the school’s sacramental records, but church officials have refused to open them up for scrutiny over privacy concerns. And whatever grave markers may have existed have long since crumbled.

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Financial rewards

The Catholic Church benefited financially, however, for every child who attended the Pine Ridge school, receiving government, church and private funding.

Moreover, the church gained substantial political and economic influence in the U.S. through its work with Native peoples.

“The political weight of the Catholics in the nation and their successful lobbying for their interests in the Indian school question gave them a more widely accepted role in the national affairs, and it is no longer possible to think of management of Indian affairs without some consideration of Catholic views,” Jesuit scholar and priest Francis Paul Prucha wrote in 1979 in the book, “The Churches and the Indian Schools: 1888-1912.” He died in 2015.

For more than 65 years, until the 1970s, the U.S. government diverted Indian trust and treaty funds as direct payments for tuition to Christian boarding schools until funds grew depleted, according to the Marquette website. Catholics operated most of the schools and received the lion’s share of the funds, as well as other federal dollars.

Nadolny told ICT/Reveal that the possibility of paying reparations to the tribe is open for discussion.

“That’s a good conversation to have with the tribe,” he said. “Everything is on the table.”

Raymond Nadolny was tapped to be president of Red Cloud Indian School in 2019, the is the first non-Jesuit to lead the school. He is shown here in front of Drexel Hall on the Red Cloud campus. (Photo by Mary Annette Pember/ICT)

Raymond Nadolny was tapped to be president of Red Cloud Indian School in 2019, the is the first non-Jesuit to lead the school. He is shown here in front of Drexel Hall on the Red Cloud campus. (Photo by Mary Annette Pember/ICT)

Records indicate that Holy Rosary school received $108 per student as early as 1903, which would have meant a yearly payment of $21,600 – the equivalent of more than $700,000 in today’s dollars – for the 200 students typically enrolled at the time.

By then, government payments to churches for educating Indigenous students were routine.

The federal government began paying Christian missionaries to “civilize” and educate Indigenous peoples as early as 1789, based on a recommendation from then-Secretary of War Henry Knox.

Over the ensuing decades, in 120 of the 370 treaties made with Native people, the government promised to provide education and indicated that Christian missionaries could be paid to do it, according to research by Indian law experts Matthew Fletcher, citizen of the Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians, and Wenona Singel, citizen of the Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians, at Michigan State University’s Indigenous Law and Policy Center.

In 1819, Congress passed the Civilization Fund Act, creating a fund to pay Christian missionaries to establish schools in Indian Country in order to replace Native culture with Christian practices. In 1824, the fund supported 32 Christian boarding schools; by 1830, that number had risen to 52.

Funds from treaties, without consultation with tribes, were often used to help support the effort, according to the Native American Rights Fund.

“With respect to the history of missionary activities, it is probably enough to say that they date practically from the very beginning of the contact of the white man with the Indian. The policy of the government has always been to encourage missionary activities,” according to The Meriam Report, a 1928 study by what is now the Brookings Institution that surveyed conditions on Indian reservations in 26 states.

In 1869, Congress enacted President Ulysses S. Grant’s Peace Policy, which allowed the government to create its own boarding schools and authorized the coerced removal of Native children from their families to attend.

The policy institutionalized the concept of assimilation through boarding school education, but allowed church-run schools to continue to receive federal support.

Under the policy, Indian Country was effectively apportioned out to various Christian missionary groups, and Catholic leaders rushed to secure dominance on reservations with large trust funds, such as the Osage and Chippewa tribes, according to the archives at Marquette University.

The policy set off a conflict between Catholics and Protestants, leading to the creation in 1874 of the Bureau of Catholic Indian Missions, a lobbying organization founded to protect and promote Catholic interests.

In 1908, the U.S. Supreme Court decided in Quickbear v. Leupp that Native people could use their trust and treaty funds to pay for tuition in denominational schools, finding that the payments would not violate the separation of church and state because the funds belonged to tribes.

Catholics then set up a system in which Indigenous people could sign petitions, often with simple thumbprints, allowing the federal government to pay a portion of trust and treaty funds directly to the Bureau of Catholic Indian Missions, which in turn paid the individual schools.

Interestingly, the 1908 court describes the plaintiffs, who were Indigenous people of the Rosebud Sioux, as “citizens of the United States,” though Native people were not granted U.S. citizenship in South Dakota until the passage of the 1924 federal Indian Citizenship Act.

The court ruling made much of the Lakota people’s freedom of choice in its decision, but failed to note that Indigenous people at the time were prohibited from freely practicing their religion, selling their lands or spending their trust and treaty funds on food or supplies.

Year-by-year accountings of treaty fund payments were not among the archived documents, but a previous review of available records by ICT found that Indigenous people signed over more than $30 million in trust and treaty funds – adjusted to today’s dollars – to Catholic schools in just nine years scattered between 1910 and 1954.

Holy Rosary Mission School received Indian trust and treaty funds for at least 37 years, according to the ICT/Reveal review of available records.

ICT also found evidence of Catholic mission schools receiving additional federal monies, such as an additional $125 per child in trust and treaty funds for care and maintenance of neglected Indian children. Holy Rosary received those funds for 30 of its needy students in 1935, the equivalent of about $80,000 in today’s dollars, according to records at Marquette University.

Many schools also received children’s portions of federal rations for several years, according to the Marquette archives.

Additionally, Catholics were successful at private fundraising for the schools.

In 1884, the church created an annual Lenten collection to benefit the Bureau of Catholic Indian Missions and African-American mission. Each diocese was required to send its funds from the collection to the bureau. The Lenten collection still generates funds for the Bureau of Catholic Indian Missions.

