“Mexico is among the ten countries that most cut down their primary forests. Its glaciers melt, losing fresh water with them. Failed climate policy is taking its toll on Mexico”, experts say.
“A week ago, the authorities told us that our reservoir was running out of water. Since then, we can no longer water our garden,” laments Norma García, a farmer from Guerrero. Norma lives from the direct sale of her food in organic markets. “If it doesn’t rain soon, it’s going to affect the harvest,” she tells DW. Norma García is not the only one affected: in the northern state of Sonora, cattle are dying of thirst; in southern Veracruz and central Michoacán, most of the lakes have practically evaporated; and in Mexico City, water has been rationed for weeks. Many Mexicans have to resort to the expensive supply of private tanker trucks.
Is La Niña to blame?
84% of the Mexican national territory currently suffers from drought, according to the water authority (Conagua). This favors forest fires, which in the last ten years have intensified, according to the National Forestry Agency (Conafor). The agency has recorded 4,129 fires in 30 of the 32 states so far this year. The mayor of Mexico City, Claudia Sheinbaum, speaks of the worst drought in 30 years and criticizes the rich who, nevertheless, water their gardens and golf courses.
Others blame the “La Niña” climate phenomenon. Scientists and environmentalists say, however, that what has failed is politics, which only focuses on short-term solutions.
Budget cuts and wrong priorities
“The response to disasters is characterized by the lack of prevention at all levels of politics and public administration (….). The problem is even more acute in Mexico due to the dismantling of the environmental institutions in charge of designing, implement, coordinate and evaluate mitigation and adaptation actions to climate change, as well as forestry issues, “said a group of environmental organizations, including the Center for Environmental Law (Cemda), Greenpeace, Mexico Climate Initiative and Pronatura Veracruz.
According to the report, the budget of the Forestry Commission was reduced by 43% since 2012, while that of the Commission of Protected Natural Areas (Conanp) was reduced by 75% since 2018. Then, in 2019, the Trust Fund against Natural Disasters, which financed the fight against forest fires.
“Neither the current nor previous governments have prioritized adaptation to climate change”, says Diego Pérez Salicrup, director of the Institute for Sustainability and Ecosystems at UNAM. For him, this is due to a vicious cycle of distorted perceptions among the population and the resulting false demands on politicians, who in turn respond with short-term crisis management rather than long-term strategies.
“Today, in Mexico, 75% of the population lives in cities, far from the daily routine of the countryside and nature. This population, which has a lot of political weight, sees fire as something threatening,” he explains to DW. They forget that many ecosystems self-regulate through small controlled fires, precisely to “avoid an excessive accumulation of flammable material and, therefore, potentially more dangerous fires,” Pérez Salicrup concluded.
Source: Deutsch Welle