In West Alabama, Life Is Hard. Warmer Weather Forecasts Worse Problems. How Bad Could It Get and What Can Be Done?

Left: Western Alabama Black Belt counties. (Source: Extracted from map by the Center for Business and Economic Research at the University of Alabama.)
Right: Unabsorbed wastewater from the spray field wastewater sewage system in Uniontown rushes through a culvert. (Source: Black Warrior Riverkeeper)

The Black Belt already has more than its own share of problems, and warming temperatures aren’t making things easier for the residents.

Disease-causing organisms thrive in standing water during warmer weather, and in the Black Belt there’s plenty of that. The area’s soil doesn’t drain well because of the heavy clay, and the region has been beset with more extreme weather, flooding and sewer system overflows.

Scientists now are even predicting that the weather in the Black Belt, and in much of the state, will be too hot for the state bird — the Northern Flicker, or yellowhammer — to continue living here during the hottest months of the year.

The wood pellet factory trend is coming to the Black Belt, with promises of supplying much-needed jobs and helping to stabilize emissions of the heat-trapping carbon dioxide, but there are questions about whether either of those benefits will come to pass.

Farmers are taking many steps to make their operations consume fewer resources and create fewer environmental problems, but even many of them fear their efforts are too little too late.

BirminghamWatch recently probed problems caused in the Black Belt by the warming weather patterns and efforts to work on those problems. Read the full series:

In West Alabama, Life Is Hard. Warmer Weather Forecasts Worse Problems

Audubon Study Finds Warming Climate May Be Inhospitable to Alabama State Bird

Wood Pellet Plants in Job-Hungry Southern Towns Prompt Environmentalists’ Warnings

Cattle, Catfish and Cover Crops: Alabama Farms Play Role in Slowing Climate Change