Bureau Director William Ketchum also created The Indian Sentinel, an official fundraising magazine for the Society for the Preservation of Faith Among Indian Children. The magazine published three times a year until 1962 and featured first-hand accounts of missionaries.

From 1901 to 1914, the society raised $328,403 – or about $9 million in today’s dollars. In 1939, The Indian Sentinel generated $77,854, or about $1.5 million in today’s dollars.

In a notable example of Catholic fundraising success, the sisters at Holy Rosary reported in 1920 that they collected $40 from the citizens of the Pine Ridge reservation for starving children in Austria during the post-World War I years.

Nelson and others, however, complain that Red Cloud’s successful fundraising campaigns today imply that donations benefit a broad population on Pine Ridge, without mentioning the restrictions to get into the school.

“Red Cloud only takes the cream of the crop,” Nelson said. “Those with behavior or developmental problems or without family support can’t make it there.”

The Catholic Church also accumulated tribal lands from the U.S. government.

Under the Dawes Act of 1887, tribal lands held in common could be broken up into small parcels or allotments for individual heads of families and could be available free of charge to Christian missionaries.

Tribes lost more than 90 million acres of land because of the Dawes Act, according to the Indian Land Tenure Foundation. Unlike the lands allotted to individuals — which were held in trust by the government — churches were given tribal lands in a transfer known as “fee simple,” meaning the land could be used or transferred freely.

In his 1901 annual address, President Theodore Roosevelt described the act as a “mighty pulverizing machine to break up the tribal land mass.”

ICT/Reveal found documentation at the Marquette archives that the Bureau of Catholic Indian Missions received more than 10,000 acres of allotted Indian lands to be used for schools from 1887 to 1934. In the 1960s and 1970s, however, documents show that the bureau divested itself of some of those lands by giving them to various Catholic dioceses and other entities.

The review of records recently by ICT/Reveal found that more than 7,000 acres of allotted Indian lands are still held by Catholic-affiliated organizations, including 1,118 acres held by the Bureau of Catholic Indian Missions and 6,062 acres held by other Catholic entities.

The bureau transferred more than 700 acres of allotted lands to the nonprofit organization that ran the school, including the lands at Wounded Knee where hundreds of Lakota people were slaughtered in 1890 and left in a mass grave, according to bureau records at Marquette.

Red Cloud recently returned to the tribe about 40 acres, including the mass grave site. Records are unclear on the exact number of acres now held by Red Cloud.

ICT found that Holy Rosary purchased a number of other small tracts of land on Pine Ridge after allotment under the Dawes Act ended in 1934. According to a 1935 letter from the Department of the Interior to Rev. William Hughes, director of the Bureau of Catholic Indian Missions, Congress issued an order allowing for sale of small tracts of restricted Indian lands to churches.

”I do believe that if tribal authorities wanted to sit down and have a conversation and demarcate all those properties, we’d be open to discussion,” Nadolny said, when asked if Red Cloud would consider giving more land back to the tribe.

“There are some unused parcels of property that I’d be happy to talk about with the tribal council,” he said.

Lack of transparency

Some details about boarding school history remain sketchy, however, because access to information has been limited by Catholic authorities.

Marquette University, a private Jesuit university in Milwaukee, is holding back decades of records showing student names, tribal affiliation, blood quantum and years of attendance at schools until information regarding blood quantum can be redacted.

Marquette archivists say portions of records are being scrutinized so they can black out some details to protect the privacy of long-dead students, but critics say it is a way to shield the church from uncomfortable realities.

Legislation is now pending in Congress that would help researchers get access to records at Marquette and other institutions. The bill would create a U.S. Truth and Healing Commission much like the one in Canada, with the ability to issue subpoenas for records for local churches and other government records related to attendance, illness, death, land and other correspondence.

The withholding of information has stymied a growing effort among tribes to locate the children who went missing or died while attending boarding schools, and access to Catholic Church archives remain a sticking point in uncovering the truths of what happened in the schools.

In the United States, the Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual AdorationArchdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis and the Jesuits have offered apologies or announced efforts to examine their history surrounding boarding schools, such as improving public access to their archives.

And although Catholics in Canada agreed to allow access to records under an agreement with that nation’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission, many churches and orders continue to resist, citing privacy concerns.

Boarding school survivors and their ancestors here in the U.S. are finding similar resistance by churches.

Sacramental records, for example, which contain information about deaths and burials, are considered private by the church, protecting the past 100 years of data from public view. In some cases, however, sacramental records may be the only source of information about who lived and died at the schools.

An ordinance passed by the Oglala Sioux tribal council in the 1990s is being blamed for broad restrictions on Catholic boarding school reports made to the Bureau of Catholic Missions and to the U.S. government. In order to receive payment of trust and treaty funds to pay for tuition, each school was required to submit quarterly reports including names, tribal affiliation and blood quantum of students.

For reasons that remain unclear, the Oglala Sioux tribal council apparently passed an ordinance forbidding access in the 1990s to blood quantum information, according to Mark Thiel, former archivist at Marquette University and founder of the Bureau of Catholic Indian Mission archives.

Since that information is largely included in the same column as tribal affiliation in the archived records, however, the result is a restriction on access to important details that would help identify the students who died, ICT/Reveal found.

Tribal leaders told ICT/Reveal, however, that they were unaware of the ordinance or why it might have been passed. Tribal Council President Kevin Killer said he and the council will look into the history.

Marquette, meanwhile, has expanded the constraint beyond records for Oglala Sioux students, and now places the same restrictions on all of its records until archivists can redact the collection spanning more than 50 years.

Many of the government reports that should be in the National Archives, moreover, appear to have been lost.

In an earlier interview with ICT, Thiel said that fear of the unknown may be contributing to church leaders’ wariness about allowing open access to the archives. They don’t yet know what is contained in the records, he said.

