Global Climate Change Affects Chilean’s Health & Crops By Dena Ventrudo

Photograph by Jerry Alexander/Getty ImagesGlobal climate change is truly reaching its fingers to the furthest stretches of the globe. Many of us know about the effects it is having on the arctic ice caps, but what about countries so far removed from our daily news reports, that we sometimes forget about? Chile, for example, is feeling global climate change, and it’s not feeling good.

Chile has a desert at its head, yet its feet lie under ice. How much ice? 7,000 square miles of continental ice masses and hundreds of thousands of square miles of Antarctica. Compared to other countries, Chile’s contribution to global warming has been calculated as 0.2% . Despite this infinitesimal number, the world’s contribution is melting Antarctica which will result in the flooding of Chile’s coastline.

Aside from that, the Andean glaciers are also melting.

Swimming in a thermal lake of Sejar in the the driest desert in the world, Chile's Atacama, November 2005In Santiago, a few thousand miles from Antarctica, scorching hot temperatures have marked the beginning of summer. In recent times, the first thing that comes to a Chilean’s mind when they hear the word “sun” is “sun screen”. They are advised to go to the beach only during the late afternoon hours.

The heat prevents people from carrying out their routines and must remain in the shade or take naps to kill time until sundown. This decrease in productivity on account of heat is affecting their health.

The change in climate has also seriously damaged fruit and vegetable crops, most particularly avocados. And exporter has said that this season’s frosts ruined 40% of his crops.

The weather has become unpredictable.

In 1545, Pedro de Valdivia, the conqueror of Chile, encouraged Spaniards to settle in there because, “there is no better place in the world to live, now and for generations to come.” A few centuries later their national anthem incorporated that ecological enthusiasm and passion with, “Pure, Chile, is your blue-hued sky…Your fields embroidered with flowers are a joyous likeness of Eden.”

If the big contributors to global climate change do not stop now, this paradise will be lost. And it won’t be the only one.

Source: Chile’s Rising Waters and Frozen Avocados by Antonio Skarmeta, The New York Times, Sunday Opinion, Sunday, December 23rd, 2007

Environmental Awareness

by Dena Ventrudo
Dena Ventrudo is the Assistant Editor of Merlian News. She is a published poet and creative writer. Dena volunteered as an environmentalist with the New York Public Interest Research Group (NYPIRG) for three years serving as a project leader, an intern, and a board representative. She has a BA in Liberal Studies.