Las advertencias de la naturaleza para la Cumbre de Johannesburgo

La enorme fuerza de la naturaleza se ha dejado sentir de forma aterradora últimamente. Mientras los líderes mundiales se reúnen en Johannesburgo para discutir las amenazas ambientales globales, muchas zonas del planeta están destrozadas por inundaciones, sequías, cosechas perdidas, incendios forestales masivos e incluso enfermedades nuevas. La relación del hombre con la naturaleza es algo tan viejo como nuestra especie, pero esa relación está cambiando de manera compleja. El resultado más importante de la cumbre de Johannesburgo debe de ser un reconocimiento de que se necesitan más investigaciones científicas y mucha más cooperación global.

Las inundaciones y las sequías han causado daños desde tiempos remotos; sin embargo, a últimas fechas la frecuencia, las dimensiones y el impacto económico de esos desastres han crecido. Los pagos de las aseguradoras por concepto de desastres naturales aumentaron a niveles sin precedente durante la década de los noventa, lo que sugiere que los costos sociales de las convulsiones ambientales se han intensificado. Algunos episodios climáticos como el durísimo Niño de 1997-98 desempeñaron un papel principal en crisis económicas recientes. Indonesia y Ecuador, entre otros países, sucumbieron ante crisis financieras en 1997-98 que estuvieron vinculadas (en parte) a las crisis agrícolas provocadas por la severidad del Niño.

Parte del aumento de los efectos del clima se debe simplemente a la cantidad de gente que somos. En gran parte como resultado de los éxitos tecnológicos de los últimos 200 años, la población mundial se ha septuplicado desde 1800, de aproximadamente 900 millones de habitantes en ese entonces a más de 6 mil millones hoy en día, y se ha hacinado en lugares vulnerables en todo el mundo.

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