Climate Change

The earth’s climate is changing, and people and nature are already dealing with the consequences.

But what is climate change, exactly?

Flooding caused by Hurricane Stan in 2005.

Flooding caused by Hurricane Stan in 2005.

At its simplest, climate change (you may have also heard it called global warming or climate disruption) is a phenomenon in which weather patterns and temperatures are changing rapidly and unpredictably, and on a global scale. Climate change is primarily caused by the growing concentration of heat-trapping gases in the atmosphere, often referred to as greenhouse gases.

The most commonly-emitted and well-known greenhouse gas is carbon dioxide, but greenhouse gases also include methane, nitrous oxide, and others. Most of the increase of greenhouse gases in the Earth’s atmosphere has been scientifically shown to result from human activities, such as deforestation, pollution, and burning fossil fuels.

What are the impacts of climate change?

Climate change is already causing a cascade of negative effects on the environment, human society, and nature. Central America and southern Mexico are experiencing these impacts in particularly acute ways because of their proximity to the equator.

Extreme weather events such as droughts, floods, and hurricanes are happening with more frequency and severity in the region. As forests and mangroves disappear because of deforestation, illegal logging, and development, the loss of these natural “buffers” also means that the extreme weather events that result from climate change will have an even greater destructive impact on the people and ecosystems of the region.

Climate_change_severity_2020_map_SED

This map shows the severity of the effects of climate change expected by 2020. Created by Strategies for Equitable Development.

Extreme weather events have a particularly devastating effect on the rural and indigenous populations of the area. Because they are poor and rely on subsistence farming, artisanal fishing, and the use of natural resources to survive, their homes and livelihoods can be wiped out with a single event. While some of the current practices in the region have destructive impacts that contribute to climate change—including slash and burn agriculture and harvesting forests and mangroves for firewood and timber—when homes and livelihoods are destroyed, rural and indigenous peoples have little recourse but to rebuild as best they can, continuing with these same unsustainable behaviors.

What is EcoLogic doing about climate change?

EcoLogic works with rural communities to put in place practices to help them protect and restore their natural resources and increase their resiliency in the face of climate change impacts.

Our agroforestry program, for example, not only reduces the pressures on standing forests by providing an alternative to slash and burn agriculture, but it also increases a local community’s food security and the likelihood there will be food in times of scarcity. Our reforestation efforts help protect local watersheds, rivers and creeks, and coastal areas, and build up buffers to severe weather events. Other EcoLogic programs, such as CarbonPlus, work to directly address climate change via the use of carbon credits to support rainforest conservation and restoration.

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