Up In Smoke? Latin America and the Caribbean: The threat from climate change to the enviornment and human development | Global Warming | Sustainability

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The report confirms that largely regular and predictable temperature and rainfall patterns, are changing, becoming less predictable and often more extreme. It catalogues the impact of climate change and environmental degradation ranging from drought in the Amazon to floods in Haiti and elsewhere
  Up in smoke? Latin America and the Caribbean The threat from climate change to the environment and human development The third report from the Working Group on Climate Change and Development  Contents Foreword 2Prologo 3Introduction and overview 41. Disasters: why some are bigger news than others 102. Water of life 173. Livelihoods 224. Urban stress 265. Energy 286. Environment 337. Health 398. Migration 40Endnotes 42 Photos: © Greenpeace/Daniel Beltra  Up in smoke? Latin America and the Caribbean2 Never before in history has humankind achieved today’s level of scientific understanding and development. Our civilisation has managed to reach outer space, communicate across the world in fractions of a second, eradicate many diseases, and extend peoples’ life expectancies. We have also achieved important gains in political, economic, social, cultural, and environmental rights. And yet, never before have the life forms that share this extraordinary planet – humans among them – been as threatened as they are today.The terrifying forecasts made in past years about the possible effects of climate change and its consequences have transformed themselves from hypotheses into realities. The most recent research and observations of climatic phenomena and their impacts on ecosystems and human populations evidence this. Even if humanity managed to reduce or stop greenhouse gas emissions into the atmosphere within the next few years, climate change and its impacts would continue through the next few centuries due to their own inertia.This publication – the product of the commitment and effort of a group of concerned agencies – is an important contribution to greater awareness about climate change. It is a call to action not just for the governments and peoples of Latin America and the Caribbean but also for leaders in developed countries, the principal emitters responsible for the impacts and effects climate change is having on our nations, their economies and the natural world we depend upon.Latin America and the Caribbean make up an extraordinarily complex region, not just in terms of the great variety and abundance of its ecosystems but also in terms of its cultural diversity. It is a region where 44 per cent of the population still lives in poverty and where inequities in the distribution of wealth are among the highest in global terms. These characteristics make the region one of the most vulnerable, where the adverse impacts of climate change could lead to surprising environmental changes and social and cultural responses. This will be all the more so if the IPCC predictions about poor people in developing countries being the most affected groups are correct, and could lead to deepening inequality.Changes in temperature and in the frequency and intensity of rainfall have increased the number of floods and droughts, adversely affected food production, the provision of water and the viability of ecosystems and environmental services these provide. Glaciers have receded to levels without precedents in the last 10,000 years. Entire regions have been affected by climate change. Plants and animals have been displaced or perished for lack of adaptive capacity. The increasing intensity of storms and hurricanes and the surge in their destructive forces have affected hundreds of thousands of victims and led to multi-million dollar damages. Climate change has shifted vectors for diseases such as malaria or Chagas’ disease to different regions where they previously did not exist.No doubt, the damage is done. The only option we have, apart from demanding that developed countries take responsibility for the damages that climate change is causing and reduce their emissions to stabilise the atmosphere in the long term, is to define adaptation policies that anticipate and neutralise the adverse impacts that are upon us. It is the right time to re-think the development model for Latin America and the Caribbean and to establish a new social contract that leads down the path of poverty reduction and greater equality to sustainable development. It’s also the right time to re-think the model of international aid. Without question, it’s about an ethical commitment that can be put off no longer.I hope this report contributes to this purpose. Juan Mayr Maldonado Former Minister of Environment, Colombia President of the first Conference of the Parties to the UN Convention on Biological Diversity Foreword
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