Category Archives: Climate

Improving security is probably more likely than beating climate change.

Severe climate conditions have pushed Guatemalans off their lands. Not enough rain. Too much rain. Crops destroyed and a government incapable of providing any solutions. From National Geographic:
Today, towards the end of yet another “rainy season” that brought no rain, many rural communities seem trapped in a dizzying vortex of catastrophe. Years of erratic weather, failed harvests, and a chronic lack of employment opportunities have slowly chipped away at the strategies Guatemalan families have used successfully to cope with one or two years of successive droughts and crop failures. But now, entire villages seem to be collapsing from the inside out as more and more communities become stranded, hours away from the nearest town, with no food, no work, and no way to seek help.
The fact that many Guatemalans are fleeing because of economic insecurity and not direct physical violence is not something to celebrate. Improving security is probably more likely than beating back the effects of climate change.

Improving security is probably more likely than beating climate change.

Severe climate conditions have pushed Guatemalans off their lands. Not enough rain. Too much rain. Crops destroyed and a government incapable of providing any solutions. From National Geographic:
Today, towards the end of yet another “rainy season” that brought no rain, many rural communities seem trapped in a dizzying vortex of catastrophe. Years of erratic weather, failed harvests, and a chronic lack of employment opportunities have slowly chipped away at the strategies Guatemalan families have used successfully to cope with one or two years of successive droughts and crop failures. But now, entire villages seem to be collapsing from the inside out as more and more communities become stranded, hours away from the nearest town, with no food, no work, and no way to seek help.
The fact that many Guatemalans are fleeing because of economic insecurity and not direct physical violence is not something to celebrate. Improving security is probably more likely than beating back the effects of climate change.

Climate change and Guatemala

Central America is one of the region's most vulnerable to the effects of climate change. Climate vulnerability has implications for the region's economies, food insecurity of its citizens, and intra- and inter-regional migration. Nic Wirtz has a two-part series on climate change and its effects on Guatemala for Latin America Goes Global.

The first article is entitled Climate change and food security in Guatemala. What might be the consequences if the Guatemalan government and international community fail to respond effectively?
Increased poverty and rural malnutrition: Small farmers are already bearing the brunt of extreme weather patterns of flooding and droughts. Subsistence farmers will continue to suffer irregular crop yield, the loss of crops, and, ultimately, hunger. Unfortunately, the government has failed to articulate a plan to cushion those most at risk through either policy intervention or identifying target populations for assistance after extreme weather patterns.
Internal migration: Reduced crop yields will likely produce dislocation as small and subsistence farmers are forced to seek land to cultivate or employment. The result will be greater flows of migration within Guatemala and greater external migration to other Central American countries, Mexico or the United States.
Nic's second article is entitled Climate change and migration in Guatemala
The reasons why someone migrates are complex and not a spur-of-the-moment decision. The Guatemalan government categorizes at least 85% of migrants as economic migrants, and even recent in-depth investigations have oversimplified the causes of migration to economic, violence or family reunification. A correlation of events in Guatemala and migratory flows proves the complex push factors at work in why Guatemalans leave their own country.
At a cost of $7,000 to $15,000 per person, migration is not something a family enters into easily. Although there are no statistics available for internal migration in Guatemala, the three departments that see the most migration are San Marcos, Huehuetenango and Guatemala. The first two departments border Mexico, while the addition of the department of Guatemala suggests initial internal migration before attempting to migrate to the United States.
Not only is migration costly, it requires a support network from origin to point of entry. In Guatemala, it has generally been departments in the east of the country that have sent more external migrants. Those in the west are more violent but people choosing to leave do so by internally migrating.
Some good insights and recommendations. Definitely worth a read. 

Climate change is exacerbating an already precarious situation in the country

Maria Gallucci/International Business Times
It's not all about corruption in Guatemala. Maria Gallucci looks at the impact of climate change on Central America with Guatemala's Vanishing Harvests for the International Business Times. It's not pretty.
Diplomats from nearly 200 nations will gather in Paris next week to discuss climate change and hammer out a global plan for curbing emissions. But halfway around the world, Banegas and millions of Guatemalan families are experiencing firsthand the threats of a warming planet. Guatemala is among the world’s 10 most vulnerable nations when it comes to climate change, owing to its unique geography and extreme social inequality, according to the Climate Risk Index. Sandwiched between two oceans and straddling three tectonic plates, the country faces threats from hurricanes, torrential floods, enduring droughts, brutal cold snaps and earthquakes.
At least eight severe storms have sacked the country since 1998, racking up around $3.5 billion in economic losses and property damage -- a sum equal to roughly 6 percent of Guatemala’s $58.7 billion gross domestic product in 2014. Most recently, a tropical storm in early October triggered a massive mudslide outside Guatemala City, killing 271 people and leaving dozens missing.
Beyond one-off extremes, progressive changes in temperature and rainfall are altering the agricultural landscape that the poorest of Guatemala’s 15.5 million residents depend on to earn a living and feed their families.
Climate instability really seems to be affecting ramón or xate, things I've never heard of, as well as the coffee and timber industries. It's a really interesting article - I'd recommend reading it in its entirety. I'm considering using it in my Central America course next semester.

Three years later, The United States should grant TPS for Guatemala.