A panel of experts from the University of Chile has suggested that the impact of climate change may not be so severe in Chile as in other parts of the world. They reason that the strong influence of the Pacific Ocean on the country may well help mitigate the effects of global warming.
Patricio Aceituno, academic and researcher at the University of Chile's Department of Geophysics, said earlier this week that while there have been variations in Chile's temperature and rainfall over the last century, these could be from natural causes. According to Aceituno, the main reason that Chile's temperature will not change substantially is the regular oscillation of the Pacific Plate, which causes cold currents in the southeast Pacific, a phenomenon that has been observed since 1976. But while the country's temperature may not be affected by climate change, its rainfall may well be, according to the University of Chile's reports. An analysis of rainfall between 1950 and 2000 showed that in Regions IX and X, the amount of rain has dropped significantly. Levels of rainfall in Temuco and Puerto Montt have dropped by 100 and 150 millimetres respectively every ten years. In Valdivia, rainfall dropped by 400 millimetres over a decade ÃÂ¢€" the equivalent of Santiago's entire annual rainfall. A decreasing amount of rainfall will mean less water in various regions of Chile, said Humberto Fuenzalida, expert in atmospheric science. Fuenzalida said that water reduction in Chile could be as much as 30%. "In a worst-case scenario, the river Maule ÃÂ¢€" which feeds the Colbun dam - could lose almost 37% of its total flow," said Fuenzalida. Global warming was in the international spotlight once again on Wednesday as Former U.S. Vice President and newly turned global-warming prophet Al Gore addressed the U.S. Congress on what he called a "planetary emergency." Referring to environmental emergencies such as rising sea levels, extreme weather condition and wildfires, Gore insisted that the U.S. needs to take action immediately. The former presidential candidate urged that the U.S. needs to begin a program of sharp reductions in carbon emissions "to reach at least 90% reductions by 2050." Gore also proposed a 10-point plan, calling for a tax on carbon emissions and bans on incandescent light bulbs and new coal-fired plants designed to capture carbon that now is emitted into the air. "The planet has a fever. If your baby has a fever, you go to the doctor," said Gore. "If the doctor says you need to intervene here, you don't say 'I read a science fiction novel that says it's not a problem.' You take action." Al Gore will be in Chile on May 11 to promote environmental issues. The Santiago Times