The importance of climate change and how it will affect Argentina

The importance of climate change and how it will affect Argentina

By Cristian Frers

Climate change is the greatest environmental threat of this century, with enormous economic, social and environmental consequences. All without exception; citizens, businesses, economies and nature around the world are being affected. There is no longer scientific discussion about the dramatic consequences of global climate change that the world is bearing: with sinking islands, ravaging hurricanes, glacial that thaw and ecosystems that disappear.

The climate has an enormous influence on nature and on our lives, it determines to a great extent the fauna and flora of each place, the amount of fresh water available, the crops ... and in the end it also influences the culture and livelihoods of every region of the world

From the earliest times, climatic variations have shaped the destiny of humanity, and human beings have reacted to a great extent by adapting, emigrating and developing their intelligence. During the last ice ages, ocean levels dropped and humans moved across continental bridges from Asia to America and the Pacific islands. Since then there have been numerous migrations, innovations and also catastrophes.

Some of these have originated from small climatic fluctuations, such as a few decades or centuries of slightly above or below average temperatures, or prolonged droughts. The best known is the Little Ice Age, recorded in Europe in the early Middle Ages that led to famines, insurrections, and the abandonment of the northern colonies in Iceland and Greenland. Man has endured climate vagaries for millennia, resorting to his ingenuity to adapt, unable to influence phenomena of such magnitude.

Currently, it is a scientific fact that the global climate is being significantly altered in the 21st century, as a result of increasing concentrations of greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxides and chlorofluorocarbons. These gases are trapping a growing portion of terrestrial infrared radiation and are expected to increase the planetary temperature by between 1.5 and 4.5 ° C (the so-called Greenhouse Effect and Global Warming). In response to this, it is estimated that global precipitation patterns and ocean currents will also alter. Associated with these potential changes, there will be major alterations in global ecosystems.

Climate change is the greatest environmental threat of this century, with enormous economic, social and environmental consequences. All without exception; citizens, businesses, economies and nature around the world are being affected.

There is no longer scientific discussion about the dramatic consequences of global climate change that the world is bearing: with sinking islands, destroying hurricanes, melting glaciers and disappearing ecosystems. The most developed and tested models in the world coincide in forecasting a bleak outlook for the next 50 years.

The next few years will be crucial. An important leg of this race against time is the agreement that developed and developing countries can reach. It is also very important to understand that this alone will not be enough, that much more is needed.

Given the complexity of the problem and its multi-causality, actions will have to be approached from different sides; none of them easily resolved. On the other hand, and because climate change is a global problem, the action of a few countries without the real commitment of the rest of the countries of the world (especially the most powerful and developed), will not lead to a solution or to minimizing the problem.

In general terms, the lines of action could be the following:

Transport: It is a sector highly dependent on fossil fuels, whose carbon dioxide emissions, already in 1990 reached 28% of the emissions of energy origin and continue to grow rapidly. The most efficient means of transport such as public transport and conventional rail must be promoted for interurban travel. It is also necessary to promote the manufacture of engines with less fuel consuming technologies.

Energy efficiency: It is obtaining the same goods or services with less energy expenditure. It is about using new technologies as in the case of low consumption lamps in lighting. Investments in efficiency are also profitable in the short or medium term.

Energy savings: The increase in energy consumption that our country has been experiencing does not respond, to a large extent, to the satisfaction of basic needs but to the creation of new needs typical of rich countries: for example, the increase in air conditioning installations which have led to a notable growth in electricity consumption in summer. Promoting measures for the thermal insulation of buildings and the proper use of electricity (not for heating or cooking) would lead to considerable savings in emissions.

Renewable energies: The promotion of energies with low environmental impact such as wind, solar thermal and photovoltaic, mini-hydroelectric and biomass, in a context of promoting savings and efficiency lead to the substitution of fossil energy and therefore to the reduction of carbon dioxide emissions.

