In a congressional briefing yesterday on “Hurricanes and Oil: Managing Risk Now,” Rowan Douglas, Managing Director of the Willis Research Network’s (Willis Re) Global Analytics Division, was unable to see the screen his fellow panelists were using for their presentations. He did, however, have a perfect view of the audience. During one particular presentation, he witnessed everyone’s “eyes getting as big as saucers,” as he put it.
In areas of the world where local people rely on subsistence agriculture, ecosystem degradation can threaten the lives and resilience of the community. On China’s Loess Plateau in Linxia County, Gansu, this was exactly the case for some time. Though this area was once incredibly fertile, decades of farming and grazing resulted in desertification, erosion and landslides—communities eventually became caught in a cycle of degradation. When agricultural productivity slowed, an increase in poverty, disease and hunger ensued.