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Climate change is frequently perceived as a ‘future or distant’ problem, but by 2020-29 (only 11 years away) it is possible that significant changes in temperature in Latin America and Africa will occur. (Source: worldbank.org)

Climate change will also increase the intensity and frequency of meteorological phenomenon, such as floods and droughts. The Department of Beni, located in northeastern Bolivia, in the heart of the Amazon, where flood and drought periods tend to alternate, is an example of a region where people are forced to adapt to changing climate. The NGO Oxfam has given the alert on this in its report ‘The Right to Survive’, indicating that by 2015 more than 375 million people are likely to be affected by climate-related disasters –a projected increase of 54%– and this threatens to overwhelm the world’s current capacity to respond. (Source: oxfam.org)

 
© WWF / Martin HARVEY
Sand storm in Rajasthan, India.
© WWF / Martin HARVEY
The greatest losses in agriculture due to climate change will occur in parts of Latin America, Africa and southern Asia. Climate change will affect human health in two ways: increase in risk of cardiovascular diseases due to heat waves, accidental death from natural disasters related to climate, and indirectly it will increase the risk of child mortality due to diarrhea, food scarcity, malnutrition, and malaria, as well as other diseases transmitted by vectors. (Source: worldbank.org)
Climate change and poverty

The Oxfam study 'Evidence that hurts' summarizes how climate change today is affecting any issue related to poverty and development:

  • HUNGER: A new study based on interviews with farmers in 15 different countries reveals how rains are disappearing. Farmers in Nicaragua, Bangladesh and Uganda can no longer rely on experience accumulated during generations of farming, and now find themselves losing crops year after year.
  • AGRICULTURE: Rice and corn, two of the most important crops and which hundreds of millions of people depend upon, especially in America, Asia and Africa, face significant fall in their yield, even if only a slight scenario of future climate change is considered. Calculations indicate that corn crops will fall by 15% or more by 2020 in the majority of sub-Saharan Africa and India. Some estimates place looses for Africa at US$ 2 billion per year.
  • HEALTH: Diseases such as malaria and dengue fever, which previously were geographically limited, are now appearing in new areas where the populations are not immunized or do not have the knowledge, health systems nor infrastructure to confront these diseases. Calculations in the report indicate that climate change has, on average, caused 150,000 deaths per year, due to different diseases, since the decade of 1970.
  • WORK: An increase in temperatures will prohibit working at the same rhythm on hot days without involving serious health risks and severe detriment to day laborers, who are paid by the hour, and for the economy in general. Tropical cities such as Delhi (India) could suffer a decrease in work productiveness by 30%.
  • WATER: Water supplies are also being threatened and several large cities such as La Paz (Bolivia) and Katmandu (Nepal), which depend on glaciers from the Andes and Himalayas respectively, could soon not have the water they need.
  • DISASTERS: Disasters such as large fires and tropical storms are also more frequent and could triplicate by 2030. Some US$ 165 billion were lost during the 2005 hurricane season, and the insurance sector confirms that climate change will worsen the situation even more for poor people who do not have insurance.
  • DISPLACEMENT: Some 26 million people have been forced to move as a direct result of climate change, and each year one million more people are added to this number due to circumstances related to climate. Island communities such as Vanuatu, Tuvalu and the Gulf of Bengal have seen themselves forced to escape the rising sea level. (Source: oxfam.org)


© WWF / Adam OSWELL

Climate change exerts tremendous pressure on the more fragile ecosystems, bringing extinction for many animals and plants dangerously close. Modeling and scientific analysis predict that its impact will cause catastrophic losses in species all over the planet.

42% of habitats and 67% of species could be lost by mid century. If we continue with the current pace of global warming and climate change, the total extinction of species is predicted during the next 75 years.