Climate News: Bolivia, S.A.
March 24, 2007
BOLIVIA is entering its fourth month of onslaught from El Niño, the climate phenomenon that has grown stronger, and threatens to return with even greater force in coming years. According to the forecasts of Bolivia's National Weather Service and of the scientific community of international agencies, the end of El Niño was announced earlier this month. But heavy rains, overflowing rivers and hurricane-force winds have not ended in the northeast, while drought, hail and frost persist in the west. Experts agreed that the Andean region should prepare for more frequent and intense visits from El Niño as a result of global climate change. The greatest threat is to the northern department of Pando, which faces heavy flooding from rains in neighbouring Peru. Although this is rainy season across all of Bolivia, the period that began in December is the most severe since 1998. The Ranchers Federation in the north-eastern department of Beni estimates at least 22,000 head of cattle dead. Other losses, not yet quantified, are related to the farming sector there and in Santa Cruz and Pando, where rice and soybean crops were hit. More than 50 people have died and 79,386 families across the country have been affected as a result of the intense weather. Also to be taken into consideration is the disappearance of vegetation and the likely losses of endangered animal species. So far humans have not stepped up to take action on climate change and construction continues in areas where El Niño causes intense rains, and deforestation persists in places where there is intense drought.
Adapting to the damaging effects of climate change, plants are gradually moving to where temperatures are cooler, rainfall is greater, f...