With data gathered from 33 countries, the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) report, “Latin America and the Caribbean Atlas of our Changing Environment,” outlines the many environmental tolls facing the region due to climate change.
Described through more than 200 satellite images, maps, tables, graphs and text, the atlas comprises three parts: one that explores original diverse ecosystems and species, another documenting current climate issues, and finally, an analysis of 65 specific cases.
Environmental impacts such as high levels of deforestation can be seen in images of Brazil, Mexico, Haiti, Guatemala, and Bolivia. Of even greater concern is the fact that many of the lands are not being cleared for human food but instead are being tilled for crops used in animal feed, industry, and fuel.
Other noted climate effects across the continent include an increase in natural disasters, accelerated glacier melt and land degradation such as soil and coastal erosion, as well as desertification that currently affects more than 600 million hectares in the region.
Among the recommendations made by UNEP are sustainable programs to help halt the adverse direction and restore ecosystems. We appreciate the United Nations Environment Program for these comprehensive observations, despite our alarm at their detrimental effect on the environment.
Let us quickly heed such meaningful scientific data and act now to restore balance to our planet. Speaking with concern of climate change's perilous consequences during a November 2009 videoconference in Mexico, Supreme Master Ching Hai at the same time emphasized the best way to safeguard the environment and all life therein.