MEXICO CITY – For immigrants in the Northern and Midwestern US, winter means snow and freezing temperatures. However, for residents in Mexico and Central America, these winter months, although they also bring slightly colder temperatures, are mostly noted in a difference in precipitation. From November until March/April these areas are in “dry season” and won’t see any rain for months until the rainy season picks up again and it pours almost daily. The change in weather each year brings meaning to the agriculture industry and wildlife.
Important to also note as we discuss the dry and rainy seasons in Central America, is how these seasons have changed over the past several years. The rainy season is becoming less precipitous, making the dry season harsher. This primarily due to, and expedited by, global warming. This change in climate is one of the many motivating factors driving some people in Central America to immigrate. As the rainfall in Central America decreases, farmers who rely on a consistent output of crops to make a living and feed their families are not able to produce what they need to survive.
Climate refugees are not a uniquely Central American problem. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), a UN agency, claims that in 2017 alone there were 18.8 million disaster-related displaced people. This is due to floors, droughts, intense storms, and other climate change related disasters.
The world is not staying silent on the issue. This year’s United Nations Climate Change Conference, COP25, was intended to take place this year in Chile. However, because of unrest in the country, the conference was changed to be held in Madrid from December 2 until this Friday, December 13. COP25 brings world leaders together to talk about climate change, its impacts on society, and to discuss potential solutions and remedies. It wasn’t just the leaders who were making their voices heard. Hundreds of thousands of demonstrators on December 6th took to the streets of Madrid outside the conference to protest. Even in Chile, climate protesters gathered in solidarity. The Madrid protests also included Swedish teenage climate activist, Greta Thunberg, musical groups, and actor Javier Bardem who spoke at the event.