Costa Rica could suffer from water stress due to global warming

The United Nations (UN), decreed on March 22 “World Water Day”, in order to create social awareness on the importance of preserving this vital liquid for all living beings, in addition to making socially visible the 2 billion people currently living without access to drinking water in the world.

In this sense, the UN affirms that when a territory extracts 25% or more of its renewable freshwater resources, it enters a cycle of “water stress” because the demand for water is greater than the quantity available for a given period or when its use is limited by its low quality.

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Water stress is becoming increasingly evident in various parts of the world due to the “climate change” which causes the increase in temperatures and sea level, and the modification of the seasons which also supposes a variation in the quantity and frequency of rains, as well as a strengthening of the El Niño phenomenon. This results in a series of negative effects on ecosystems, altering their composition, preventing them from recovering and reducing their productivity.

There is every indication that ‘global warming’, along with other long-term climate change trends, will continue in the wake of unprecedented levels of heat-trapping greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. According to the projections of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), which indicates that by 2040 the problem will become widespread due to accelerated urbanization, population growth, climate change, in addition to the high industrial economic development that puts pressure on water systems.

Water stress in the Americas

The American continent is not immune to this environmental anomaly, the so-called phenomenon of water stress is taking shape, paradoxically beginning to alert Latin America, one of the most mega-diverse reservoirs in the world.

The situation is currently being experienced by countries in the region such as Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Mexico and Peru, which have presented episodes of significant shortages and face discouraging prospects for 2040, according to Silvia Benítez , responsible for water security in Latin America. from the environmental NGO The Nature Conservancy.

Benítez explained that the panorama of the shortage of drinking water in certain regions of the American continent shows that the situation tends to worsen in different countries of Latin America due to climate change.

She noted that according to a study by the World Resources Institute, it is expected that by 2040, Peru and Chile will be among the group of 33 countries that will face severe water stress, along with the United States. States, South Africa, Australia, India and regions such as the Middle East, North Africa, among others.

Currently, climate change is not only affecting these countries in the American region, but also other places in the continent are beginning to experience the effects of water stress on a smaller scale, one of them is Costa Rica, which has experienced episodes of rising temperatures in recent years, droughts and floods in some of its territories.

Costa Rica adapts to climate change

Although Costa Rica has a high availability of water and water stress is very low (about 2.4%) compared to other regions of Latin America, the demand for water consumption has increased in recent years due to growing socio-economic development.

Also due to the effects of climate change, temperatures have reached up to 41°C in the North Pacific and 36°C in the Central Valley, with a delay in the rainy season which could generate a situation of water stress in some areas. localities in the country.

In summary, the evidence indicates that over the last 3 years the production of greenhouse gases has increased and, at the same time, the country’s temperatures have risen drastically and the frequency and intensity of rainfall has increased. changed, causing droughts and floods in some territories.

The consequences are felt

Faced with this negative scenario of water stress that affects the entire planet, Costa Rica is preparing and promoting a series of environmental measures adapted to the agreements set out by the UN, which aim to counter the effects of global warming, mainly preserving the country. s natural environments.
The Costa Rican government, in collaboration with the National Legislative Assembly, has evaluated and approved environmental projects in accordance with those of the United Nations Convention in Paris 2021, allowing Costa Rica to ratify said environmental cooperation agreement, which is a first step towards compliance with the international commitments signed by the nation.

The consequences of climate change are already being felt around the world and in Costa Rica they are reflected in the lack of water supply, power cuts and increased disease, among other aspects.

Among the environmental conservation measures proposed by Costa Rica are:

  • Create protected natural areas with great biodiversity.
  • Develop different social and economic public policies in communities affected by the effects of climate change.
  • Promote the population’s access to drinking water.
  • Educate citizens on the environmental impacts of climate change with reference to water stress which has been steadily increasing due to negative human intervention.
  • Among other issues related to the preservation and conscious use of renewable water resources.

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Teresa H. Sadler