FLOPDING AND CLIMATE CHANGE

More than 20,000 Paraguayan families are affected by the floods according to government data; the unusual rainfall in recent weeks, up to three times higher than the usual average, has caused rivers to rise, leaving thousands of homes under water. Floods have been the most affected extreme weather phenomenon globally in the last year and are one of the most serious consequences of climate change.

In 2018 most of the natural hazards that affected nearly 62 million people were associated with extreme weather and climate events. Floods continued to be the phenomenon with the highest number of affected people-over 35 million people-according to an analysis of 281 events recorded by the Center for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters and the United Nations International Strategy for Disaster Reduction.

For the World Meteorological Organization, these phenomena have an important relationship with climate change. In a recent report, they mention that the state of the climate in 2018 shows an increase in the effects of climate change, “the data published in this report is of great concern. The last four years have been the warmest on record, and the global average surface temperature in 2018 was about 1°C above the pre-industrial baseline,” said UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, adding that these data only confirm the urgency of action on climate change and that he will convene a Climate Summit at the level of Heads of State on September 23, 2019.

According to another report, in this case from the United Nations Food and Agriculture Agency, called “The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World 2018” Paraguay is on the list of countries with high exposure to extreme weather events, defined as low- and middle-income countries and territories exposed to extreme weather events in recent years. There are 51 low- and middle-income countries that meet these criteria and Paraguay has had extreme weather events in at least five of the last six years, where floods, storms and heat waves have been recorded in the national territory.

In addition to what the World Meteorological Organization has pointed out, other studies at the global level also indicate that extreme weather events are directly linked to climate change caused by global warming. The Postdam Institute for Climate Impact Research in Germany had concluded in a study that “climate change has increased episodes of heavy rainfall, causing flooding or severe damage in different regions of the planet by 12 percent.

According to the EFE agency, the investigation indicates that the concentration of cases of extreme rainfall in the last 30 years “is unprecedented” and that researchers have analyzed the records of extreme rainfall episodes in all regions of the planet between 1901 and 2010, detecting that until 1980 natural variations explain perfectly the frequency of these events. However, coinciding with the significant increase in the accumulation of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, which occurred in the early 80s, the events with high intensity rainfall have been 12 percent more common between 1981 and 2010 than if there had been no climate change.

In Paraguay, the sixth country with the highest deforestation rate in the world, the felling of some 300,000 hectares of forest per year represents the largest contribution to global warming in the country. According to publications on the subject, taking into account its population, Paraguay would be in the range of the largest contributors to global warming and greenhouse gas emissions; Paraguay’s per capita contribution by 2014 would be 27.96 Mt CO2e, surpassing even the largest emitters of greenhouse gases: the United States 19.84 Mt per capita and China, 8.5 Mt. The FAO had indicated in 2016 that in Paraguay, as in other countries in the region, 70% of deforestation is caused by agribusiness.