“There are over 100 years of records in the collection,” Thiel said. “All of these secrets are locked into these filing cabinets and folders. It’s an amazing treasure trove.”

Amy Cooper Cary, head of special collections and university archives at Marquette, said the school takes its direction from the organization that donated the archival materials.

“None of our archives are closed to protect the Catholic Church,” Cary said. “They are closed in order to protect personal privacy.”

Nadolny said Red Cloud has recently hired a full-time researcher to help assemble the school’s history. He also pledged to investigate why certain records, such as sacramental records or school attendance logs, are being withheld.

Graduates at the Red Cloud Indian School in May 2022 received handmade quilts along with their diplomas. (Photo by Mary Annette Pember/ICT)

Graduates at the Red Cloud Indian School in May 2022 received handmade quilts along with their diplomas. (Photo by Mary Annette Pember/ICT)

Looking ahead

The troubles of the past were mostly out of mind at the Red Cloud graduation ceremony in May.

Like most graduations, it was a mixture of jubilation and relief. But at Red Cloud, there was a tangible air of conquest among the students as they made their way across the stage and mingled with family afterwards.

Ruby Clifford, a diminutive elder from the Ute Indian Tribe, used a cane to make her way through the crowd to her grandson, Stryker Clifford. Stretching her arm to its full extent, she turned the tassel on his cap indicating he had graduated.

A tall, husky young man, Striker lowered his head for his grandmother.

It was a flash of tender vulnerability. His grandmother’s simple gesture offered a glimpse into a family moment that felt almost too intimate to bear. Months of grief, dogged struggle and love were concentrated into a few seconds, a flicker of exquisite pain that crowded the throat.

Someone handed Stryker a large photograph of a man who bore a strong resemblance to the young graduate. Stryker held the image close, high on his chest, as he and his grandmother posed for the cameras. It was a photo of his father, Robert Clifford, Ute, who had died from COVID-19 a few months earlier.

“He would have been so proud of you, grandson,” Ruby Clifford said.

Stryker smiled at the camera; yes, his dad would have been proud.

Families turned out for graduation day at Red Cloud Indian School in Pine Ridge, South Dakota, in May 2022, including Ruby Clifford, Ute, who posed for a photo with her grandson Stryker Clifford, Oglala Lakota/Ute. Stryker is holding a photo of his late father, Robert Clifford, who died in August 2021 just as Stryker was starting his senior year at Red Cloud Indian School.  (Photo by Mary Annette Pember/ICT)

Families turned out for graduation day at Red Cloud Indian School in Pine Ridge, South Dakota, in May 2022, including Ruby Clifford, Ute, who posed for a photo with her grandson Stryker Clifford, Oglala Lakota/Ute. Stryker is holding a photo of his late father, Robert Clifford, who died in August 2021 just as Stryker was starting his senior year at Red Cloud Indian School. (Photo by Mary Annette Pember/ICT)

It was a moment of truth for all the graduates and their families – that they could have the benefits of a Western-style college preparatory education with its inherent access to an elite world and keep their Indigenous culture, language and traditions.

That is the unspoken gift that comes with a private Jesuit education — the social acumen and connections to help students navigate life outside of the reservation, the kind of knowledge that spells power in the White world.

But it still doesn’t address the harms of the past. Although Pope Francis apologized to Indigenous people in Canada in July for the cultural genocide of the residential school system there, no public apology or acknowledgement has been forthcoming in the U.S.

No one knows how many Indigenous children attended boarding schools here, or how many died without ever making it home to their families. No one knows how many are still missing.

But doors, including those at Red Cloud, are slowly being opened.

U.S. Interior Secretary Deb Haaland, Laguna Pueblo, the first Indigenous person to sit in a presidential cabinet, ordered an investigation of the U.S. boarding school system, and the Federal Indian Boarding School Initiative released its initial report earlier this year identifying hundreds of boarding schools that operated across the U.S.

Chieko Noguchi, director of public affairs for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, said discussions are ongoing in the United States between church officials and Indigenous leaders after the Pope’s visit to Canada.

“The Holy Father’s penitential pilgrimage to Canada offers a unique opportunity to engage in real and honest dialogue on the issue of boarding school accountability here in the United States,” Noguchi said, in an emailed response to questions from ICT, “and it is a vital part of the process to inclusively discern how to go forward together as the Catholic Church walks with the impacted communities on a path towards healing.”

Red Cloud is among the Catholic organizations now taking the lead to confront and address its own boarding school past. It won’t be easy — Indigenous people on Pine Ridge and elsewhere are demanding truth and reparations after decades of silence from church officials.

“I feel like they are trying to do the right thing, but it’s a very touchy process. People are going to get angry no matter what they do,” Jade Ecoffey, a senior at Red Cloud, told ICT/Reveal. “The most important thing is that they not try to hide anything.”

Davidica Little Spotted Horse, a former student at Red Cloud, said the church needs to give back some of what it has taken.

“The Jesuits should do something that has a lasting, broad impact for the tribe, like providing mental health services, housing or funding for education,” she said.

But can an institution whose mission was to eradicate Native language, culture and spirituality guide education today?

“Catholicism was all about wiping out Lakota culture and now they want to co-exist and teach us our language and spirituality,” Ecoffey said. “I understand how people are having an internal conflict about that. Our spirituality and our traditions are in our blood. We’ve always found ways to survive and keep our language and culture alive.”

Yet struggles remain.

Stryker Clifford’s mother, Farrah Oliver, a citizen of the Oglala Lakota Tribe, said her son came very close to not being able to walk across the graduation stage with his classmates.

Oliver and Stryker’s father, along with several other siblings, attended Red Cloud and counted themselves as part of the “Red Cloud family.” Although they were divorced, they shared parenting responsibilities; Stryker lived with his father in the village of Wounded Knee.

