rural road Ian Cumming/ZumaPress

Wie hebben het meest te lijden onder de klimaatverandering?

SEATTLE – Een paar jaar geleden bezochten Melinda en ik een groep rijstboeren in het Indiase Bihar, een van de regio's van het land die het meest te kampen hebben met overstromingen. Ze waren allemaal bijzonder arm, en afhankelijk van de door hen verbouwde rijst voor de voeding en ondersteuning van hun gezinnen. Ieder jaar zwollen de rivieren op na de komst van de moessonregens, en dreigden zij hun land te overstromen en hun gewassen te verwoesten. Toch waren de boeren bereid er alles onder te verwedden dat hun boerderij zou worden gespaard. Het was een gok die ze vaak verloren. Na de verwoesting van hun gewassen vluchtten ze dan naar de stad op zoek naar werk, om hun gezin te kunnen voeden. Maar het jaar daarop kwamen ze weer terug – dikwijls armer dan toen ze vertrokken – om het opnieuw te proberen.

Ons bezoek herinnerde ons er weer eens aan dat het leven voor de armste boeren ter wereld zoiets als koorddansen is zonder vangnet. Ze hebben geen toegang tot verbeterde zaden, mest, irrigatiesystemen en andere voordelige technologieën, zoals de boeren in de rijke landen die wel hebben – en zij hebben ook geen oogstverzekering om zichzelf tegen verliezen te beschermen. Er is maar één geval van tegenslag – droogte, overstromingen of ziekte – voor nodig om ze nog dieper in de armoede en de honger te storten.

De klimaatverandering staat op het punt een nieuwe risicolaag aan hun levens toe te voegen. De komende decennia zullen de stijgende temperaturen leiden tot grote ontwrichtingen van de landbouw, vooral in tropische gebieden. Gewassen zullen niet willen groeien door te weinig of te veel regenval. Ziekten zullen welig tieren in de warmere klimaatzones en gewassen vernietigen.

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