Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Climate Change is No Picnic....part 1

From 1994 -2015, Nicaragua was the 4th most affected country due to climate change.

How so?  Since 1998 Nicaragua has experienced TWO category 5 hurricanes:  Hurricanes Mitch and Felix!  To help you have heard a great deal about Hurricane Katrina, seen the images, and probably know that volunteer work is still going on to repair its damages 11 years later.

Hurricane Mitch from space
Mudslide burying 1,911 Nicaraguans
10 villages completely lost

Hurricane Katrina (2005) was a category 3 that peaked at category 5...its final death toll was 1, opposed to Hurricane Mitch (1998) that left 19,325 dead.  Mitch was the deadliest hurricane of the 20th century and the second deadliest Atlantic hurricane on record after the Great Hurricane of 1780.

Rain Forest trees leveled lying
like matchsticks
Hurricane Felix (in 2007) hit one of the least populated parts of just 4 hours it destroyed 30,000 homes and leveled 1,100 square miles of rain forest (704,000 acres)!  Nicaragua has the 2nd largest rain forest in the Americas with the Amazon being the first.

Until recently when the rains came  Nicaragua experienced the most severe drought in 44 years!  

One third of Nicaragua's economy is based on agriculture, fishing and timber all that are affected by too much or too little water.  Beans, the basic protein, has more than doubled their costs!  Because the government handed out food packets and continued to serve meals in schools, major starvation was stayed.

One would think that when the world leaders got together for the Paris climate summat (COP21) that Nicaragua would be one of the first to sign the agreement* ...but one would be wrong!  Why not?

Because the Agreement did not go far enough...the agreement was like taking baby steps in a 30 yard dash!  If a nation decides "nope, don't want to do that!" then the Agreement is voluntary with no serious penalties. 

The U.S. pumps 17 metric tons of carbon per person into the atmosphere while Nicaragua only pumps 0.8 metric tons per person.  The U.S. is second in carbon emissions in the world, after China.  

While the U.S. population is reluctant to give up their love of oil and gas and keep approving fracking and drilling in order to become "independent," Nicaragua is blazing ahead with renewable electricity.   As of a year ago, 54% of Nicaragua's electricity was renewable (wind, geothermal, hydroelectric power).  By 2017, the goal is 75% and to 90% by 2020!  
Nicaraguan wind farm

When this little, impoverished nation is making changes, then it is appropriate for the large, carbon belching nations be penalized, if they are not doing their part...and - I mean - a significant, a drastic slowing climate change.  

We are at crisis level regarding climate change...and yet, while the wealthier countries act like this is a picnic and will do their environmental part by picking up their trash,  the poorer countries are wondering how they will they feed their people and survive.  

Being a U.S. citizen but living in Nicaragua gives me a different perspective and this time I think it is time to pay attention to the little guy.  We can learn from Nicaragua and radically change course for the sake of the poor...and for the sake of all living beings!

*Nicaragua was the first to sign the UN's Universal Declaration on the Common Good of the Earth and Humanity.