Stryker’s father died in August 2021, just as the teen was starting his senior year.

“He was Stryker’s whole world,” Oliver told ICT. “His senior year was supposed to be this grand thing, you know? The feather-tying ceremony, the prom, graduation pictures and driving his dad’s Camaro.”

Stryker missed seven days of school and got behind in schoolwork. Then came the notice from school officials.

“At first they were understanding, but in October 2021 Stryker brought home a paper the school called a ‘Success Plan,’” Oliver said. “It called for no more unexcused absences, maintaining a certain GPA and other things.”

Noticeably lacking, however, was any input from Stryker or school plans to offer support.

Oliver met with school officials and reminded them that his father had died only weeks earlier, only to be told, “He’s not the only one to lose a family member this year,” she said.

But the family banded together to support him. Oliver quit her job in Rapid City and moved in with her son. Ruby Clifford moved back to Wounded Knee from the Uintah and Ouray Reservation in Utah to be with her grandson.

And by graduation, Stryker was about one-half credit shy of completing his high-school requirements, so Red Cloud administrators allowed him to participate in the graduation ceremony with the understanding that he would complete the work.

Oliver said it was a “huge accommodation” from school officials, but she is clearly disillusioned by the experience.

“If Red Cloud doesn’t embrace your potential, you just become a number to them,” she said.

Stryker is now nearly finished with one final online course and is planning to attend the University of South Dakota, Oliver said.

“He’s a really smart kid,” Oliver said. “Our family supports him 100 percent.”

Kathryn Styer Martinez at Reveal contributed to this report.

Reveal is a co-production of The Center for Investigative Reporting and PRX. The Center for Investigative Reporting engages and empowers the public through investigative journalism and groundbreaking storytelling in order to spark action, improve lives, and protect democracy. It produces multimedia reporting, including the Reveal public radio show and podcast, and the website.

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Mary Annette Pember, a citizen of the Red Cliff Ojibwe tribe, is a national correspondent for ICT.

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“The nation that destroys its soil destroys itself”

“The nation that destroys its soil destroys itself,” Franklin D. Roosevelt wrote in 1937 following catastrophic dust storms and flooding in the United States. He was right. Soil deserves respect. A medium for plant growth, a source of nutrients, a habitat for organisms, and a water purifier and reservoir. It also plays a huge role in modifying the earth’s atmosphere. The soil—the skin on the planet’s surface—is essential for life on earth. A healthy soil functions as a vital living system that sustains plants, animals, and humans. It is the most biologically diverse part of the planet, with about four billion bacteria in a handful of fertile soil, many yet to be identified. Simply put, a healthy soil is alive with a multitude of fungi, bacteria, nematodes, insects, spiders, and other organisms that interact with each other in ways critical to the health of the soil and the plants that depend on it. Soils are also diverse in their physical make-up. They can be characterized as clay, sandy, loamy, silty, peaty, and chalky based on the size and composition of their particles. These physical differences are important when planting crops, since they affect the soil’s ability to hold moisture, its nutrient content, and how quickly it warms up in the spring. One key characteristic of a healthy soil is the amount of organic matter.”

The above quote from:

“Our Changing Menu: Climate Change and the Foods We Love and Need” by Michael P. Hoffmann, Carrie Koplinka-Loehr, Danielle L. Eiseman and wanted to share this quote with you.

“a plant dies, it decays and forms the organic matter called humus. Because this is a slow process, it essentially holds, or sequesters, that carbon-rich matter for a long time. Some soils, such as in rainforests, typically have above 10% organic matter. Poor soils or those overly exploited can have less than 1%. Soils with higher organic matter absorb more moisture when it rains and hold that moisture better between rains, which may be beneficial as droughts increase.”

Start reading this book for free:

When soil dies through over exploitation
War destroying farmland
Soil erosion
Soil degradation
Toxic contamination of land
Flooded farmland
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Anoxification of Oceans

A quote from  “The Uninhabitable Earth: A Story of the Future” by David Wallace-Wells:

“It has become quite common to say that we are living through a mass extinction—a period in which human activity has multiplied the rate at which species are disappearing from the earth by a factor perhaps as large as a thousand. It is probably also fair to call this an era marked by what is called ocean anoxification. Over the past fifty years, the amount of ocean water with no oxygen at all has quadrupled globally, giving us a total of more than four hundred “dead zones”; oxygen-deprived zones have grown by several million square kilometers, roughly the size of all of Europe; and hundreds of coastal cities now sit on fetid, under-oxygenated ocean.  This is partly due to the simple warming of the planet, since warmer waters can carry less oxygen. But it is also partly the result of straightforward pollution—a recent Gulf of Mexico dead zone, all 9,000 square miles of it, was powered by the runoff of fertilizer chemicals washing into the Mississippi from the industrial farms of the Midwest. In 2014, a not-atypical toxic event struck Lake Erie, when fertilizer from corn and soy farms in Ohio spawned an algae bloom that cut off drinking water for Toledo. And in 2018, a dead zone the size of Florida was discovered in the Arabian Sea—so big that researchers believed it might encompass the entire 63,700-square-mile Gulf of Oman, seven times the size of the dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico. 24 “The ocean,” said the lead researcher Bastien Queste, “is suffocating.””

I recommend reading this book for free:

We can make changes to agricultural practices to prevent these disastrous events involving fertilizer run-offs.  We can also ask ourselves why we even produce fertilizer and create a demand for its production?

I know Russia leads the world in such high production and many countries cannot cope without supplies for their farming practices.

