Presidents blame First World for damaging storm

Graphic shows the track of hurricanes, tropical storms and other phenomena in history. U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration graphic

Presidents and ambassadors from countries devastated by recent rains blamed the industrialized nations Tuesday and said developed countries had a moral obligation to pay and to reduce climate change. Among those signing the surprising document was Laura Chinchilla of Costa Rica.

In their declaration, the presidents said that the intensity of the prolonged rain suffered in Central Americas constitutes a concrete manifestation of the adverse affects of climate change and the direct impact of this over the life and existence of the population of the countries and for achieving the Millennium development goals.

In addition to Ms. Chinchilla, Porfirio Lobo Sosa, the Honduran president, Mauricio Funes, president of El Salvador and Álvaro Colom Caballeros of Guatemala signed the document. Also signing were Samuel Santos, foreign minister of Nicaragua, Enrique Bermúdez Martinelli, the ambassador of Panamá, and Celie Paz de González, ambassador of Belize. The countries belong to the Sistema de la Integración Centroamericana. The meeting was at Comalapa International Airport and the document is titled the Declaration of Comalapa. A copy was released in San José by Casa Presidencial.

The document addressed the damage caused by Tropical Depression 12-E that brought hundreds of deaths, thousands of refugees, damage to infrastructure and serious agricultural losses. The bulk of the damage was north of Costa Rica. Hurricane Jova and Tropical Depression 12E made landfall in México Oct. 14 from the Pacific Ocean. The remnants of 12-E crossed Central America and moved into the Caribbean. Honduras, Guatemala and México are now being menaced by Hurricane Rina.

The declaration said that “the developed countries have an environmental debt with the rest of the world and that the industrial revolution that began in 1850 is the principal cause of climate change hat we suffer today. The developed world has the duty to contribute to our expenses of prevention and reconstruction with a focus on reducing risks and adapting to climate change.”

The presidents plan to meet again Dec. 16 to promote what they called the right to prevention.

Among the conclusions the declaration calls upon industrialized states to make significant reductions in gases and to recognize the region as a vulnerable one that requires additional financing. This financing might include transfer of technology for mitigation.

The declaration also said that the group of countries would make a formal request to the United Nations for emergency aid. The presidents and ambassadors also said they would instruct their representatives in the various development banks and the World Bank to help finance projects of rehabilitation.

Neither the declaration nor Casa Presidencial here gave any scientific support that the tropical depression and this seasons other storms and hurricanes were amplified by climate change.

The latest scientific reports say that the oceans are about one degree celsius warmer than 1970 levels, and that means about 4 percent more water in the air.

However, the Sun-Sentinel in Fort Lauderdale has published a list of Western Hemisphere hurricanes since Columbus encountered one in 1495. The newspaper said that in 1776 a storm killed more than 6,000 on Martinique, and then in 1780 the deadliest storm on record hit the Caribbean, claimed 22,000 lives and destroyed the British and French fleets.

The U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration maintains a data base of more than  6,000 tropical cyclones, ranging from 1842.

The declaration did not mention emissions from the various volcanoes that are in the Central American countries.

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