This article by the AFP was translated into English. Click here to see the original article.
SAN SALVADOR – The continuous rains in Central America on Monday that left 80 dead, thousands of people in health risk, and huge material losses are the direct effect of climate change on vulnerable countries in the region, said one expert consulted by the AFP.
A combination of atmospheric phenomena has resulted in El Salvador exceeding the record in cumulative rainfall (1,200 mm in one week), something without precedent—not even seen with the passage of Hurricane Mitch in 1998, which resulted in 860 mm in rainfall, making experts take notice.
“Climate change is not something that is coming, we are suffering through it now, this (the weather condition) is further evidence of the vulnerability that is leading to unsustainable levels of impact, with which our societies are going to have to live,” said Raúl Artiga, the official from the Central American Commission for Environment and Development (CCAD), to AFP.
Artiga, coordinator of the Climate Change and Risk Management Unit in the CCAD, based in San Salvador, believes that the current situation already exceeds the levels of impact that the Economic Commission on Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) and other organizations had been expecting to see within ten years.
A recent ECLAC study entitled “The Economics of Climate Change”, warned that in fiscal terms, its impact is a liability that “will affect public finances for several generations.” The estimated cumulative cost by 2100 “is equivalent to $73,000 billion current dollars or $52,000 million at 2002 prices, approximately 54% of regional GDP in 2008,” the report said.
The present emergency in Central America, which according to Salvadoran meteorologist Lorraine Soriano is a product of atmospheric phenomena that are being formed at “a lower altitude than historically seen” in the Pacific, destroyed bridges, thousands of kilometers of road network and left millions in losses to agriculture of subsistence basic grains, in addition to causing 80 deaths,.
“What we are showing with reports from all countries is the rising of such (weather) events in the last decade and this gives us an indication that indeed climate variability associated with climate change is just one element to which we will be subject, “said Artiga.
The Central American coordinator of the Global Water Partnership (GWP), Maureen Ballestero, warned that the outlook is worrying. According Ballestero, what is happening is a “mixture of climate variability and climate change that is worrying. There are many impacts from the effects of climate change. We cannot close our eyes. We are living the effects in Central America.”
For El Salvador’s Minister of the Environment, Herman Rosa Chavez, the torrential rains caused by weather phenomena originating in the Pacific Ocean “are part of the extreme events,” with the danger that “the frequency with which they are occuring is increasing.”
“We have disorder in the climate; in the the 60s and 70s we were impacted by atmospheric phenomenon once every decade, then in the eighties there were two, in the 90’s four, between 2000 and 2010 there were seven events and in this new decade we have the first event and the question is how many are there going to be? “said Rosa Chavez.
Given the costs of adapting to climate change, Rosa Chavez appealed to access the Green Fund, which under the principle of “shared responsibility”, is endowed by contributions from countries that emit more greenhouse gases.