I became aware of fertilizer demand and production during the UK Covid impact on production in 2021 and I wrote about it in a blog at the time:

Production of harmful fertilizers has not proven itself to be beneficial to the ecosystem, yet it is in huge demand by those who use intensive farming methods. Of course, it also is used in recipes for bomb making. The catastrophic explosion of stored fertilizer in the port of Beirut will be forever remembered. We need to rethink our farming practices as a matter of urgency.

The Soil Association explain that soil has to be understood. Their organic approach to production contrasts with industrial farming techniques,

We must rethink our industrial strategies which have played a major role in warming the planet.

Human problem solving is the way forward. Local farmers are motivated to experiment and find solutions. Take olive growing. In Greece, growers have been experimenting by growing cover crops such as common vetch, barley or chickpeas between rows of olive trees. Such crops return nitrogen to the soil and reduce the need for adding fertilizers. Once gathered, they provide food for both animals and humans, increasing income too.

Farmers are striving to reduce harmful emissions and develop sustainable methodology to help reduce the harm of a century of industrial practices. Some work with the evidence based alliance, Field to Market:

In this way they work to understand and respect the soil and how to retain its vital qualities, once so well appreciated by Neolithic farmers of ancient times.

In Namibia, the dead zone in the ocean will come and go according to certain conditions:

Along the coast of Namibia, easterly winds push surface waters offshore and promote upwelling near the coast. Studies have described how bacteria in oxygen-depleted bottom waters off Namibia consume organic matter and produce prodigious amounts of hydrogen sulfide. As the gas bubbles up into more oxygen-rich water, the sulfur precipitates out and floats near the surface. See:

The seas off Namibia are rich in aquatic diversity, but dead zones have developed and been noted since the 19th century:

The dead zone expansion in the Baltic Sea has been studied for decades, as all dead zones should be, for they are, in many cases, symptomatic of our dying Planet. See:

Algal blooms can also impact aquaculture, or the farming of marine life. One red tide event wiped out 90 percent of the entire stock of Hong Kong’s fish farms in 1998, resulting in an estimated economic loss of $40 million. See:

Dr Francis Chan is studying the large dead zone developing off Oregon and Washington. See:

Tasmanian fish farms contribute to dead zones in the region, maybe part of the reason for lack of food for aquatic wildlife:

It is a massive challenge to return the balance to dead zones, depending on the cause being understood after proper investigation. These dead zones are erupting in ocean waters and killing life at a fast rate. Our very existence came from the oceans, yet we have triggered an accelerated path of harm through our industrial endeavours.

The above link is about cultivating wetlands which help return a healthy balance back into waters so as to return the natural ocean to its former glory. But the cause here was bad farming practices on land.

Those who fish for a living know where the upwelling zones are, but factory fishing damages the ecosystems in such zones. Therefore, human activity has to be closely monitored and regulated.

There are many links to help understand the natural and wonderful ancient earth system which has provided a wealth of food for humans since the origin of homo sapiens.

Here is one leading source:

Upwelling is created by the interaction of wind, deep currents, and the Coriolis effect, as highlighted in these steps:

  1. Prevailing winds blow on the surface of the ocean.
  2. The Coriolis effect causes the movement of the water being blown by the wind to move away from the shore or open ocean.
  3. Deep currents move upward to fill in the gap left by the water moving offshore or away.

The eruption of hydrogen sulfide causing devastating toxic dead zones are another matter. Changing weather patterns seem to be a factor, and we know our oceans are warming at too fast a rate. The balance of nature is so out of kilter we would have to make massive global changes to our lifestyles in one cooperative move of humanity to begin to fix this problem.

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Drip irrigation when water is limited

Shortages of fresh water can create difficult decisions, and lead to conflict.

Industrial farming creating wealth for owners and investors may leave local poor communities without access to any clean water for personal use. This is illustrated by the South African wine crop being given priority over the needs of 9 million who have to go without access to water. See:

9,500 years ago, what is now known as the Atacama Desert in Chile, was a fertile area which attracted humans and wildlife. Droughts began to occur, until the whole area became the now famous desert.

Many parts of the world are seeing droughts occurring which seem to be lasting too long to have hope of recovery even if rainfall does occur.

Mike Rivington, a senior scientist at the James Hutton Institute in Scotland, said: “The scale of heatwaves and droughts we’re currently experiencing has been projected by climate research for many years now. What we are seeing is a clear signal of what the future is going to be like.”

In Texas, 2022 saw droughts which resulted in cattle farmers having to sell off their prize herds rather than watch them die like those seen as carcasses across drought ridden areas of Africa.

Lakes and aquifers are being drained wherever water shortages occur. Countries are seeing their crops die and food security is a major issue globally. And yet industrial farming methods continue to increase with megadroughts guaranteed. Regional GDP, says the World Bank, can only decline. People will fight over water, as the Sumerian legend describes occurring 3000 BC.

Modern warfare utilises attacks on water infrastructure. In Yemen, such attacks led to cholera outbreaks causing 4 percent of its citizens to contract the disease between 2015 at the start of the war, and 2017 after such attacks had occurred.

Why destroy existing water supplies to cause such suffering when we should be innovating to preserve what little freshwater there is left for humankind?

Armies can be used to build infrastructure and rescue people from climate change disasters. They can be used for the good of all, rather than to the Endgame of this beautiful Earth.

Small but significant farming techniques are being used where governments support these for the sake of their populations. One example is drip irrigation techniques:

Experiments with Deficit Irrigation where the farmer knows his crops are the type which can cope most of the year without irritatigation, but at certain times in the growth stage, if there is no rainfall, irrigation is necessary. This saves water until absolutely necessary.

Humans will try to stay as long as they can when extreme weather begins to tell them where they live is becoming uninhabitable. Then humans will do what they always have done, get on the move to some place where water and food are available.

If we don’t cut emissions now, there will be nowhere our future generations can find to relocate.

