Climate change is a global problem, but even more so for the countries of Latin and South America, where economic conditions coupled with extreme weather put millions of people in danger.
According to a recent report of the World Meteorological Organization, climate change is threatening the entire region, from “the heights of Andean peaks to low-lying islands and mighty river basins”. The WMO study, “State of the Climate in Latin America and the Caribbean 2020”, draws attention to the main problems the region is facing, such as: increasing temperatures, changing rainfall patterns, storms, and retreating glaciers. All of these combined have a profound impact on human health and safety, food, water, energy security and the environment.
Protecting the people and the environment is one of the principles that have guided Adolfo SalumeArtinano throughout his career. One of the most influential business leaders in South America, Adolfo Salume is chairman and CEO of more than twenty operating companies under the umbrella of GrupoPrologix, dealing in finance, logistics, distribution as well as clean technology. A keen environmentalist, FitoSalume is also the founder of three not-for-profit foundations dedicated to the protection of the environment by improving public education for the underprivileged, offering them leadership and value formation skills. His efforts of many years come not a moment too soon, as the region is most at risk.
Deforestation and wildfires threaten the region’s population
One of the main challenges Salume and his organizations need to face are fires and deforestation. Almost half of Latin America and the Caribbean is covered in forests, representing about 57 % of the world’s remaining primary forests and storing an estimated 104 gigatons of carbon. If the forests go, so will the region’s capacity to store carbon. Just have a look at these numbers – between 2000 and 2016, nearly 55 million hectares of forest were lost, which represents more than 91% of forest losses worldwide.
Local environmental initiatives are two-pronged. On the one hand, there’s the acute need to protect the country’s pristine forests. On the other hand, there’s the need to reduce carbon emission. FitoSalume is working towards this goal. One of the most important companies under his leadership is Clean Technology solutions which offers non-polluting water treatments and zero-carbon building technologies.
Record-breaking temperatures bring drought to South America
According to the WMO, 2020 was the second warmest year in South America, and among the three warmest years in Central America and the Caribbean. Meteorological stations throughout the region registered record-breaking values of up to 10 °C above normal.
The region was affected by widespread drought, which led to lowering river levels. This affects crops and the livelihood of the local population, leading to food insecurity in the region. Also, the increased rate of wildfires in 2020 caused huge damage to ecosystems, including adverse impacts to vital ecosystem services and livelihoods dependent on them.
For the time being, South America still counts as one of the world’s last remaining net carbon sinks, but, as Adolfo Salume warns, if the trend continues the region will become a net source of carbon emissions.