Loretto Members Respond to Climate Change Questions
This week we asked our members abroad the following questions: How does climate change affect you and the people with whom you work? What do you wish people in the U.S. and other Western countries would understand about your daily lived experience of the climate crisis?
Click the names listed or scroll down to read responses from:
- Connie Newton CoL – Guatemala
- Kathy Wright SL – Haiti
- Nasreen Daniel SL – Pakistan
- Ana Maria Vargas Sandoval CoL – Bolivia
From Connie Newton CoL:
“In Guatemala, the effects of global warming mean that:
- water is scarcer
- crop yields decline
- basic food needs aren’t met either from land that can’t produce more or prices to high and thus unaffordable
- malnutrition has increased (with long-term damage to pregnant mothers and newborns)
- to survive, many sell their bits of land, migrate to the U.S. or get involved in the drug trade
“My biggest concern here is malnutrition. In the rural area where I live, approximately 70% of the population live below the poverty line. In Guatemala’s rural area, the indices of malnutrition is the highest in the Western Hemisphere, and second in the world behind Afghanistan.
“When pregnant mothers and newborns don’t get enough protein and basic food, the results are the baby’s brain doesn’t develop, learning disabilities are endemic and height is stunted. If each mom had an egg a day and some avocado, that would change. There are no government programs addressing this, and only a handful of NGO’s are tackling malnutrition. Of all the international aid dollars for ‘development,’ Latin America gets a total of 10%, Guatemala gets 1%, while Africa gets approximately 70%.”
From Kathy Wright SL:
“When I first visited Haiti in 2002 the effects of deforestation were already evident in some parts of the country. Impoverished and desperate, the poor in rural Haiti were cutting trees for firewood to use for cooking. They could not afford to buy any other forms of fuel for cooking. Those who tried to replant trees struggled because local folks continued to cut down trees before they reached maturity. People had to be hired to protect newly planted trees, and those jobs provided wages to buy cooking fuel.
“Solar ovens seemed like a good new option, but it was not possible to keep them safe while they sat in the sun all day. Solar panels also had the same problem. If the house or office was not walled in and secure, ovens and solar panels would disappear.
“Some people moved from the countryside to Port-au-Prince in search of work, and slums grew up where there was no clean water, sewers, trash removal, etc.
“Over the last two decades the effects of climate change have caused even further deterioration of the land, water and other natural resources. With deforestation came more erosion and the soil washed off the hillsides and mountains into the sea. With stronger and more frequent storms and hurricanes the effects were exponentially worse. There was no recovery time between storms and disasters. Haiti is now at least 95% deforested, farmable land has decreased, yields are lower, and there is less topsoil.
“Pollution and degradation of streams and other bodies of water from erosion and inadequate sewage systems have led to an increase in waterborne diseases that spread easily and increased the country’s vulnerability to storm surges and flooding, according to a report from ‘Climate Links.’ Rising temperatures during the summer also create stronger storms and more damage.
“Haiti is considered the country that is most vulnerable to the effects of climate change in Latin America and the Caribbean. Densely populated cities, flood plains and steep mountain slopes all increase the damage done by climate change.”
From Nasreen Daniel SL:
“Recent floods and droughts in Pakistan brought on by climate change are making it harder to produce food. As a result, the price of food is beyond the reach of our people, everyone is struggling to survive, and there is a higher risk of hunger. Frequently, the news is about poor people committing suicide — sometime the whole family — because of hunger and unable to surivie.”
Nasreen urges people in Western countries to take positive actions to reduce global warming. She particularly singled out the United States to take action because of its enormous wealth.
From Ana Maria Vargas Sandoval CoL:
¿Cómo te afecta a ti y a las personas con las que trabaja el cambio climático?
“El efecto en mi persona es el stress permanente, indignación porque no corroboramos las personas en el deterioro y efectos del cambio climático, sobre todo en La Paz-Bolivia, que hubo derrumbes y contaminaciones de represas de agua, como en otros departamentos de Bolivia,
“Acumulacion de basuras, sobre todo de bolsas nylon que botan a cualquier lugar y sobre todo a los ríos o lagos, perdiendo y contaminando a reservorios donde son criaderos de pescados, etc. Explotación de minerales por empresas transnacionales, talla de árboles para negocios, etc.
¿Qué le gustaría que la gente de EE,UU y otros países occidentales entendiera sobre su experiencia diaria de la crisis climática?
“Si, son lecciones que aportan para evitar la crisis climática, bienvenidos. Son pasos de urgencia para evitar los efectos del deterioro de los cambios climáticos en el mundo, que hoy vimos sus efectos producidos por los efectos de los hombres y las empresas transnacionales”.
“The effect on me is permanent stress, indignation because we do not corroborate the people and the deterioration and effects of climate change, especially in La Paz-Bolivia, because there were landslides and water dam contaminations like in other regions of Bolivia.
“Accumulation of garbage, especially plastic bags that they throw everywhere and especially in lakes and rivers, losing and contaminating reservoirs where there are fish hatcheries and farms, etc. Exploitation of minerals by transnational companies and deforestation for business, etc.
“Yes, there are lessons that could be used to avoid the climate crisis. I welcome these lessons. These are urgent steps to avoid the effects of the deterioration of climate change in the world. We are living the effects today because of the effects of men and transnational corporations.”