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Fruit and nut yields threatened by warmer winters

As winters warm in some well know fruit growing regions of the world, crop yield can be severely reduced, even wiped out. See:

In the US state of Georgia, famous for its peaches, 85% of the 2018 crop was lost due to the previous winter being too warm.

Similarly, in California, a warm winter destroyed the pistachio nut yield in 2015.

Understanding of the importance of the right time of year and a certain level of chilling requirements is well understood. (Winter chill is essential for most perennial plants from cold climates (Erez 2000; Knight 1801; Samish 1954; Saure 1985; Vegis 1961).

Research is ongoing to genetically modify crops to make them more resilient, but in the meantime farmers are going out of business.

And vineyards suffer if frost arrives in the spring:

“There is an apparent paradox: global warming can lead to increased frost damage!” Robert Vautard, senior scientist at the French National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS) and director of the Institut Pierre-Simon Laplace, stated, discussing the paper he co-authored. “Our results show that climate change is making both the growing season start earlier and frosts become warmer, but the former effect dominates over the latter. The consequence is that vineyards grow and mature faster now, but this leaves them more exposed to eventual colder snaps.”

Regions once famous for high yiels contributing billions to their country’s wealth and ample food supplies, may suffer such warming extremes from now on that conditions will be impossible for this type of farming to by 2100.

“…there is clearly only one solution – we need to cut CO2 emissions, to ensure the return of bitterly cold Little Ice Age winters, to save French winery vineyards.”

Quotes from:

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Wheat production impacted by warmer winters

The United States Department of Agriculture has advised farmers that plant hardiness zones must shift 100 miles north. They expect this shift will become 300 miles by 2050. The areas which are left behind will become unable to grow wheat unless heat-tolerant strains become available. But help is at hand as scientists are well on their way with solutions:

New types of weeds and insect pests will also develop in the hotter and drier conditions where wheat was grown when winters were less warm.

Wheat is a staple food, and as such it has a long history since humans began farming it, see:

The major producers in the world are China. The most dependent on donations of wheat are countries now suffering years of increasing drought and consequencies of war. Most of these countries are in Africa who have depended on Russian and Ukrainian supplies.

For details of the top ten growers in the world see:

And for the full account of global wheat production see:

Although the crop is most successful between the latitudes of 30° and 60°N and 27° and 40°S (Nuttonson, 1955), wheat can be grown beyond these limits, from within the Arctic Circle to higher elevations near the equator. Development research by the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT) during the past two decades (Saunders and Hettel, 1994) has shown that wheat production in much warmer areas is technologically feasible. In altitude, the crop is grown from sea level to more than 3 000 masl, and it has been reported at 4 570 masl in Tibet (Percival, 1921).

The 5 biggest wheat exporters (Russia, United States of America, Australia, Canada and Ukraine) provided about three-fifths (59.5%) of the overall value of international shipments for the nourishing cereal food. See:

Among the top exporters, the fastest-growing wheat suppliers from 2020 to 2021 were: India (up 609%), Australia (up 167.2%), Bulgaria (up 96%), Romania (up 89.2%) and Argentina (up 46.5%).

Such a significant disaster of dead and dying through inadequate rescue supplies is now ongoing, yet even if present supplies eventually arrive this year 2022, what of future years?

Newswise — Wheat is the world’s largest rain-fed crop in terms of harvested area and supplies about 20% of all calories consumed by humans. A new study has found that unless steps are taken to mitigate climate change, up to 60% of current wheat-growing areas worldwide could see simultaneous, severe and prolonged droughts by the end of the century.


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Freshwater availability shrinking as we make perverse decisions

Globally, around 80 percent of freshwater is used for food production and agriculture. Out of all the water covering the earth, only 2 percent is fresh. That remaining 10 to 20 percent is set aside for industry.

Urban Africa, with ever expanding populations, already suffer food scarcity. Many have to exist on as little as twenty litres of water per day. The bare minimum recommended by public health is twice that.

Where water provision is piped to homes, lack of quality drinking water never need happen if water companies get on top of their numerous leak problems due to poorly directed investment. First World countries lose between 16 and 40 percent through leakage.

Recently, Jackson, capital of Mississippi, suffered severe flooding which crippled their already faltering water plant infrastructure, neglected for decades. See

Lack of investment in sewage systems also led to the UK water companies being legally allowed to release sewage into the sea this year.

Climate change is impacting the freshwater accessibility at a rapid pace. Anthropogenic induced warming has accelerated temperatures such that the Himalayas (glacial loss impacted the monster flooding in the Indus Valley) will lose 40 percent of ice by 2100. We have relied on glaciers to store our global freshwater. Once the glaciers melt, widespread water shortages will occur in places like Peru and California.

We already see drought hitting the people stranded in the Horn of Africa. The images of their slow and painful deaths through lack of food and water is made worse by wars in the world making them victims of extreme events.

In Asia alone, it is likely a billion people will be facing water shortages….and the World Bank estimated cities around the world will have two thirds less water to supply to their citizens.

Phoenix in the US and London in the UK are already in emergency planning mode.

200,000 people die each year in India due to little or no access to clean drinking water. It is estimated by 2030 the country will lose half of the water it currently relies on.

Pakistan had 5,000 cubic meters for its population when the country was newly formed in 1947. It now has 400 maximum.

Freshwater lakes are drying up around the world. See

Where countries have relied on their reservoirs, they too see them drying up with insufficient rainfall predicted in coming years to ever replenish them. See this US situation:

Freshwater lakes are also vulnerable to climate-fuelled aquatic plant growth which will further the vicious cycle of warming as these plants will emit 16 percent of the world’s natural emissions. See:

Drinking water has become a luxury in Lebanon where they host the greatest numbers of migrants from Syria in the world. See

When freshwater lakes become full of warmwater-friendly bacteria, millions who sought that safe water over past centuries could no longer do so. Fish which swam in abundance die – a mainstay food for local people, and a business for many too.

