The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!
Amazon Deforestation Threatens South America's Water Security
By Paul Brown
The continued destruction of the Amazon to exploit its resources for mining, agriculture and hydro-power is threatening the future of the South American continent, according to a report by campaigning groups using the latest scientific data.
Photo courtesy of Shutterstock
Five countries—Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru—share the Amazon, and for all of them the forest area occupies more than 40 percent of their territory. All face threats to their water supply, energy production, food and health.
In addition, the report says, because of the over-exploitation of the region, rainfall will fall by 20 percent over a heavily-populated area far to the south of Amazonia known as the La Plata basin, covering parts of Argentina, Brazil, Bolivia, Paraguay and Uruguay.
Last month it was reported that deforestation in Amazonia had increased by almost one-third in the past year, with an area equal to 50 football fields destroyed every minute since 2000.
The report, the Amazonia Security Agenda, authored by the Global Canopy Programme and CIAT, the International Centre for Tropical Agriculture, says the prosperity of the region is based on the abundance of water.
There always seemed to be an endless supply of water, but the combination of industrial and agricultural pollution and droughts is creating a once unthinkable vulnerability for the five countries of Amazonia.
Profits Syphoned Off
The huge wealth being generated from the forests comes with large-scale environmental and social costs. Local people do not benefit, and the profits from minerals, mining and agriculture are syphoned out of the region.
The large-scale economic development of the region causes deforestation. That in turn is threatening not only the wellbeing of the local people but the economic stability of the industries themselves.
Climate change is adding to both the uncertainty and the instability. Increasing temperatures, as much as 3.5 degrees Celsius in the near future, changing rainfall patterns and more intense and frequent extreme weather events will have further impacts on the health and well-being of the population. Energy supply from hydro-electric dams will decline.
Big Bill Coming
Among those welcoming the report is Manuel Pulgar, Peru's environment minister. He will play a leading part when the country’s capital, Lima, hosts the twentieth summit of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change in Dec. 2014.
“Climate change is a global problem, but one that will multiply local and regional problems in unforeseeable ways," said Pulgar. "In Latin America, we have taken Amazonia and its seemingly limitless water and forests as a given. But recent unprecedented droughts have shown us just what happens when that water security falters ... ”
The report says the impacts of environmental degradation that have so far been felt in other parts of the world are now likely to be felt in Amazonia, threatening economic development and security.
Governments in the region, it says, need to recognize that development cannot continue without recognizing the damage caused to the water supply and the climate both globally and locally. Policy makers need scientists to monitor changes to conditions and the economic risks they pose.
Trillions of Tons of Water
These findings must be shared between academic institutions and governments so that they can decide how to remedy the problem. Annual reviews of dangerous hotspots are also needed, and cross-border groups of experts who could help both national and regional development plans to be worked out.
Carlos Klink, Brazil’s national secretary for climate change and environmental quality, endorsed these findings. “We are understanding more and more how interdependent water, food, energy and health security are across our continent."
“There is also interdependence between the countries that share the Amazon, which recycles trillions of tons of water that all our people and economies rely on," Klink continued. “The challenge that we are just beginning to recognize and act upon is one of transitioning to a more sustainable economy—one that values the role of a healthy Amazonia in underpinning long-term security and prosperity.”
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
By Daisy Brickhill
Each morning, men living in fishing communities along Ghana's coastline push off in search of the day's catch. But when the boats come back to shore, it's the women who take over.
By Sam Nickerson
Links between excess sugar in your diet and disease have been well-documented, but new research by Harvard's School of Public Health might make you even more wary of that next soda: it could increase your risk of an early death.
The study, published this week in the American Heart Association's journal Circulation, found that drinking one or two sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs) each day — like sodas or sports drinks — increases risk of an early death by 14 percent.
Tyson Foods Recalls Nearly 70,000 Pounds of Chicken Strips After Customers Find ‘Fragments of Metal’
Tyson Foods is recalling approximately 69,093 pounds of frozen chicken strips because they may have been contaminated with pieces of metal, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) announced Thursday.
The affected products were fully-cooked "Buffalo Style" and "Crispy" chicken strips with a "use by" date of Nov. 30, 2019 and an establishment number of "P-7221" on the back of the package.
"FSIS is concerned that some product may be in consumers' freezers," the recall notice said. "Consumers who have purchased these products are urged not to consume them. These products should be thrown away or returned to the place of purchase."
Environmental exposure to pesticides, both before birth and during the first year of life, has been linked to an increased risk of developing autism spectrum disorder, according to the largest epidemiological study to date on the connection.
The study, published Wednesday in BMJ, found that pregnant women who lived within 2,000 meters (approximately 1.2 miles) of a highly-sprayed agricultural area in California had children who were 10 to 16 percent more likely to develop autism and 30 percent more likely to develop severe autism that impacted their intellectual ability. If the children were exposed to pesticides during their first year of life, the risk they would develop autism went up to 50 percent.
ExxonMobil could be the second company after Monsanto to lose lobbying access to members of European Parliament after it failed to turn up to a hearing Thursday into whether or not the oil giant knowingly spread false information about climate change.
The call to ban the company was submitted by Green Member of European Parliament (MEP) Molly Scott Cato and should be decided in a vote in late April, The Guardian reported.
Bernie Sanders has become the first contender in the crowded 2020 Democratic presidential primary field to pledge to offset all of the greenhouse gas emissions released by campaign travel, The Huffington Post reported Thursday.