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Montevideo, March 25th 2023 - 07:33 UTC



Global warming could destroy Chile's economy

Tuesday, February 6th 2007 - 20:00 UTC
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Global warming, a phenomenon now confirmed worldwide by scientific journals and international forums, will have devastating effects on the Chilean agricultural industry—perhaps the country's most important economic activity. The most threatening problem is the likely appearance of agricultural pests, from which Chile has heretofore been free.

Chile's geographical featuresâ€"the Andes Mountains, the desert and the seaâ€"have produced diverse climates and isolated it from natural pests, creating superb growing conditions. However, increasing temperatures will limit the diversity of climates, allowing pests to move to previously pest-free environments. In fact, it's even possible that new pests and plagues previously inexistent in Chile could develop. The most likely plagues are fungi, owing to likely torrential downpours that would come with higher temperatures. Each plant has an ideal growth climate. When climate change, plants adapt by altering their physiology. This change makes them vulnerable to pests and plagues to which they were previously resistant. Changes in plant physiology also results in smaller and lesser quality crop yields. Fewer periods of cold cause plants to change their sprouting cycle and they germinate less often. These changes also affect plant size, cause bruising and premature ripening. One of the greatest problems the Chilean industry now faces is ignorance in the face of these possible consequences. Most farmers focus on the success of past seasons and the business aspect of their crops. Many are unaware of how climate change can affect their harvest and their livelihood. Fernando Santibáñez, a University of Chile agronomist, believes that education and investment in innovative technologies are the best way to face forthcoming problems. He proposes organizing information networks to standardize knowledge among growers. Santibáñez's other elemental belief is changing "the culture of agriculture." Such measures would include investing in more efficient water systems, an indispensable technology as water becomes more and more scarce. He also proposes researching the kinds of plants that would grow well in the new climates. Researchers at the University of East Anglia, in England, have projected the year 2007 to be the hottest since yearly temperatures began to be measured in 1860. Chilean farmers are for now waiting to see how that prophecy plays out, but there is no doubt that the industry needs to take steps to deal with the inevitable changes ahead. The Santiago Times - News about Chile

Categories: Economy, Latin America.

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