Aquifers took millions of years to develop, but in our urgency to supply ourselves with water, we are draining them. Wells which once drew water from a depth of 500 ft need DRILLING down to 1000 ft.

In our fossil fuel rush for as much as we can find, fracking drills into and poisons that frail supply of drinking water.

21 cities in India have depleted their groundwater supplies. Here is an article about 10 of them:

Shortages of food and water push people into desperate measures.

We knew this was coming yet governments (often lobbied and funded by corporations) have not worked globally to prevent this worsening situation.

Instead they ‘plan for growth’ and promise ‘green alternatives’ but that greening more likely comes in the form of more algae blooms on our rivers and fresh water lakes.

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Water, water everywhere, not a drop to drink

Recent excessive flooding, rising sea levels and glacial melt combined with monsoon seasons make us have to address the world crises with full force.

Water covers much of our planet, but a small percentage is drinkable. The land we walk on is a thin crust, constantly moving over thousands of years to give us mountains to lowlands. We have built cities only to watch them sink beneath the waves. We arrive on islands which have emerged from below oceans. We arrive, develop communities, grow populations, then these also disappear, swallowed back under the sea. As the weight of ice sheets retreated 12 thousand years ago, the land beneath rose up as land not under ice sank below sea levels, that process almost imperceptible until the threat has become obvious in this last few decades. Planning human habitation must now take these known factors into account. Read more about this amazing geological process:

Understand that tornados are getting wider and longer, increasing over the past 30 years in America. Not a good idea to rebuild homes in well known ‘tornado corridors’.

Industries may now need relocating due to huge storm effects, as happened when Hurricane Harvey caused a single petrochemical plant to tip half a billion gallons of toxic industrial wastewater into Galveston Bay. (See Houston Chronicle report ‘Silent Spills’ by Frank Bajak and Lose Olsen, May 2018). That one storm caused more than one hundred toxic releases.

People who have lost their homes, as in the Katrina disaster when the levees broke as the seas rose, had to accept they could never return. The Lower Ninth Ward now has less than one-third of its population who lived there before Katrina. Communities evacuated had their history and family networks stolen by Nature’s brutality. It has taken 30 years to begin building protective levees along the Mississippi River and West Shore Lake Pontchartrain. This should have begun before Katrina.

Low lying Louisiana’s coastline is being swallowed up by the sea. It is estimated seas could rise by 2 feet by 2050 and 4 feet by 2100. The climate change induced weather patterns will result in the drowning of the vital wetlands and marshes. There are plans to rescue the wetlands, but time is not on the side of humankind. See:

Jakarta, the capital of Indonesia, is being rebuilt in a new location as Jakarta is sinking. It’s new name is Nusantara. Over 30 million people live in Jakarta. The city now sits below the sea level, and by 2050 it will likely be submerged. There could have been other solutions which other countries have demonstrated, but these needed to have been well planned and funded. It is too late now.

Chicago is also showing signs of sinking. The city is only a few feet higher than nearby waterways and Lake Michigan. In 1854 a cholera outbreak killed 6 percent of the entire population of Chicago. That was because of disastrous sewage leakage. To combat this, engineers worked out, using railroad jacks, they could raise the whole city. See

in order to combat the sewage problem. Building the sewer system and raising the city took 20 years.

Now, in 2019, the city is sinking at a rate of 4 inches within the past century.

The population of 2.7 million people relies still on ingenious engineers to solve the continuing need to update the sewage and drinking water systems. They do so with a long running Tunnel and Reservoir Project which began in 1975. Still, those with homes on the shoreline see inches of water levels when lake levels are high threatening to overwhelm their homes.

Dramatic storms which historically pound the West coast of America could be cleverly exploited to engineer the water into depleted aquifers:

Whole islands, home to many people, are, tragically, sinking too. Here is an article from 7 years ago.

And here, a 2019 article about our disappearing islands:

The loss and damage fund being set up currently may assist these islands, but time is running out:

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Fact: rich nations are largely responsible for the extreme effects of climate change

Flooded areas of Pakistan look as though an ocean has deposited itself there. Hardly any land visible for the population to cling to whilst they await rescue.

Scientists have long since explained why this has been progressively worsening over the past 50 years. This article lists the unique factors that make the Indus Valley so likely to be made uninhabitable:

Pakistan has more than 7,000 glaciers. They are melting due to ? – yes, we all know, accelerated production of greenhouse gases. There is no heavy industry in Pakistan to contribute to greenhouse gases. Their carbon footprint is relatively low compared to major greenhouse gas emitters. They all know who they are, and none are moving fast enough to make a big enough dent in their outputs to stop the warming and consequential melting, of the glaciers.

See where your country scores in the list of Co2 emitters:

The Shisper Glacier is above the Hassanabad Hunza which is threatened by this ever growing glacier which is moving toward the population. See the article on the subject.

Above them the vast Shisper glacier dominates the landscape: A river of jagged black ice moving towards them at as much as four metres per day.

Climate change is causing most glaciers worldwide to shrink, but due to a meteorological anomaly this is one of a few in the Karakoram mountain range in northern Pakistan that are surging.

This means hundreds of tonnes of ice and debris are pushing down the valley at ten times the normal rate or more, threatening the safety of the people and homes below.

Flash floods caused by glacial lakes, ice and rock falls, and a lack of clean and accessible water are all serious risks for those close to its path.

“When a glacial lake bursts there is an enormous amount of not only ice, water and debris that falls through, but also mud and this has devastating effects, it basically destroys everything that comes in its way,” said Ignacio Artaza of United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Pakistan.

