U.N. report predicts major climate impact

The number of people in Latin America and the Caribbean affected by extreme weather events, including high temperatures, forest fires, droughts, storms and floods grew from 5 million in the 1970s to more than 40 million between 2000 and 2009, the United Nations said Monday in a report that graphically details the effects of climate change in those regions.

Using charts, graphs and maps, the report entitled “Vital Climate Change Graphics for Latin America and the Caribbean,” produced by the U.N. Environment Programme, depicts the major signs of climate change in the region, its physical impacts and calculates current levels of greenhouse gas emissions and possibilities for mitigation.

Adverse weather conditions have cost the region more than $40 billion over the past decade, according to the report, which was unveiled at the U.N. climate change conference in Cancún, Mexico.

Produced in collaboration with the Sustainable Development and Human Settlements Division of the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean and the Programme’s Polar Research Centre, the report also forecasts future climate scenarios for the region.

Graphics show that by 2050, rises in the temperature of ocean surfaces will result in more frequent bleaching of coral reefs, with a negative impact on tourism and fishing. In 1970, only a small number of countries in Latin America and the Caribbean were home to mosquitoes that transmit yellow fever, dengue fever and malaria. However, by 2002, the vast majority of the region was affected by these tropical diseases, the report says.

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