Our Climate Change in Patagonia series

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Scientists say in order to maintain a natural balance on Earth, one that provides the environmental conditions upon which all life depends, the amount of carbon dioxide contained in the atmosphere should be below 350 parts per million (ppm). At the beginning of human civilization our atmosphere naturally contained around 275 ppm. Humanity’s growing reliance on coal, oil, and natural gas, or fossil fuels, spiked tremendously the amount of carbon dioxide beginning in the late 20th century. Today, we have 404 ppm of CO2 in the atmosphere, and its rising every year, moving us increasingly farther away from the 350 ppm goal.
 
These numbers are staggering, even downright depressing. Unfortunately, climate change appears as if it is here to stay. Patagon Journal’s Climate Change in Patagonia project, created in partnership with Earth Journalism Network, explores many of the multiple impacts of climate change now and in the future for Patagonia as the planet enters into a new and hazardous era.
 
Two articles in this series explore energy production.  Grant Devine presents economically and environmentally viable sources of renewable energy within Patagonia, while Patrick Lynch unveils Chile’s national energy policy and its of use climate change as cover for pushing large-scale hydroelectric development on the country’s rivers and thereby engendering even more environmental problems.
 
Martin Jacques, a climatologist, explains the heatwaves in Patagonia. Temperature increases contribute to perhaps the most visible effect of climate change in Patagonia, glacial melt, presented in this series in Jonathan Byers’ “Changing landscape of Patagonia,” while another story explores glacial lake outburst floods (GLOF), a dangerous phenomenon occurring with greater frequency at the Baker River in Aysen Patagonia.
 
In “Mystery whale deaths,” scientists link the mass mortality of 335 sei whales in 2015 to a harmful algal bloom (HAB), which may happen with increasing frequency and severity due to climate change. Finally, we move from the ocean to the forest where climate change may spark an ecologically harmful trend of non-native tree plantations, an issue explored by journalist Patricio Segura.
 
This collaboration of scientists, journalists, and environmentalists (read the complete series at www.ecopatagonia.org) provides the stories behind the numbers and shows us that climate change isn’t something that’s going to happen—it’s already happening. Yet, we must keep hope. In December 2015 at the United Nations Climate Summit in Paris, 189 countries voluntarily pledged to reduce carbon emissions over the next several decades. Climate action is now a global mandate. We can’t afford to continue business as usual. Politics play a part.  Economics plays a part.  And most importantly, informed citizens play a part. 
 
 
 

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