Chile's biggest drought is not a children's thing

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The effects have been dramatic for three of the key sectors for the Chilean economy.

Man raising a handful of earth.

Man raising a handful of earth. / Photo: Unsplash - Reference Image

LatinAmerican Post | Alberto Castaño Camacho

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Leer en español: Megasequía en Chile no es cosa de niños

Chile's biggest drought goes far beyond the macroeconomic calculations that undoubtedly take place in the high government since the precipitation deficit reaches almost a full decade, becoming the most drastic and prolonged drought in history. For Chileans, this phenomenon has already become a matter far beyond the economic, it is a matter of life or death that was initially lived between the regions of Coquimbo and La Araucanía but now extends to areas known as the 'north boy' and the 'central region'.

The Chilean Meteorological Directorate affirms that there are both natural and anthropic causes (related to human activities) to explain this infernal phenomenon that is changing not only the quality of life of its inhabitants but the vocation of the economic sectors that develop in these regions.

Scientists claim that 75% of the drought is due to natural causes. Chile goes through cyclically through periods of surplus and rainfall deficit, they are known as El Niño and La Niña phenomena, respectively.

This type of phenomenon has nothing to do with Climate Change, in fact, there are geological records on Easter Island, dating back more than 6,000 years ago, in which it was scientifically proven that these phenomena of climate variability exist since those times before our era.

When La Niña arrives in South America, some countries are literally flooded thanks to the rainfall surplus that occurs in different territories, such as the case of Colombia. However, in Ecuador, Peru, and Chile, the consequences are contrary, La Niña arrives with a rainfall deficit and since 2010, its consequences have been so drastic that the losses are millionaires.

The effects have been dramatic for three of the key sectors for the Chilean economy. Agriculture, the main economic activity for the central and southern regions of the country, mining, present in 13 of the 15 regions and finally the generation of electricity whose main source of origin comes from the large hydroelectric plants.

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In the Valparaíso Region, the green par excellence has been replaced by dust, in the place where previously vital forests were erected. The situation is so dire that it is also lived from Atacama to the Ñuble region, in the southern center of the country.

The Chilean Meteorological Directorate attests that in this region of the south center, during the course of the year only 81 mm of rain has fallen, while the traditional to date oscillates a figure that exceeds 380 mm. The same happens in Santiago, the metropolitan region that suffers a deficit of more than 70% in its rainfall. And the biggest distress is that the southern summer season is just beginning, which indicates that everything can get worse.

Animals killed due to lack of water exceed 30,000 and the Ministry of Agriculture said in a press release that “470,000 head of goats, 170,000 cattle and 150,000 sheep are seriously at risk. And as a consequence, the prices of fodder to feed cattle have increased exponentially, while the price of animals has fallen to ridiculous prices.

This is another event, known by the scientists of the intergovernmental panel on Climate Change, IPCC, as "climate displacement", a product of Climate Change. The United Nations Organization released a report stating that 15% of the population of the region known as Monte Patria, just over 100 kilometers from the city of La Serena, capital of Coquimbo, is already It has moved from that area for climatic reasons, showing the tip of the 'iceberg'.

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It is Climate Change that generates an intensification in frequency and intensity of natural climatic variability phenomena such as El Niño and La Niña. Although Chilean experts from the Meteorological Directorate have affirmed that 75% of this drought is due to natural causes, the remaining 25% is due to the Climate Change generated by the human species.

However, there is an altering factor that triggers so many natural phenomena, such as the consequences of climate change, facilitating the adverse conditions that have been experienced since the beginning of the 2010s in Chile. The poor management of the soil, its degradation and desertification cause the Atacama desert, the driest in the world, to expand its border to the south.

The overexploitation of water and soil resources generates a perfect breeding ground so that the semi-dryness, characteristic of the ecosystems of the center of the country, is transformed every year into more tendentious ecosystems conducive to welcome the great Atacama desert.

The truth is that this drought is the most overwhelming that has been suffered in the extreme south of America and has already far exceeded the remembered rainfall deficit of 1968.