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Climate Change Threatening Human Health, Safety in Latin America

Wahyu Dwi Anggoro • 18 August 2021 12:37
Geneva: Climate change and extreme weather are threatening human health and safety, food, water and energy security and the environment in Latin America and the Caribbean, according to a new report from the World Meteorological Organization (WMO). 
The "State of the Climate in Latin America and the Caribbean 2020" provides a snapshot of the effects of increasing temperatures, changing precipitation patterns, storms and retreating glaciers. 
The report was released at a high-level conference on 17 August, "Working together for weather, climate and water resilience in Latin America and the Caribbean" under the auspices of WMO, the UN Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (UNECLAC), and the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNDRR).

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It follows the release of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report on Climate Change 2021: the Physical Science basis, which said that temperatures in the region have increased more than the global average and are likely to continue to do so. 
It also projected changing precipitation patterns, more sea level rise, coastal flooding and marine heatwaves.
"Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) is among the regions most challenged by extreme hydrometeorological events. This was highlighted in 2020 by the death and devastation from Hurricane Eta and Iota in Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and Costa Rica, and the intense drought and unusual fire season in the Pantanal region of Brazil, Bolivia, Paraguay, and Argentina. Notable impacts included water and energy-related shortages, agricultural losses, displacement and compromised health and safety, all compounding challenges from the COVID-19 pandemic," said WMO Secretary-General Prof. Petteri Taalas in a press release on Tuesday.
"With almost half of its area covered by forests, Latin America and the Caribbean represents about 57 percent of the world’s remaining primary forests, storing an estimated 104 gigatons of carbon. Fires and deforestation are now threatening one of the world’s largest carbon sinks, with far-reaching and long-lasting repercussions," he said.
Between 1998 and 2020, climate-related and geophysical events resulted in the loss of 312,000 lives and directly affected more than 277 million people.
The multi-agency report is based on a standard methodology for assessing the physical aspects of the climate system. 
It incorporates input from National Meteorological and Hydrological Services (NMHs), WMO Regional Climate Centers (RCCs), research institutions, and international and regional organizations. 
It provides science-based information to support countries and communities in their efforts to adapt to a changing climate and build more resilience to extreme weather. It identifies areas for improvement in the management of hydrometeorological risks.
The report highlights that adaptation measures, particularly multi-hazard early warning systems, are underdeveloped in the region. 
It stresses the need for greater political commitment and more financial support to strengthen Early Warning Systems (EWS) and operational weather, climate and hydrological services to support risk management and adaptation.


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