Increasingly, the effects of warming are being confirmed. They are real, irreversible, and they are happening now. For Tucumán -and northern Argentina, in general- a greater intensity of extreme weather events is expected. That means dry periods are going to be drier. That the torrential rains will become even more intense. And that heat waves will be frequent, he details Alejandro Brown. The ecologist and president of the ProYungas foundation is not alarmist and his gaze is usually conciliatory. However, it is decisive when it comes to analyzing what awaits our region in the coming years, after yesterday the conclusions of the latest report were known by the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the group of experts linked to the United Nations (UN).
In that document, the IPCC has made a shocking announcement: the climate crisis accelerated and the planet will warm 1.5 degrees Celsius in 19 years. In addition, researchers have agreed that there is absolutely no doubt that it is human activity – mainly through the burning of fossil fuels – that causes the accumulation of greenhouse gases that trap heat in the atmosphere and raise temperature.
Unfortunately, humanity has reached a point of no return: whatever it does, it will be inevitable to stop that 1.5 ° mark, they sentenced from the IPCC. “This is already happening. Today we are seeing how the La Niña phenomenon repeats itself for the second year in a row. And that will continue to happen, with dry and intense periods that will last for years,” Brown continues. Despite this not very encouraging future, he emphasizes that the Tucuman basins can boast of their good state of conservation (“this is very important, both for the catchment and for the administration of water”). In return, it urges to work on the accumulation of drinking water for dry and critical periods.
– How should the Government, institutions and society prepare for what is to come?
– I believe that the provision of drinking water for Greater Tucumán is our weakest edge. If it is currently a complication, in the future it will be worse. We have to improve the catchment, storage and distribution systems, mainly for the provincial capital, Tafí Viejo, Yerba Buena and Las Talitas, to name a few areas with scarcity. The population, for its part, must become aware of the importance of saving water.
Then Brown mentions another challenge: how to defend ourselves from the rains, which will be more cruel. “The issue of infrastructure is crucial. Bridges, roads and neighborhoods must be well thought out and based on the torrential rainfall. Today, measuring risks has to be a priority,” he reasons. In its report, the IPCC explains that so far the average temperature of the planet has risen 1.1 degrees Celsius from pre-industrialization levels (in the mid-19th century). That increase is the fastest in 2,000 years. Extreme events similar to the floods in Europe or the fires in Greece are a consequence of these developments. Seven of the ten largest fires in California have happened in the last five years, they exemplified.
Tucumán could also provide examples. In October of last year, firefighters and airmen worked for weeks in vast outbreaks at the foot of Cerro San Javier. Hydrant planes flew over the province for days, as there were also fires in the south. Ricardo Degree -Director of the Institute of Regional Ecology, of the Conicet- ratifies what Brown said, about what the changes will be in this province: there will be more heat and more droughts, he repeats. “Those are changes. Changes that humans will have to adapt to. Due to the heat, fires in ecosystems are likely to increase. Consequently, we need a fire control policy,” he says.
The study that was made public this Monday was prepared by 234 experts from 66 countries. Scientists have reviewed more than 14,000 articles to make their synthesis on the physical effects that warming has had and the possible scenarios based on the greenhouse gases that humanity emits in the coming decades. As a couple of lines above wrote, these gases are released when fossil fuels are burned for power and are primarily responsible for overheating. “The basis of these climatic problems lies there,” explains Grau, in a professorial tone. That is why the subsidies on gas and electricity bills are clearly wrong. Instead, the Government should promote the use of solar and nuclear energy “.
In addition to fire management policies and the removal of non-renewable energy subsidies, Grau raises a third point, in line with Brown and also in line with his tremendous zero stance: “it is known that droughts will be severe. Enough reason to dedicate ourselves to the maintenance of our watersheds and water resources “.
Finally, the report ensures that long-term changes are already underway. The sea level will rise at least 40 centimeters in a very short term, due to the melting of the ice. Darío Ovejero – a graduate in geography and professor of the chair of climatology at the Faculty of Philosophy and Letters of the National University of Tucumán (UNT) – qualifies the numbers handled by the UN as alarming. Then he affirms that of those 1.5 degrees Celsius predicted, in Argentina a variability of between 0 ° and 1.5 ° will be evidenced. Unfortunately, Tucumán could have the worst part: “for the north, a greater increase in the average temperature is expected, between 1 ° and 1.5 °”. That rise will cause – indicates – a hydric stress, with droughts, as Brown and Grau mentioned, and with absolutely dry winters, like the current one or last year, which did not rain for five months.
The IPCC document is the harshest warning yet about the speed and scale of global warming. The consequences of our actions will be suffered by children who are being born and who are born in this decade. The world in which they will live will be hotter, there will be greater droughts, floods will be common, sea levels will rise, and some coastal cities will disappear forever. The debate is not whether or not it will happen. Now, the debate is whether we will arrive in time to adapt. “The most important thing to face this situation is that there are economic resources, technical capacity and an involved and organized society,” concludes Brown.