Despite emitting only 12% of greenhouse gases, Latin America bears the brunt of climate change

Despite emitting only 12% of greenhouse gases, Latin America bears the brunt of climate change

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"I had to sell a calf to survive, to buy corn," says Teodoro Acuña Zavala, 64, a victim of the drought in Nicaragua, an example of the extreme climatic phenomena that affect more and mores Latin America.

In his village of Palacagüina, in the north of the country, Teodoro watches the chickens peck at the remains of his corn plot, devastated by the lack of water and remembers how, 16 years ago, it was Hurricane Mitch that hit his land.

This year, the drought "has been worse than any," confesses this man with a sunburned face: "eight days (of rain) is all that fell on us this year." Under his modest house, the river is nothing but a rocky path.

"I've never seen this before," adds Guillermina Inglesia, 54, who runs a small grocery store nearby. "What are we going to do with the drought from now on? If the drought continues, then what are we going to depend on, if we live precisely on corn and beans? If we don't have corn or beans, we are practically without food" .

Latin America will host the 20th UN conference on climate change from December 1 to 12 in Lima, a phenomenon to which the region is particularly vulnerable, explains Sonke Kreft, in charge of these issues within the German NGO Germanwatch, which assesses the most fragile countries in the matter.

"The countries of Latin America and the Caribbean are at the top of all our rankings, especially in the long term," he explains.
On its most recent list, Germanwatch ranks Honduras first, Haiti third and Nicaragua fourth among the countries that suffered the most from global warming between 1993 and 2013. The NGO will reveal its new ranking in early December in Lima.

Its location in these positions is mainly due to the fact that the region "is frequently hit by hurricanes," explains David Eckstein, one of those responsible for the classification, who highlights that "the intensity and frequency of hurricanes has clearly increased in recent years. years".
Extreme weather events
At the end of 2012, the World Bank estimated that Latin America and the Caribbean would be "one of the regions most affected by the increase in temperature" despite its weak contribution (12.5%) to global greenhouse gas emissions. .

"Mexico and most of Central America will become drier and South America will be more humid in its northern and southeastern part. But central Chile and southern Brazil will become drier", explains Rodney Martínez, member of the climatology commission of the World Meteorological Organization.

And "the main evidence of climate change is the increasingly numerous extreme (climatic) events", such as hurricanes and drought episodes.

Tania Guillén, who represents the Nicaraguan NGO Centro Humboldt in international discussions on climate, can attest: "This year, in the region, the entire dry corridor area, from Guatemala, Honduras, to Nicaragua, was suffering a drought, which affected food production. "

"After having spent three months of drought, the rainy season arrived in September, and we had floods in the country, with approximately 30 people dying from different effects of the floods and the rain, he said."

But the rain only reached part of Nicaragua, and drought persisted in other areas, delaying the start of the coffee harvest for a month.
"Climate change means an upward trend in temperature, but another problem is climate variability, a dry year, a wet year, a cold year, a hot year," confirms Henry Mendoza, technical manager of the Nicaraguan association of small producers of Cafenica coffee.

In Nicaragua, the Humboldt Center, which is studying with the NGO Oxfam the possibility of a humanitarian aid plan for populations affected by drought, worries about the "strange things" it now perceives about the climate, such as the multiplication of tornadoes or temperature peaks, up to eight degrees above the usual average.

The Andes

Video: How climate change affects a noreaster (May 2022).