Brazilian Gilberto Câmera, the director of Brazil’s National Space Research Institute (Inpe), says that because of climate change the Brazilian Semi-Arid region in the northeastern region of the country is more vulnerable to the risk of desertification.
Câmera adds that diverting the flow of the São Francisco River and building reservoirs will not alleviate the situation.
“This is a foreseen tragedy that has left us perplexed as we are not capable of changing climate change because developed nations, like the United States, that are responsible in large part for the problem, refuse to accept a commitment to reducing the effects, not even in the long-term,” said the director of Inpe, adding that the regions most seriously affected will be the polar regions and those close to the equator.
Câmera spoke at the signing of a cooperation agreement with the ministry of Environment for the creation of an early warning system on drought and desertification in the Semi-Arid. According to Câmera, because of its vulnerability to climate change, the Semi-Arid deserves more attention.
A large area of Brazil is known as “The Semi-Arid” (Semiárido). It stretches for over one million square kilometers in the northeast region of the country, where almost 30 million people live, over 15% of the total Brazilian population, in 1,500 municipalities in the states of Alagoas, Bahia, Ceará, Espírito Santo, Maranhão, Minas Gerais, Paraíba, Pernambuco, Piauí, Rio Grande do Norte and Sergipe.
Average rainfall is under 500 millimeters (in other rainy parts of Brazil it can be ten times as much).
The semi-arid is Brazil’s perennial poor cousin. In the human development categories it lags behind the rest of the country: in infant mortality, disease control, literacy rates and most of the economic indicators.
Now the Inpe is to draw up an Early Warning System for Drought and Desertification in the Brazilian Semi-Arid with the objective of measuring vulnerabilities in the region. The emphasis will be on the danger of desertification and forecasting extreme weather conditions due to climate change.
August 9, at the 2nd Ordinary Meeting of the National Commission on Desertification Combat (CNCD), the National Institute of Space Research (Inpe) and the Ministry of Environment signed a cooperation agreement to make the new system possible.
At the meeting, the minister of Environment, Izabella Teixeira, called for long-term public policy directed at the problems of the Semi-Arid region. She pointed out that the region is vulnerable to extreme weather caused by climate change, having lost 50% of its original vegetation.
“We must ensure that the situation does not get worse,” she declared, pointing out that in such a fragile ecosystem as the Semi-Arid it was more than ever necessary to achieve balanced, sustainable use of natural resources.
“Without water for example, you will not have energy or food,” the minister said, adding that with regard to the Semi-Arid it was a fact that all the pessimistic forecasts made over the last 30 years had come true. She criticized local elected officials who march to Brasília for more money, “…but do not put environmental problems on their agendas.”
Izabella Teixeira said what was needed was a strategic approach to deal with food production, energy necessities and natural disasters. She cited recent flooding in the states of Alagoas and Pernambuco, comparing them to what was happening today in Pakistan.