rural road Ian Cumming/ZumaPress

¿Quién sufrirá más las consecuencias del cambio climático?

SEATTLE – Hace unos años, Melinda y yo visitamos a un grupo de cultivadores de arroz en Bihar (India), una de las regiones del país más propensas a padecer inundaciones. Todos ellos eran extremadamente pobres y dependían del arroz que cultivaban para alimentar y mantener a su familia. Todos los años, cuando llegaban las lluvias de los monzones, los ríos experimentaban una crecida y amenazaban con inundar sus explotaciones y arruinar sus cosechas. Aun así, estaban dispuestos a apostarlo todo a la posibilidad de que su explotación se librara. Era una apuesta que con frecuencia perdían. Con las cosechas arruinadas, huían a las ciudades en busca de chapuzas para alimentar a sus familias. Sin embargo, el año siguiente regresaban –con frecuencia más pobres que cuando se habían marchado– listos para volver a plantar.

Nuestra visita fue un poderoso recordatorio de que los agricultores más pobres del mundo viven en la cuerda floja y sin redes de seguridad. No tienen acceso a semillas mejoradas, fertilizantes, sistemas de riego y otras tecnologías beneficiosas, como los agricultores de los países ricos, y tampoco tienen aseguradas sus cosechas para protegerse contra las pérdidas. Un solo golpe de mala suerte –una sequía, una inundación o una enfermedad– es suficiente para hacerlos caer más profundamente en la pobreza y el hambre.

Ahora el cambio climático va a sumar una nueva clase de riesgo a su vida. El aumento de las temperaturas en los próximos decenios provocará importantes perturbaciones en la agricultura, en particular en las zonas tropicales. Los cultivos no crecerán por culpa de la escasez de agua o del exceso de ella. Con un clima más caluroso,  las plagas prosperarán y destruirán las cosechas.

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