Due to it’s proximity to the Pacific ocean Peru is especially affected by the climatic phenomenon of El Nino Southern Oscillation (ENSO) warming up the usually cold Humboldt current and causing changes in both temperatures and rainfall. Climate change related rising global temperatures are having an intensifying effect on the phenomenon creating more extreme conditions and increasing the frequency and duration of it’s occurrence for countries such as Peru and Ecuador.
For Peru this could mean periods of high temperatures and intense rains during ENSO years in the coastal parts of the country and higher temperatures and reduced rainfall in the Amazon basin and southern highlands. Cash crops like cocoa and coffee that are economically important, but also all other cultivation that provide food security suffer from these adverse conditions especially if the effects intensify. Extreme rainfall leads to flooding of the coastal areas and lack of rainfall over a long period to drought in the east of the country. The warming of the Humboldt current reduces the amount of fish and thus affects fisheries that are another important economic sector.
Rising global temperatures are already causing major melting of glaciers in the Andes, leading to flooding in some parts due to overflow of glacier lakes which can cause landslides and endanger whole communities. Long term effects of the melting ice and increase of temperatures are freshwater scarcity which affects agricultural production, threatens food security and health.
Early warning systems can help farmers to take decisions about adaptive farm activities in a timely manner. On-farm measures include diversification of outputs to insure food security in times of crisis when food prices might go up due to harvest losses and road closures that might prevent replenishment of resources for longer periods.
Peru is one of the most biodiverse countries in the world and also if through the changes many of these biomes are in danger, they are also the beacon of hope for the country. In the vastness of genetic material that is present it could be possible to find wild plant relatives that have the genetic traits that are necessary to deal with changing climatic conditions.
The protection of the environment as well as the adoption of sustainable lifestyles and farming practices are essential for minimizing the adverse effects of climate change on human life and nature. In order to achieve that, governmental support needs to be given to reduce inequalities and eliminate poverty in the country.
Peru has a long way to go but the window of opportunity to act is closing quickly. A new president will be elected on the 5th of June 2016. It is to see if the new government will do their best to lead the country towards a sustainable future.
Further reading and reference:
Peru Climate Change Vulnerability and Adaptation Desktop Study, US Aid 2011 Peru Climate Change