By Augusto Morel
Buenos Aires, Feb 17 (EFE).- Pointing to the wildfires, drought and heat waves that have marked the start of 2022 in Argentina, environmental organizations call for adaptation, mitigation and effective laws to protect the ecosystem.
Eighty percent of the tree-cutting that destroyed 110,180 hectares (272,049 acres) of forest last year was illegal, according to a report from Greenpeace Argentina.
“There is a law that protects the forests, but it doesn’t work is each (provincial) governor permits changes in the demarcation of zones that should not be deforested,” the group’s climate campaign coordinator, Bruno Giambelluca, told Efe.
Indiscriminate destruction of flora deprives the atmosphere of the humidity needed to form rain clouds and dries out the soil, creating the conditions to transform any random spark into a conflagration.
Data from the National Institute of Agricultural Technology show that as of Feb. 7, wildfires had consumed 519,000 hectares in Corrientes province.
And all but two of Argentina’s 23 provinces have been enduring temperatures of 40 C (104 F) for days on end.
Greenpeace and other environmental groups have shifted the emphasis of their campaigning from preventing climate change to dealing with its effects.
“There has to be adaptation because we are already living it,” Giambelluca said. “If a city floods every time it rains, more infrastructure is necessary.”
“The government must stop emissions. It’s a gradual situation where we have to convert dirty energy to renewables,” he said.
Environmentalists’ chief demand is that Argentina live up to its commitments under the 2015 Paris Accord on climate change, which have been largely set aside in pursuit of an economic recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic.
President Alberto Fernandez’s administration is appealing a court decision that blocked plans for oil exploration in the Argentine Sea just 300 km (186 mi) off the coast of Mar del Plata, a city that subsists on tourism and fishing.
Andres Napoli, an attorney who runs the Environment and National Resources Foundation (FARN), wants to see a greater sense of urgency from the government.
“The weather wasn’t perceived as a threat, but the climate question is increasingly bearing down on us. We don’t have decades to convince people and we will have to accelerate,” he told Efe.