In the Argentine Republic, with its immense variety of soils and climates, it is not left out of these climate projections. Some will be negative changes; others positive. Warmer winters will reduce the huge heating costs of the inhabitants of Patagonia, but the associated increase in rainfall exacerbated erosion problems there. Some regions that are not very productive could benefit from an increase in agricultural activity.

The Litoral and the Humid Pampa will suffer more frequent floods, and the Autonomous City of Buenos Aires will endure higher rainfall and more suffocating summers.

Extreme events, such as storms, droughts, hot or cold waves, will be more common. Another important aspect will be the water. The Cuyo region could suffer significant droughts as the amount of snow falls on the high peaks. In turn, the Federal Capital could also have drinking water supply problems due to the expected rise in sea level of between 9 and 88 centimeters, which will affect the Río de la Plata. Disease vectors, such as dengue and malaria, have already begun their migration to temperate latitudes.

Thus, generalizing, a large part of our territory will have milder winters, more suffocating summers and an Autonomous City of Buenos Aires almost, almost tropical. With brief and intense rains, surely thick wool pullovers and warmer jackets will definitely go to winter quarters.

On average, the temperature increased one degree in the Argentine territory during the last century. The average of 14 climate models foresees an increase of 1.5 degrees more for the year 2030 in the north of the country - where the heat zones will become more severe - and of 0.7 degrees in the extreme south.

At the mouth of the Río de la Plata, the sea rose 17 centimeters during the 20th century, and it is estimated that throughout the 21st century it could rise another 50 centimeters.

Dr. Vicente Barros, from the Center for Research on the Sea and Atmosphere of the Faculty of Exact Sciences of the UBA, stated that “Climate change will only anticipate the problems that Argentina could have in the long term in terms of energy and use water and soil, so the measures to be adopted largely coincide with the response that the country must face in these sectors. In the case of energy, long-term solutions mainly involve its rational use and the development of renewable energies. In some provinces - Salta, Santiago del Estero and Chaco - deforestation will have to be stopped now, to avoid that the cleared lands no longer serve for agriculture and become desertified ”.

Dr. Barros continued with his presentation, stating: “If one measures emissions per inhabitant. Argentina is above average, and emits more than China, Brazil and India. If they acquire commitments to lower their emissions, it is likely that they will not allow countries with higher emissions per inhabitant not to do the same ”.

There are those who say that, as we are not sure what climate change will look like, we must do little or nothing. The truth is that a large number of people refuse to accept the facts. Still less are they willing to consider that they have something to do with the matter. The simplest psychically and politically is to interpret what one would like to interpret, or else to kick the ball out of the field of play.

My personal opinion is that uncertainty should make us act today, not tomorrow or the day after, more resolutely. According to the World Meteorological Organization, the concentration of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere reached a record level in 2005. 62% of the emissions of gases that cause the greenhouse effect correspond to carbon dioxide. The current Kyoto Protocol will not allow these concentrations to stabilize, but will at best slow down growth.

Precisely, what should be discussed are the measures to be taken after 2012, when the named Protocol expires. I know this problem could be tackled on a global scale with a globally agreed tax, which does not mean an increase in total taxation, but simply a substitute in each of the countries for the current taxes for a pollution tax, for carbon dioxide . It makes much more sense to tax the harmful, such as pollution, than the positive, such as savings and work.

The Earth is suffering from fever and this is not a good sign. Blame it all. Of human society, with its perversions, its irresponsibility, its corruption, its interests, its selfishness, its hypocrisy.

If the Earth is upset, increasingly angry, it is because of everyone. Every time we hurt him more. And when it's everyone's fault, it doesn't mean that she's not anyone's in particular. It belongs to each one, according to their degree of responsibility.

We are very sick, and we do not realize it. Sick of pride, materialism, greed. But we can react. We can do an examination of conscience; enter into conversions with our deep being, with the elevated part that is within us and see if we can change, even in something. Before it is too late.

We only have one planet and we must preserve it as a treasure. Global warming is a risk that we cannot afford to continue to ignore.

Cristian Frers - Senior Technician in Environmental Management and Senior Technician in Social Communication

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