Currently — August 31st, 2022

The weather, currently.

The city of Jackson, Mississippi has lost access to safe drinking water indefinitely, following floodwaters that have overwhelmed the city’s water purification infrastructure.

On Sunday, the Pearl River — which flows through Jackson — crested just below major flood stage after torrential rains fell over northern Mississippi in recent days. The Mississippi Free Press reports that 180,000 people in the state's capital city had lost access to water on Monday.

In an emergency press conference on Monday night, Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves said the outage is expected to last “for an unknown period of time.”

Jackson’s water woes are not new. Jackson, like Flint, Michigan and hundreds of other majority Black cities across the country, has been the subject of racial descrimination and chronic underfunding of its essential infrastructure for decades.

According to the Mississippi Rapid Response Coalition, a group of affiliated non-profits and aid agencies working to provide secure access to clean water, the residents of Jackson “have been forced to carry the financial burden of fragile infrastructure and have been exposed regularly to the health risks associated with the need for constant repair.”

According to the MRRC, in 2021, residents were under a boil water alert for at least 225 days. In 2022, boil water requirements have continued. In the days leading up to Monday’s outage, another boil water advisory in effect and the city was operating on reserve pumping equipment.
You can contribute to a mutual aid fund organized by the Mississippi Rapid Response Coalition to help immediately restore water access and fight for systemic change in Jackson.

-Eric Holthaus

What you need to know, currently.

If you’ve never eaten a breadfruit, now is the perfect time!

According to reporting by Smithsonian magazine, the fruit could play a role in addressing global hunger as well as food security adaptation amid global warming and climate change.

Breadfruit is very versatile, as it can be dried and ground into flour –– its trees provide abundant shade for humans and wildlife alike, and it’s been used to treat various skin ailments. The perennial custard-y fruit is also very rich in nutrients and requires less labor, water and fertilizer than annual crops.

“I really think it has a lot of potential to help people, especially in the tropics, where 80 percent of the world’s hungry live,” Diane Ragone, founder of the Breadfruit Institute, told Smithsonian magazine in 2009. “It’s low-labor and low-input; much easier to grow than things like rice and corn. And because it’s a tree, the environmental benefits are huge compared to a field crop.”

Past research has found that yields of staple crops like corn, wheat and rice may decline due to climate change, particularly in areas close to the equator. The breadfruit, on the other hand, is more resilient to rising temperatures. In conjunction with other food security adaptations and solutions, this tropical fruit could make a real difference.

—Aarohi Sheth