Earlier this year, after warnings something like this might happen, the Hassanabad Hunza bridge collapsed due to terrible flooding. See the article about it.

The location of the Hassanabad Bridge was very important and it was a vital link between the northern areas of Pakistan and the rest of the country. This bridge was first constructed in 1972 and it connects Shinaki Hunza with Karimabad Hunza. This bridge was the only main source which connects Gilgit Baltistan with China via Karakoram highway. In Hassanabad, Karakoram Highway passes over a side stream of the Hunza River which is fed from the Shishpar Glacier, located about 10km above Hassanabad. It was over the Hunza River’s tributary, between Aliabad and Murtazabad. The local authorities have started rehabilitation work and a temporary bridge will be installed soon. (see Aug 10th 2022

There are YouTubes of this amazing mountain range in the Himalayas. Comments by travellers such as “The much renowned Hunza valley is often referred to as heaven on earth, enveloped in the grand Himalayas and the Karakoram mountain ranges, this place has been a great tourist attraction for many years. There are spectacular views of Rakaposhi mountain (7788 meters).” July 2017.

Those of us in rich industrialized nations have inflicted this on some of the poorest people in the world. Yet our leaders tell us we will continue to grow more wealthy. We are tied in to running on the wheel which must reward investors first before we can consider decreasing the temperature of an ever warming climate. The more we compete to be bigger and stronger economies, the greater the death knell sounds for whole countries which suffer outright calamitous weather impacts as a result. No amount of aid we might muster for Pakistan will restore its natural rhythm of agriculture it once boasted throughout the centuries.

Industry behaves in a cavalier way ever since shareholders were legally given first rights on all profits. Thus investors pour funds into anything which promises rewarding returns, even if the outcome is anti life on earth.

Since the early 2000s, dire warnings of the looming disaster for countries with melting glaciers were clearly articulated by scientists and those who trekked and climbed mountainous regions. Monsoons in Pakistan grew mightier, until July 2022, when the rains were relentless and monstrous by August. Images of desperate farmers trying to rescue their family members, often unable to as the flooding became so treacherous it swept everything away before it.

The historic Indus River, rising in Tibet, the Indus crosses through India and Pakistan fed by a multitude of tributaries before it reaches the Arabian Sea. The signs of ancient civilisations which tourists travelled to see were The Indus Valley Civilisation, also known Indus civilisation, was a Bronze Age civilisation in the northwestern regions of South Asia, lasting from 3300 BCE to 1300 BCE, and in its mature form from 2600 BCE to 1900 BCE.Wikipedia


Harappan civilization people built “levees” to control floods. It is obvious that Indus river would flood often.

Levees are raised platforms or earthfills.

In India there are examples of how the ancient Harappans coped with flood waters with engineering works.

There are many articles about the glaciers melting in Pakistan.. One here entitled ‘Hell and ice water: Glacier melt threatens Pakistan’s future’ was written in January 2020. The authors point out the Indus Basin supplies 90 percent of the food for Pakistan. Farming depends on irrigation from the river, which heavily relies on meltwater from the ice sheets. The ice sheets no longer provide timely water flows, farming will be impossible in the Basin.

The farmers have just lost everything they produced. The country is already in debt, just getting an IMF grant through which should have helped the country pre-flooding. It is $1.3 million. It is estimated Pakistan will now need $100 billion if it is to rebuild its infrastructure. But how do you put back the soil lost, how do you give back livelihoods, how do you bring back lives lost?

Approximately 26.5 million out of 221.8 million Pakistani citizens live below the national poverty line,

After the 1947 partition of British India, the development of infrastructure in Pakistan grew and has made steady progress in the last five decades. According to the World Bank Group, however, this rate of improvement has also been “among the slowest for the majority of public infrastructure sectors.” Further, this rate of improvement has failed to ameliorate infrastructure conditions for Pakistani citizens and disproportionately hurt the poor in the country.

In the mid-1950s, investments in infrastructure and heavy industry were accompanied by an agricultural revolution in a fertile Pakistan that even a richer India could not surpass. Despite being a nascent state, Pakistan successfully created its state institutions and industries from scratch. This was done against the specter of a well-off India with a greater share of urban population and established infrastructure. For a variety of social reasons combined with political turmoil, the economic tides soon took a turn for the worse as income contracted, inequality rose and inflation swallowed the most vulnerable – the poor – in Pakistan. – See Article.

On many occasions, the dire state of the country’s economy stifled project implementation, which suffered yet another balance of payments crisis in 2018, as well as by government bureaucracy. Thus, the construction of a power plant in Gwadar, a Pakistani port located in the province of Baluchistan and leased to Chinese companies, experienced a three-year delay, awaiting local government authorization.

In 2019, China gave Pakistan $1 billion to cover the costs of 27 projects in education, agriculture and poverty alleviation. Most of these projects are concentrated in Southern Punjab and Baluchistan, which scored few points on the Human Development Index and correspondingly have many impoverished villages.

The idea that a recovery plan will ever emerge to save Pakistan seems far off. They have appealed for international help, and small amounts of aid packages are arriving. But this area is not in a politically strong position, despite its nuclear weapons.

Earthquakes are also a major issue. Building infrastructure to withstand monster monsoons and moderate to strong earthquakes is not going to be easy with worsening climate change impacts such as excessive heatwaves and droughts.

So who will feed the 221 million population without their high output farming community supplying the food in the flooded Indus Valley? The Global Food Crisis is already extreme in countries who depend on other nations to help with food aid. Where will the homeless restart their lives? Will those who invest expect far more back than Pakistan can afford to give?

Sindh Province is particularly badly impacted:

As the horror of this tragedy continues a freshwater lake breaching and out of control, back in 2010 this happened too:

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